View Full Version : Finger Picking!

02-06-2009, 01:20 PM
I have a question about finger picking, (travis picking, etc.)

I have been playin guitar for six months now, and I've had various sources giving me various bits of info. It's about the use of the pinkie finger.

Some people tell me to use the pinky to anchor my right hand on the guitar while the other four play the song, while my new guitar teacher tells me to keep the pinky off of the guitar.

What gives? What should I do?

02-11-2009, 09:44 AM
I've been doing finger-style for about 4 months now after playing regularly for 2 years. So my opinion isn't an extremely experianced one, but all my finger-style has been self-taught and through tabs.

My pinkie is always anchored on my guitar body whenever it gets the chance or I hold it against my high e string when its not being played. It gives my other fingers more support and lets them pluck strings easier. I've noticed that songs requiring the use of my pinkie for plucking, meaning no support, take just a little more to get used to. But overall, there is little difference for me when anchoring my pinkie or not, but I prefer to have it anchored.

02-11-2009, 06:06 PM
I anchor my pinkie if I am playing a thumb and forefinger style; but if I am playing a thumb and three finger style I don't. I also have patterns that make use of all fingers, no anchoring there.

Whatever floats your boat, or keeps it still.

02-11-2009, 11:54 PM
Technically speaking, keep it off the body. It restricts how much you can move your other fingers and makes it more complicated to switch between picking and strumming.

But I ignore that and do it anyway. I've seen Jake anchoring his pinkie so it can't be that bad.

02-12-2009, 12:25 AM
i anchor my ring and use 3 fingers to pick and I'm doing alright

Ukulele JJ
02-12-2009, 02:15 AM
I generally anchor with my pinkie finger.

I also use only three fingers for Travis picking... alternating my thumb for the "bass" note.

But since my guitar technique is probably the worst in the world, you should probably do the exact opposite of everything I do. :p


02-12-2009, 03:05 AM
I use all fingers for classical guitar, sometimes anchor my fingers for 3-finger guitar style, and always anchor my fingers for Scruggs style banjo. You'll soon be able to switch at will, or without thought.

02-13-2009, 11:06 PM
It's basically a technique thing. If you anchor your pinky, you'll eventually anchor your pinky every time you do finger picking, which makes it harder for you to do more advanced techniques later on. Also, because you won't have support your fingers will benifit more in the long run, allowing you to do more things more easily, more freely, more evenly, and you'll play longer with less fatigue if you keep practising like that

Pete Howlett
02-15-2009, 12:03 PM
I've played guitar for close on 40 years now. I used to worry that my right hand 'action' wasn't like that of rev Gary davis until I learnt to play one of his tunes and hey presto - it doesn't matter! yep, that's right:
Just do your thing man and enjoy playing :shaka:

02-28-2009, 12:56 AM
I'm with Pete on this and I've played for over forty years myself. I'd say that if you anchor and are comfortable with it, more people do it than don't and I would not lose any sleep over it. If you don't anchor, you lose a point of reference and that can make you more versatile in some respects... because many "teachers" think it is a crutch.

I grew up playing with some of the best musicians of the 1960s and I can tell you that even then, it was a mixed bag. To each, his own. So, like Pete said, it doesn't matter. Do what feels comfortable for you and when the time comes that you deviate from that, then think of it as being ready to try something new.

03-18-2009, 11:30 AM
i think exactly what pippin said (i've been playing for 15 or so years) but also remember habits that you pick up in the first couple of years become hard to get rid of (i have many) then you have either learn to live with them or retrain your fingers. so its quite important to find your comfort spot early on.

04-14-2009, 03:12 PM
i agree although it really doesnt matter unless you have your sights set high .

i anchor , ive been playing for over 20 yrs .
i also play a right handed guitar and im a lefty ( i didnt know that there was a difference when i began)
i use hybrid picking which is a pick and my middle and ring fingers and the occasional pinky . i dont anchor when i finger pick , but i do if im playing rock , blues type stuff where i mainly use a plectrum.

my excuse for anchoring is poor right hand technique ! :)

04-14-2009, 04:43 PM
I don't anchor, and don't feel like a better player for it. It's all about comfort to me. I don't think I have great right hand technique because of not anchoring.