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rsimper 03-16-2002 10:33 PM

Advice on eliminating the Pinky on the soundboard form
Im sure some/all of you know what I am referring to...the tendency of one to let ones right pinky (unless you play backwards...:D) serve as a unipod for your hand either when flatpicking or fingerpicking. I do it, and I have heard that it is bad form. Its just comfortable, and having only been playing for 2.5 years, and being self-taught, I am just getting around to technical things instead of just learning more songs.

I was told that i should rest the heel of my hand on the bridge if i must rest something somewhere for I tried that and it seems to work ok...any other suggestions? Or do I just have to train my entire hand to hover in the proper position?


bnjp 03-16-2002 10:46 PM

I still rest my pinky too, but I've just decided that it works better for me than trying to rest the heel of my hand on the bridge like a lot of people do. I will share what my classical guitar teacher told me about resting the pinky...

He said that the reason it is bad is because your pinky and your ring finger do not move independently. Relax your hand and hold it up and move your pinky. Notice that the ring finger moves with the pinky. His problem with it was that the restriction of the pinky finger also limited movement somewhat to the ring finger.

Resting on the heel has been hard for me, but you pretty much have to if you need to mute any strings, like on some of Doyle Dyke's songs.

Noflatpick 03-16-2002 11:27 PM

Screw a buncha bad form. I keep my little finger on the soundboard and I'm gonna keep doing it. That's how I like to play. If the day ever comes that I get so good at fingerpicking that I'm using all five of my fingers, then maybe I'll see about breaking that bad habit.:roll:

GordonHLau 03-17-2002 12:56 AM


Depending on what you need to do, resting the pinky on the soundboard is perfectly fine in my book. Obviously, if you are doing a tremolo, you can't rest the pinky but for rolls, using your pinky as an anchor can give you much better control and accuracy. I don't use my pinky as an anchor but I do use my ring finger as an anchor on the 1st string on some fast rolls that don't involve the 1st string. I also use the heal of my hand as an anchor on stuff that requires a lot of speed. On slow stuff and tremolo, I let my hand hover with no anchor.

BTW, Brad 'Buster' Jones rests his pinky on the soundboard just about all the time (even while his muting) and it doesn't seem to limit his amazing ability.


rsimper 03-17-2002 01:08 AM

Hey Gordon, dont get crazy on me here...rolls? Im just working on getting better at playing songs :D Basically, I just "heard" that it is poor form...but maybe this is akin to "hearing" that it is unacceptable to wear the wrong colors in a bad neighborhood, but tons of peope do anyway and nothing goes wrong for them...

The point that bnjp made did make alot of sense, though, about restriction of the movement of the ring finger by anchoring the pinky.

Anyway, keep the thoughts coming- I should spend more time getting better and less time thinking of what to buy :p

GordonHLau 03-17-2002 03:28 AM


Rolls are a rapid succession of notes played on different strings involving the thumb and at least two fingers. The sequence of rolls is usually either thumb/index/middle (ascending or forward) or middle/index/thumb (descending or backward). Just to add to your confusion there are also banjo rolls and chromatic rolls which use a different sequence altogether. But my favorite rolls are definitely cinnamon. :D An easy way to start practicing rolls is by fretting minor and major chord patterns on the top three strings and doing the two roll patterns I mentioned. The key is to play the notes smoothly and evenly.

I'll use chords from a commonly used classical chord progression to give you an example:

xxx765 (Dm) - play the descending roll pattern 4 times
xxx786 (Gm) - play the descending roll pattern 4 times
xxx553 (C) - play the descending roll pattern 4 times
xxx565 (F) - play the descending roll pattern 4 times

Try the chord progression with the ascending rolls next. You'll probably have more difficulty doing the ascending rolls.


Aruthas 03-17-2002 06:49 AM

Ryan, I asked my guitar teacher about the pinky a couple months ago, and he did not think it was a bad thing to use it as an anchor. He's the laid-back type of teacher: he encourages me to do what's easiest, and it works for me. I don't personnaly like to rest my pinky on the pickguard because it gets cold! After 15 minutes of playing, I can hardly feel it anymore due to the lack of blood circulation.

Bob Womack 03-17-2002 02:03 PM

Be aware that resting ANYTHING on the soundboard limits its motion, and that is part of the reason classical teachers discourage it. I use different forms for different applications. "When in Rome", as they say.

Typically for steel-string, I'll touch the little finger to the first string to get an orientation at the start and go on without. If I end up with a complicated motion which needs an orientation, zip! out comes the pinky to touch 1st or 2nd, if it isn't being played. When I'm playing a very quick roll on the top thre or four, I may touch down to the top for a sec.

Palm muting involves touching the palm to the strings just forward of the bridge to stop their motion. You can also dampen the top by resting your palm on the bridge.

For classical, I'll go with the floating approach as I was taught. Frankly, my techiques have begun to overlap because I'm a bit of pragmatist. It's my hand!


Muggy 03-19-2002 12:16 PM

The only time I hover is when I'm strummin.Resting on the bridge gives to much of a trebley tone for me.If i'm playing electric guitar I almost always rest on the bridge.As far as the pinky thing is concerned,I plant my pinky and my ring finger.It's the only thing I've ever done.I have had almost zero formal training and have been playing for fifteen years so it's pretty ingrained to me.
I'd say depending on your style do whats comfortable and practical.


ScottyMac 04-06-2002 06:41 PM

Gee, now I'm feeling bad and self-conscious. I anchor with both my pinky and rig finger, and fingerpick with my thumb, fore and middle fingers. I've been playing too many years to stop.

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