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  #1  
Old 06-06-2018, 08:23 AM
JackB1 JackB1 is offline
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Default Starting to fingerpick - anchor pinky or palm heel?

OK, so I have started to delve into finger picking and I can't decide which method is better....anchoring the pinky or resting the heel of the palm near the bridge or as a third option, not anchoring at all. They all seem to have pros and cons, but I feel like I need to pick one or I am impeding my progress.

When I use the pinky anchor, my finger tips get a nice straight on attack on the strings, but my ring finger has trouble picking the high E string due to my pinky kind of being in the way.

When I use the palm resting on the bridge method, my picking seems to be easier and flow better, but I have a weird angle now of attacking the strings with my fingertips that doesn't get a nice full sound like the pinky anchor method does. This is because you fingers are now slightly angled dues to you palm resting on the bridge.

When I don't anchor at all, I get a nice sound with a nice straight on attack of the strings and I don't have issues with the high E string like I mentioned above, but I feel like I am not as smooth and flowing as I am with the other two methods. With practice maybe I could get there?

So do I pick one and stick with it or keep messing around until one method organically chooses itself? Thanks
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  #2  
Old 06-06-2018, 08:34 AM
6L6 6L6 is offline
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It's been the pinky method for me ever since I learned Travis picking fingerstyle way back in 1965.

When you feel comfortable with your fingerpicking, give it a try with a plastic thumbpick and at least two metal fingerpicks. I like National 0.013 metal fingerpicks because they are easy to mold to your finger shape and yet stiff enough to make your guitar really ring if you stand on it.

My Travis style teacher was my college roommate. He was a child prodigy guy and could melt the strings off anything that had strings on it. He refused to teach me fingerstyle unless I wore a plastic thumbpick and three metal fingerpicks!

I'm darn glad he did that. While to this day it is easier to play fingerstyle without wearing any picks, it sounds SO much better when I do wear them that that's how I always play unless it's a song requiring use of a flatpick.

I actually do get numerous compliments about my tone and those offering praise usually state, "You've got a great sounding guitar there!" Truth is, 85% of my tone is those thumb/fingerpicks. They make ANY guitar sound very good indeed!

Go pinky style and start working with those fingerpicks. You'll be glad you did!

Last edited by 6L6; 06-06-2018 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 06-06-2018, 08:48 AM
Imbler Imbler is online now
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Although people get stellar results with all three methods, since you are just starting, I would recommend not anchoring. It allows you greater freedom on your picking hand which IMO helps tone.

Classical players (the ultimate fingerstyle players) don't anchor for that reason. But, in the end, people get great results with different techniques.

I started without anchoring, so I don't feel any insecurity in my picking hand that would be aided by anchoring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JackB1 View Post
OK, so I have started to delve into finger picking and I can't decide which method is better....anchoring the pinky or resting the heel of the palm near the bridge or as a third option, not anchoring at all. They all seem to have pros and cons, but I feel like I need to pick one or I am impeding my progress.

When I use the pinky anchor, my finger tips get a nice straight on attack on the strings, but my ring finger has trouble picking the high E string due to my pinky kind of being in the way.

When I use the palm resting on the bridge method, my picking seems to be easier and flow better, but I have a weird angle now of attacking the strings with my fingertips that doesn't get a nice full sound like the pinky anchor method does. This is because you fingers are now slightly angled dues to you palm resting on the bridge.

When I don't anchor at all, I get a nice sound with a nice straight on attack of the strings and I don't have issues with the high E string like I mentioned above, but I feel like I am not as smooth and flowing as I am with the other two methods. With practice maybe I could get there?

So do I pick one and stick with it or keep messing around until one method organically chooses itself? Thanks
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  #4  
Old 06-06-2018, 09:22 AM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackB1 View Post
When I don't anchor at all, I get a nice sound with a nice straight on attack of the strings and I don't have issues with the high E string like I mentioned above, but I feel like I am not as smooth and flowing as I am with the other two methods. With practice maybe I could get there?
Yes, I believe it will smooth out for you. It did for me, fairly quickly after my teacher recommended I pick this approach and stick with it. I'm glad I did, but everyone is different...I don't think there is a "right" answer to your question
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Old 06-06-2018, 10:37 AM
Ed66 Ed66 is offline
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As Tommy Emmanuel said in a video I recently watched, "Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Jerry Reed all anchor down (w/pinky) I want to be in that group - the winners". I'm going to stick with TE. I picked it up automatically and was a couple of years in before I realized it was an option or that there was even any discussion on it. Your ring finger adjusts very quickly to hit the upper strings.
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Old 06-06-2018, 11:36 AM
AndreF AndreF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackB1 View Post
OK, so I have started to delve into finger picking and I can't decide which method is better....anchoring the pinky or resting the heel of the palm near the bridge or as a third option, not anchoring at all. They all seem to have pros and cons, but I feel like I need to pick one or I am impeding my progress.

When I use the pinky anchor, my finger tips get a nice straight on attack on the strings, but my ring finger has trouble picking the high E string due to my pinky kind of being in the way.

When I use the palm resting on the bridge method, my picking seems to be easier and flow better, but I have a weird angle now of attacking the strings with my fingertips that doesn't get a nice full sound like the pinky anchor method does. This is because you fingers are now slightly angled dues to you palm resting on the bridge.

When I don't anchor at all, I get a nice sound with a nice straight on attack of the strings and I don't have issues with the high E string like I mentioned above, but I feel like I am not as smooth and flowing as I am with the other two methods. With practice maybe I could get there?

So do I pick one and stick with it or keep messing around until one method organically chooses itself? Thanks
I think youíre being analytical in the right way.
Do keep that open mind, but I would recommend, based on your results so far, that you choose door #3, and not anchor at all. If it works out for you, and youíre correct that your feel will improve greatly with practice, youíll be happy you stuck with it. The hand plays with less negative tension that way, and thatís better in the long run.
Also, itís easier to palm mute from an unanchored position imo, than it is from an anchored pinky position, although itís (obviously) possible to make both work.
Lastly, try not to adopt anyone elseís position simply because they do it. Do so after youíve determined itís the best for you.
Thatís what I meant about you approaching this with the proper analaysis and attitude. Good luck with whatever you decide!
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Old 06-06-2018, 11:41 AM
Wyllys Wyllys is offline
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Play more, analyze less. When you've gotten about 50 tunes down so they're firmly in your head, heart and hands, then maybe review the technical aspects. My bet is that concentrating on the music and letting it be the guiding light will engender the required technique as a matter of course.

I've been playing finger-style guitar since 1966, professionally since '69, and I honestly couldn't tell you how I position my right hand...other than I do whatever it takes to get the sound I want with just fingers/nails. My guess is that of the three techniques you've listed, I use them all.

If you're thinking too much, I prescribe beer...
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Last edited by Wyllys; 06-06-2018 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 06-06-2018, 11:47 AM
Nymuso Nymuso is offline
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When I was self teaching banjo a suggestion I got was to anchor with the pinky. I did and it carried over into my guitar playing forever. Some say it affects tone, I have not noticed that but I have with palm anchoring, which I do specifically to alter the tone in various situations. So given a choice between the two, I'd go with light pinky contact.
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Old 06-06-2018, 12:17 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackB1 View Post
OK, so I have started to delve into finger picking and I can't decide which method is better....anchoring the pinky or resting the heel of the palm near the bridge or as a third option, not anchoring at all. They all seem to have pros and cons, but I feel like I need to pick one or I am impeding my progress.

Would not recommend anchoring the pinkly. Don't want to mark up the top.

Nor have palm hang out near bridge. If wanting to mute strings with palm then it's palm on bridge and strings.

Basically you don't want your hand to bounce. It can be difficult to control this.

Some times you can steady you hand by resting a finger on a string. Classical and flamenco players often do this.

Couple of examples where you could do this:

Am chord alternate thumb pattern where you could rest your third finger on the first string. Try third finger on and off the first string to compare how steady your hand is.

-------------------------------
----1--------------1----------
-----------2--------------2---
-------2--------------2-------
0--------------0--------------
-------------------------------


Or for some solo upper string note picking thumb resting on a lower string, for example:

---------0---1---3---1---0------------
-1---3------------------------3---1---
----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------

Try thumb on and off bass string to see how steady your hand is each way.
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  #10  
Old 06-06-2018, 12:43 PM
Joscefi78 Joscefi78 is offline
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the guitar is a right-hand instrument as merle travis proves here

the left hand makes the notes but the right hand makes the music



http://youtube.com/watch?v=N8vOTKMqzw4

Last edited by Kerbie; 06-08-2018 at 03:08 AM. Reason: Fixed video
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Old 06-06-2018, 04:25 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackB1 View Post
OK, so I have started to delve into finger picking and I can't decide which method is better....anchoring the pinky or resting the heel of the palm near the bridge or as a third option, not anchoring at all. They all seem to have pros and cons, but I feel like I need to pick one or I am impeding my progress.

When I use the pinky anchor, my finger tips get a nice straight on attack on the strings, but my ring finger has trouble picking the high E string due to my pinky kind of being in the way.

When I use the palm resting on the bridge method, my picking seems to be easier and flow better, but I have a weird angle now of attacking the strings with my fingertips that doesn't get a nice full sound like the pinky anchor method does. This is because you fingers are now slightly angled dues to you palm resting on the bridge.

When I don't anchor at all, I get a nice sound with a nice straight on attack of the strings and I don't have issues with the high E string like I mentioned above, but I feel like I am not as smooth and flowing as I am with the other two methods. With practice maybe I could get there?

So do I pick one and stick with it or keep messing around until one method organically chooses itself? Thanks
You're obviously freer if you can do it with no anchoring.
The bridge position is not really for anchoring the hand, it's for applying damping to the bass (for Travis style) - although a lot of players rest the whole forearm on the top of the guitar. The problem with the angle of the thumb in that position is solved (for many, not all) by using a thumbpick.

Personally I don't think you'd be impeding your progress if you keep all the options open. You might well be impeding it by choosing one and sticking with it. I suggest trying different positions for each tune you learn, see which feels most comfortable and efficient; it may be different for different tunes. As you progress, you may well find yourself gravitating to a favourite.

I never anchor with the pinky myself, but I use two main positions, depending on the style I'm playing: for classical or a more "open" sounding folk style I use a free hand, much like classical position; and palm on the bridge (or very near it) for a punchier blues or ragtime style. (I use thumbnail and fingernails, not fingertips.)

Some other comments on anchoring in this current thread:
https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=512658
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  #12  
Old 06-06-2018, 08:59 PM
macmanmatty macmanmatty is offline
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anchors are for boats not guitars. Don't anchor your fingers or palm ever! No anchoring = more picking freedom with right hand.
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Old 06-06-2018, 11:20 PM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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For most of my stuff, including Travis style, no anchor. But I have recently delved into a little fingerstyle blues and have caught myself resting my palm for some of the parts.

I gave up pinky plants 20 years ago. Maybe that's why I can't play like Chet or Tommy!

Last edited by DukeX; 06-07-2018 at 02:05 PM. Reason: can't spell
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  #14  
Old 06-07-2018, 12:05 AM
Guitar Slim II Guitar Slim II is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imbler View Post
Although people get stellar results with all three methods, since you are just starting, I would recommend not anchoring.
+1. For the above reasons, and also, tricky to anchor if you're using your ring finger to pluck -- it will really limit the hand and finger's mobility.

Which in turn can create tension and stress in the hand and possibly lead to injury.
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  #15  
Old 06-07-2018, 07:59 AM
JackB1 JackB1 is offline
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Lots of great responses guys! Now I'm more confused than ever

Guess I'll just let the choice happen organically and keep all options open
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