How To Use Anchor Fingers

Please post a picture of your finger, and your hand position on the guitar neck, and we can probably help.

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What’s preventing you from trimming it further?

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Probably that it’s painful and bloody. I have the same problem, possibly to a lesser degree, but I cannot fret with my fingertip perpendicular to the fretboard, so have to be realy, realy careful not to touch the string below the one I try to fret.

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Hello and welcome to the community @fish0462 @SAyala3 @aveek_16

There are many successful guitarists with huge hands and it is all about patience, micro adjustments of the positioning of posture, upper body, shoulder, forearm, wrist, hand, fingers, fingertips. Plus, in time, as your fingertips harden to form callouses, the soft flesh will spread out less and your approach to the strings will become more natural and mean less interference and muting of adjacent strings.

Whatever works, works. Are you managing to do all of that simultaneously yet?

A photograph is needed here I think. And I wonder how curled your fingers are when placing them to form chords.

For counting the number of cord changes per minute. Is each chord counted such as: a = 1, D = 2, A = 3, D = 4, etc. Or is it: A then D = 1, A then D = 2, A = then D = 3, etc.

Hi Christopher @CJPCNY, welcome to the community!
My thought is that we are counting changes, so your second example is correct. I love your question, because I caught myself counting the first way - counting chords played rather than changes - until just a couple of months ago! Glad I’m not alone. :slight_smile:

Hi Christopher @CJPCNY , it’s actually neither of those. You should count changes, but you should count every change, like this: A to D = 1, back to A = 2, back to D = 3 etc.

But, well, if you count chords (your first example), you will only have one too many in your count - nothing to fret about :wink:

Have fun!

I think you are correct. I’ve been using my second example and wondering if I was too slow but what you said makes more sense .

Thank you

I think you are correct. I’ve been using my second example and wondering if I was too slow but what you said makes more sense .

Thank you

Maybe a repeat question, but is it “wrong” to leave both fingers 1 & 3 on their strings, slide them back, and just move finger 2 up to string 4? I don’t want to miss the spirit of the exercise but at 57, I’m always looking for hacks to save time! :wink:

Timothy @StrumminMyTwanger
Not sure I understand what you are saying.
I am assuming you are using Justin’s suggested grips for A and D in which case only your index finger stays on the same string, or is that not your question.
By the way welcome to the community.
Michael :grinning:

Thank you for the reply & glad to be here!

You answered my question.


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I’m playing around here a little by using my 2nd 3rd and 4th fingers to create the open D and open A. That makes the Anchor Finger exercises a little more challenging. But I’m thinking long term here in the fact that eventually you’ll need your 1st finger for bars when you get into CAGED shapes or you’ll need your 1st finger for the D string when working “D” shapes up the fretboard. So - now that I’m review, I think I may just switch to my 2nd 3rd and 4th on open chord were I can during these Grade 1 Beginner courses.

Not a good idea. You will need your pinky free to play sus chords and embellishments.
D shaped chords are usually played as triads on the e B and G string keeping the pinky free for the same reason.

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I’m having a new issue, I had to stop playing for a bit because my first finger got too numb, I realised that playing without the strap (mine was old and falling to pieces) was putting a lot of pressure on my anchor finger and I couldn’t feel it properly, pressure or otherwise, on that one spot. It meant I couldn’t tell where it was while I was playing, and it had started sliding up the fret as I switched between chords, without me realising.

It’s much better now, and I have my new strap, but I’m still having the same problem as when it was numb: my anchor finger slowly slides up along the fret with each pivot and chord change. I don’t really notice it’s happening until it sounds wrong and I slide it back down. Has anyone had this issue before? Will it sort itself out as my brain gets used to pinpointing where my fingers are all the time?

Frankly, I appear to be getting worse not better, which is quite demoralising, and playing the A and D chord over and over is… not rewarding, lol. Either I do the chords kind of okay by going slow, or badly faster, or okay faster but I’m contorting my wrist because I’m focussing on my fingers. (If I could go back in time and shake 22 year old me with her faster brain and say “start learning now!!!” I would.)

Anyway, I’ll keep plugging away at it, but I would really like to just be slowly getting past existing problems rather than accruing new ones. Any insight welcome.

Hi @ConstanceClaire, I guess everyone starting out experiences this. I know I did, and still do sometimes. Keep trying and slow down, focussing not on speed, but on accuracy. When you get it reasonably right most of the time, speed up a little and so on. But limit the time exercising this one thing per session. If trying too long in one sitting, you’ll get frustrated, cramped etc, and things will seem to get worse instead of better. Better go for short sessions every day, maybe even a couple of times a day if you can manage.

If you can do the rest of module 1 sufficiently well and get bored of doing the same thing over and over and over again, move on to module 2 and just incorporate this exercise as part of you new practice routine. In fact, the premade practice routine for module 2 has changing from A to D in it, so it’s all ready for you :slight_smile:

And most of all: keep it fun. Play songs, do fun exercises next to the boring ones, don’t go endlessly practicing the same thing, and accept that you’re not perfect - good is good enough. And never forget that you’re better at playing guitar today than you were a year ago :wink:

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Hi Constance,

I second what Els @LadyOfTheCastle said. I wonder if your finger sliding in the fret is simply because you’re new at this - your hands are not strong enough or flexible enough to remain in position. I struggle with this all the time! For example, I have trouble keeping my third finger near the fret when playing C. This isn’t a bad habit, but rather something I continue to work on as I’m better able to stretch my fingers.

Move on to the next module for something fresh! Soon enough Justin will introduce various exercises that will help with flexibility and strength.

Regarding that feeling of getting worse, not better: I experience that too. For me, when I leave something for a few days (sometimes a few weeks) and return to it, my skills seem to have improved, and I’m able to begin making progress again. Maybe you’ll have a similar experience.

Keep us posted on your progress!

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@LadyOfTheCastle @judi Thank you both. I will do some more work on the quick changes and crack on with the next module once I hit 30. Hopefully the sliding finger just goes away on its own.