Picking Hand Anchor

The internet seems to disagree as to whether you should be allowed to “anchor” your picking hand. I don’t mean a solid anchor but to lightly rest part of your hand (commonly pinky but I have seen other parts of hand/arm) to give your hand a point of reference of where everything is at. Does the Justin Guitar community anchor and is there a solid reason why a person shouldn’t?

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Its entirely your choice and style and depends what your are playing and how

Hi Joshua welcome to the forum!

A lot of blues style fingerpicking doesnt use the little finger so many use that as an anchor.

A lot of general guitaring, especially rock and metal you are using palm mutes a lot so are typically resting your palm on the bridge somewhere.

Doing strummy folk/acoustic rock etc perhaps no anchors


Hi Joshua, @RobDickinson has given you good advise.

One other thing I’d add is that some consider you get a better sound quality by not using an anchor because using an anchor tends to dampen the sound. I used to anchor, but these days I find my hand feels a whole lot more relaxed without the anchor. This was one reason I stopped anchoring. The other is that I’m getting better sound. My acoustic guitar has a very responsive soundboard.

Try them both. You might find there is a use for both of them.


I sometimes pinky anchor, sometimes don’t. Depends what I’m playing.

An anchor gives your body a reference to know where the strings are in relation to your hand.

I’ve found recently that anchoring my pinky sometimes makes my playing worse. E.g. when doing string skipping on a reasonably complicated riff. I play it better with no pinky anchor, and I seem to get the reference better from my forearm on the body of the guitar. I wasn’t consciously trying to not anchor though.

I reckon just do what feels right for whatever you’re playing. Sometimes anchor, sometimes don’t, whatever makes it easier.

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I tend to anchor if it’s a all picking song or longer section. I’m not at a level yet where I can consistently find strings without it for some reason.
I can see the possibility of there being a possible sound differential on an acoustic and maybe a semi hollow electric? Solid body I’d be surprised.


All depends what song you play, some I anchor some I don’t :slight_smile:

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I think light, brushing contact with the guitar is fine.

On the other hand, “planting” the anchor finger hard (um - like a boat anchor) can lead to excess tension, dead sound, etc.

Maybe “anchor” is a bad term - maybe “guide” or “reference” finger would be better?

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I find myself playing fingerstyle and strumming chords without anchoring. When using a pick, it depends and it’s sort of instinctive whether I anchor on the pickguard or rest my picking hand against the lower strings.

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I do both. When picking strings and wanting each string to ring out (like when I practice U2’s "Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For) I anchor with my pinky. When I’m practicing scale runs and want to keep the non-picked strings quiet, I do not anchor.

Different strokes for different folks…

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