Using right hand little finger

Just starting to learn the guitar, but I have been a RSA professonal touch typist for 48 years. Therefore my right hand little finger is very capable and seems to want to join in with the right hand finger picking. Should I do this, or just use it as an anchor finger ? From what I read the answer is to not use it, but it just seems a shame, when it has the ability.

Welcome to the Community, Bob.

No hard and fast rules.

The trick is to maintain a controlled right hand position to be able to pluck strings consistently. You can do this with a little finger or in the way you rest your forearm on the guitar body or the edge of the palm near the wrist on the bridge. If you can maintain hand position then nothing wrong with having all four fingers available to pluck strings.

It may not be what is typically taught (thumb for the thickest three strings and index, middle and ring for the three thinnest strings) but as I say, no hard and fast rules.

That said, perhaps sensible to follow the lessons as taught when you are starting off and then adapt as you get the hang of things.

I’ve had the same question in the past. I do mostly fingerstyle and don’t anchor. Have had others tell me I must anchor. Attended a “master guitar workshop” and the mentor there, a well known musician with international standing told me there’s no need to anchor.

I recall a discussion about finger-style playing and using an anchor finger and which fingers to use. It was on the Acoustic Guitar Forum, I think.

The players there were essentially all over the board, with some preferring anchors, many not. Some finger picking with just the thumb and index, others three fingers and still others four fingers.

I think only a minority use the little finger, likely because you don’t really need to and it doesn’t work easily for most. It doesn’t appear to be used much in classical guitar either, not even as an anchor.

But those that did use it did so because they could, so why not?

My thought is use it if you feel comfortable doing so, but I would consider that fingerpicking at a level that includes the little finger is a pretty advanced technique. If you are a beginner, don’t worry about it now and add it in when you get there.

Really just starting my journey on guitar and particularly fingerstyle so my advice mightn’t bear much weight yet, but personally I don’t anchor.
Mainly because my hand doesn’t seem to wander much (might be anchored through my arm) and my pinky is a fair bit shorter than the rest of my fingers and trying to anchor just makes the rest of my hand and fingers less mobile.

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Maybe because it’s shorter so you’re hand position may have to change slightly to accommodate?

Yep. Trouble is that most people who say you “must” do such-and-such are usually just telling you what they do, because they heard/read it elsewhere and it happens to work ok for them. Most probably haven’t even tried any alternatives.

That’s why Justin is such an effective teacher. He shows you a recommended way to start out doing something, but fully encourages you to explore other alternatives as you advance and settle on a way that works best for you personally.

I don’t anchor for finger style either. Tried it, didn’t work for me, find it much easier to just let my hand float in place on it’s own. (Same when I’m using a pick on single strings too.)

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Yep, agree with all you said. Have tried anchoring and it just doesn’t work for me. I figure if I can find the right string either fingerstyle or with a pick without relying on the anchor that has to be the best all round.

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Theres no guitar law, so do what you want, if it works for you.

In classical guitar you definitely use all of your fingers and you do not use an anchor; your fingers are designated as P I M A going from thumb to ring finger, pinkie is c or e; there is no reason why this technique can not be applied to any genre; that’s what I usually do.

Error corrected DW


Most fingerstyle is taught to use thumb on the bottom 3 string (‘bass side’) and the 3 next fingers, without pinky, for the 3 thinnest strings.

That said, I don’t think anybody here will make you go “hard stop” on this.
It might even grant you a certain advantage along the way.
You might end up thinkin you have a finger to spare, if you subconsciously start to neglect a different finger while doing fingerstyle :smiley:

Go your own way but just keep some things in mind I guess

I never “anchor” with my pinky myself, I prefer to keep my hand afloat and it works for me.
Thus; I can’t judge on anything concerning anchoring :slight_smile:

meanwhile, your fretboard hand whill thank you for havng pinky strength and stretch! :smiley:

I don’t think this is correct. P = thumb, I = index, M = middle and A = ring. The letters correspond to the italian words for those fingers (which is how I remember them): polluce, indice, medio and annulare.

There is some info about this here:


Yes, you are correct P = Thumb, I = Index, M = Middle Finger, A = Ring Finger. I’ve also read somewhere the letters correspond to spanish words; pulgar, indice, medio and anular. Very rarely you may see on sheet music reference to letters c or e for the pinky. Not sure what they stand for but would be interesting to know.

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Well, in Italian “pinky” is “mignolo”, so no help there.

Spanish probably is the is the origin of the notation, I usually think of Spain as the origin of guitar music (although I have no idea if it actually is).

it seems the C = chico

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Might the time signature of the music make a difference as to how many fingers you could use?

Even/odd time signatures = even/odd number of fingers to use?

And then there’s hybrid picking. Probably the best guitarist I ever knew personally played with a pick between thumb and pointer finger, while simultaneously finger picking with index and ring fingers.

He was influenced by English folk rocker Richard Thompson, who played that way.

@Tbushell Never heard of the link between these 2 aspects of music.
Wouldn’t be surprised it would matter to some people though.
It’s rather unlikely though

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Sorry, I was wrong!
The pinky is designated C or E, and is used for advanced techniques.
I don’t know what I was thinking about :joy:, I may have been preoccupied elsewhere!
I have always used all of my fingers ever since I started playing; the teacher that I learned some classical off discouraged me from using the pinky as an anchor finger and said that it would be used after and it would be more difficult to learn to not use it right away than it would be later.
I would say that if you have any intention to play classical in the future don’t use it as an anchor, if not go ahead and use it if it works for you.

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