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I notice I tend to rest the little finger of my picking hand on the body of my guitar, typically on the edge of the sound-hole, for greater accuracy and steadiness of the picking hand.

After extended periods of time this finger can start to ache, which makes me wonder if using it like this can cause injury in the long-term.

Is it ideal to use this finger like this or not?

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7 Answers 7

I don't think there's an ideal or not ideal. It can be a good technique for accuracy, but you lose speed. It is worthwhile having as another technique in your arsenal.

I use it a lot and I think practice will make it less of a strain for you, but you will also find that you can improve your free hand accuracy over time anyway so you'll probably end up only using it for specific runs or sections..

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+1 The answer here is more or less: YMMV –  Jduv Mar 29 '11 at 13:40
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I find that anchoring my hand like this limits my range of motion to an unacceptable degree, so I try to avoid it.

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I had a teacher who told me to do this and at the time it was great. I wasn't getting into very advanced playing so I didn't need that extra mobility.

There's nothing wrong with doing it, but you won't always want to because it does limit your mobility in you picking hand. Also, if it's causing any pain, you really shouldn't do it. It won't go away, and it could cause long term injury. You should either find a different way of anchoring your pinky or stop doing it altogether.

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It's a matter of some contention... There are those who maintain you shouldn't and others who do it all the time. I do so if I'm "Travis picking", seems to help with accuracy. However, not when I'm playing jazzy complex chords as I use more fingers... And never when flatpicking.

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Actually this is not a very good technique.
You are not supposed to rest your finger. If you watch famous guitarist, you 'll probably see that they follow this technique, but they only use it while performing, and, I guess, without noticing it.
For example, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, John Frusciante, etc.

But of course you know you are not Jimi Hendrix, and even these players, I believe try to avoid resting the little finger while they practice.

If you want to check what's the best technique, you should definitely see videos of great Jazz player, who usually have an excellent technique even while performing.

For instance, you can check Scott Henderson giving tips in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm_VSjadCiU
Check his picking hand! ;-)

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Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn't. The fact is that a lot of guitar players do this (John Frusciante comes to mind): see the picture

I personally tried to do this but didn't find it helpful. If some day you find yourself really uncomfortable doing it, you'll just stop. In fact, people tend to overstate the power of habit: it's not like it will take you years to stop doing it. While it helps you, stick with it.

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When I first started to learn the default seemed to be to place the little finger to anchor. As I progressed I found that naturally I was actually doing it less and less. What I would say was that it did help in the beginning as it encourages your muscle memory for where the strings are, I think that is the logic behind it.

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