I'm only asking, because I believe I read somewhere that doing that is bad - I personally don't have a habit of doing it, I actually use my pinky a lot of the time when plucking away, but the reason I'm asking is:

You see there? Andy McKee is anchoring his pinky, and I've actually noticed in a lot of music videos or live shows he'll do that on certain songs and then on others he doesn't anchor, any particular reason you think? Is it a good to be able to do both? Anchor and not?

I don't know if anyone here can answer it, but it was a question I've been thinking about.

Edit: I also heard that doing so decreases speed? But look there! No speed lost.

2 Answers 2


Lots of very good guitarists do it, and lots don't. It really comes down to personal taste or rather, try both and see which works better for you. The argument for it is obviously in the name - it anchors your hand better meaning greater stability and precision. If you don't need to anchor to be rock-steady, don't - I guess if you have perfect anchoring without then it gives you more freedom.

Some people struggle to use the technique for instance those with small hands or short pinkie.

Justin Sandercoe (well-respected online teacher at JustinGuitar.com) says this:


People with a long enough little finger use it an anchor near the edge of the soundhole (on an acoustic guitar), and this helps keep the fingers in the right place. My little finger is too short to do this and though I would love to use this anchor the rest of my fingers are just too cramped if I do. So I have to ‘float'. It makes finger picking a bit harder but with practice you will be able to judge where the strings are and get your hand to stay in roughly the same place. If you do have a long enough little finger I would recommend using the anchor technique, the vast majority of great fingerstyle players use it!

  • It is a trade off. Not anchoring has given me more power, speed, strength, and endurance that I could never match when anchoring in the past; but it has also been allot of work to develop the skill to gain the stability and precision that those that anchor get almost for free by putting their pinky down. This goes for both finger picking style and picking with a pick. Personally, I gently encourage students not to use their pinky, and stop pushing when it's clear that they are settled in with their anchor technique.
    – amalgamate
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 14:43
  • 1
    Clearly either choice will not prevent greatness, if it is going to happen.
    – amalgamate
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 14:49

I anchor one way or another. Whether it’s my finger, my palm, or my thumb just above the string I am picking, resting on the strings above. I can’t float. If I float, I guess I would have to look at the strings when I pick and I have never looked at my right hand. If you float, that should mean that you don’t touch the guitar at all, not even your arm. If your arm is touching, you’re anchoring. But I don’t anchor all the time. I can be on stage and being very aggressive and exaggerated with my strumming for the “show” but when it comes to leads, back to anchoring. I gotta feel the guitar.

I actually came up with an invention to make anchoring more constant. I call it TheRail. Check out the product video.

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