Anchoring vs floating right hand

Are there benefits of floating right hand versus anchoring with fingers?

I always used anchoring, and recently as my picking improved i tried a floating position and its a bit awkward, but i think with some practice i could get used to it.
My question is should i try learning this way or it does not make much difference and i should concentrate on other things?

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I am a dragger/slider. I used to anchor… I switched… because it allowed me to move more freely… and gave me a bit more range.



Same as @hamsterman, I used to anchor, I switched. Getting used to it didn’t take long at all. And that also made switching from UWPS to DWPS easier for me. It also made it a bit easier to play a different guitar without struggling to find a good hand position.

I still anchor most of the time on my acoustic though. Maybe it’s due to the wideness of the body.

I think it doesn’t hurt to try it out. And if you noticed any degradation, maybe it’s an indication that you have other inconsistencies in your picking.

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I generally anchor for lead playing but go free for more rhythm playing. I’m trying to become more relaxed so I’m trying to anchor less and just be loose and easy with my hand and fingers. It’s a long march to the sea for me.

I think this doesn’t need to be a “VS” :sunglasses:
You can use both methods depending on the situation, whatever makes the thing you want to play feel easier!

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Im interested are they equally good or one way is considered ‘better’ for some reason?
Im not sure because im just starting to use floating right hand, but i think i notice a slight improvement in string tracking (Could be just the illusion im not sure).

IMO, guitar playing technique is very personal. I think I anchor somewhat myself. I hold the pick much like @Troy does, resting the butt of my hand just above the bridge and place my 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers on the pick guard of my Les Paul. It’s the only guitar I play so that is the only technique I use. When I track to the lower strings, my fingers move upward until I reach the 1st string and then I rest my fingers on that string (like Troy). What I am finding is when I hold the pick somewhat like Yngwie does, and as best I can explain it…I hold the pick where my thumb tip and 1st finger tip hold the pick…I get freedom and more accuracy. I’ve been playing with this for about a week and it seems to help me pick better. And when switching strings with an upward pick stroke, I use UWPS to escape the former string to the next string. Watch the Yngwie videos and you’ll get an idea of what I’m attempting to explain here. And with anything new that you may try, it will possibly be awkward at first. But when you hit something that feels good, the awkwardness will go away.

What we don’t talk about here so much is left hand fretting technique. I am trying the spider approach. My fingers don’t move until being used. I don’t lift high off of the strings or allow my fingers to fly away. Any unnecessary movement slows one down IMO! Now, I’m not really trying to reach Yngwie speed anyway. There are enough high speed shredders out there, so I don’t think I need to be one. I really am shooting for Doug Aldrich type pentatonic licks, yes he’s fast, but he plays melodic and precise, incorporating bends and vibrato; occasionally, he throws in a fast scale type run. That’s me! Or, at least what I’m gunnin’ for! This helps me in that it is almost exclusively DWPS. Since I play in the vain of Classic Rock music or Melodic Rock/Metal music, There is no need for light speed scales. Again, occasionally I’ll throw something in. What I really want to incorporate into my repertoire is pedal tone licks. That uses scales in a different way.

Whatever you land on, it is personal. It suits your ability.


Hi @pauliusmm.

On balance, I don’t see many advantages from anchoring.

To anchor the picking hand requires you to exert force into the guitar. This increases tension and reduces your mobility. Also, if you chose to anchor with fingers, you also can’t readily use those fingers for hybrid picking.

While my picking hand is usually in contact with the strings for damping, I do not exert force into the guitar than is required for that purpose.

You might feel like an anchored hand allows for greater stability initially, but you can develop sufficient stability without anchoring.

The only instance where I think anchoring is possibly more help than hindrance is for “hyper-picking,” as a means and channeling the “jiggle” into an effective alternate picking movement.

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is it a good idea to curl fingers into a fist when not anchoring (no tension just lightly curled)?
if im not curling them they touch the strings, not sure if its a good thing or not.

Hi @pauliusmm.

My fingers are usually loose to allow rapid transition to hybrid picking, but curling them slightly allows be to achieve more downward pickslanting.

See this thread for my positioning

I’m a big fan of the ‘sliding’ just beyond the strings on the pick-guard. I’ve seen others do this as well… and I noticed Troy did this for his crosspicking. But it ranges hugely… its hard for me to argue with MAB or Carl Miner who both anchor.

A few thoughts…

Anchoring tends to be a trade-off between positional awareness and stability vs mobility. Contact only between forearm and guitar body works better if your sitting down rather than jumping around a stage. The forearm is fleshy, and you can probably track across 6 strings without sliding it. Just the movement of skin and flesh. That makes positional awareness more difficult than anchoring the wrist/palm areas on the bridge or body. Robert Fripp who teaches the wrist floating method, and is into various forms of ‘disciplinary’ practice admitted it’s difficult and takes a couple of years (I think he said) to get it working well. Every time the pick contacts the strings, there’s a reaction and it’s nice to know where you are afterwards.

Depends also on what you’re playing at the time. If you’re playing a lot of fast lines, then you probably know where the strings are just then; not far from where you last found them. However, if you’re performing with Hanz Zimmer, and the orchestra and audience are sitting in silent anticipation for your first pristine notes of a famous theme, you’ll probably be grateful for any clues as to exactly where the strings are.

It’s very common for people to drape their fingers across the body of the guitar. Lots of ‘Gypsy’ players do it, Petrucci, Govan, TG. On the other hand (npi), McLaughlin, Di meola, Gilbert, don’t. Dominant upward pick slanters probably tend to do it less because of the hand position.

As for curling the fingers, making fists, extending fingers etc. I think that’s getting more into the area of personal biomechanics. Some people’s wrists respond better to certain positions. McLaughlin commented on the hand needing to be not tense, but not completely relaxed. Which makes sense because wrist movements basically come from forearm muscles pulling on the hand bones, and so a certain ‘tone’ in the hand muscles helps give something solid to pull on. But it can be quite individual.

Best thing is to experiment so as not to exclude anything useful. Probably, the more varied your repertoire, the more you’ll do different things.


Since my last reply I have made an important discovery for me. I was picking with total forearm movement. I since corrected this to be solely wrist suppination (I think). What I have discovered for myself is when I am making any picking movement, whether upstroke or downstroke, the pick almost never loses contact with the strings, with exception of performing UWPS and DWPS. In the last few days, my picking speed and left/right hand synchronization have increased. I don’t sit down in most cases with a metronome, but I can tell that speed is coming rapidly. I feel that what is happening is all picking and finger movement from both hands are becoming more precise with minimal motion, more efficient. I also have noticed a “certain feel” and can actually feel the percussive and frequency aspect through out my hands and arms. I don’t know if I can even explain it, but it just has a certain vibe that sends vibrations through my hands and arms that helps with synchronization. My fretting fingers don’t fly away and stay close to the strings. I called it the spider motion before. It seems now that the ability to play with speed is not so much muscular in nature, but more like a relaxed approach and tuning in to what I hear in my mind and matching with my hands on the guitar.

For instance, I’ve been learning in the last few days to play David Lee Roth’s “It’s Showtime!” from the A Little Ain’t Enough album. As you know, Jason Becker did the guitar work. That song is pretty intense both in rhythm and lead. I haven’t even begun the leads yet. I have watched a few YouTube videos and found two that I feel are accurate and quite remarkable. I also have been listening to the song frequently to get it in my head. With what I’ve learned so far, the Intro/Chorus riff and the Verse riffs, I try to visual playing it and hearing it in my head. I notice that there are certain parts that I can visualize up to speed, so my approach is to visualize it slow, seeing my hands perform the riffs and really zoning in on trouble spots. I tend to obsess over it sometimes and have to shut it down.

When I have the rhythm parts down and up to speed, I will post a video and show my progress. This song is not for the faint of heart to take on. It really has to be well rehearsed and relaxed to play.

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