Arm anchoring - thoughts?

So I’ve found something interesting: I seem to pick with much more accuracy and ease when I’m playing my acoustic guitar. The movement seems to me simple and from the wrist, and the arm is steady. However, when I play with my strat, alternate picking suddenly becomes a lot harder. The movement becomes very inconsistent, sometimes adding in an unwanted twist movement that I’ve never really got along with, but most all, the arm in general just seems to shake.

Now, I’m not sure what the reason for this might be, but I am wondering if it’s because the way my elbow and shoulder comfortably nestles into the larger body of the acoustic - you basically have a firm arm anchor when you’re playing acoustic, it’d be very hard not to. When I’m playing the strat, the only part of my arm that is touching the strat is the bottom of the forearm, and I feel like I really need to push into it to stop unwarranted elbow movements.

First of all, does anyone else find arm anchoring important, and second of all, could there be another reason I’m having much more luck with the acoustic eg the angle of the picking arm? Also, how do you keep the arm still in the absence of such an anchor? I hate not being able to play my strat.

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This reminds me of when I got a strat after not playing one for a long time. I was used a gibson style bridge and the strat style bridges doesn’t allow same placement of the picking hand as the gibson style bridge.

The contour of the body of a strat and and LP is also very different and that has implication for the underside of the arm (the bottom of the forearm). I would describe it as the difference between a sharp edge and a rounded (contoured) edge, where the sharp(er) edge gives the arm a more pronounced edge to grab onto.

The solution is to find a good placement for you hand and use that as the place you navigate from. It can rest easily top of the trem and you can use your pinky on the body of the pickguard for more stability. I would caution against “pushing” too much. You don’t want to tense up. At the same time, you have to have some contact with your hand. I use the side of my hand for muting the bottom strings, so that they don’t ring while playing the higher ones. The underside of the picking hand arm, rests on the contoured body of the strat.

I think you will have to use some time practicing on your strat and search for that position that works for you. So a period experimentation, which is cool, you could find something new you never thought of.

I have strat style, telestyle and lp style bridges and nylon and steel acoustics. There is always a spot that works, and I don’t really think too much about it now, when I grab another guitar. So don’t worry to much about it, it will come if you search for it.

If you have a particular strat hero that you look up to, look at their hands. Where do they touch the guitar?

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It’s often hard to tell how much/where strat players (I like Eric Johnson a lot) are anchoring. I would be very interested to know what other members of this forum do. I’ve made a couple of videos to further illustrate my problems. The biggest problem with anchoring the arm on the Fender is that it causes the guitar to shake for some reason. I can sort of hold my elbow in position by jutting it up in a similar way to how it is on the acoustic, and I think that way is more accurate, but it hurts. So neither way I can think of is really helping.

In my opinion, your strat problem is that you hand is NOT touching the bridge. That is a missed opportunity that you could have used for added stability. I always touch the bridge no matter what guitar I am playing, because it adds stability and I can use it to mute the strings when needed.

Yeah, same here. I think a lot of it is familiarity and comfort - I’ve played Strat-style guitars essentially my entire life as a player, so I’m very comfortable on vintage style bridges, recessed Floyds, Strat-style fixed bridges, and anything with about that same profile. I feel awkward as hell on non-recesssed Floyds, Tune-o-Matics, and anything that involves having the bridge well off the face of the guitar.

IF you’ve done a LOT of woodshedding on your acoustic, then you’re going to be working in a different hand position when you switch to an electric, so it’s going to take some adjustment. For me, if I wanted to spend a lot of time playing a guitar with a Tune-o-Matic (I own one, a PRS Singlecut, but it’s mostly used for rhythm and that specific sound rather than for full shred playing), I’d need to switch it up and spend a lot of time practicing with that anchor/orientation to get used to how that shifts your mechanics a little.

For the most part, though, I’m aware of what sort of bridges are comfortable for me, so I just stick to guitars with that configuration.

A variable you could be considering is the strings themselves. If you use nylon strings or lower gauges for your acoustics, that could affect the resistance presented by the strings. However, I do agree that the amount of arm anchoring difference is the major one.

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Hmmm, I tried anchoring my hand more firmly on my fender strat - still a messy, spasmodic movement featuring the unwanted inconsistent twisting movement that I hate so much. Also a lot harder to change strings. The hand anchor on my acoustic is very light. The arm is so straight that it seems unneccesary to anchor so much. I think the problem is that a curve in the arm makes the basic left-right deviation etc movement impossible, or at the very least, extremely difficult.

I find that a big issue is if any exertion/stress is required to keep the arm up, it makes things way more difficult.

So getting the bottom of the forearm to comfortably rest in sorta an ‘equilibrium’ point of the body is really crucial.

Also, for those of us who play with elevated wrists, and a non-anchored pinky, this is even more important.