Changing Anchor Points as part of Technique

I’m wondering if we have any in depth thought on types of anchoring for various techniques as a piece of the technique itself.

I see plenty of players who change anchoring between rhythm and lead and even different types of lead playing but not sure I’ve seen a more careful breakdown of different anchoring parts for various techniques.

For example. I find the stability and control from a combination of pinky/ring and palm anchoring without letting my forearm rest on the guitar to be better than palm only anchoring and significantly better than palm + forearm for sweeping sequences - because with just palm it’s difficult to track with only a single reference point, and it lets the index finger have a bit more freedom of movement.

With faster alternate picking, unless I’m transitioning from a sweep, I find having retracted fingers flattened palm and only anchoring with part of the wrist or palm to be better, since this is frequently chunked in two string patterns and you might jump up or down to the next chunk - tracking is more of a discrete than continuous movement, the second anchor point is less of a benefit and can make you feel like your movement is restricted, so I switch to that anchoring. Plus with palm only anchoring, it feels more clear tracking my pickslant based on feeling what part of my wrist/palm is making contact.

For rhythm with lots of string skipping, I again find that anchoring and maybe even including the forearm as an anchor point since you’re pretty isolated to the lower strings can maximize easy movement and stability.

Anchoring is talked about in the primer. Not so much in one section, but when talking about wrist technique, forearm and wrist etc etc, the anchor points are described.

I try not to overthink it too much, but for different things, my anchor points will change.

Sure, it’s covered but not so much as something you might consider strategically switching between. Pick grip and anchoring are more kind of presented as find something that works for you. In my example,I was already a pretty solid sweep picker and naturally used a palm and forearm anchor point combination, but learning to use palm plus finger anchoring is a significant improvement for me in terms of accuracy and endurance. And I see Jason Richardson switch consciously between several achboringd throughout a piece depending on the tempo and pattern - he uses finger anchoring for crosspicking type portions, and rhythm with lots of directional changes and string skipping - but each use case actually looks a bit different. And he uses I think only palm anchoring for fast alternate picked runs, but often anchors with the fingers when sweeping, but not always. Sometimes his sweeping comes from forearm rotation plus wrist - and that can make a difference as well.

I find when sweeping with anchored fingers I have more of a tendency to involve my index finger in controlling the pick and escape motions, whereas I feel like I use more forearm rotation when anchoring palm only because it’s easier to track it by focusing on feeling my wrist rotate off/on the higher strings

I’m not sure if you’re looking for a “anchor this way when playing this” kind of an answer / solution, but if you are, I’d say it’s totally up to you and your preferences. It sounds like you’re already cognizant of it and have found what works for you!

I agree, I feel this is really player preference more than anything. It could be strategic or it could be a hindrance depending on who you ask.

As others have pointed out, it depends. Some techniques, like Gypsy, the anchor never changes. It’s a solid forearm anchor on the body and it permits access to all six strings. People will refer to this as “floating” but it doesn’t feel that way to me because the anchor provides a solid and continuous spatial reference point. I would simply call this a forearm-body anchor.

Other techniques, like wrist motion, it can change based on, as you’re suggesting, lead versus rhythm. In fact I found this awesome video on this very subject called “White Freightliner Blues - Rhythm And Lead Switching”!


You know I was wondering does she have to inward bring the wrist back in, and plant it on the strings to dampen the low strings to prevent noise from coming off the vibration ringing on the low strings if she was to basically do a reverse gypsy wrist. I also had a thought this is why the sound holes on those gypsy guitars are so small is so you dont have to worry about this occurance. Becuase you don’t have to worry about higher strings ringing out when you’re ascending because the left hand takes care of that in the lower portion of the fingers.

From what I understand, the smaller sound holes in the petit bouche gypsy jazz guitars are for increased volume, clarity, and projection. The older, grand bouche (big D-shaped hole) gives a fuller tone with more bass response, but less overall volume. Generally, players who focus more on lead go for the petit bouche and players who focus on rhythm go for the grand bouche. Django Reinhardt, for example, switched from the grand bouche to the petit bouche as soon as it became available. His cousins, who played backup duties in his band, kept their grand bouches.


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Wish I had one to test against my classical to see if the narrower hole prevents that lower e string ring from sounding as much.

I would tend to doubt it. Unlike pickups, the hole is not required to be under the string for the string to sound. The placement of the hole is generally chosen for tonal effect. There’s no mechanical reason that one string or another would be more or less likely to sound because of the placement of the hole other than tonal content.

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@Troy Yeah this is in a sense what I’m getting at - certain clusters of complex techniques can be thought of as almost necessarily including a specific type of anchoring in order to get a certain sound, although people may think of both as broadly comparable, they could have slightly different outcomes and be more attuned to slightly different use cases. Here, I’m looking at sweeping/economy.

What got me thinking about this is observing how Jason Richardson sweeps and anchors vs more ‘traditional’ neoclassical players like Loomis/Becker - the later of whom both anchor fingers when sweeping - Jason only does so for slower tempo runs and rhythm. And the biggest stylistic difference I can find is that Jason also has zero legato in his sweeps.

When sweeping - I can string track pretty decently if I copy his palm/wrist anchored movement, with palm flat and fingers retracted up (kind of similar to a palm heel strike in martial arts) approach for faster runs. What I’ve noticed is on some of Jeff Loomis’ runs such as the Intro to Miles of Machines, and some of Becker’s stuff where a lot of directional changes occur and economy is thrown in - if I switch approach to anchoring, it feels much easier. But when I was doing it, I was including legato in the run, not strictly trying to pick/strike each note.

I’m trying to hone in on why that is, maybe having my index finger less rigid/reinforced in the way it is with the flat palm shape gives a bit of an advantage if you’re including some legato in the run. Maybe the opposite is true if you want Jason’s sound. So two distinct sweeping techniques come out of it with different feel.

So in this video I compare them - when I’m using Jason’s approach I’m striking every note, and the motion is coming from my forearm, I pass through the high string by rotating into it, rotate back past it and catch the lower string, so each note is picked. This kind of extends to the larger sweep patterns as well, I’m trying to hone in on whether one vs the other actually is a more sensible technique if you want a legato vs Richardson’s more staccato sound.

but if the string is vibrating from other strings being struck and never gets sounded by a pick stroke wouldn’t less sound enter the hole since there is no hole underneath it? because i can play a descending style line, and when i am finished take my finger to dampen the low e that never was struck during the line to stop the vibration to make the sound that is emanating from the guitar go away quickly. i am wondering the difference of this between a classical and a gypsy to see if there is any. how pronounced one might be over the other. Not to mention gypsy picking can be rather punchy due to the rest stroke, and half rest stroke.

Kind of missed the anchoring aspect of that a bit - when doing the Jason Richardson movement as best I can determine it, anchoring with the palm grants enough stability to be accurate with my motion, but when I introduce the finger movement in the more legato form of it, I feel like I need the additional anchor of the finger for stability.

Sound doesn’t enter the sound hole, and acoustic guitars don’t rely on sound traveling through the air from the string to the guitar. The strings’ vibration is transferred to the guitar top at the bridge, not the sound hole. The movement of the bridge causes the guitar top to vibrate, which in turn causes the air above and below the top to vibrate. The hole allows the vibrations inside the guitar to exit the guitar, which allows the resonances of the interior of the guitar to shape the sound, and focuses the vibrations so that it seems louder directly in front of the hole than elsewhere. The location of the string relative to the hole is not relevant to this process. The hole is placed in the center of the guitar (coincidentally right under the strings) because that location allows the top to vibrate more and thus increases volume, not because it’s under the string.


So basically it is like a real version of crafting an EQ curve? So it could have an effect on it if the larger hole has more bass response? Is the bass response less on the smaller holes?

It’s possible, I guess. I haven’t heard the phenomenon you’re talking about, so it’s hard for me to say anything definitive. But the difference between the grand and the petit bouche is probably similar to the difference between a Les Paul and a telecaster. Yes the LP will have more bass response, but the low E on a telecaster isn’t exactly silent.

If you’re concerned about sympathetic vibration of open strings, then the fundamental probably isn’t the main problem. Physics dictates that the harmonics of the low E will be more responsive than the fundamental to sympathetic vibration.

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