Floating versus Anchoring Picking Hand?

Do you guys use an anchoring or floating right hand when playing fast?
And based on which one you use why do you prefer one over the other?
And do you feel there are some true mechanical benefits or applications of both in different circumstances?

Is there an absolute of mechanics for one being better than the other for fast playing???

I use this weird hybrid method where my pinky and ring finger kind of hooks onto the higher strings when I’m playing notes on the E and A strings. Otherwise, they just kinda slide against the body of the guitar. That said, my current technique is nowhere near as developed as I’d like it to be, so it’s subject to change. I might end up fully anchoring, I might not. I think deciding on one or the other is more important than worrying about which one is better. Either way can be just fine and there are loads of examples on both sides so I say just pick what works best and roll with it.

I think I’m in the same boat as you… hanging on the edge of the string plane, else just coasting along the pick-guard, though I am anchored to the top of my bridge.

3s descending, the second time use some hybrid

edit: this is the ascending descending version, I though it had a south indian classical vibe when jamming with it, think mahavishnu.

My humble apologies about the visuals, covid hair … etc!

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On electric I’m always anchored for support. Support relaxes the muscles and is one of the huge fundamentals of hitting really high speeds.

I hope I’m not cheap for offering always the same advice, but here it is :smiley:

Be aware of the many possibilities, and choose whatever feels the easiest for the tune/lick/riff you are playing!

More concretely: I for example have two main ways of anchoring: gliding with fingers 3,4 on the pickguard, sometimes even 2,3,4 (call if F), and/or resting the palm on the bridge or strings (call it P).

To me, some licks feel easier with just P, some with just F, some with F+P!

Why force myself to using only one method, if I can use 3 for different purposes?

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I don’t want to turn this thread into a long debate, but this is contentious. As I understand the term, anchoring does not relax the muscles. Quite the opposite in fact.

On guitar, the picking arm cannot be anchored unless the arm is applying force into the body of the guitar. As the face of the guitar is essentially perpendicular to the floor while playing, this force into the guitar is not provided by gravity. As a result, any anchoring force sufficient to provide stability is the result of muscular exertion.

This isn’t necessarily wrong, a lot of great players anchor with great results. Increased stability can be beneficial. It just doesn’t come without some associated cost. There are many varieties of anchor, some more and some less stable, some more and some less limiting.

I’m not dismissing anchoring as wrong or invalid.

It’s important to note that I distinguish anchoring from touching. Mere contact does not result in a more stable picking platform. Force into the body of the guitar is what creates stability.

Lightly touching strings for damping purposes and noise control is not anchoring.

By my definition then, anchoring is the exertion of force into the face of the guitar to increase stability. I don’t see how anything else can sensibly be called an “anchor.”

Moreover, being anchored to any position reduces mobility by definition. If you are anchored and wish to move, you must either drag the anchor, or lift the anchor before moving.

Stability comes at the expense of mobility, mobility comes at the expense of stability. Everything is a compromise.

Oh, well then looks like I used the term incorrectly.

I don’t anchor then.

I remember this term being a holdover from the Ultimate Guitar techniques forum, which was an interesting place.

I always have a point of reference, but I don’t think I am necessarily forcing into the guitar.

I wouldn’t say incorrectly, this is just my understanding of the term.

That said, if “anchoring” doesn’t mean what I think it means, I’m not sure that it can mean anything at all.

I was a member on Ultimate Guitar too, I joined as a teenager back in 2005. I haven’t visited the website in years.

Hehe Tom, I admire your rigour but I think not all terms in guitar playing have been derived through careful biomechanical analysis :slight_smile:

My understanding is that anchoring refers to any point of contact of the picking hand on the guitar, regardless of pressure (does it?)

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This is what prompted my original response.

Maybe a better term would be point of reference or support.

For what it’s worth Anton Oparin is my teacher and just says “Support”. Anchoring has this heavy connotation of massive force and maybe it’s a bit of a loaded term.

I like to float. It feels like there’s more freedom to make string changes via arm tracking, and I have more control in changing angles and direction. Even in palm muting, I don’t really feel “anchored” to the string, it’s just a matter of more or less wrist flexion to control the mute.

I don’t believe there are any “absolutes of mechanics” as far as “the best / the fastest” approach for all people in all situations. Petrucci is always anchoring, and I don’t think anyone has ever criticized him for not being fast enough.

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We are rapidly heading into 2008 Ultimate Guitar Advanced Techniques forum territory. LOL.

I really hope not.

Possibly, but I can’t understand how that would in anyway constitute an “anchor.” An anchor holds something in position.

If touching is “anchoring”, or if damping is “anchoring”, why do we need the term “anchoring” at all?

I understand the value of reference points, but it’s also not necessary to create a reference point through a fixed point of contact. With practice, the string you’re playing is a sufficient reference point. Again, not dismissing the idea, which is obviously valuable.

Precisely my issue with the term. I can see it being valuable if it means what I think it should mean, otherwise I don’t see how it’s a sensible term.

Me too, I like the freedom.

Sure, which is why I’m not dismissing the value of anchoring. Stability is good. Reliable reference points are good. Players who value these aspects of anchored methods are totally justified.


And I’ve been standing on the floor all this time.


We went from Cracking the Code general discussion type to skirting the edge of Ultimate Guitar 2008 to Reddit pun in 15 posts

Talk about feeding the central nervous system with as much variety as possible, Troy would be so proud of this discussion


Is MAB an example of someone who anchors or floats? Just want to make sure I have the right visual for both. And who would be an example of the opposite?

This brings up my next question about who players who dont intentionally mute with the right hand, like MAB for example. What is the benefit to this? It seems like it frees up the right wrist for sure, but I find it harder to have more attack with my picking hand when trying to execute with no wrist. Could just need more practice, but Ive been trying to find the answer with no luck so far.

MAB is kind of an interesting case.

MAB anchors his fingertips between the pickups. The result is a stable picking platform which provides a strong point of reference. MAB’s manages to retain a lot of mobility since the fingers can move to accommodate his tracking movements. As he tracks from string to string, his fingers curl and extend as required.

This isn’t without compromise either. The structure lifts his palm from the strings and he cannot damp with the picking hand, so he has to control noise without damping. Also, with his fingers planted he has no facility for hybrid picking.

Everything is a compromise.

The price you pay for being able to literally melt brains I guess! :smiley:

The speed and clarity of what he does still blows my mind.

Okay but say he wasnt anchoring his fingertips between the pickups. He still doesnt mute strings, and I feel like if you shoot for accuracy without muting strings, you gain a lot of mobility. Think Marty Friedman for example. I dont think he mutes