Black Friday Sale!
One Month. $5 Bucks.

Includes free JamTrack Pack with signup. Also enjoy 25% off select Master Courses from Phil Keaggy and more. Offer expires 11/27 at midnight.

Learn More Save 75%

The Pinky Anchor (Guitar Lesson)


What are you waiting for? Get your membership now!
Jim Deeming

The Pinky Anchor

Many guitarists use their pinky as an anchor. Jim explains the pros and cons of this technique.

Taught by Jim Deeming in Basic Guitar with Jim seriesLength: 9:00Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (06:20) The Pinky Anchor Recently in the JamPlay member forum, instructors as well as members have debated whether the right pinky finger should be used as an anchor. When someone refers to the pinky as an anchor finger, he / she means that the pinky is fixed to the body of the guitar in order to keep the right hand stationary. Some players anchor their pinky to the bridge or pickguard. Some electric players prefer to anchor the pinky finger to the bridge or middle pickup.

Various instructors encourage this technique, and others feel that it should never be used. For this reason, Jim has decided to film a lesson in hopes of clearing up some of the confusion surrounding this debate. In this lesson, Jim explains why and when he uses the pinky finger as an anchor. He also provides an explanation of why many teachers disapprove of this technique.

Common Arguments Against Using the Pinky As an Anchor

Many guitar teachers can point to several specific reasons regarding why this technique should never be used. Almost all classically trained guitarists feel very strongly that this technique should never be used. Here are some of the arguments that many guitar teachers use to discourage using the pinky finger as an anchor:

1. The pinky is the weakest finger. Using the pinky as an anchor puts unnecessary strain on it. Built up tension in the pinky easily spreads to the other fingers in your hand. This will lead to an overall lack of control in your playing. It can also result in injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

2. Using the pinky as an anchor greatly limits the overall range of movement of the right hand. This may disallow you from playing musical examples that incorporate strumming, string skipping, low bass notes, and arpeggio figures. It also severely limits your ability to play solo arrangements with a flatpick.

3. Using the pinky as an anchor decreases independence between the fingers of the right hand. Anchoring the pinky forces your other right hand fingers closer to the strings. This may result in accidentally bumping these strings with the index, middle, or ring fingers.

4. Anchoring the pinky finger disallows you from using it. It also greatly limits your ability to use the third finger. Although the pinky finger is rarely used for anything, it does play a very important role in flamenco techniques such as the rasgueado.

Common Arguments For Using the Pinky As an Anchor

On the flipside, many guitar teachers strongly urge students to use the pinky finger as an anchor. Two of JamPlay's finest, Jim Deeming and Steve Eulberg, frequently play with this technique. In the member forum, Jim mentioned that he anchors his pinky finger all the time. This was a simple exaggeration. By this statement, he meant that he frequently uses the pinky as an anchor.

Also, like Jim mentions, disciples of the great Chet Atkins also encourage this technique. Contrary to what most classical and jazz guitarists believe, these players feel that using the pinky as an anchor provides several advantages. Jim argues that anchoring the pinky provides the following advantages:

1. Anchoring the pinky enables you to play faster. This idea applies to fingerpicking as well as playing with a thumb or flatpick.

2. The pinky finger keeps the right hand from moving out of position.

3. Anchoring the pinky helps maintain control over the rest of the right hand fingers within the context of a fingerpicked arpeggio pattern. Jim demonstrates a rapid arpeggio figure borrowed from banjo vocabulary to help demonstrate this point.

4. As mentioned before, using the pinky as an anchor brings the right hand closer to the strings. This does have one advantage. The closer your hand is to the strings, the easier it is to palm mute.

Should the Pinky Be Used As an Anchor?

After reading the preceding arguments, you must be wondering whether or not you should anchor your pinky. This decision ultimately rests in your hands. If you do decide to anchor your pinky, you must do it deliberately. Be aware of when you are anchoring the pinky and why you are doing it. Do not get in a habit of anchoring the pinky finger without any good reason for doing so.
Chapter 2: (02:25) The Pinky Anchor and Flatpicking In the previous scene, Jim discussed using the pinky as an anchor within the context of fingerstyle playing. In this scene, he examines the pinky anchor within the context of playing with a pick. Essentially, the same advantages and disadvantages that were mentioned earlier also apply to playing with a pick. Using the pinky as an anchor may help you play with more speed and control when your playing is limited to the three treble strings. This technique may result in faster tremolo picking and arpeggios played on the high strings. However, it hinders your ability to play musical examples that involve the three lowest strings or a mixed combination of all six strings.

Video Subtitles / Captions





Supplemental Learning Material

Select

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


noveenmorrisnoveenmorris replied on September 22nd, 2017

Thanks for doing a video on this topic; I was very confused about this.

zagermanzagerman replied on January 26th, 2014

I plant my pinky as the situation determines. I don't seem to stick to a hard and fast rule. That may change as I continue to progress, especially with finger-picking.

jeriann3jeriann3 replied on January 6th, 2013

Jim, et al.... I'm having a little struggle when using a "thumb pick" and finger picking with other fingers, of the picked thumb sounding much louder than the finger-picked strings.... wonder what's a way to fix this? thanks Jeri Ann!

bebosworthbebosworth replied on November 25th, 2012

Took lessons from a guy who got on me all the time about doing it so much that I quit taking from him (plus his hygiene was awful, phew). Glad to see that it is acceptable. Thanks for the great set of lessons Jim.

ripleyripley replied on October 7th, 2012

the pinky is too short. I use my ring finger for an anchor.

doghousedoghouse replied on March 23rd, 2010

Hi Jim et al. I enjoy fingerpicking and have been playing for just over three years. for hile I was having lessons from a classical guitarist and I have never anchored my pinky. I am 57 and my fingers are almost welded togetherbut I have started giving it a go. After a while I am getting used to it and it does seem to make things faster and more accurate!. Great lesson Jim!

rumble dollrumble doll replied on November 27th, 2008

I found myself anchoring my pinky naturally before I even knew it was actually a topic in guitar playing. It just seems to go there by itself when it's required. Is it just me or are some of the lessons cut short? I find myself concentrating on what Jim is teaching/saying then suddenly the scene/lesson is cut short & moves on or ends. I don't know if it is a problem with my PC or if it is something on JamPlay. It's a little frustrating as I find myself wondering what he was going on to say next & that it may have been important.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on March 10th, 2008

Boo pinky anchor...haha. I'm really glad that you did this lesson. Great job of discussing both sides of the argument!

a strummina strummin replied on March 8th, 2008

yes the pinky rules.. as its just hanging about not doing nothing but the problem is when to use. Depends on style of play and for me flat picking with strum, no.. only if your picking alot of strings. oh.. and the barre chords lesson great.. with fret board too. Great lessons here at jamplay :-) thanks jim..

Basic Guitar with Jim

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Fingerstyle master Jim Deeming teaches you the basics of guitar playing. With over 30 years of experience teaching and playing, Jim will definitely start you in the right direction. This is a great series for beginners and guitarists looking to refresh their knowledge.



Lesson 1

Introduction Lesson

In this short lesson, Jim Deeming will introduce himself and talk about his upcoming lessons.

Length: 6:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Choosing a Guitar

Jim gives his thoughts on purchasing your first guitar.

Length: 7:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Goal Setting

Jim discusses the importance of setting goals. He provides some tips that will help steer your practicing in the right direction.

Length: 11:00 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 4

Changing the Strings

Jim Deeming walks you through the process of changing your strings. He gives some excellent tips on this important process.

Length: 41:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Meet Your New Guitar

Jim introduces proper playing technique. Then, he explains how to play your first chord.

Length: 52:24 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Learning More Chords

Jim teaches you the 3 primary chords in G major. He also explains how chords relate to specific keys. A great lesson!

Length: 39:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Right Hand Revisited

Jim discusses a plethora of right hand techniques that are essential to guitar playing.

Length: 35:19 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

New Chords and Keys

This lesson provides additional information about chords and keys.

Length: 19:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Let's Play

This lesson is all about playing. Jim will start you off playing a song. You will have the opportunity to play along with him.

Length: 20:10 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Alternating Bass and Chords

Jim teaches you a few more commonly used chords. Then, he discusses a technique known as the alternating bass line.

Length: 40:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

A Shape Chords

Jim covers all possible fingering options pertaining to the basic open A chord shape.

Length: 17:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Basic Guitar Checkup

Jim talks about the future of his Phase 1 guitar series and where to go from here.

Length: 4:18 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Notes, Scales and Theory

Jim delves into basic music theory. He starts from square one in this lesson.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Chord Fiesta

Jim Deeming invites you to a veritable chord fiesta. He demonstrates common dominant and minor chord shapes.

Length: 43:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Movable Chords

This lesson is all about movable chords. Learn the importance of barre chords and other movable shapes.

Length: 40:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Proper Practicing

Jim Deeming explains how to create a productive practice routine. Make sure you aren't wasting needless time!

Length: 30:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

The Pinky Anchor

Many guitarists use their pinky as an anchor. Jim explains the pros and cons of this technique.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Palm Muting

Jim discusses an important technique--palm muting. He explains how palm muting is used by flatpickers and fingerstyle players.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Reading Tablature

Jim Deeming covers the basics of reading guitar tablature. Knowledge of tablature will help with JamPlay lessons as well as learning your favorite songs.

Length: 21:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Tuning Extravaganza

Jim explains various tuning methods. He provides useful tips and tricks that will ensure that your guitar is sounding its best.

Length: 31:45 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Let's Play: "Red River Valley"

Jim is back with another "let's play" style lesson. He teaches the classic song "Red River Valley" and encourages you to play along.

Length: 52:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Drop D Tuning

Jim Deeming introduces drop D tuning. Drop D is a popular alternate tuning used in many styles of music including rock, fingerstyle and blues.

Length: 25:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Let's Play: "Wayfaring Stranger"

Jim Deeming breaks down the song sections to the classic tune "Wayfaring Stranger".

Length: 29:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

More On Drop D

Jim Deeming takes another, more focused look at drop D tuning.

Length: 6:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Your Friend, the Metronome

Jim Deeming discusses how to use a metronome for practice, skill building, and speed building.

Length: 24:02 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only

About Jim Deeming View Full Biography Jim Deeming got his first guitar when he was only six years old. His Dad was taking fingerpicking lessons, and Jim wanted to be just like him. The Mel Bay books didn't last very long before he strapped on a thumb pick and added the Chet part to Red River Valley so it sounded better.

Most of Jim's early learning was by ear. With unlimited access to his Dad's collection of Chet Atkins albums, he spent countless hours decoding his favorite songs. They were never "right" until they sounded just like Chet. Around the age of 12, Jim heard Jerry Reed for the first time and just knew he had to be able to make that "Alabama Wild Man" sound. The styles of Chet & Jerry always have been a big influence on his playing.

More recently he has pursued arrangements by Tommy Emmanuel and Doyle Dykes, in addition to creating some of his own and writing originals.

Jim has performed in front of a variety of audiences, including concerts, competitions, weddings and the like, but playing at church has always been a mainstay. Whether playing in worship bands or guitar solos, gospel music is deep in his roots and is also the driving theme behind his debut CD release, titled "First Fruits".

Jim has been playing for about 38 years. He also has taught private lessons in the past but believes JamPlay.com is an exciting and better venue with many advantages over the traditional method of weekly 30 minute sessions.

Jim lives in Berthoud, Colorado with his wife, Linda, and their four children. Although he still has a "day job", he is actively performing and is already back in the studio working on the next CD. If you wonder how he finds time, look no further than the back seat of his truck where he keeps a "travel guitar" to take advantage of any practice or song-writing opportunities he can get.

The opening song you hear in Jim's introductory JamPlay video is called, "A Pick In My Pocket". It's an original tune, written in memory of Jim's father who told him early on he should always keep a pick in his pocket in case he ever met Chet Atkins and got the chance to play for him. That song is slated to be the title track for his next CD, which will feature several more originals plus some of his favorite covers of Chet and Jerry arrangements.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.


Jessica Baron Jessica Baron

Jessica kindly introduces herself, her background, and her approach to this series.

Free LessonSeries Details
Justin Roth Justin Roth

In this lesson Justin introduces his series on playing with a capo and dishes out some basic tips, including how to properly...

Free LessonSeries Details
Mark Lincoln Mark Lincoln

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Free LessonSeries Details
Randall Williams Randall Williams

In this lesson Randall introduces the partial capo (using a short-cut capo by Kyser) and talks about how it can make the...

Free LessonSeries Details
Peter Einhorn Peter Einhorn

JamPlay is proud to introduce jazz guitarist Peter Einhorn. In this lesson series, Peter will discuss and demonstrate a way...

Free LessonSeries Details
Calum Graham Calum Graham

Award winning, Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Calum Graham introduces his Jamplay Artist Series, which aims to transform...

Free LessonSeries Details
Pamela Goldsmith Pamela Goldsmith

Pamela brings a cap to her first 13 JamPlay lessons with another original etude inspired by the great Leo Brouwer. This is...

Free LessonSeries Details
Danny Voris Danny Voris

Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

Free LessonSeries Details
Mary Flower Mary Flower

Mary talks about the key of F in this fantastic lesson.

Free LessonSeries Details

Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.


Dennis Hodges Dennis Hodges

Learn a variety of essential techniques commonly used in the metal genre, including palm muting, string slides, and chord...

Free LessonSeries Details
DJ Phillips DJ Phillips

Learn a handful of new blues techniques while learning to play Stevie Ray Vaughn's "The House Is Rockin'".

Free LessonSeries Details
John DeServio John DeServio

JD teaches the pentatonic and blues scales and explains where and when you can apply them.

Free LessonSeries Details
Kenny Ray Kenny Ray

Albert Collins brought a lot of style to the blues scene. In this lesson, Kenny breaks down Albert's style for you to learn.

Free LessonSeries Details
Mark Brennan Mark Brennan

Mark Brennan teaches this classic rock song by Jethro Tull. Released on the album of the same name in 1971, this song features...

Free LessonSeries Details
Steve McKinley Steve McKinley

Steve McKinley talks about evaluating your bass and keeping it in top shape. He covers neck relief, adjusting the truss rod,...

Free LessonSeries Details
Tosin Abasi Tosin Abasi

Tosin explains some of the intricacies of the 8 string guitar such as his personal setup and approach to playing.

Free LessonSeries Details
Daniel Gilbert Daniel Gilbert

Known around the world for his inspirational approach to guitar instruction, Musician's Institute veteran Daniel Gilbert...

Free LessonSeries Details
Nick Kellie Nick Kellie

Nick explains how to use scales and modes effectively when soloing over a chord progression.

Free LessonSeries Details
David Wallimann David Wallimann

This is a crucial lesson that explains tablature, how to read it, and why it's important.

Free LessonSeries Details




Join over 487966 guitarists who have learned how to play in weeks... not years!

Signup today to enjoy access to our entire database of video lessons, along with our exclusive set of learning tools and features.



Unlimited Lesson Viewing

A JamPlay membership gives you access to every lesson, from every teacher on our staff. Additionally, there is no restriction on how many times you watch a lesson. Watch as many times as you need.

Live Lessons

Exclusive only to JamPlay, we currently broadcast 8-10 hours of steaming lesson services directly to you! Enjoy the benefits of in-person instructors and the conveniences of our community.

Interactive Community

Create your own profile, manage your friends list, and contact users with your own JamPlay Mailbox. JamPlay also features live chat with teachers and members, and an active Forum.

Chord Library

Each chord in our library contains a full chart, related tablature, and a photograph of how the chord is played. A comprehensive learning resource for any guitarist.

Scale Library

Our software allows you to document your progress for any lesson, including notes and percent of the lesson completed. This gives you the ability to document what you need to work on, and where you left off.

Custom Chord Sheets

At JamPlay, not only can you reference our Chord Library, but you can also select any variety of chords you need to work on, and generate your own printable chord sheet.

Backing Tracks

Jam-along backing tracks give the guitarist a platform for improvising and soloing. Our backing tracks provide a wide variety of tracks from different genres of music, and serves as a great learning tool.

Interactive Games

We have teachers covering beginner lessons, rock, classic rock, jazz, bluegrass, fingerstyle, slack key and more. Learn how to play the guitar from experienced players, in a casual environment.

Beginners Welcome.. and Up

Unlike a lot of guitar websites and DVDs, we start our Beginner Lessons at the VERY start of the learning process, as if you just picked up a guitar for the first time.Our teaching is structured for all players.

Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.

Price Per Lesson < $0.01 $4 - $5 $30 - $50 Free
Money Back Guarantee Sometimes n/a
Number of Instructors 88 1 – 3 1 Zillions
Interaction with Instructors Daily Webcam Sessions Weekly
Professional Instructors Luck of the Draw Luck of the Draw
New Lessons Daily Weekly Minutely
Structured Lessons
Learn Any Style Sorta
Track Progress
HD Video - Sometimes
Multiple Camera Angles Sometimes - Sometimes
Accurate Tabs Maybe Maybe
Scale/Chord Libraries
Custom JamTracks
Interactive Games
Community
Learn in Sweatpants Socially Unacceptable
Gasoline Needed $0.00 $0.00 ~$4 / gallon! $0.00

Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"
 

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!


Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"
 

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


Bill

"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."
 

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.



Join thousands of others that LIKE JamPlay!