Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Anchoring for flat picking

So me and @gospelguitar04 were having a discussion the other day about right hand anchoring while flat picking, and it made me curious how others of y’all do it. I rest my palm just behind the bridge pins. How do y’all do it? Rest your palm? Brace your pinky? Something else?


I generally don’t achor, but sometimes I rest my hand on the top string.


I am a light pinky anchor. If I went back in time and taught a young me at the start, I’d float free.


I use the pinky, and sometimes trade it for the palm, but usually light pinky contact


That’s interesting. I’m curious why? I find that I have much better control and speed when I’m anchored. What am I missing?


Some of the “next-level” folks I watch float free and have effortless speed. Molly Tuttle and Chris Thile come to mind. They both cross strings easily. I think that free affords a higher ceiling. I too find better control and accuracy lightly tethered, but I think trade off of the early gains are later limits.


I know you asked Mike his reasons, but I’ll give some of mine and and see if we agree!

First, there’s nothing wrong with anchoring, many professionals play with a “pinky anchor”. Some go back and forth (which is what I tend to do). When I say back and forth, I don’t mean one week I’ll anchor and the next week I don’t. I mean within any given song. Sometimes between rythmn and lead.

I think learning to play without anchoring and getting so used to it, that it just comes natural will give you better control, more accuracy, more speed and better flow when playing fast (not sounding choppy). It also reduces unwanted noise from your pinky rubbing the top or your fingernail clicking… and it won’t mar your finish below the pickguard. I really don’t care about that last one, but some folks might.

Control would probably be my biggest reason… Good topic!


Oooops, looks like you beat me to it Mike!


I seem to play either way.

When learning or playing slowly I have a tendency to anchor lightly.

when more familiar with the piece or at faster tempos I’ll float more.


I was referring to playing lead. I float when I’m playing rhythm.

1 Like

I actually think some of the better rythmn players float. Chris Jones comes to mind. He’s a much better guitar player than people realize (maybe because of his singing), but a really good rythmn player that does some tasteful breaks once in a while.


Chris is the one that got me into bluegrass first–his guitar playing “in person” just mesmerized me.