Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Discussion Forum

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Playing the Banjo
 Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Anchoring ring finger only (pinky finger too short?)

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Pabies - Posted - 03/29/2020:  03:53:05


I'm a beginning banjo player and I'm struggling a bit with the anchoring of my right hand.
It seems very difficult to me to keep my pinky finger anchored without touching the strings. I have fairly big hands and I think that maybe my pinky finger is relatively short when compared to my other fingers. I do not have that issue with only my ring finger anchored.
I've read a bit about it and it usually seems that people have more difficulties anchoring their ring finger (so the opposite of my situation).
Does anyone else have the same issue? Can I run into problems later on if I stick to just anchoring my ring finger?

Thanks a lot!!

Texasbanjo - Posted - 03/29/2020:  04:41:43

Do whatever works for you. Many banjo pickers only plant one finger and it's the one that is most comfortable to that particular person. No, it shouldn't cause problems later on if you're only anchoring one finger.

When I was a beginner I was told I'd never be a banjo picker if I didn't anchor both the ring and pinkie. It was almost impossible for me to do, but I ended up putting a rubber band loosely around them and eventually my brain got the message and for years I planted 2 fingers. Now, 20 plus years later, I find that sometimes my ring finger doesn't want to anchor and I don't worry about it, just let it follow my middle finger and move around.

OM45GE - Posted - 03/29/2020:  05:33:10

I’ve been playing banjo since the 1960’s and don’t anchor my fingers at all. I don’t on the guitar either. I do use them to mute strings.

My point is that IMHO there is no reason you have to anchor two fingers, although there are plenty of folks who say otherwise.

bill t - Posted - 03/29/2020:  06:14:37

I've got large hands, wear XX size gloves, and my little finger seems short in comparison to my other fingers.

It only comes to about the last knuckle on my ring finger. I play with both fingers planted but that's just how I do it.

I think when one is starting out, it's difficult to get use to keeping your fingers planted. One needs to practice slowly

and be patient. Everybody wants to go fast. Given all that, only you can figure out what works for you.

I know a guy who doesn't plant any fingers. He takes the armrest off his banjo and anchors his wrist on the head.

That's how he started out years ago and when he found out that wasn't the correct way, he couldn't get use to

playing with his fingers planted. He sounds great but he's a very gifted musician. Patience and perseverance.

Edited by - bill t on 03/29/2020 06:19:33

OldWhiteGuy - Posted - 03/29/2020:  07:21:39

Ive only anchored my ring finger since day one, Banjo or guitar"electric"

Owen - Posted - 03/29/2020:  08:37:20

The "search" function could shed some light.... or at least raise many, many other factors (?) to cloud the issue.  wink

Alex Z - Posted - 03/29/2020:  09:18:15

"Can I run into problems later on if I stick to just anchoring my ring finger?"


And think "lightly touching the head in a relaxed manner" rather than "anchor."  That will help keep your hand relaxed.

Pabies - Posted - 03/29/2020:  09:50:44

Thank you all for the helpful replies!!

Bill, my pinky finger doesn't even get to the last knuckle on my ring finger. So apparently it is really really short.. strange because I was never aware of that.

Putting both fingers on there feels a bit impossible since my finger will either touch the bridge or the first string. So I'm glad to hear that it is not really important.
For now I'll then just stick to my ring finger; and later on maybe try again to use both.

jan dupree - Posted - 03/29/2020:  11:08:01

Listen to your body. It's trying to tell you something.

BobbyE - Posted - 03/29/2020:  12:29:56

No way to prove this but I have always thought that between the two anchoring fingers, the ring was always most important if you couldn't achieve both. Since it is closest to the next picking finger and if it's is anchored, it can't fly around like it could if only little finger was anchored and it was floating free.

I drilled this into my playing by just planting the ring finger on the head and striking one string over and over with just the middle finger with the picks on. This should also build up the muscle to the middle finger as well. Just my theory and opinion. Yours is free to vary. With this social distancing I would guess I am pretty safe.


Old Hickory - Posted - 03/29/2020:  13:38:06

The subject that keeps on giving!

Human anatomy is such that for some people it is impossible -- or nearly so -- to anchor two fingers and maintain a comfortable and effective picking position.  My pinky is shorter than my ring finger by almost the length of the last phalange.

I've been playing a long time and assumed I'd been anchoring two fingers. Maybe I used to back in the 70s and 80s. Some time not too long ago a Hangout friend I was conversing with by email said he had seen one of my videos and wanted to know why I only anchor one finger. What?! I watched the video and saw my ring finger flopping around like it was dancing with the middle! I came to realize that sometimes I anchor my pinky, sometimes I anchor my ring and only sometimes do I anchor both -- and it all seems to happen without conscious effort on my part.

If I say so myself, I play pretty well no matter which or how many fingers are planted at any one time. If I can do it, so can you.

Enjoy and good luck.

northernbelle - Posted - 03/29/2020:  18:18:58

I'm a pinky planter. I've never been able to keep the ring anchored.

hobogal - Posted - 03/30/2020:  00:46:24

I've always anchored with my ring finger. The most important thing is that the finger is anchored and that that your hand is in the attack position over the strings (you don't want your palm resting on the head; instead arch your wrist and have your fingers over the strings like a metal grabber!). If your pinky is too short, you may not have enough elevation over the strings.

Edited by - hobogal on 03/30/2020 00:50:32

Pabies - Posted - 03/31/2020:  11:08:37

Again, thanks for the replies! smiley

I can also imagine that only anchoring the ring finger gives more stability than just the pinky finger.

With the current lockdown in place I have sufficient time to test it all out... and annoy the neighbors.

Edited by - Pabies on 03/31/2020 11:09:28

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories