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Jul 15, 2019 - 7:07:12 PM

Royalkepp

Canada

2 posts since 10/31/2018

Hi there.

I'm a new player but have been consistently playing/practicing an average of an hour a day, every day without exception for 18 months. I'm doing well and have made a lot of progress.

However my natural right hand technique is just lightly mounting my pinky while my ring finger floats. I tried in the beginning very hard to mount my ring finger with no luck. It always lifts up on its own after a few bars unless I'm playing veeeery slow.

Even if I force myself to keep it down despite how much it hinders my picking, and how uncomfortable it feels, I keep thinking it will get better over time, but then both fingers will start to curl slowly and then hit the bottom string while I'm playing.

Every few months I will read about the importance of 2 finger mounting in some blog or podcast and try again but the results are the same.

I have read many of the other forums on this topic and have tried taping fingers, different hand angles and leanings, ect.

Any advice? Or should I do what feels good?

Jul 15, 2019 - 7:37:11 PM
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Alex Z

USA

3559 posts since 12/7/2006

You're fine.  Great progress.  

As for reading about the importance of touching 2 fingers to the head, the people writing that have little knowledge of the variation of hand positions among top players.  So ignore it.  smiley

Plenty of top players touch with only 1 finger. and virtually all will advise a new player not to copy what they do, but do what works the best and is comfortable.

Jul 15, 2019 - 7:44:50 PM
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205 posts since 10/23/2010

You'll get lot's of varying opinions on that subject.

Some anchor both Ring and Pinky (probably the best option if possible)

Some anchor just the Ring (I fall in this category ... my pinky likes to float and never stays planted)

Some anchor just the Pinky.

....and a few use no anchor at all.

My opinion is you should have an anchor of some sort. (my 2 cents)

But everyone's physiology is different, so in the end, you just gotta do what works best for you.

Jul 15, 2019 - 8:14:29 PM
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gtani7

USA

909 posts since 3/22/2017

There's been many threads about anchoring ring finger, you can use Forums search box from main menu on the left to read for hours and hours, or you could just watch the video:

so your RH looks like this at 0:30? youtube.com/watch?v=hJes2ZdKo-A

(BTW if you haven't heard BT and Bill Keith on Porch tapes, listen to that on youtube)

Edited by - gtani7 on 07/15/2019 20:21:42

Jul 15, 2019 - 9:28:59 PM
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3792 posts since 10/18/2007

For Pete's sake don't get hung up on this. I've been playing for 30 years planting only my pinky. In the last five years or so I've noticed my ring finger likes to plant itself sometimes. Whatever.

Jul 15, 2019 - 9:38:32 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22107 posts since 6/25/2005

The ring finger argument is so much bs. Both Alison Brown and Sammy Shelor—among many other excellent players—plant only their little fingers. So don’t worry about it.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 07/15/2019 21:38:54

Jul 16, 2019 - 2:47:33 AM
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3625 posts since 8/3/2012
Online Now

As long as you have a good curvature of the palm & a good angle of attack on the strings, do what is most comfortable & efficient for YOU.

Jul 16, 2019 - 3:25:55 AM
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Bill H

USA

1257 posts since 11/7/2010

I could not plant my ring finger if my life depended on it.

Jul 16, 2019 - 5:17:36 AM

490 posts since 9/22/2012

Royalkepp I was in your situation at about 3 years in and looked at the problem from a physiological standpoint.

The ring finger was moving sympathetically with the middle and I could only plant the pinky.

While there is tons of support for planting both, planting ring, planting pinky, or planting none I really felt like the right thing for me was to plant my ring. It established a better support and reference point to build better picking habits from. I also think that the movement of the ring finger slowed my middle fingers movement and affected its accuracy and power.

I decided I need to isolate each finger from the other and that it was going to be a physical and mental challenge.

Several times a day, one at a time, I would gently stretch my fingers back just to the point of tension (not pain!) and while stretching I would focus on moving the adjacent fingers and not moving the finger being stretched. For example if I was stretching the ring finger back until I felt tension in my palm, I would then move the middle finger through a range of motion and curl it towards the palm. Basically separating the action of each finger and also increasing the range of motion. Also increasing each fingers total range of motion.

At first you don't think it will happen but very soon you will find you can isolate one finger and move the others independently of one another with no sympathetic movement. You will also find the range of articulation drastically increases. It is just something that your body has never had to do before and you need to teach it how to operate.

If you search Sympathetic trigger finger movement you will find a trove of discussions for pistol shooters who find the process of operating the index (Trigger) finger also moves the support fingers which rotates the gun off target. Lots of discussion about isolating fingers. We just have different fingers we need to isolate.

My left hand stretch I focus less on up and down stretch and more of a side to side stretch to get greater reach. If I splay each hand out and set the right on top of the left....my thumb to pinky on the left is about an inch more than the right!!!


Good luck and keep on picking. It can be done no matter how you plant!!!!

Jul 16, 2019 - 6:00:19 AM
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14199 posts since 12/2/2005

“When picking, I anchor my right hand with my ring finger and the little finger touching the banjo head with only enough pressure to give my hand stability. Many players use the same anchoring technique. Many others prefer to anchor only one finger. I anchor both my ring and little fingers because my hand feels nearly twice as stable as it does with only one finger anchored. It also feels natural to me. Try anchoring with both fingers when you start out practicing. If you then feel that method is not working for you, you can experiment with anchoring only one finger.”

 

-- Earl Scruggs, Earl Scruggs and the Five String Banjo, Revised Edition, page 44.

Jul 16, 2019 - 6:31:40 AM

3230 posts since 3/28/2008

Here are a few pinky-planting pickers Note the presence of at least three IBMA Banjo Players of the Year. Feel free to list more, y'all.

Tom Adams
Alison Brown
Doug Dillard
Sammy Shelor
Lynn Morris

'nuf said?

Jul 16, 2019 - 10:38:12 AM
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289 posts since 1/28/2013

https://youtu.be/OjMeJTRHrSk Since I installed a Dr. Arm wood armrest from Banjolit, playing with no fingers on the head has never been easier. It gives your hand a lot more stability. Jaime Francis from the Sam Kelly Trio uses one, and never touches the head. Bennett Sullivan also uses one.

Edited by - jan dupree on 07/16/2019 10:42:20

Jul 22, 2019 - 5:07:33 PM

15 posts since 7/20/2019

Classical Guitarists don't plant at all and some of them can play faster than most banjo players can only dream of.
If you look into some Classical Guitar technique, most of it can be applied to the banjo with great success.

Your goal should be to play with the least amount of tension possible to avoid injury(tension also makes us play slower and sloppier) Pinky plants generally don't exert alot of pressure as long as you aren't actively making yourself plant.

As for the ring finger, that exerts alot of pressure.
The ring finger needs to be relaxed in every form of finger picking, tension slows and creates the possibility of injuring your tendons. You should always do with your right hand whatever uses no tension at all. If that means no planting, learn to play without planting.
In fact, practicing playing without planting is extremely beneficial as you'll begin to use the plant as a very loose reference point vs an anchoring point many teachers teach.

Jul 22, 2019 - 5:40:27 PM

5256 posts since 5/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

Here are a few pinky-planting pickers Note the presence of at least three IBMA Banjo Players of the Year. Feel free to list more, y'all.

Tom Adams
Alison Brown
Doug Dillard
Sammy Shelor
Lynn Morris

'nuf said?


Was it Lynn Morris who parked her pinky on the tailpiece, or am I thinking of someone else?

Jul 23, 2019 - 4:50:11 AM

5156 posts since 10/13/2007

You are talking about where your body parts should be and looking for words to find the way. Try learning to hit a ball by reading a book and compare that to learning from watching a great ball striker. My suggestion would be to look at great right hands. My 2 favorites to copy, and maybe it is because we are the same size people with the same size hands, are Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley. Look at pictures of their hands. The hands look relaxed and compact. If you can get vidoes watch them. A couple seconds is worth a thousand words. And from what I see their 2 finger anchors has the fingers touching the head not right on the tips of the fingers but on the outside edge of their fingers. Also look at how the wrist comes into the hand. It is all a part of comfort and relaxation. Keep in mind I am a lousy picker. A good proven pro would give you the best information. Learning this fundamental now and early would be worth the cost of a lesson.
good luck,
ken

Jul 23, 2019 - 5:00:28 AM

5156 posts since 10/13/2007

Here is a thread with a few pictures. You will see differences. try them all. you have to be where you feel relaxed and comfortable while still being accurate and efficient. too big a motion will slow you down. Jack Hatfield's book on Exercises for Banjo Players has a chapter on hand position and how to develop it. https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/45886/2

Jul 23, 2019 - 7:00:23 AM
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3230 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Rawhide Creek
quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

Here are a few pinky-planting pickers Note the presence of at least three IBMA Banjo Players of the Year. Feel free to list more, y'all.

Tom Adams
Alison Brown
Doug Dillard
Sammy Shelor
Lynn Morris

'nuf said?


Was it Lynn Morris who parked her pinky on the tailpiece, or am I thinking of someone else?


Lynn planted/plants her pinky on the top corner of the bridge. I'd absolutely prohibit my own students from doing that, but hey, it seemed to work just fine for Lynn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPHWoniyqq8

Jul 23, 2019 - 7:25:52 AM
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5256 posts since 5/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin
quote:
Originally posted by Rawhide Creek
quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

Here are a few pinky-planting pickers Note the presence of at least three IBMA Banjo Players of the Year. Feel free to list more, y'all.

Tom Adams
Alison Brown
Doug Dillard
Sammy Shelor
Lynn Morris

'nuf said?


Was it Lynn Morris who parked her pinky on the tailpiece, or am I thinking of someone else?


Lynn planted/plants her pinky on the top corner of the bridge. I'd absolutely prohibit my own students from doing that, but hey, it seemed to work just fine for Lynn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPHWoniyqq8


Thanks, Ira.  That’s what I was remembering . . .

Jul 23, 2019 - 7:28:54 AM

69697 posts since 5/9/2007

I never thought about how the fingers were planted.I just play what feels comfortable...where my hand and fingers naturally fall.

Jul 23, 2019 - 7:38:16 AM
Players Union Member

Neil Allen

France

780 posts since 6/15/2014

Interesting article on Deering's blog, particularly on the subject of not anchoring anything at all.

Jul 23, 2019 - 10:20:34 AM

Mooooo

USA

7036 posts since 8/20/2016

Very interesting indeed. Who is Walt Richards?

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