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Feb 20, 2020 - 10:09:48 AM
44 posts since 1/31/2020

No matter how I try those two fingers don't like to stay anchored, when my hand is free I can do better..super glue came to mind, then I realised I would look funny walking around with a banjo skin stuck to my fingers. Does anyone on here have the same ailment.tks

Feb 20, 2020 - 10:49:48 AM
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474 posts since 9/21/2018

I'm assuming you're tried just the pinky finger. That's what works for me.

Feb 20, 2020 - 10:51:11 AM

1332 posts since 4/13/2009

A common problem for beginners. You will eventually find a solution.

Feb 20, 2020 - 10:57:35 AM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)


23244 posts since 6/25/2005
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Do what works for you. Many top players anchor only the little finger, including Sammy Shelor, Alison Brown, and Tom Adams. The idea that you have to anchor both to play well is a complete myth. Quit worrying about it and practice playing. For a player who didn’t anchor at all, call up some YouTube videos by the late Dave Humm. 

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 02/20/2020 10:58:50

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:00:32 AM

44 posts since 1/31/2020

I am I just don't want to get into bad's harder than hell to break them.

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:08:48 AM



7630 posts since 8/20/2016
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Feb 20, 2020 - 11:08:53 AM

44 posts since 1/31/2020

David hum..ahh I love their rendition of duelling banjos...classic.

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:10:58 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)


23980 posts since 8/3/2003

Usually, it makes it easier for beginners to plant at least one finger on the head and have their forearm on the armrest. That gives the picking hand a stable platform from which to pick the strings.

Try just one finger, maybe the pinkie? Also, you may be trying to pick too fast and that will usually cause the finger(s) to lift off the head. Try planting a finger on the head and picking slowly, concentrating on keeping the finger down. If that works, try to for 2 fingers. Some people have problems planting 2 and if after trying for a while it doesn't work, just go with one.

I don't recommend no fingers, as then you have a moving platform rather than a solid one from which to learn to pick.

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:11:50 AM
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221 posts since 1/23/2009

I used to have the same problem when I started. I actually glued a strip of sandpaper to the spot where I planted my fingers for a bit - can't remember how much it helped. All's I can say is that the problem eventually went away for me with practice, probably will for you as well.

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:13:21 AM
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44 posts since 1/31/2020

I have a few questions of my own
Why am I driving the neighbors crazy with banjo rolls,
Why are my fingers up two hours before me and over on the banjo neck.
Why does my mind go back to deliverence when I start to play.
I'm sure a psychologist will figure it out for a nominal fee.

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:39:59 AM

2907 posts since 5/29/2011

I know have posted this before, but, our hand surgeon at the Shriner's Hospital has explained to me that some people can not plant their ring finger and move their other fingers easily. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can damage the tendon that connects the ring and middle fingers and cause lasting problems. He can explain it in medical terms far better than I can in layman's terms but I think you can get the gist of it.

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:45:21 AM
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1616 posts since 2/10/2013

For some people, myself for example, needed quite a bit of time to get one of the 3 methods (i.e. 1) just ringer finger (2) just pinkie (3) both fingers) to work. i decided that just using the ring finger worked for me. So I put a dime under the ring finger when I played. Whenever I didn't hold the ring finger down, the dime fell to the floor and I had to pick it up, place it under my ring finger, and start playing.

The human mind tries to make whatever we do as easy as possible. It will not like repeating this over and over. It reinforces the urge to keep the ring finger down.
This probably sounds crazy, but it worked for me. It took me a little dime and a lot of patience.

Feb 20, 2020 - 12:47:15 PM
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44 posts since 1/31/2020

Well lots of things to try for sure, I couldn't keep a wedding ring on that finger either, so I'm not surprised it wants to get tied down. Tks for all the input.peace.marty

Feb 20, 2020 - 2:36:36 PM



52 posts since 12/14/2014

I put double sided tape on the head where I wanted my pinky to anchor. Eventually it worked. Everybody has to find their own path. Have fun!

Feb 20, 2020 - 3:48:22 PM
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5570 posts since 3/6/2006

Whatever finger you use, 'anchor' is kind of a bad word. You should be able to move you RH freely between the bridge and the neck to get different tones. Also, not much pressure on the head is needed. The 'anchoring' is more of a guide for your fingers to judge distance to the strings than anything else.

Feb 21, 2020 - 6:08:58 AM



1228 posts since 4/21/2003

It is easiest for most beginners to rest the pinkie and rather than the ring finger (or both) because for most people the default mode is for the brain to send the same signals to the middle and ring finger flexor and extensor muscles. This phenomenon has been studied extensively and the mechanism is mostly neural, not mechanical (tendons, etc). Some people easily learn to isolate the ring from the middle, but for many it's going to take more practice. A recent study on learning to individualize digit control in piano players demonstrated the capacity to learn to uncouple the motor commands to isolate the fingers, and confirms that we are not 'tethered' by tendon mechanics.

With all that said, the prevailing sentiment here is first focus on learning to play with a relaxed hand (don't stabilize the hand by jamming you fingers into the head - same for forearm on arm rest). You'll know you are there when you can tape a tack to the head pointy side up, put your rest finger on it and play without any decrease in playing quality (or blood). OK, maybe not, but you get the point (groan).  You can choose to rest two (ring and pinkie - but that might take work), rest one (pinkie - usually the easiest and beginners will progress to a relaxed hand quicker), rest one (ring - a bit harder but if you can master that, setting the pinkie down additionally will be relatively easy). As has been often stated, there are too many elite players resting only one digit for anyone to claim that there's only one right way to do this.  However, since the ring finger is longer than the pinkie, whatever you choose will require other adjustments in wrist angle, etc so your picks hit the strings for best sound.

Edited by - kjcole on 02/21/2020 06:18:41

Feb 21, 2020 - 6:50:38 AM

71312 posts since 5/9/2007

I never think about those two fingers.
Sometimes either one,sometimes both I suppose.

Feb 22, 2020 - 9:55:45 AM
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3310 posts since 7/12/2006

im not even gonna touch this one lol.

Feb 22, 2020 - 10:30:24 AM

71312 posts since 5/9/2007

My banjo head has two distinct marks worn through under the bridge so I guess both are getting down,but often when I check it's only the little finger or the ring.

Feb 22, 2020 - 1:48:49 PM
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197 posts since 2/15/2015

1. Take a deep breath, hold it, exhale, repeat 7 times.
2. Relax, pretend you have a small finch in your hand, start TIM rolling, don't crush the bird. Don't look at your hand. Mentally detach your hand from your thoughts, breath, don't crush the bird.
3. Your mind is blank, keep rolling,, keep breathing, go a bit faster, don't crush the bird.
4. Keep rollong, stroll around the room, go to a mirror, keep rolling, keep breathing, relax, don't crush the bird.
5. Look in the mirror, look into your eyes, keep rolling and breathing, don't crush the bird.
6. Glancing at your hand, where is it, are you anchored?

Little or ring finger? Or both?
Wash, rinse, repeat.

Me? I use both little and ring fingers and relax.

When I was around 5 I crushed the ring finger and lost about 1/4 inch off of tip of the little finger. Leaving my little finger a bit too short to anchor but it helps the middle. Thus becoming my natural position.

The birds and all that came from hard scrabble old farmer uncle who played jazz banjo in territory outfits back in the 1920s and 30s. He was a great tenor banjoist and also played a mean 5-string.

He was always telling us kids to relax, if you don't relax you will never get up to speed and muddy up your sound. He also taught us how to blow stumps. He was the cool uncle.

Feb 22, 2020 - 1:52:31 PM

506 posts since 1/28/2013

Don't anchor at all. Play with no fingers touching the head. I used to lightly touch my little finger, but stopped 5 years ago. Never played better. Many younger players also play without touching the head. You can wear a wrist wrap to support and hold your hand steady. Also, ditch the metal armrest and get a Dr. Arm wooden armrest from banjolit. It's beveled and slanted at just the right angle. Don't waste anymore time on something that is not working, you will be glad you changed. This is what fingers off the head looks and sounds like.

Feb 22, 2020 - 6:47:24 PM

71312 posts since 5/9/2007

I much prefer touching the head to not.
Ben Eldridge said he used to play "Harvey" (a lightweight flathead #6) without touching the head to get more volume.
I find much more control of tones by touching the head.

Feb 23, 2020 - 7:23:44 AM
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631 posts since 4/12/2004

It appears that it depends upon the musical style to which you're "wedded". If you want to play Bluegrass banjo, you anchor one or two fingers. If you want to play Big Comfy banjo you don't anchor any fingers at all.

Feb 23, 2020 - 11:41:02 AM

506 posts since 1/28/2013

Dave Hunn was a Master of the no head touching style. Yeah, I know all about his medical problem, but he still played with no fingers touching the head. Multiple videos on youtube of him making it look easy. That is what contributed to his unique rhythm style, with that signature bounce. You'll never get it trying to keep your fingers glued to the head. If you want to copy the sound of all the 1950's Traditional Players on Cripple Creek and Ballad of Jed Clampett, or the old standby Foggy Mountain Breakdown, then maybe, Yeah, keep trying to plant those fingers. 

Edited by - jan dupree on 02/23/2020 11:57:26

Feb 23, 2020 - 12:05:04 PM

506 posts since 1/28/2013

Dave Hum even played the Traditional Clinch Mountain Breakdown with no fingers on head.

Edited by - jan dupree on 02/23/2020 12:07:28

Feb 23, 2020 - 5:33:49 PM
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79 posts since 10/4/2018

Dave Hum played a lot better when he could plant his fingers. Why not try to emulate someone at the top of their game, instead of when they were forced to adapt because of physical limitations? It is like trying to fly like superman with kryptonite in his pocket. There's a reason all, except 1 famous guy and 2 or 3 obscure Scruggs pickers, plant their fingers. Because it works best.

Edited by - Good Buddy on 02/23/2020 17:35:33

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