The anchoring guitar technique, exactly like the floating guitar technique, is one of two main techniques used to play fingerstyle. The main difference is the fact, as suggest the names itself, that in the first case the hand is solid with the body of the guitar usually by mean of the pinky or both the pinky and the middles finger, while on the second case the hand is completely free to hover over the body of the guitar. Both techinques can ensure advantages in terms of rendition and picking guitar technique playability, but very often the choice should be done on the kind of music we want to play. When playing classical guitar technique the floating guitar technique is the one to adopt whereas, in the case of fingerstyle, we have absolute freedom of choice.
The strongest point of the anchoring guitar technique is that by mean of the contact of one or two fingers with the body of the guitar, the hand has a strong stability and this ensures a very good solidity both in the picking and in the guitar strumming technique. When a finger picks the string with a certain amount of pressure, according to the Newton’s third law of motion, it receives back from the string exactly the same amount of pressure but in the opposite direction.
This means that, whenever the guitarist picks a string, to maintain the position of the hand still in relation to the body of the guitar he has to counterbalance the pressure received by the string itself. As result of a continuous picking the guitarist who plays with a Floating Technique has to continuously stabilize the position of the hand making small imperceptible movements. This is the reason why gaining a good right hand confidence with the floating guitar technique can take a lot of time and practice. The hand, the right arm and in particular the brain need time to find the ideal position in relation to the strings. Moreover the need to control the speed, the pattern of picking and dynamics increase dramatically the difficulty of the process.
All these problems can be easily overcome by the use of the anchoring technique. In this case in fact the stability of the hand is ensured by the fact that the pressure received from the strings can automatically counterbalanced by the fingers anchored on the body of the guitar. Moreover almost zero energy of the one spent on the picking guitar technique process goes lost in the maintaining the hand steady. This translates in several benefits on the picking technique. First of all the picking process becomes more solid in terms of rhythm and consistency of sound. These are the ideal conditions to play the traditional fingerstyle guitar technique, a kind of music where a consistent and groovy rhythm is essential to get a good rendition of it. Moreover, the fact that the picking hand is anchored on the body of the guitar allows the guitarist to play quite easily the guitar while standing.
Unfortunately developing a good anchoring guitar technique is a process which usually requires long time, great dedication and consistency in the practice process, but once you get there the results can be outstanding. It is not by chance that historically almost all of the greatest fingerstyle guitarists (Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel, Mark Knopfler amongst the others) used to perform with this technique. The anchoring guitar technique is a powerful instrument but at the same time can limit the guitarist in the use of at least one finger, simply because the indipendence between the ring finger and the pinky is generally really small. For this reason it is advisable learning the floating guitar technique first and then, once a good indipendence of all the fingers has been developed, only then, working on the anchoring guitar technique. Here at the Fingerstyle & Classical Guitar Studio with almost 30 years of experience we can assist you professionally and fruitfully throughout the whole process to develope both the anchoring and the floating guitar technique, from a beginner to a really advanced level.