As we’ve said in the 1st part of this article, resting your pinky is a quick way to stabilize your hand. So let’s look at what to pay attention to when playing that way.
There is really not much to it position-wise. The point of contact will change depending on your hand size and angle at which you pluck the strings with your fingers. Best advice I could give here is to look for what works for you.
As for what is the actual role of the anchor, it’s important to note that you don’t put weight of your hand on it. When I first started playing, I put some serious weight on my pinky. And I had a reason! If i didn’t, my hand (and pinky) would just jump on and off the soundboard. But with time, especially after some longer practice sessions my pinky would start to hurt. Something had to be done. Only when I understood that the proper function of this tool, I could find the right way to use it. Here is what I learned:
There should be little to no weight on your rested pinky. Instead think of it just as some sort of a probe telling you how far the soundboard is. Check this video:
and notice how Tommy’s pinky freely moves on the soundboard. It’s especially visible in pieces like this one or Tall Fiddler. So once I started working on my hand stability and lifted some weight from my pinky everything went back to order. It stopped hurting, the rest of my hand relaxed and my overall technique moved forward.
The secret to playing with pinky support but not straining it is practicing also without it. Start by playing very easy things without pinky support (pinky should move together with 3rd finger. If you’re not sure, just watch some classical guitar videos). Then play the same things with pinky laid very gently on the soundboard. Let it move a little as your hand moves while switching strings etc. You should be able to brush the soundboard with pinky effortlessly at all times. As you play more and more difficult things without the support try to implement this gentle touch as you play with the anchor as well. Try some strumming with pinky support. Again, while strumming, pinky should brush the soundboard up and down. It shouldn’t impair your hand movement. Soon you’ll get used to new way and your hand will gain new level of freedom.