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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Finger Planting

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:

stanleyfan01 - Posted - 02/10/2009:  11:15:34

Do any of you plant your fingers when you pick? I find that I plant my pinky finger when I pick. It seems like I play better when I do this, guess I get it from the banjo.


15bassman - Posted - 02/10/2009:  18:52:07

Guilty! I never could get the hang of picking in mid air!

Don''t give God instructions.....just report for duty.

Piotr - Posted - 02/10/2009:  22:00:24

Planting (unless you're playing with your fingers)
is likely to create stiffness and tension, and is generally to be avoided. How can you pass
smoothly from a bass note to a chord in accompaniment if you plant one finger on the top?

There are, as the posts
in the thread below indicate, many alternatives. The logical alternative to a
habitual planter is the light brushing technique with a loose open, or slightly curled, hand, as described in some of my posts.

Edited by - Piotr on 02/11/2009 06:15:13

AllenShadd - Posted - 02/11/2009:  08:58:34

Just to think I've been playing 'wrong' all these 35+ years. I plant my finger as well, at times I even hook it on the E string if I'm playing a lot in the bass registers. My Griffin guitar that I used to play so much has a good deal of wear between the bridge and pickgaurd from this, but I don't intend to resale that guitar so it isn't an issue in that regard. My planting is partly because of banjo playing, but also from starting out playing real young with small hands and having to do things my own way to be able to reach things. I'm not going to change that now.

Chadtheguru - Posted - 02/11/2009:  10:51:26

Originally posted by AllenShadd
[at times I even hook it on the E string if I'm playing a lot in the bass registers.

I do that too. I probably saw you do it. It's probably your fault. Don't you feel guilty?

AllenShadd - Posted - 02/11/2009:  11:01:48

Yep..... but not about that.

Piotr - Posted - 02/11/2009:  13:31:33

I apologize for answering a serious question in a serious manner. I apologize for expressing myself with nuance - even going to the trouble of posting links to previous discussions offering a great varitey of views and insight, including other valid approaches to right hand technique. The most important, I suppose, would be the free floating right hand (David Grier, and even more Barney Kessel).

I apologize for trying to be helpfuI. I will not repeat that mistake.

Anyone reading without malice or prejudice, will see that I phrased my answer very carefully to make it clear that I was offering general advice
(generalitites generally admit exceptions!),
not specific criticism. I apologize for taking for granted that posters on a
public forum have grasped this extremely elementary distinction. I will not repeat that mistake.

The question was about planting. I have consulted two dictionaries to be on the safe side. Both give almost the same explanation of the word "plant" as it applies here:

"To set firmly. To fix in place".

However, in the first post ridiculing my answer -
without offering anything constructive -
I read: "at times I even hook it on the E string if I'm playing a lot in the bass registers". So sometimes the finger is here, sometimes there, yet firmly in place? And one guitar "has a good deal of wear between the bridge and pickguard from this". My guitars.
the oldest of which is from 1981,
have some wear in that area, too, which comes from the *movement* of my fingers, lightly brushing against the top . The poster quoted achieves even more wear by setting one finger *firmly in place*. Quite a feat; but also very, very tense, it seems.

Or could it be, really, that the poster hasn't understood the difference between the opposites posting and brushing?
Or could it be, that he wilfully ignores the distinction for the purpose of cheap ridicule?

I've posted 48 times (I believe) to this forum. I will not repeat that mistake.

AllenShadd - Posted - 02/11/2009:  14:27:17

Wow Piotr, you kinda went down the wrong road with that one. I wasn't ridiculing you in my reply, I apologize that you took it as a personal attack and insult. To be fair, the original poster didn't ask for advice though, did he? He simply asked if anyone else plants their pinky finger. My reply was just a fun reply, there was really nothing malicious meant towards anybody. It was just a light hearted, good natured attempt at replying to the original poster as to let him know that he isn't alone.

But, taking your advice into consideration, I looked again at my playing. I don't always 'plant' my finger by your definition, sometimes it brushes, sometimes it plants, sometimes it floats freely. I also don't seem to notice that it creates tension in my playing. Your comment in your last reply that you offered other 'valid' approaches to right hand technique would imply that my technique, as well as stanleyfan101's, is not valid according to your knowledge and level of expertise, no?

You said that you just tried to help the poster in your original reply, although I find nowhere in the post is a question asking anything other than do you plant your finger, nothing in there about 'what am I doing wrong'. My reple was also to help, even if you didn't find anything constructive in it, I just thought it was appropriate to reply after somebody just got through telling the guy how his playing was wrong and how to correct it.

In your last reply you took some personal pot shots at me though, not only critiquing my technique, but commenting on my ability to know the differences between brushing and planting. I apologize that you took my original reply for something that it wasn't ( a ridiculing of you), but maybe if you took a personal offense to it you could have just sent me a personal message or email (I'm easy to find) rather than to post the offensive reply you did. I don't need you to tell me how much inability my playing has in it, I am capable of knowing that much for myself even though your remarks would lead one to believe otherwise. I doubt that you've even heard me play, so I don't know how much regard I would give your comments until then anyway. Feel free to find a recording of me somewhere and then get back with me telling me what to do better, I'm always open to suggestions. In the meantime, lighten up a little bit, don't take yourself quite so seriously, and have a little fun on the forums and don't stop posting because of me. Life's too short.

Tom Smith - Posted - 02/12/2009:  07:47:48

My fingers don't generally touch the soundboard. I do, however "anchor" the heal of my hand against the soundboard behind the bridge. I wish I didn't do that because of the volume and tone attenuation that results.

I don't know if I'm getting off topic, but I know I'm deadening the sound with the heal of my hand and my forearm resting on the face.

Has anyone ever used a Guitar Armrest like one of these.

Tom Smith

AllenShadd - Posted - 02/12/2009:  08:06:21

Tom, I have A/B'd the John Pearse armrest on a couple of guitars before. They do what they are advertised to do, there is a noticeable difference in the tone and volume with one on. I don't think they will ever be common place though as they change the traditional look too much. Doc uses one, but he doesn't care what the guitar looks like, he is more interested in the tone. The drawback to one is that as the top ages the wood underneath it will stay blonde and if you ever take it off you have a discolored top to deal with.

JonT - Posted - 02/12/2009:  09:53:37

I do plant when I fingerpick. I find it helpful. I've been picking like this for a very long time. I plant when I pick banjo, too; so I guess the habit carries over. Might be "wrong," but it works for me. I think that that should be the guiding wisdom. But that's just me.

I don't think that there is a wrong way or a right way. Do what works for you. Being too pedantic about things like this surely will stifle your progress and creativity. Not to mention fun.

Best - JFT

Edited by - JonT on 02/17/2009 14:57:18

slowhand - Posted - 02/12/2009:  14:52:54

I plant my little finger banjo-style. At one time I tried to break this habit, mostly because I had heard from so many sources that it is the wrong approach, and also because I had noticed that many hot pickers do not plant. But eventually I realized that planting is what works best for me, so I came back to it and haven't looked back since. The heel of my hand is elevated above the bridge, and the faster I play, the more the motion comes from my forearm rather than my wrist.

Youtube is wonderful for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it has video of all kinds of great flatpicking. Before Youtube, I would often think to myself, "I have to be doing something wrong, and once I figure out what that is, I'll be blazing away like Doc Watson in no time." Youtube, more than anything else, convinced me that there is no single "correct" right hand technique, nor even a preferred one. I'm now firmly of the belief that players have to find their optimal right-hand technique inside themselves, rather than outside.

That's not to say that I haven't learned from other players. I've tried lots of stuff that I've learned from other players and kept the stuff that worked for me and discarded what didn't. And I'll still give advice to people who ask, with the caveat "this is what works for me."

kentucky blaise - Posted - 02/13/2009:  12:11:41

I plant my ring and pink finger when I play the banjo. However, I can't seem to plant my pinky when playing guitar. I'd probably have to go pretty far out of my way to get used to it. Since it's not vital to flatpicking (not the case in banjo), I don't think I'll bother trying to add that to my technique.

MacNichol - Posted - 02/17/2009:  18:50:01

Originally posted by Tom Smith

My fingers don't generally touch the soundboard. I do, however "anchor" the heal of my hand against the soundboard behind the bridge. I wish I didn't do that because of the volume and tone attenuation that results.

I anchor my wrist on the bridge pins. I believe that this is what Dan Crary does, but I may be wrong. This technique doesn't work on most Breedloves, which have pinless bridges.

I've used the armrest and like it.

Tom Smith - Posted - 02/18/2009:  02:44:40

I believe I'll order one of those. Like Allen said, the only two drawbacks are (1) appearance on the guitar and (2) appearance of the guitar if removed.
The first for me is a non-issue.
So is the second for my 2006 D-15 that I'll keep forever anyway. If I had a more high dollar, vintage guitar I might rethink that.

Tom Smith

thorstenj - Posted - 02/27/2009:  07:00:43

Hi, I don't plant my fingers. I try to brush the strings. I used to anchor my hand on the saddle, but that wasn't good for me. Caused my arm to tension.
Steve Kaufman showed me how he plants his finger on the guitar, so that works
for him. I guess you have to find out what works for you. My daughters guitar
teacher tells her that you need to plant if you are going to play really quick. But,
I think there are almost as many opinions as there are guitarplayers.



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