So you want to play guitar but you have a tough time watching your left hand, right hand, and the tab all at the same time. “It’s too hard to keep track of everything”, you scream to the heavens in frustration. You might think that if you practice enough and endure the frustration that you’ll eventually be able to play without looking at your hands, and you might, but there’s a trick.
Most guitar players touch the guitar with the pinky of their right hand. Maybe both pinky and ring finger, but the important thing is the touch, or anchor. It might move; lord knows all of us get wrapped up in a song and strum from our shoulder down to our knees from time to time, but we always come back to the anchor.
Your fingers were made to measure things. Every moment you are touch typing, finding keys in your pocket, picking up your drink without looking, and a hundred other little actions that you do by feel without looking at your hand.
For example, if you’re reading this on your computer, where is your mouse? You never look at it because once your hand is on it your fingers can measure the buttons and the subtle distances required to work the computer. Likewise, you don’t have to look to unlock your cell phone. Once it’s in it’s usual place in your hand, your fingers can find everything else. (This is no reason to text while you drive, that kills people. We’re talking about guitar!)
So back to The Anchor. On acoustic I alternate between the high E string and the edge of my pick guard, depending on whether I need the High E string to ring. I didn’t plan this, btw, I sat down in the middle of writing this blog and watched right hand while I played to see what it did because I hadn’t done that in years. On electric guitar, I use the edge of one of the pick ups. On my Strat, my pinky usually rest on the screw of the middle pick up.
It doesn’t matter exactly where your anchor point is as long as it feels comfortable to you. Let go of it when you need to and go back when you need to strum and go back to it when you need more accuracy. Find your anchor point and stop staring at your right hand!