I've mostly used fingers playing classical/nylon string guitar, but am shifting to using pick on electric these days. I'm having some trouble with accurately switching strings, mainly if I have to skip one or more strings, I sometimes am off a string too far or not far enough. Like if I pick 6th string for example, knowing exactly how far I need to move my picking hand to pick 3rd string, then 5th, then 1st.

This has me confronting a basic question about whether I am supposed to have part of my arm, hand or finger from my picking side resting always on the same part of the guitar body to help me find my bearings and improve picking accuracy, or whether I can get 100% accuracy without that sort of thing -- which I call "floating" my picking hand -- just by practice-practice-practice.

I think I've read some people say they have the pinky of their picking hand touching the guitar body just under the 1st string. Or others have said something about part of the palm resting nearing the bridge just far enough back to avoid muting, unless they actually want to mute. I guess those both seem like "crutches" and I would prefer to get 100% accurate just floating my picking hand, not worrying about having a pinky or my palm resting on the guitar body. But if this is a less than ideal method, and it will be harder or impossible to get 100% accurate this way, I guess I could try another approach.

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I still have problems with it, but on hard tail guitars, which is all I use, I usually have my pinky and ring finger of my picking hand resting on the bridge so I can feel all 6 strings, and that helps give me a mental picture of where the strings are.

Other than that, I tend to constantly look down to just make sure.
i keep track by touching the strings/bridge from time to time with the side of my palm, the same part that does palm muting. if i have an anchor point, it's my forearm on the guitar body.
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I guess I sometimes do notice I have the side of my palm on the bridge, or just on edge of strings just short of muting, or even have my pinky planted under 1st string, but it's not sometime I do intentionally or consistently, or with thought into precisely where/how my palm or pinky is touching the guitar. Which means when I do do this, the position of my pinky or palm will vary a bit every time I pick up the guitar. Once I have picked any string, then I guess my brain calculates where other strings are in relation to it. So maybe it's not important that I try to make sure I am always positioning the pinky or palm in the exact same way, since I can "get my bearings" just by playing any of the strings.

But when I was doing a string skipping exercise yesterday, which I have hardly ever done, I was sort of trying NOT to use any such crutch, and I was only touching guitar body with maybe the forearm along the top of the guitar and keeping my picking hand not touching anything. I was sort of hoping somehow I'd just "learn" where to find the six strings if I practiced a sh#tload like that, and it might be more versatile than needing to plant pinky or palm. But I kept making errors, so I started thinking this floating approach is just always going to be somewhat inaccurate.

Both responses so far seem to confirm that it is normal to anchor a finger or part of palm to the guitar from picking hand.

With classical fingerpicking this never seemed critical because I always seem to have at least one finger from my picking hand on a guitar string and I am more "walking" around the strings, whereas with using a pick and string skipping, I'm really forced to lift up off the strings completely, move my hand, then lower back down in a new position ready to pick an new string, which is a new challenge.

I also generally took the easy way of jamming / soloing and moving almost always to adjacent strings unless I happened to look down at the guitar and skip multiple strings. That may be something a lot of guitarists do at first. Now I want to feel as confident skipping strings as playing adjacent strings, so I have more options.

Bernie Sanders for President!
After a while you develop your muscle memory and it will not be a problem. Similar thing like typing with a keyboard, after a while your fingers know where are the letters and you don't need to look at the keyboard.

Example ~1:20: http://youtu.be/gQRqeeM4GVQ?t=1m17s
Everything is in the muscle memory.
Last edited by Reages at Mar 10, 2014,