Master the style that many say is the best of all picking worlds
In the two previous articles we explored the concepts of alternate and economy picking and how these techniques could provide increased speed and accuracy. In this final instalment, the focus is less about velocity and more about versatility – as well as showing how hybrid picking needs to be an essential part of your technique.
Hybrid picking is basically a mix of fingerstyle and plectrum techniques where your remaining picking hand fingers don’t just huddle round the pick but are also used to sound the strings, opening up a whole new world of possibilities. Like any other technique, hybrid picking evolved over time rather than being ‘invented’ by one specific player. Over the decades there have been many famous devotees including: Chet Atkins, Brad Paisley, James Burton, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton, SRV, Eric Johnson, Zakk Wylde, and Wayne Krantz. This list is just the tip of the hybrid ‘iceberg’ but clearly illustrates the wide range of genres to which it can be applied. If you’ve never been tempted to experiment with hybrid picking, or maybe thought of it as a country player’s thing, then it’s definitely time you did some serious re-evaluating. Hybrid picking is equally useful in comping or soloing scenarios. Double-stops or three-note chords can be sounded simultaneously without the raking effect caused by the drag of the pick across the strings. Fingerpicking passages can be seamlessly integrated without that embarrassing pause where you put the pick down on your amp (and then lose it). Wide intervals that would normally demand tricky string jumps can be played with ease. Bluesy SRV-style licks with that high chord tone sounding as if by magic, ‘fatten up’ your solos. The benefits, as you can see, are immense.
The examples in this article have been grouped to build your technique gradually. Examples 1-4 focus on easy hybrid picking examples using the pick plus your second finger and are based mainly on a variety of double-stop themed exercises. Examples 5-8 introduce hybrid picked lead lines featuring the same ‘pick plus second finger’ approach and covering a range of styles and settings. In examples 9-12 you will learn how to use both your second and third fingers with the pick to create cool jazzy comps and pseudo fingerstyle riffs, all of which are worth their weight in gold when playing in duo scenarios. Examples 13-17 illustrate some useful scale practice patterns, plus a couple of triad based, keyboard style riffs. The final workout (Ex 18) features a melody harmonised in block triads, plus a solo chorus that illustrates how authentic phrasing can be achieved using hybrid picking in this context.
Finally, you’ll be able to give all those tired Pentatonic licks a new lease of life. As with the picking challenges covered in the previous articles, remember that the only way to master any technique is to incorporate it into your playing style immediately and reinforce this with daily practice. Playing through all of these examples with a clean sound will help you to focus just on your technique and highlight any issues that need attention. And whether you’re a novice or you already use hybrid, there’s something for you here.
HYbrid Picking iS a mix of fingerStYle and Plectrum tecHniqueS wHere Your remaining fingerS are alSo uSed to Sound tHe StringS