IN THE WOOD­SHED

This month Char­lie Grif­fiths shows how, by us­ing a pick and three fin­gers you can cre­ate a four-headed beast known as hy­brid pick­ing!

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENT -

Char­lie Grif­fiths goes down the the shed to dis­cover how to hy­brid pick with the in­clu­sion of the oft-ne­glected fourth fin­ger.

Hy­brid pick­ing is a tech­nique that in­volves a mix­ture of plec­trum ‘flat pick­ing’ and fin­ger-style tech­nique. The style is most syn­ony­mous with play­ers such as Chet Atkins, James Bur­ton or Tommy Emmanuel, who were in turn in­spired by blue­grass banjo masters like Earl Scruggs.

The tra­di­tional method is to hold down chord shapes with your fret­ting hand and use your pick and fin­gers to arpeg­giate re­peat­ing pat­terns. But hy­brid pick­ing is not lim­ited to one par­tic­u­lar genre. For ex­am­ple, mod­ern fu­sion play­ers such as Brett Garsed and Tom Quayle use the tech­nique to play melodic ar­peg­gios and to en­able smooth le­gato lines with­out the need for mov­ing the pick from string to string; in­stead, us­ing the pick and fin­gers as four in­de­pen­dent ‘plec­trums’. This is much more eco­nom­i­cal than mov­ing a sin­gle pick from string to string.

In this trip to the wood­shed we will be util­is­ing all of our avail­able dig­its in­clud­ing the oft for­got­ten fourth fin­ger. The fourth fin­ger is the small­est and weak­est of our fin­gers, but it packs enough punch for the pur­poses of string pluck­ing, so with a bit of prac­tice it will be­come a very use­ful ad­di­tion to our arse­nal.

We can de­scribe fin­ger-style pat­terns as for­ward or back­ward ‘rolls’. This es­sen­tially means us­ing our pick and fin­gers to arpeg­giate chords from low to high, or high to low. To fa­mil­iarise your­self with this con­cept, try play­ing Ex­am­ple 1 to get to grips with th­ese two rudi­men­tary el­e­ments. The first four notes move from the lower strings to the higher strings and are there­fore re­ferred to as a ‘for­ward roll’. If we fo­cus on the pick­ing hand, the pat­tern starts on the fifth string with a down­stroke, then use your sec­ond fin­ger to pluck the fourth string; this is la­belled as ‘m’ in the no­ta­tion. Next pluck the third and sec­ond strings with your third and fourth fin­gers, la­belled ‘a’ and ‘c’.

For the back­ward roll play the last three notes of Ex­am­ple 1. Start by pluck­ing the C note on the sec­ond string with your fourth fin­ger, fol­lowed by your third fin­ger and then your sec­ond fin­ger on the fourth string. You can go back to the be­gin­ning of the bar to com­plete the pat­tern with a fi­nal down­stroke with the pick. Re­peat this bar over and over again un­til you are com­fort­able with both the for­ward and back­ward rolls.

We have five ex­am­ples us­ing dif­fer­ent chords in var­i­ous ar­eas of the neck. In each case the fret­ting hand is straight­for­ward, and ei­ther in­volves hold­ing a chord shape or mov­ing a fin­ger to cre­ate a bassline. As you go through the ex­am­ples you will de­velop greater in­de­pen­dence be­tween your pick and fin­gers (think in terms of a pian­ist’s left and right hand). Your pick is the ‘left’ hand, so is re­spon­si­ble for the bass parts, and the fin­gers are the ‘right’, which plays the melody. The melodies in each ex­am­ple fol­low the same pat­tern; start with your sec­ond fin­ger, then move up to the next string and pluck with your third, then move to the next string and pluck with your fouth. The tricky part is com­bin­ing the melody with the bassline, so work through each ex­am­ple slowly and care­fully be­fore speed­ing things up.

NEXT MONTH Char­lie comes up with some great ideas for pick­ing out Mi­nor Blues chord tones

Hy­brid pick­ing can use all three fin­gers and pick for rhythm and lead play­ing

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