Hybrid Picking Primer

I have developed an extremely useful ‘habit’ when I play – Hybrid Picking. I first started using the technique when I attempted to learn the intro to Eric Johnson’s ‘Cliffs Of Dover’ – still a favourite song of mine to listen to/marvel at!

Hybrid picking is, basically, picking the strings with a combination of pick and fingers

That broad description leaves the door open to ambiguity as every player uses this great technique slightly differently. So I’ll describe how I use the it and transcribe an exercise similar to the piece that got me started (please don’t ask for a transcription of ‘Cliffs Of Dover’!)

Hybrid picking gradually ‘crept’ into my playing as a convenient way to swerve the issue of crossing strings. Not in a lazy way – my love of alternate picking will always keep that area of my playing sharp, but a way to inject interesting dynamics into licks that could otherwise sound less colourful. For example – if I am playing a run of notes on the G string and I want to cross up to the B and play a note I could play this with the pick but the dynamic level of the lick stays fairly even. If I use my right hand middle finger to ‘pluck’ this note the difference is stark. It’s kind of like slap bass on a guitar. The extra velocity of the string slamming back into the frets having been ‘bow & arrowed’ makes the note leap out and adds a nice spike to the dynamic level of the lick. So I am a habitual user of hybrid picking for that reason but I also like to use it to create riffs and lead guitar ideas which have nice wide intervals which would be otherwise impossible with another technique. And I’m always keen to sound impossible!

I like to keep a nice neat unit with my picking hand and this is no different when hyb picking. The middle finger simply unfolds from the picking hand and folds back, when not needed, without either slowing me down or getting in the way of anything else I might be playing at the time –

Hyb Pick No Fing

Hyb Pick Mid Finger

I personally (as of time of writing) don’t use more than one finger in my hybrid picking but it is possible to use the other 2 remaining fingers (3rd & 4th) of the right hand. One player that springs to mind, who is worth listening to, who I know used all available fingers on the right hand for hybrid picking was Danny Gatton (sadly no longer with us) so go and check his music out.

Here is a transcription of an exercise similar to the one that got me into this great technique –

Hybrid Picking In G Major

Let me know, via the Contact Page, if this has given you a good ‘foot in the door’ for this technique and happy hybrid picking!

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