One of the more demanding techniques favoured by high level country players is the use of hybrid picking, and banjo rolls.
Hybrid picking refers to the use of picking hand fingers to pluck strings, resulting in a hybrid combination of pick playing, and fingerstyle.
I’ve filmed a video with multiple camera angles so you can really see how I’m doing all of this stuff, so do refer to that while practising.
The first example to get on board with is a single note being plucked with the middle finger. In this lick you’ll play the note on the G string with the pick (using a down stroke) then using the middle finger, pluck the high E string and repeat.
The secret here is pre-placement of the picking finger. As the pick hits the string, the finger is already placed on the string it intends to pick.
Hybrid Picking Example 1
As you begin to develop this skill, it’s possible to use two different fingers to create an ascending roll idea.
As with the previous example, the secret here is pre placing the fingers as the pick goes down.
This example features a series of 1/8th notes shifting to triplets at the end of the second bar. This gives the lick a nice accelerating feel, and that burst of speed will push your technical capabilities.
Hybrid Picking Example 2
When this becomes natural, the next step is to work on various 1/8th note patterns that combine these two ideas. This is a common aspect of any banjo players vocabulary, coming from the Earl Scruggs school of playing. His trademark thumb and two finger playing completely changed the way people played the instrument, and influenced everyone who came after.
In this example, you’ll play the G string, the B string, then complete two forward rolls across the G, B, and E strings.
I then take this picking mechanic, and apply it to a series of double stops on the G and B strings with the high E left open.
Banjo Roll Example
The possibilities of this technique are endless, and are found regularly in the plying styles of people like Danny Gatton, and Albert Lee, so give them a listen and see what you find.
If you want to dig into this technique more, then take a look at my latest book, Country Guitar Soloing Techniques, where I devote two chapters to these very techniques with more ideas to work on.
For more blistering Country Guitar Technique, Check out Country Guitar Soloing Techniques by Levi Clay.