Hybrid picking is the technique of using the pick and fingers of your picking hand together. The advantage of hybrid picking is that it is far easier to move between strings, especially when crossing multiple strings. You can also cut down the number of pick strokes needed, ultimately leading to a fluid sound. The dynamic variation and timbre of the notes that are struck with the fingers is also a huge plus.
Hybrid picking was popularised by ‘progressive’ rock guitarists such as Steve Howe in the ‘80s, but these days the technique has been adopted by many players because of its speed and flexibility. Players like Guthrie Govan and Eric Johnson have pushed technical boundaries and often include hybrid picking in their melodic arsenals.
‘M’ means use your second finger to pick the note, and ‘A’ means use your third finger.
As always, there is no rush to play these licks at lightening speeds. Begin very slowly at around 60/70bpm, and only increase the metronome speed when you can play each lick perfectly five times in a row. If a specific lick feels particularly uncomfortable with the fingering provided, feel free to adapt how you pick it.
Example 1 – Pick and Second Finger
The first example shows a basic hybrid-picking pattern using notes of the B Minor Pentatonic scale. This example alternates between using a down-pick on the D string and second-finger pick on the G string.
Make sure that your down-stroke and second finger pick are dynamically even.
Example 2 – Pick and Third Finger
In the next example, use the third finger to pick the 7th fret of the B string. The third finger often feels weaker than the second finger when learning to hybrid pick. This is perfectly natural and with dedicated practice it will become as strong and developed as the second finger.
Example 3 – Combining Example 1 and 2
The following example combines examples 1 and 2 to provide an effective warm up pattern. Learning to alternate between using your pick, second and third finger is the key to developing fluidity in hybrid picking.
Example 4 – Reversed Picking
Example 4 reverses example 3 and teaches you how to start a picking pattern with a finger pick.
Example 5 – Double-Stops
Hybrid picking lets you pick multiple notes simultaneously. This is especially useful when playing double-stops. Keep your second and third fingers “glued” together when picking this next example.
Example 6 – Double-Stops 2
Example 6 shows the reverse of example 5. Play the double-stop with your second and third fingers, before picking the root note with a down-pick.
There are many fantastic hybrid-pickers out there, but one of my favourite demonstrations of this technique in action is Country Boy by Albert Lee.
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