Hybrid Picking

One of the most commonly used technique in country is surely hybrid picking. It consists of using the pick and the fingers of the right hand, singularly or simultaneously. For example, in this way its possible to play chords by only choosing some strings instead of others, or to play melodic lines using seperate strings. Or even performing arpeggios typically played with only the fingers of the right hand, in this case using also the pick.
In the previous page we already used hybrid picking in playing some examples of country phrasing. We will now develop this technique, working on scales, chords, rhythm and phrasing. Remember that the use of the pick and the finger is very common amongst guitarists. The applications of this technique, in fact, are practically endless.

The technique
We will see how to set up the right hand for hybrid picking. If in the normal use of the pick, you rest one or more fingers of the right hand on the body of the guitar (see fig.1), then for the use of hybrid picking these fingers can be used to play other strings. You therefore need to "unhook" your fingers from that position and move them onto the strings that need to be played (fig. 2).
At this point, the work of the fingers of the right hand is no different than playing normally without the pick, but avoiding the classic technique of supporting the fingers, which doesn't give freedom of movement to the fingers themselves. The difference between the standard technique and hybrid picking, is mainly in the fact that the index finger and the thumb are busy holding the pick. The other fingers (in some rare cases, even the little finger) work independently or simultaneously amongst themselves and/or with the pick (fig. 3).

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Playing the scales
The best way to study hybrid picking is to play the scales. Or better, training the right hand for a different approach to the scales. This because its possible to obtain interesting sounds on seperate strings for example, or on open stings, where its allowed by the root in which you are working.
Be sure not to play these scales too fast. The obvious difficulty of execution forces you to work at a fairly slow metronome speed. But even if you want to play fast, it wouldn't be suitable in terms of sound. In fact, the use of open strings in these scales is interesting due to the relationship of the sound of these open strings with the fingered notes. A fast execution speed does not emphasize the typical sound of the scale.

Scale of G major
One of the scales that best adapts to the hybrid picking technique is that of G major. In fact, the open strings create a sound typical of thea pedal-steel-guitar. A sound that's often recognized in phrasing using the hybrid picking technique with open strings.
You must give alot of attention to the fingering of the right hand. Notice that ascending the scale, its best to use the pick when changing notes on adjacent strings, and when descending if preferable to use the real arpeggio of pick and finger. More than anything, it deals with the comfort of play. Also pay close attention to the fingering of the left hand. Furthermore, the fingers of this hand must always let any eventual open strings play agian. The tips of the fingers must therfore fall flatly on the strings, in order to not touch the adjacent string.

Scale of C major
With the same criteria, we can also develop the fingering in C major. Consider that between the two roots we only have one note different, the F in the scale of C and the F# in G. The fingering is very similar, even if in the scale of C we start on the fifth string.

Use of legato on the scales
Another possibility is to use the legato, hammer-on or pull-off, between the fingered notes. With this system you can play more scales, and even those of G and C major.

Scale of G major in legato
If you compart the scale of G major seen above you can see how the fingering has changed, to allow for the use of the hammer-on and pull-off between the fingered notes. Be sure to play the legato notes at the same volume.

Scale of C major in legato
A variation of the previous fingering. The F# note changes by lowering to F, and we can play the C major scale in legato.

Scale of F major in legato
Notice how in the scale of F we find a series of fingered notes that are connected in order to maintain the sound, even in the points where its possible to play open strings. Also pay attention to the C note in the second measure. Theoretically it should be played with the pick. I instead chose the middle finger of the right hand, mostly for the comfort of execution.

The primary purpose of the scales seen on this page is to develop the concept of the open strings, characteristic of the pick-finger technique. I repeat the necessity to play the proposed fingerings slowly, until you have completely learned this technique.
In the next page we will work directly on phrasing, analyzing a series of licks based mainly on hybrid picking.

Previous page

Return to the top of the page
Top of page

Next page