What is hybrid picking?

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Hybrid Picking articleWhat is hybrid picking? I’ve read country players use it a lot.
Hybrid picking is simply the technique of playing using both a pick and your fingers, usually your middle (m) and third (a) finger, though some flash types use their little finger as well. It’s a way of achieving a strong bassline (stronger than if you use your thumb), while playing an independent part on top. It’s sometimes referred to as Travis picking, named after the country guitarist Merle Travis who developed the technique – a simple bassline is played on the beat, while the fingers play a syncopated rhythm (on the offbeats) on top. The first two bars of the example demonstrate this, while bar 3 shows a banjo roll effect.

You can use the technique to create percussive chord stabs, often using chord voicings that aren’t on adjacent strings, which would be awkward to play with just a pick. This is demonstrated in the final bar of the example. Finally, by using hybrid picking rather than fingers and thumb, you can easily switch to conventional picking when you take a solo. Perhaps the most famous example of instrumental country guitar is Albert Lee’s Country Boy, which is brimming with open G licks. Other country pickers include Chet Atkins, Danny Gatton, Eric Johnson and the Hellecasters’ Jerry Donahue.

The syncopations of this part make it quite tricky, so take it slowly first and build up to speed. Bar 3 features a moving diminished chord shape; use your second and third fingers to fret the second and first strings respectively, which you can then slip down a fret to fret the top two notes of the E7 chord.

11 October 2014 0 comments


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