Hybrid picking basics

JohnM

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692
I get asked more about hybrid (pick & fingers) playing than just about anything else, so I made a little tutorial about it, complete with vids and tabs. It's aimed mostly at beginners, but I also included a trickier lick for the more advanced twangers out there.

Enjoy!
Hybrid Picking 101
 

Free

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1,304
That's how I would approach it - great exercise and well done, John. Btw, I think some players are confused if they should be using their picking hand pinky too, and I advise against that. Seems obvious to many, but a lot of beginning and intermediate students have no idea it seems.
 

Aj_rocker

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1,268
some really great ideas there. you have a great way of writing too, very easy to read.

i'll steal some of your ideas i think !!!!

Aj
 

drfrankencopter

Silver Supporting Member
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2,255
Nice videos + lesson....

I just picked up Gustavo Assis-Brasil's 'Hybrid Picking' book a couple of weeks ago, and must say its a pretty intensive and complete set of hybrid picking exercises...but is missing some details regarding the mechanics of the picking itself. It's nice to relate that to the videos on your site JohnM.

Regarding using the pinky, in the 'Hybrid Picking book' the exercises make use of the pinky. I've been trying to use it, but it's definitely the weakest finger and significantly shorter than the others. Seems like usingthe pinky is the best way to hybrid pick across 4 or more strings...

Cheers

Kris
 

clothwiring

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6,822
Another good one is just playing an E chord (just an example) and picking 3 strings (E A D), then the next (A D G), D G B, G B E, then reverse, E, B, G...etc etc...

Great little exercise.
 

JohnM

Member
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692
Free - thanks for checking it out! I really only use the right hand pinky for grabbing 4-note chords where needed. I can't do much with it single-note wise. But, if someone was willing to develop it into a useful appendage, rock on!
That's why some of Brent Mason or Scotty Anderson's, etc... stuff is so tricky - they have the thumbpick AND 3 more fingers :messedup
 

Free

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1,304
Nice videos + lesson....

Seems like usingthe pinky is the best way to hybrid pick across 4 or more strings...

Cheers

Kris
I know what you mean - kind of how readily fingerstyle with T, I, M and R fingers facilitates four+ string playing and common 16th note divisions. There are ways to make the non-pinky approach work great, in fact BEST IMO. For example, if I am playing a four-string 16th note pattern I usually just use the pick twice consecutively in conjunction with the M and R fingers - so it would go Pick, Pick, M, R. Just as long as the top (high e) two strings/notes of any given phrase are played with the M and R fingers.

There are other good ways too. Can't advise enough against use of the picking hand pinky enough personally. The pinky just gets in the way - compromises speed and feel, and clutters the picking hand more.
 

drfrankencopter

Silver Supporting Member
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2,255
An exercise I got from a Brett Garsed article in Guitar Techniques was to practice scales using only finger pairs and no picked notes (e.g. Play G Mixolydian up and down using only pinky and ring, or only middle and ring)...strive for consistent tone and tempo...its quite humbling.

Cheers

Kris
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
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20,954
That's how I would approach it - great exercise and well done, John. Btw, I think some players are confused if they should be using their picking hand pinky too, and I advise against that. Seems obvious to many, but a lot of beginning and intermediate students have no idea it seems.
Great stuff John. Regarding the pinky, lots of guys have developed good right hand pinky stuff. Gatton was excellent at it and I've seen lots of other guys do it too like Brett Garsed.
 
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20 years of solo acoustic playing--now's not the time for me to learn to use the pinky ;-)

I do love the sound of hybrid picking on intervallic lines.
 

spencerbk

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531
Great video.

John, or others, are you working your fingernails in there on the right hand or is that "snap" coming from the fingertips with perhaps some pull and release?
 

JohnM

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692
Thanks spencebk -
I personally prefer the finger-only approach...no nails. I played classical guitar many moons ago and found the nails too high-maintenance. of course, YMMV.
 

spencerbk

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531
Thanks spencebk -
I personally prefer the finger-only approach...no nails. I played classical guitar many moons ago and found the nails too high-maintenance. of course, YMMV.
Thanks John. I've only dabbled in hybrid picking and found getting my nails in shape was a hassle (and an excuse not to practice). You're getting some sweet tones there, so I'll hold that up as inspiration!
 
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14,890
Great lesson! Thanks for posting!

I also own and use the Assis-Brasil book, which remains one of my favorite guitar books. I don't find anything missing with the picking hand aspect of the technique. The fretting-hand part is sort of left to the reader to figure out for himself/herself. I'm still not as speedy and accurate as John, Brett, etc. in executing this stuff, but I'm a lot more comfortable using the pinky now and disagree with the advice to not use it.
 

cram

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13,712
Thanks for posting this - I've been trying this a bit lately. My history with this is brief in terms of hours logged in trying it. I am quite good at finger picking without a pick in my hand from playing acoustic for years and honestly - I prefer to play acoustic without a pick.

But hybrid picking is so differnet because the index finger is stuck on the pick, we're left with the other three fingers to work with. It has been tough for me to warm up to it as my playing style isn't so close to the country licks this lends itself to.

And when I say difficult, I don't mean simply using another (single) finger to hit another note across the strings. I mean to individually pick two additional strings like you are doing. the most popular crossover reference would be EJohnson's use of this in cliffs of dover (intro and during the final verse section of the tune). That's fairly simple to me and easy to gravitate toward.

It's the individual string picking in addition to the pick finger.


When ever I hear it used though, it sounds so cool to me and I'd love to have it under my belt.
 
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When I first started working seriously on hybrid picking, I had to spend a lot of time on the open-string picking drills in the Assis-Brasil book. The author highly recommends putting in a respectable amount of time on those drills first, practicing them slow. Many of the drills do involve the pick and each of the fingers remaining on specific strings, but some drills involve movement (eg. a series of open-string notes with the pick on low E string, followed by a series of notes with the pick on the A string, etc.) of the picking hand. This movement practice is helpful preparation for later on when you pick a string with one of your free fingers, then pick the same string with your pick or vice versa.

Sure, it's very tempting to skip ahead early to the cool stuff later in the book, but that startup time is necessary if you have no previous experience.

A nice thing about the book is it aims to be style neutral, though there is a chapter on hybrid picking lines for jazz and a country-pickin' type piece among the compositions at the end of the book.
 




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