Hybrid Picking 101

The technique I get asked about the most is hybrid picking. I use it all the time, for rhythm as well as lead playing.

I prefer to use a flatpick over a thumbpick, so my technique is to use a flatpick and the middle and ring fingers, occasionally the pinky.

Switching back & forth between the flatpick and finger/flatpick combo becomes second nature once you get the basics.

There are 2 basic ‘rolls’ to start with, the Forward and Reverse rolls, like on a banjo.

Pk = Pick M = Middle R = Ring

hybrid rolls

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Be mindful of your picking hand’s posture and keep it loose. Don’t squeeze the pick too hard. If there’s ANY tension in your right hand, you’re doing something wrong. Relax, shake it out, start again.

Make sure each note is equal in volume and dynamic level.

Here’s a tricky little lick that uses 2 main shapes, over an E9 chord. It can be used over any E7(dominant) type chord.

You could pick each note of this separately, but when you speed it up the hammer-ons smooth it out a bit, so it isn’t quite so staccato sounding.

hybrid lick

Video, complete with clams!

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Experiment with using the pick & finger technique with chords, double-stops, single-note solos, anything where you want to get that snappy attack and freedom of movement in the right hand.

Start each exercise very slowly with a metronome or drum machine, working up the tempo gradually. Keep that hand loose!