For many years, I neglected the concept of hybrid picking. Today it is one of my favorite guitar techniques. Hybrid Picking is where one uses the pick in the normal way to sound notes on the lower strings, while the middle, ring, and occasionally the pinky, grab notes on the higher strings. It has opened up the guitar for me in numerous ways. Unfortunately, many electric guitar players probably do not use hybrid picking because they think it is mostly reserved for country guitar players. But in fact, you can also use it very effectively in a rock-n-roll context.
Good hybrid picking lick to get you started
The following is a relatively simple hybrid picking lick. Yet it still sounds quite attractive and musical to me with its wide intervals, and a considerable amount of speed can be generated with it as well. Let’s play the lick now.
Most importantly, note that all the pitches on the high E string should be plucked with the middle finger of your picking hand (or your ring finger, if that is more comfortable), which makes it a hybrid picking lick. Repeat the phrase as many times as you want. Set up a metronome and start off slowly, then increase the speed. The scale used in the lick could be considered C Major, although the C# on the high E string is actually a note that occurs outside the key. To me, this exercise sounds slightly classical and it’s quite fun to play. Over time you can simply improve this simple lick and make it more interesting.
All notes on the D and G strings are picked with the plectrum (but hammer-ons and pull-offs could be incorporated as well), while the notes on the high E string (to reiterate) are plucked with either your middle or ring finger (I use my middle finger, personally, which is why there is an ‘m’ next to those notes). Remember to relax your picking hand as you pluck and pick the notes when hybrid picking. If your hand is too tense you won’t be able to play fluidly.
To repeat, you can also work up a lot of speed with the phrase above, but to be honest I don’t think it sounds especially good to just blaze through your hybrid picking licks. Slow down a little to allow your appreciative audience to hear the phrasing and the precise nuances of the various notes. Don’t just rattle through the lick as if you’re banging away on keys of a typewriter. Feel the rhythm and listen intently to the musicality of the pattern and attempt to make your hybrid licks sonorous and fresh and compelling.
And that’s all there is to this hybrid picking lick. Enjoy.