Introduction To Hybrid Picking

Ryan Duke

Hybrid picking? What’s that?

Hybrid picking? What’s that? That’s a great question. It’s a picking technique where you hold and us a guitar pick and finger pick simultaneously. This is a technique which lost popularity for a while, but is starting to resurface a little lately. It has been more common for blues or country players, but can also be used in rock, metal, jazz or any genre that you so desire to use it in. Have you ever heard of Zack Wylde? He is one of the many amazing guitar players who utilizes hybrid picking and in a shredding technique. Check out this video of Zack using hybrid picking.

Using this approach to picking can add a lot of speed and ease to your playing as it can make skipping strings much easier. You will also approach improvising and writing differently by incorporating this technique into your playing.

How To Begin Hybrid Picking

Having a basic grasp and understanding of using the pick will help to but isn’t one hundred percent necessary. If you have never used a pick that will make things a little bit harder, so I’d recommend getting pretty comfortable with just picking first. What is great is that you don’t even need to be able to alternate pick, but I’d still recommend learning that first.

To get started hybrid picking grab your guitar and preferred guitar pick. You will need to hold the pick between your thumb and your index finger. If you are holding it with your thumb and middle fingers or thumb, index, and middle then you definitely need need to adjust before trying hybrid picking.

First pick the D string down with the pick. For the following note you will use your middle finger to pick the G string. Keep picking those 2 notes sequentially one after the other. Do this at a slow and stead tempo. After doing this for a few minuets you will be able to speed up, but often speeding up at this point leads to inconsistency with the rhythm and notes began to get sloppy. Stay slow.

After you have gotten consistent with the pick and middle finger, add in the ring finger and pick the B string after the G string. Now your picking pattern is the D string with the pick, the G string with the middle finger, and the B string with the ring finger. This will give you a very basic hybrid picking “roll”. As before keep this slow and steady.

Next Steps

Next we will modify this roll and play it starting with the pick (D string) again and then do the ring(B string), finally pick with the middle finger (G string). Keep in mind that you should not stop picking and the tempo should be constant.

If you want to take this to another level that is probably as easy, try picking with the pick first (D string), then after picking the D string you will pick with the other 2 fingers (G and B strings) simultaneously. This pattern will be very useful for doing double stops. So it should sound like you picked the D string by itself and then picked the G and B strings like a 2 string chord.

Using the hybrid picking to arpeggiate chords with patterns that would n normally be done using only fingers could be the next stage. You will just adjust which fingers you use since you index will be preoccupied helping the thumb hold the pick. The goal is to use the hybrid picking to enhance your picking technique. If you never used the pick or wanted to use it then this wouldn’t be worth the time. For pick users this will really give you an advantage in playing a more diverse amount of combinations in your guitar playing.

Last thing

The last thing I want to talk about with this is the tone and articulation when hybrid picking. Using a pick will deliver a brighter, clearer, and more articulate tone. Using fingers will make a softer and warmer sound assuming you are using your skin and not your fingernails. As you do this more you will develop calluses on your picking hand finger tips which will help make the notes less quiet. To make the notes much more aggressive you can pop them like a bass player would. This can be too much for most applications.

About the author: Ryan Duke teaches guitar lessons seattle.