Welcome to the next of my columns. This time we’re going to continue taking a look at the hybrid picking technique and how we can use that in our metal soloing.
Hybrid picking, by definition, is the use of the fingers on the picking hand to execute notes in conjunction with the pick. This is a technique closely associated with top country players like James Burton or Albert Lee, but over the years it’s become commonplace to find it used in Rock, Metal and Shred by guys like Zakk Wylde and Eric Johnson.
One of the best applications of the technique is to enable you to play complex string crossing licks without having to jump around with the pick. If you look at some of Zakk’s solo guitar pieces like the later part of Speedball or the second half of Takillya (Estyabon) you can hear guitar parts than: are more reminiscent of classical guitar and these can work great for textures. When used in a solo you get that sound that can only be described as ‘Chickin’ Pickle, and that’s a big part of Zakk’s soloing style.
In the second part in this series, we’re going to look at three licks which employ hybrid picking on adjacent strings. When you do this motion it’s really important that you don’t dig in too hard and pluck the string aggressively, you want to try and make it sound just as it would if you’d picked the string with a pick. Remember, the audience wants to listen to your music, not the techniques you use to make it!
If you look closely, when I do this I like it to be a pluck of the finger rather than a twist of the wrist. This way, when you pluck a note your hand is good and ready to go with the next picked note, this may not seem like a big deal when playing slowly, but playing fast is all about efficiency, so pay attention to how much movement you’re making.
Exercise 2 takes the opposite approach and descends the scale in groups of five. This time we’re leading with a hybrid picked note so it’s really important that you work on the timing here, especially as there are 5 notes per group but only 4 notes per beat. This rhythmic device sounds great but requires accurate placement of notes.
Exercise 3 is a more complicated idea which takes the principals of the first exercise but makes it much more complicated visually by extending the finger so the note you hybrid pick is borrowed from the next pattern in the pentatonic framework. This will be really difficult at first, but is an excellent way to improve your knowledge of the minor pentatonic scale. Notice that when we descend we keep the same pattern from exercise 1, but it would be cool to toy around with the lick and maybe use an idea similar to that in exercise 2.
Next issue will be the final part of this series on hybrid picking, we’ll take it one step further with arpeggio patterns and string skipping idea, so I’ll see you then!