top of page

Guest Article:  Eric Bourassa

Introduction To Hybrid Picking For Electric Guitar

One of my greatest challenges in learning to play guitar has been mastering control of my picking hand. Being left-handed but playing guitar right-handed has no doubt contributed to this disadvantage, though my left hand legato technique is quite good, so I can't complain.


I got my degree in classical guitar performance, so I developed a great fingerpicking technique during my college years. After college, I resumed working on alternate and economy picking, and both approaches continued to evade me. Granted, a big part of this was due to the fact that I just needed to practice a lot more, but nevertheless, it was frustrating.


Soon after I discovered guitar virtuoso Dave Martone, and I quickly recognized that his playing was very unique. When I learned that a big part of that is his use of hybrid picking, which is a combination of using the pick and fingers, I became very excited. I began incorporating this approach into my own playing and found that it came quite naturally to me, no doubt because of my college training in classical guitar.


So today we are going to look at a few examples that involve alternating between down strokes with the pick and middle finger plucks, as represented by an m in the music, and this will benefit you in the following ways:


1.    learn to attack notes on multiple strings quickly

2.    Easily play string skipping shapes that would normally be very difficult with just a pick

3.    Begin to see the fretboard from a new angle


Let's warm up with Example 1. Use down strokes on the fretted notes and middle finger plucks for the open strings.


In Example 1A, we are going to skip a string for the middle finger plucks. Be sure to keep the rhythm very even and steady.

For Example 2, we are going to add a hammer-on. This is a common pattern used by guitar great Greg Howe. Use your fret hand ring finger to roll across the strings, meaning that the tip of your ring finger will be used on string 2 and the pad of your ring finger will be used on string 1. 

Example 2a turns this into a sextuplet pattern that is a signature of Dave Martone.

Example 3 takes the previous example and moves that across the pentatonic scale on the first two strings. The second shape in this pattern is quite difficult, so you may consider modifying it by replacing the eighth fret on the second string with the seventh fret on the second string, which still sounds cool.

Example 4 applies the same idea to the major scale. This one is actually a little easier than Example 3, In my opinion.

Finally, Example 5 has us moving in a diagonal direction across three octaves. Pay close attention to the jumps across boxes and work on those transitions.

I hope you have discovered a fun, unique technique that gets you thinking differently about the fretboard and excited about something brand new. Enjoy!


About the Author: Eric Bourassa teaches guitar lessons in Fort Worth, Texas where he tries to turn everyone into hybrid picking monsters. He still teaches the other stuff, but this is what really excites him ;)

bottom of page