Watch the Hybrid Picking online guitar lesson by Andy Timmons from Electric Expression
We're going to talk about hybrid picking and initially, when I was asked to do a little section on hybrid picking I thought, well I don't really do much hybrid picking. But, in fact, I do. We're going to use the song "Farmer Sez" from my very first record Ear X-tacy to illustrate some of that. Hybrid picking is using your pick and your fingers. I've got a little country kind of chicken pickin' tone, because that's what I used on the "Farmer Sez" track. A little bit compression on my clean channel and some slap back echo and you got it going on. I'm just going to start with talking about the "Farmer Sez" riff, because that indeed is using pickin' fingers and it's a nice sound. That's all pick but I'm basically using the pick on the lower tonic note. That is almost the bass roll. Basically, "Farmer Sez"is a blues. It's a 3-chord blues in A7. It basically goes around the changes. A7, D7, A7, E7, D7, to A7. All the hybrid stuff, some of the double stops, it's all going to be based on that harmony. The initial riff I'll show you is real slow. There's that seventh and third of the A7. Again, referencing what chord shape it can be related to and I'm kind of pivoting. There's a B and an F#, like a B5. Pulling off of the open D and G string. I hammer on, the E to the F#. So let's start with that a little slower. When I get to the IV chord, the D7 or D9, a little tension and release there. It's super-imposing a C chord over the D. Then releasing it, sliding to the D but just playing the fifth. The D and the A on the G and D strings. Hammering off the lower A string, then pulling off each time. I should've pointed out, I'm using my pick on the low string and then just my third and my middle and fourth finger. You have to figure out what fingers I'm using folks and it's pulling up. But it's a nice tone. You get the flesh and the nail on the string. We're almost there, we've got the I chord. On the IV chord it's back to I. Now the E chord. It goes back down to these two. So there, let me slow that down, that's over the E chord. It's basically just a little lick that outlines the third of that E7. That G# is surrounding it. We'll talk a bit more about chromatic voice leading later, then we're back on the D chord. Starting on a little sixth idea, meaning playing notes that are a sixth apart. You've got F# and a D, which is the root and third of that, of the D7. A common little country lick is to do that sixth and go down chromatically a whole step.
I'll show, from the V chord one more time slowly. I'm on that third and seventh of the D7 chord and that's a fancy ninth chord of a D7. You've got the seventh, ninth, third, and root in the tonic. Let me play the whole thing one more time, in time. Playing it slower you can get a feel for how it flows together. Also take note of how I'm giving some particular emphasis to certain notes, where I'm really pulling up on the string. See how that line has a shape to it. There's some dynamic within. See how that top chord is more accented. So some dynamics within, and that's what's cool about the hybrid picking, it is really the under note that can be a little bit more tucked in. So clearly it can be used for double stops. I've got a backing track set up where I'm going to play the "Farmer Sez" riff slowly for you over that so you can hear it with the groove and then I'll improvise a little bit and I'll use some of this hybrid picking technique. Some of the ideas that came out during that little improvisation after the "Farmer Sez" lick. Giving some emphasis to some of the notes, like that was just bending from the F# to the G and just with my middle finger, giving that note a little bit there's a lot of alternating between the pick. So it can be simultaneous or it can be alternating, which is commonly what I do, it's just the pick and middle finger. So have fun with that. It's just another thing to spice up your playing a little bit. Works with distortion also. Stevie Ray was a great proponent of that when he'd get into some of those bends he'd be underneath that string. So clearly it's not just for country, you can rock out with some of the hybrid picking examples as well.