The Hybrid Picking Technique in Metal Soloing

Welcome to another edition of my Guitar Interactive column. In this article we’re going to finish 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 things that hybrid picking makes much easier is skipping strings. Alternate picking from the D to high E isn’t an impossible task, but playing down on the D then using the middle finger to pluck the high E makes your task a lot less strenuous!. This is something that can really come in handy when working on classical licks in the style of Each or Paganini. Of course it should be usable for any idea involving multiple strings.


In the third and final part in this series, we’re going to look at four licks which employ hybrid picking on various 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.

Lick 1 is a keyboard-ague pattern which is played across an Em pentatonic pattern with string skipping. Looking at the notation instead of the tab you’ll see that the dots are scattered all over the page like someone sprayed ink on the page. In terms that matter to us, this just means that the resulting sound is more unpredictable and exciting. We’re skipping a lot of strings here though and moving back and fonvard over almost two octaves, so rake it very slowly and commit the idea to memory.

Lick 2 is just a variation on lick 1, instead of outlining an Em7 from an E minor pentatonic scale were moving up and outlining a Gmaj7 sound. This will be a great rest to see how well you understand the first lick because all were doing is taking the same idea but applying it to a new shape, so in a perfect world, you should just be able to learn the shape and then play the lick without thinking.

Lick 3 is a cool idea 1 wrote which covers 3 octaves and some tricky position shift which are made even more complicated by skipping strings, legato and tapping. Again, all the notes are taken from the E minor pentatonic scale, but it would be worth trying this in other keys to see how well you’ve learnt the shapes.

The final lick takes a simple idea up in octaves before moving down to the 12 fret area for a bluesy little pentatonic ending. This lick should be a perfect test to see if you’ve taken all of these ideas on board. Remember that mastery of this technique means you can use it to make your life a little easier without any real effort but without sounding obvious.

Until next month, keep rocking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *