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Triads & Hybrid Picking

Lesson by Josh Gibson
Hybrid picking is a fun, potentially flashy way to add new textures to your tonal palette. From delicate faux-piano and jazzy B3 sounds to twangy bends and rapid-fire blues runs, this maneuver can be found in the arsenal of many, arguably most great guitarists. It takes time and dedication to develop the coordination and independence needed for this challenging technique, but if you practice efficiently your efforts will be rewarded. In this lesson, we’ll make the most of our time by pairing up a hybrid picking pattern with a study of Major & Minor Triads and their inversions. Through this two-pronged approach, it’s possible to get in some serious right hand reps while navigating the neck through a series of familiar shapes. The resulting playing examples serve to build muscle memory in both hands and simultaneously improve fretboard knowledge. That’s using your time wisely! The Right Hand I started working on these hybrid picking patterns while mining some Danny Gatton licks. They’re tough to get up to blazing speed like Danny, but the somewhat ergonomic nature of this technique results in a surprisingly relaxed feel once you get the hang of it. As with any new material, be patient and focus on clarity over speed. Use your pick for the low notes, and use your middle & ring fingers to grab the double-stops located on the pair of higher strings. At first, just mute the strings with your left hand while you slowly go through the motions with your right hand. A metronome or drum track is a good way to keep you rhythmically on target. (Feel free to practice any right hand technique you choose throughout this lesson. The Triad info alone is quite valuable, so don’t be discouraged if the advanced picking patterns seem too difficult – just work within your comfort zone for now and come back when you’re ready.) Figure 1 A: This pattern spans 2 beats using steady 16th notes. Figures 4-10 are demonstrated with this picking pattern. B: This triplet-based pattern is the easier of the two. Try playing the examples in this lesson using this picking pattern, too.

The Left Hand Now we can take a look at the other side of the equation. To create some musical sounding hybrid picking ‘drills’, we’ll apply some basic triad shapes to a common chord progression: Am-G-F-E. (‘Walk Don’t Run’ is one popular song that uses this sequence of chords.) Figure 2 illustrates a series of 3-string grips that will align nicely with the picking patterns in Figure 1. The sound on the lower groups of strings gets a bit muddy, but seeing these shapes helps avoid holes in your fingerboard knowledge that can lead to ‘hitting a wall’ while improvising. Figure 2

Figure 3

Putting it all together - Descending Now we’ll link these triads together by playing through an Am-G-F-E progression. In Figures 4-7, you’ll find the left hand motion is pretty easy after you make the transition from Am to G; this is because the G, F & E chords share the same shape. This means you can basically hold your fingers in a fixed position while you focus on shifting position accurately (The inversions are identified above the chord grids – don’t cheat yourself out of the benefits this fundamental information has to offer!)

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Putting it together - Ascending You can also create some cool ascending lines that result in nice contrary motion against the descending bass line. Fancy! Figure 8 demonstrates this idea through 2 sets of inversions. (See if you can use the info provided in Figures 4-7 to identify each inversion.) Figure 8

Putting it together - Combined Motion One downside to strictly ascending through this particular progression is the jump from F to E (as in Figure 8). In order to even out this bump in the road, we can simply descend at this point – this improves the flow and is actually easier to execute. By paying close attention to each individual voice as it moves through a chord progression, you can eliminate large intervallic leaps from one chord to the next, resulting in a smoother sound. This is an example of good Voice Leading. Figures 9 & 10 on the following pages illustrate a few of the possibilities. Be sure to observe the indicated fingerings. Some of these chord changes can be a little tricky. Experiment to find options that suit your needs.

Figure 9

Figure 10

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson and the accompanying video. Please feel free to email me with any questions, feedback or future lesson requests. I’m available for private lessons in Tampa Bay as well as via Skype. You can reach me at THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!! Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to JoshGibsonGuitar on Youtube!