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Tomcattin' intro lesson

 The technique of hybrid picking (utilization of the fingers of the picking hand in combination with the pick) is most commonly associated with country guitar styles. However, this technique can be equally useful in producing interesting and expressive articulation within other realms of music and is often employed by guitarists as diverse as Eric Johnson and Zakk Wylde. I've found it to be a particularly useful technique for bringing a little southern “twang” to a blend of rock and blues ideas (I like to think it sounds like beer tastes). The intro from Tomcattin’ (from my CD, Amplitude) is an example of how I like to mix hybrid picking with other techniques.

Click here for Tomcattin' intro sound clip.

 This example is based in the third position G Dorian/Blues pattern, with a couple of shifts down to first position and is played with a 16th note shuffle feel. I use the left hand thumb for the low G in order to facilitate a smooth transition to the rest of the phrase in measure one. I’ve indicated the right hand fingers (m=middle; a=ring) where used. All other notes are picked or slurred. A less common use of the hybrid picking technique can be found in the fourth beat of measure one, where the ring finger (marked a*) is used to strum outward on the top two strings (notes F & C) in Flamenco rasgueado fashion. In measure two, I use the middle finger to get some “snap” from the Bb on beat two. Also notice the economy picking that connects the last note of beat two with the downbeat of beat three. This is not really essential to the line, but I feel it makes the line feel more fluid (like pouring beer - hey, there's a theme here).

 The second half of the intro begins with a repetition of the motive from the first measure. Creating a response to the first (or antecedent) phrase, the second (or consequent) phrase is completed with a line that resolves to the tonic, G. This scalar line (and its preceding chordal accent) is played with standard picking technique. Notice that the 16th notes in the last bar are “straightened out” in order to add a bit of rhythmic accent to the end of the line. Okay, if you're 21 or over, you can treat yourself to a beer now...

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