Bass guitar is just as versatile, if not more so, than the average electric guitar. Because a bass guitar has fewer strings, there is less to worry about in way of remembering a plethora of variations and positions.
In fact, the fewer strings on the bass guitar makes most picking techniques more attractive, as it offers a closer range of notes which work together more easily.
In this article, we will go over one of the most commonly used techniques in folk, bluegrass and country styles called hybrid picking.
Hybrid picking is a picking technique that involves the usage of both a guitar pick and the fingers. The most common way that they are used together is, the guitar pick designated to the bass notes (the lower sounding notes on the strings E and A, in the case of the bass guitar) and the fingers designated to the treble notes (the higher sounding notes on the D and G strings, in the case of the bass guitar). Playing this way is a bit tricky at first, so there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
The first is finger separation. While using the pick and the fingers at the same time may sound simple, it is actually fairly difficult. The best way to develop this technique is by practicing using them separately. Use the thumb and the index finger to hold the pick, and start off with the middle finger playing the treble notes.
Once you are a bit comfortable with this variation of hybrid picking on bass guitar (don’t wait too long because your ring finger will start to get lazy), add your ring finger to the mix and use it to assist the middle finger in playing the treble notes.
The second is the angle. You won’t be able to use hybrid picking if your picking hand is on a right angle. You need your hand slightly facing the string so that you can stroke with the pick in a downward motion with plucking with the fingers in an upward motion, creating a sort of pendulum.
The best way to develop this bass technique is through practice. As we stated above, start off with the pick and the middle finger, then work your way up to adding your ring finger to the mix. Your pinky won’t be added at all, because just like every other picking technique, the pinky is a bit too frail to be of much use and risks more damage than profit when used.
Try putting aside a block of time each day to work on your hybrid picking on bass guitar technique. Start of slow, with simple bass and treble lines, and try to build up the fluidity of your technique. Once you feel comfortable enough, try approaching more advanced pieces and usage of the technique.
Have fun, and remember to be careful; hybrid picking is difficult to start with, and you don’t want to further this by adding injury to the mix when learning how to play bass. Good luck!
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