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from Greg Koch's Hal Leonard Guitar Method: Country Guitar
There are a number of ways to create the chicken pickin’ sound:
Use the side of your thumb on your picking hand to mute or “choke” a note as you pick down (≥), and let the same note ring as you pick it with an upstroke (v). Repeat this process rapidly.
Use your thumb and first finger à la country-flavored rock guitar great Mark Knopfler. This is achieved by picking a note with our first finger (i) then plucking the same note again with your thumb (p) but with your first finger right behind it, actually on the same string, muting it.
Use a hybrid picking technique; basically, do the same thing as above, but replace your thumb (p) with the flat pick and your first finger (i) with your middle finger (m). Note that having a little bit of nail on your middle finger allows you to snap the string a little more effectively. Let’s hear the same lick above using this technique, and notice how bright and aggressive it sounds in comparison to the thumb-and-fingers approach. Listen...