When I dig into a burning solo, I like to combine different techniques that can give my lines an interesting feel. In this lesson, we’re going to combine an intervallic approach to playing arpeggios with some wicked hybrid picking.
Displacing certain notes in the arpeggio
and combining them in odd groupings creates
a flowing, angular feel that will make
people say, “Hey! What is that?” These
examples will involve a lot of string skipping,
so in order to play them at breakneck
speeds, we’ll need to use some hybrid picking.
Essentially, hybrid picking is when
you use the other fingers on your picking
hand—usually the middle and ring fingers—
in addition to the flatpick. Hot-rod
country players have been doing this forever,
and we’re going to steal it and combine
it with some pure rock fury.
In the first example shown in Fig. 1,
I’m playing a G#m arpeggio starting on the
b7th. This works really well over the F#m.
Since F# is the second note of an E major
scale, this chord functions as a iim7. This
arpeggio will be our starting point for adding
some intervallic displacement, since
right now it sounds a little plain. Download Example 1 audio...
In Fig. 2 we take the same arpeggio and
create a seven-note pattern that will repeat
twice. In the example I have notated which
finger to use for each string with a representing
the ring finger and m indicating the
middle finger. The missing last note gives the
lick a displaced feeling, but continuing with
the 16th-note rhythm adds excitement. The
arpeggio is pulled apart by bouncing intervals
between the b7 and the lick’s root note,
and with the 5th, b3rd, and the b7 occurring
an octave higher. In the audio example, I
cycle the lick twice so you can hear the connection
between the two seven-note patterns.
Download Example 2 audio...
Now that we have one pattern under our
fingers, we want to move this idea to different
places on the fretboard. In Fig. 3, we are visualizing
a C# minor tonality over string set 6–5–4.
I am again starting on the b7 of C#m and
bouncing the same intervallic pattern inside the
arpeggio. We treat the Emaj9 chord in Fig. 4
the same way, but move it to string set 5–4–3.
Download Example 3 audio...
Download Example 4 audio...
We will combine a few of these examples
to create Fig. 5. We start in the 7th position
and cycle through the seven-note pattern
four times before ending with huge bend at
the 14th fret. The chords we are implying
over this example are C#m7, Emaj9, C#m7,
and G#m7. Notice the wicked sound and
contour of the lick. Using hybrid picking
really allows me to pop those notes out. My
suggestion would be to get the feeling of
each example and make sure you can repeat
it in tempo to feel the syncopation.
Download Example 5 audio: Slow - Fast
Finally, we’ll take the concept up the neck,
instead of across the neck. This can be done
on all string sets, but the example shown in
Fig. 6 will deal with strings 1–3. We’ll start
on the key’s relative minor chord, which will
be C#m7, and again use the same hybrid-picking
approach with these arpeggios. I find
that the minor shape feels the best right out
of the gate, but our fingers will adapt to the
other shapes lurking around the corner.
Next up we have D#m7b5. Try playing
the C# on the 3rd string with your 1st finger,
and then quickly move the 1st finger
to hit A on the 1st string. Next, move to
the root chord (Emaj7) on beat 4 using the
same 1st-finger jump as before. Use your
2nd finger to hammer-on the E on the 3rd
string and then use a finger roll to cover
both the E at the end of the first measure
and the G# on beat 1 of the second.
The next fingering that we want to look
at is for the B7 chord at the end of the third
measure. Start with your 1st finger on the
A at the 14th fret and hammer-on to the
B with your 4th finger. Use another finger
roll to hit both the B and the D# going into
beat 4. Compared to planting other fingers
down, this roll technique saves time and
makes playing fast lines much easier.
I suggest playing each shape twice before
moving up to the next chord in the scale.
This way you will feel the bounce in the
sound and feel more confident before moving
up. Also, make sure you play them down the
neck as well. Once you feel comfortable with
this, try and double the speed of the lick as
you can hear in the audio example. I hope
these examples open new doors for you and
help you sound a little cooler than before! Download Example 6 audio: Slow - Fast
Combining blistering chops with an explosion
of sound, Dave Martone is a leading voice in
the instrumental rock scene. His latest Magna
Carta release, Clean, features guests such as
Joe Satriani, Greg Howe, and Billy Sheehan.
As an educator, he has taught for the National
Guitar Workshop, Berklee College of Music,
and Workshop Live. For more information,
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