Hybrid Fingerstyle - First Steps!

Lesson #535 • Jan 9, 2024

In today’s video I want to show you some first steps with what I’m calling hybrid fingerstyle. This is an informal term I’m using to describe a combination of Travis-style fingerpikcing (pinched strings, melody notes) with a percussive back-beat strum… all played without a pick! This is quite tricky to get the hang of, but can prove incredibly rewarding once mastered. In this lesson, I’ll break down the essential techniques needed – and then walk you through a handful of exercises that put this into practical action. Let’s get into it!

  • 0:00 Overview
  • 1:23 The Fundamentals
  • 3:38 Exercise 1
  • 5:06 Exercise 2A
  • 6:19 Exercise 2B
  • 7:34 Example: Streets of London
  • 8:38 Example: Long Black Veil
  • 9:54 Add’l Tips & Advice

Instructional PDF 3 pages

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It includes all of my notes for this lesson, allowing you to follow along at your own pace. You're free to download, print, and share the PDF across your devices.

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Lesson Discussion

Jump in the conversation with other members of the Song Notes community! Post a comment about this lesson, ask a question, or even upload a video of your progress. All skill levels welcome!

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Zoomed-In Exercises with Tabs

Here’s each of the exercises I demonstrate in my main tutorial, clipped out as individual videos with tabs on screen. Use these for reference when getting familiar each of these.

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Exercise 1

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Exercise 2A

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Exercise 2B

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Exercise Inspired by “Streets of London”

First I show the Travis-style fingerpicking (alternating bass notes), then I show the hybrid fingerstyle (which mixes strumming with the melody notes, all played without a pick).

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Exercise Inspired by “Long Black Veil”

Same as the example above! Travis picking shown first, then I play the same melody using hybrid fingerstyle.

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Here’s a handful of lessons I’ve made that may help with some of the techniques used in this song. Be sure to check out my Travis Picking page for all my lessons on that topic.

A Quick Note on Terminology

To be honest, I have no idea if “hybrid fingerstyle” is the best name for this technique! I searched and wasn’t able to find any existing terms, so am running with this for now.

This informal name choice is inspired by hybrid picking, which involves using a flat pick (to pluck bass strings) while middle/ring fingers are playing fingerstyle on the thinner strings. What I teach here is semi-similar, but is played entirely without a pick. If you know of a proper term used to describe what I’m talking about, let me know!

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