Gustavo Assis-Brasil – Hybrid Picking For Guitar

This is an independently published book, labeling itself “A complete method for combining pick and fingers.” And, compared to other self-published music books I’ve had the opportunity to go through, this one is well put together and nicely presented.

Gustavo has all the credentials one could ask for in a teacher (check out his website at the address below). And he’s tackling a subject that’s scary for many guitarists on their best days. Hybrid picking is using a combination of both picks and fingers. The thumb and index finger hold the pick and usually play the lower strings (D, A and E) while the other fingers – middle finger, ring finger and pinky – pluck the higher strings. It’s a technique used by many artists from Albert Lee to Danny Gatton to Richard Thompson. While country music may first come to mind when one mentions hybrid picking, it is also found extensively in folk and ethnic genres (such as Celtic and African music) as well as blues and jazz. Simply put, it’s another tool that waits at the guitarist’s beck and call.

After an all too brief introduction to the basic essentials of hybrid picking (a primer on tablature, how to hold and position your pick and fingers, and some general encouragement from the author), this book delves right into exercises designed to get you using hybrid picking in a hurry. The exercises start out very simple and straightforward – you begin with examples using only open strings, two strings at a time, and progress from there.

As you get further along in the book, the exercises become more involved. While a lot of the work is in single note lines, Gustavo doesn’t forget to work in exercises employing pinching, arpeggios, alternate picking and even sweep picking. There is a lot of work here for someone willing to put in the concentration and effort.

The second section of Hybrid Picking for Guitar demonstrates the practical side of the technique, namely using it in lead lines and fills. The CD that comes with the book contains audio files of everything from this point on (the first five tracks are of earlier examples), and it is well produced and easy to follow along with. Some people may wonder why the half of the book contains only five audio files, but since most of the early exercises are very uncomplicated (except in executing them!), it’s more than understandable that the CD concentrates on this part of the book.

The book concludes with a selection of original pieces that serve as a testimony to both the author and his technique. I’d have bought the book just to listen to these last seven songs!

Is this book for everyone? It’s decided not for absolute beginners and people who have a hard time being self-motivated might find themselves frustrated at the time it takes to make progress in this technique. But if you have time and patience, it is certainly worth your while.

A lot of thought and work went into producing this and it shows. For more details, including how to order your own copy, go to Gustavo’s website.