Posted by: Glenelg Guitar Studio | June 17, 2014

Doing the Eagle Rock and Hybrid Picking

What in the heck is “hybrid picking and why should you care?.
Well it’s a technique that involves holding your pick as you normally would with your thumb and index finger, but also using your middle and ring fingers (and sometimes even your pinky) to attack the strings.

So what’s the payoff?.
There’s a different sound you can get from your fingers that you can’t get from a pick. The attack lets you get very sensitive, bluesy tones (think Robben Ford, Mark Knopfler, and Jeff Beck). Robben Ford tends to use a pick for rhythm and switches to bare fingers when he’s getting more aggressive, but playing at lower volumes. He moves to a different texture to highlight big changes in dynamic levels.

Also, when you’re using your fingers you’ll phrase differently because it is harder to play fast—it almost forces you to play more melodically.

The first example I have for you of hybrid picking is “Eagle Rock“. This classic Australian song, was released by Daddy Cool in May 1971 on the Sparmac Record Label. It went on to become the best selling Australian single of the year, achieving gold status in eleven weeks, and remaining at #1 on the national charts for a (then) record ten weeks. “Eagle Rock” also spent 17 weeks at the #1 spot on the Melbourne Top 40 Singles Chart.  The song was re-released by Wizard Records in 1982, and reached #17 on the Australian singles charts.

Guitarist, vocalist and the song’s writer Ross Wilson was living and performing in London when he wrote the song. He explained his inspiration for the song:

It came from a Sunday Times liftout magazine A-Z on music. In the before blues section there was an evocative photo of rural black Americans dancing in a dirt poor juke joint – the caption was along the lines of “some negroes ‘cut the pigeon wing’ and ‘do the eagle rock'”.

—Ross Wilson , 2001

Another example of hybrid picking is Tommy Emmanuels version of Classical Gas, where you can clearly see the pick and fingers getting a workout!

Finally, if you are really keen here is a link to a instructional book on the subject.






  1. Yeah! Leigh, Yeah!

    Finger Lickin’ Good…or, rather….FINGER PICKIN’ GOOD!!!

    “If music be the food of love, play on,
    give me excess of it!” (Written over 400 years ago &
    still true!)

    All ears (& fingers,)

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