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Combining Flat-Pick And Fingerpicking

by Mike Lindyn
www.GuitarKnowledgenet.com ©2004

It is possible to combine a flat-picking style with a fingerpicking style. This style of picking is a personal favorite of mine. It allows all the advantages of flat-picking but at the same time allows you to pluck out higher notes using the three remaining fingers of your strumming hand. The intention of this technique is not to replace finger picking, but to increase your flat picking technique. I would never recommend using this technique to play a piece by Bach or any other piece written specifically for fingering picking. However this technique does work well in situations where you are flat picking and you want to hit a note on a high string while picking out a note on a low string and you don’t have time to put down your pick.
Below is a diagram showing the strings assigned to each finger of your picking hand. This time letter (P) will represent your pick, (M) is for the middle finger, (A) represents the third finger, and (i) represents the pinky.

Notice the pick is responsible for strings 4 through 6. The remainder of the strings are played using the middle finger, ring finger, and pinky respectively. Use your pinky only when you have to, the last 3 movements in the example below shows when the pinky might be needed.

When using this technique your pick may often hit strings above the D string. This is perfectly acceptable. For the most part, your flat picking style will remain unchanged except when you need to hit a note on the high strings at the same time (or close to the same time) as you hit a note on the low strings. Again it is best to think of this technique as an improvement to your flat picking skills rather than a replacement for finger picking technique. Below is an example of a phrase you might want to use a combination of flat picking and finger picking.

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