Introducing alternate hybrid picking, a new guitar technique that could change the way you solo

Thiago Trinsi
(Image credit: Thiago Trinsi)

Just when we think most major technical fretboard developments have been pioneered, we are reminded yet again of the evergreen creativity of guitar players, and the instrument’s ability to accommodate boundary-pushing experiments. 

Case in point is Donn Aaron’s bubble harmonics technique – inspired by Eddie Van Halen and Ynwgie Malmsteen, bubble harmonics applied an ethereal delay-esque overtone to a given note, without the use of an actual delay effect.

Now, we’re pleased to report yet another tool that has been discovered and developed by a bold guitar player: the alternate hybrid picking technique.

The brainchild of guitarist, teacher and international masterclass tutor Thiago Trinsi, alternate hybrid picking operates exactly as its name implies: it combines the standard two-string hybrid technique with an additional alternate picking maneuver to create a wholly new-sounding approach.

A relatively straightforward combination that may make you question, “Why hasn’t this been done before?” but one that is seldom used or even referred to as a formal technique. As you can imagine, alternate hybrid picking opens up a huge range of creative possibilities for players – an end goal, according to Trinsi, that was key in the development of the technique.

“I have always been drawn to the unique sound of various techniques and my playing style tends to be more intervallic rather than linear,” he tells Guitar World. “I sought out a tool that would allow me to create cascading effects and allow for fast transitions while playing between two or more strings and spanning multiple intervals.

“Basically, the inspiration was based on a need for something different related with the way I choose the notes. My goal was to incorporate extra notes into chord outlines without being restricted to a particular arpeggio shape. My desire for a new sound was driven by my passion for soloing and the desire to bring to life the unusual combinations I hear in my head when exploring musical ideas.”

So, how exactly does it work? As Trinsi demonstrates, alternate hybrid picking is all about the picking hand: a down-up alternate pick on one string is followed by an upwards "pop" using the second finger on another. Repeat this in quick succession, and you have yourself a fully fledged alternative hybrid picking run. Once mastered, the technique can then be applied through larger solos, songs and riffs to introduce fresh sonic flavors.

Don’t be fooled, though – the logistics of this technique make it harder to tackle than you might expect, especially when attempting to seamlessly fit it into a wider musical context. Still, as Trinsi demonstrates, its applications make it a technique worth exploring.

As for how Trinsi utilizes his technique himself, he suggests a few different applications, from linking legato licks to one another and moving between chord tones, to transitioning between shapes and scales.

Ultimately, the impact of a technique will be determined by its ability to aid the playing of regular guitarists. Judging by Trinsi’s in-depth demo, alternate hybrid picking promises to be a genuinely eye-opening tool to have in the locker.

“I believe that this technique, like all other traditional guitar techniques, has its distinct sound quality. It's not just another trick in our arsenal,” Trinsi insists. “With this technique, you can revitalize an old Am7 pentatonic scale with a modern touch.

“You can seamlessly transition from playing arpeggios to playing scale lines in octaves horizontally without having to switch techniques, simply by repeating the first two notes while the third note moves, opening up endless possibilities for creative combinations around chords and scales.”

The sound of alternate hybrid technique harks back to Trinsi’s biggest influences, and pays tribute to the guitar heroes who shaped him into the player he is today. Citing Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson and Greg Howe as standout inspirations, Trinsi reflects their “unique way of expressing themselves through flawless technique inspired me to strive for a similarly pristine performance”.

Trinsi’s extensive playing history has no doubt helped him in his quest to develop the technique in question. Having started playing guitar at the age of 12, he quickly fell in love with the instrument, and later worked two jobs to fund private lessons.

After becoming a well-respected tutor in his local area – and partaking in a range of international masterclasses – Trinsi later fulfilled his dream of sharing the stage with his heroes Greg Howe, Brett Garsed and Andy Timmons in 2010. As such, it's fair to say Thiago knows his way around a fretboard, and is something of an authority when it comes to all things technique.

According to Trinsi, this might just be the start for alternate hybrid picking, too. With an in-depth book on the technique currently in the pipeline, the Brazilian guitarist is already looking at ways to push the parameter of alternate hybrid picking even further. As an example, Trinsi hopes to develop the technique to create an “echo delay effect” in the near future.

Head over to Thiago Trinsi's official website to keep up to date with his work.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.