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Hone your hybrid picking with Greg Koch's lesson on how to play Luna Girl

Greg Koch
(Image credit: Olly Curtis/Future)

Luna Girl is the opening track on my latest album, From the Up’Nah, which I recorded with my group, the Koch Marshall Trio, featuring Toby Marshall on keyboards and my son Dylan on drums and percussion. 

The main riff in this song is crafted from a melodic line played in tandem with pedal tones while additionally adding bass notes underneath the melodic information. 

Like most guitar players, I can deliver this type of musical mayhem on the guitar by incorporating hybrid picking, wherein, generally speaking, the notes on the lower strings – the “bass notes” – are downpicked with the plectrum while the notes on the higher strings are fingerpicked.  

The majority of the tune’s initial primary riff is built around a C chord. The best way to get started is to set up a pick-hand framework to follow for the entire song. Figure 1a illustrates a 1st-position C major chord, sounded by fingerpicking the notes on the B and G strings while using the pick to sound the reiterated low C note on the A string’s 3rd fret. 

In Figure 1b, I expand the sound of the C chord by fingerpicking the open high E string along with the B and G. 

(Image credit: Future)

With the high E included as part of the equation, I can simply barre my index finger across the top two strings at the 1st fret to sound an F major chord, and then alternately add or remove the barre to switch from an F chord to a C chord, as shown in Figure 2

In Figure 3, you can see that the C chord can be embellished by adding an ascending line on the G string.

(Image credit: Future)

The Luna Girl lick is constructed by interweaving a melody based on the C blues scale into the repeatedly hybrid-picked C chord: Figure 4 shows this scale played on the top two strings, and Figure 5 illustrates how I employ it in the fist melodic phrase of Luna Girl.

(Image credit: Future)

Figure 6 elaborates on the initial one-bar phrase by illustrating how I carry the idea across three bars, which is accomplished by moving the melodic phrases gradually downward from the high E string to the B, G and D strings. The musical idea is capped off with the bold and aggressive striking of the F5 chord at the end. 

(Image credit: Future)

A useful thing to think about and practice is the single-note melody by itself, as illustrated in Figure 7. Here, the entire melody is stated in single-string fashion; once you have a handle on this melodic line, it will be that much easier to add the hybrid-picked bass notes and additional chord tones.

(Image credit: Future)

Figure 8 demonstrates how I bring all the elements together in the final actualization of the Luna Girl lick. 

(Image credit: Future)

I'm a huge fan of hybrid-picked ideas like these, so please feel free to use these musical examples as jumping off points into your own musical inventions.

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Greg Koch
Greg Koch

Greg Koch is a large human who coaxes guitars into submission in a way that has left an indelible print on the psyches of many Earth dwellers. Visit GregKoch.com (opens in new tab) to check out his recordings, instructional materials, signature musical devices and colorful hats.