Cliffs of Dover hybrid nightmare

How in the actual hell, do you guys do the Cliffs of Dover hybrid picking part as part of the intro?

I cannot for the life of me do repeated hybrid picks quick enough to play it.

Do you pluck the string with just your finger? Or do you use your finger as a ‘secondary pick’ and use a similar wrist motion to the usual, albeit with a little finger pluck?

Considering that hybrid picking is often used as an elegant solution to awkward picking requirements, I was expecting (naively I suppose) that this wasn’t going to be the biggest challenge on the intro!!

And it’s so clean too! I think EJ had a second person present with a pick who just played that note and the same guitar. I can’t be convinced otherwise.


At first this struck me as “you’re overthinking it” territory. That’s just because I’m in the camp of folks who rejoiced over that part since it was the only piece of that intro I could play at/near tempo for years lol! I think it’s a great question though and we need to know!!!

I never paid attention to my technique because it just worked, but now I’m curious. There’s obviously a way to play these licks that is more efficient. Should we be thinking of it as one smooth motion, where that finger pluck is sort of an upstroke? If so, does the finger doing the plucking need to move from the knuckle joint like a classical guitarist? Or, is it just a down pick followed by a very deliberate finger pluck that is its own motion, not the product of any forearm rotation etc. I think the way EJ does it is the latter, but firstly, am I correct, and secondly, is this the best way???

I suspect this may even be EJ’s infamous bounce technique in part. If the notes that aren’t the upper pedal are all downpicked, which they certainly are the way he plays it, there must be some sort of circular “bouncy” motion that we need or else we’d double pick them.

For example, I’m leaving out the upper pedal here intentionally:


If you repeat that as fast as you can, all downstrokes, you have to “hop” on the descending part at the 19th fret to get to the next string. Not an issue for the part on the 17th fret since the pick could just fall to the next string.

For context, here’s the clip, even though we’ve all seen it a million times. Let’s break it down!

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Following this. I was able to do a pretty good Cliffs of Dover like 20 years ago but haven’t every come back to it since I stopped playing for like 20 years (and this pedal part never really clicked for me). But it’s fun to be able to go back with a surgeon’s scalpel and really dissect what was really happening technique wise. Look forward to taking another crack at this one.

It does look like there’s a fluid motion with the pick following by the finger pluck. And perhaps a good way to approach it would be to almost think of each pick-pluck sequence as a single motion almost

I may not being expressing myself correctly, but to me it’s the opposite. Everything he does looks “fluid” because he is EJ :slight_smile: However, I see a distinct movement of his middle finger plucking the upper pedal though. It does not appear to me it’s a byproduct of his plectrum pick motion though.

What you’re describing sounds very efficient and I am interested in the possibilities. That’s not how I have been playing it though and I don’t think that’s how he’s playing it. If I’m understanding correctly, in this “fluid motion” approach you reference, we’d see little to no flexation/extension of his pick hand middle finger. It would be more stationary and he’d get that finger pluck almost “for free” as his wrist deviates ( or forearem rotates…whatever his mechanic is…). I see lots of flexation/extension in his middle finger though.

I thought that myself, but hybrid picking isn’t something that I attempt much and in light of this disaster thought that I might has well ask early doors! I’m gutted as it is my favourite part of the piece! I have tooled around with a two-handed tapping version, but I want to give this a fair crack at the whip before I resort to that.

On reflection, I do find it difficult to get the balance between plucking with enough flesh to get a decent note and using too much flesh and ‘snagging’. I think I snag more than not…

To me his pick motion is circular - stroking the string rather than a very vertical hop.

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His middle finger is moving and plucking independently.

I’ve always been interested in this lick but never looked at closely, so thanks for the thread. :slight_smile:

I believe that this lick can be practiced effectively by breaking it down into separate components, practiced separately initially, and then joined together. It’s 16th notes at about 160 bpm, the below parts exercises are all for the right hand only. I’ll work on this for just a few mins each day, b/c the improvement happens after a good precise practice session.

part 1: All downstrokes, 8th notes only, using harmonics at the 12th fret to simplify the left hand. I’ll aim for about 180 bpm, 8th notes, b/c practing the component above speed is good. Looking at Eric’s hand, it looks like it’s all bounce, no real wrist.


part 2: Right hand finger pick with middle finger, trying to keep it loose, 180 bpm 8th notes:


part 3: combining after 1 and 2 feel good (maybe after a few days of quick drills) Still focusing on the picking hand, the hybrid motion could be practiced:


Left hand: I’ll work on this after part 3 feels good. It seems that the hardest part of this will be releasing the fretted note so that the notes don’t all ring together.

Out of interest, what is the fastest you can currently play the lick reliably? Mine is a woeful 90bpm. I can do part 1 as you describe at almost 180, so I figure that the plucking is my major obstacle.

I’m interested to see you get on, but I wonder whether practicing it in isolation will work - the way I can do part 1 and 2 on its own might not be the same when you add them together.

I’m afraid of this rabbit hole, but I’ll say one thing about hybrid.

A long-standing rule for me is never following a pick upstroke with a finger pluck, I’m not sure if I’m entirely religious about it but I know in many cases it got me in an out of phase situation.

Not sure if this post is relevant :crazy_face:

edit: Just saw the clip, I’ve done the hybrid thing a lot thus the handle :roll_eyes:

When you get used to it, the pluck feels like an upstroke with a pick, so the downstrokes don’t feel like down down down … , it’s a very natural alternate feel.

edit2: watch the hand, it’s still doing the up-down thing, the up is more subtle as the hand is clasping on the up stroke.

I think it’s relevant as a word of caution and makes sense to me. It feels natural for it to oppose the force of the downstroke. This lick definitely follows that rule too.

The feel is pretty loose in this section in general. When you list 90, what subdivision are you feeling just for this part:


I feel that as one beat, 6 notes per beat. He accelerates gradually. At the fastest part, which only lasts a beat or 2 I don’t think he gets much past 108 bpm, 6 notes per beat. Maybe I’m just telling myself that to feel better though lol! Given the 6 notes per beat premise I can loop this around 100 bmp for several measures before it gets a little tiring. To me that doesn’t sound “woefully” slow :slight_smile: compared to the recording.

Valid question – and this is something I’m trying with this lick, but it’s worked very well for me for picking with string changes (I hope to document/video that process soon – I’ve finally started to fly with picking and changing strings, literally in the past week or so).

Isolation brings its own issues (artificial physical context being the main thing, i.e. playing something isolated means that things might get into positions that they wouldn’t get into when the “whole” is practiced), and joining isolated pieces reveals new problems. However, isolating does let you work out some problems quickly. When isolating, a good idea is to practice something at above speed, to get to an efficient motion faster.

Isolating is really only a short-term process, you don’t work on it to “perfection”, because it’s not really valid in the real world – the integrated pieces usually look different than when isolated. But it’s good for focusing and exploring, and to get over some big humps with one component of the final puzzle.

I quoted straight 16ths against a metronome. I’m not contemplating using a metronome to practice this, just done it once for reference. Feeling it in either 4s or 6s doesn’t seem to help (unlike other licks).

You guys can do it, but i’m not sure if it’s the best thing to introduce hybrid picking into your routine via this lick, try starting playing single string runs with string changes using the pluck for all up strokes. Even multiple fingers in a rotation would be a great exercise.

I used to play the dover intro pretty good but a lot time ago.
Here’s some old clips of the hybrid thing, start with something fun to make if feel natural, I now use it for YJM in many situations, to be fair I’d forgotten this technique two years into malmsteen’s, it was @Tommo who reminded me when I was struggling with lone note issues.

This one is a bit more complicated but subtle.
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Gotcha I was just trying to gauge the speed you’re doing vs what I am. I agree practicing this to a metronome isn’t a great idea :slight_smile: We just need a target to agree on as “fast enough” given the free time at play here.

Totally hear ya, but plucking one note isn’t too difficult (in the 30 seconds I just tried it, lol), its the repetative pluck thats seemingly impossible!

The motion is using the hand as you would on an upstroke, less finger angle pluck, more hand up motion, I can still do that lick, just tried it. Try not moving your finger up, but keeping it more rigid and relying on the entire hand to do the heavy lifting, of course, there’s a subtle pressure of the pluck too but it’s less emphasised than a beginner would think it is.

Right, that’s what I’m saying seems like an efficient way to do this. Do you think that’s how EJ is playing it though? To my eyes, it isn’t.

That’s what I concur with. Still open to the (maybe better?) possibility of getting this as one fluid motion, where the pluck is a by product of the main picking mechanic. I currently can’t figure that out at this high of a speed though. Since the pick only downpicks and the middle finger only up-picks, I need some sort of circular escape movement. Much like how metal/thrash players do all downstrokes on fast rhythms.

Also, the thumb pick thing is interesting. I can play this phrase a good bit faster (less fatigue too) with a thumb pick. But, it’s a totally different motion when I do that. Any ‘hoppy’ movement is gone and it’s just my finger joints moving.

I don’t mind whether I copy EJ or not, as long as the results are good and I don’t have to do this lol! :rofl:

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I tried that with thumb and finger and still struggled. It seems I have both speed and timing issues with the pluck