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Troy Grady

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Poll! Which Pick Do You Use?

Understanding the most personal gear choice of all

By | Polls | 56 Comments

It’s one of the most fundamental and personal gear choices of all: the pick you use. And we want to know what the most popular of those choices really are. So let’s find out! Take our pick choice poll, and let us know your preferred plectral attributes.

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Pentatonic Puzzle Solutions

By | Lessons | 6 Comments

What if you could take Yngwie’s mastery of sequenced ideas and apply it to Eric’s signature pentatonics using downward pickslanting? Well, now you can!

Yngwie and Eric

Yngwie’s mastery of sweeping and Eric’s alternate picking approach give us two great solutions to ascending pentatonic fours!

We recently gave Cracking the Code viewers a cool homework assignment: find a way to play ascending fours, against the pentatonic scale, using the Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson downward pickslanting system. It seems simple enough, but it’s something we don’t see very often on guitar, and for good reason — the picking and fingering can both pose challenges.

With a basic understanding of downward pickslanting mechanics, though, we can design a couple of really nice solutions to this problem that pay fantastic creative dividends.

In this lesson, we explore solutions to the daunting challenge of pentatonic fours — utilizing the DWPS system that you already know — that will help unleash your creativity with pentatonic, whole tone, and diminished sequence ideas.

Check out the complete lesson — including tablature — on Guitar World!

To grab the slow-mo video and tabs, just sign up for our mailing list and we’ll send you a free download!

Pentatonic Puzzle Contest

Solve the Puzzle of this Ascending Fours Pattern and Win a Free Masters in Mechanics Subscription!

By | Features, News | No Comments

In the first three episodes of Season 2 of Cracking the Code, we spent a lot of time understanding the downward pickslanting system of Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson. And now it’s time to put that understanding to the creative test!

Yngwie is famous for his mastery of sequenced ideas, like fours. Eric Johnson is famous for his mastery of the pentatonic scale. And if we join these two aesthetics, we can do something really awesome: ascending pentatonic fours. There’s actually a really simple way of playing this that fits perfectly with the Yngwie and Eric picking system we’ve outlined so far. It sounds great, it’s easy to do…and we’re not going to tell you how to do it. And that’s because you are going to tell us!

If you can figure out the picking pattern to ascending pentatonic fours, we’ll give the first five correct responses a free Masters in Mechanics subscription. Watch the video above to learn more!

UPDATE: After 80+ responses in < 24 hrs, we've closed the contest. Contest aside, though, this is a great practical exercise in the power and flexibility of pickslanting — a homework assignment that will add an awesome pattern to your arsenal. We encourage you all to give it a try!

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Season 2, Episode 3 is Here!

"Eric the Right" takes us inside Eric Johnson's Pentatonic Wizardry

By | News | One Comment

Cracking the Code, Season 2, Episode 3 is here! “Eric the Right” explores the ethereal soundscapes of Eric Johnson. We look at his unique interpretation of the downward pickslanting system, so distant sonically and yet in many respects so mechanically similar to Yngwie’s. We decode the famous (infamous?) Hot Licks “bounce technique” scene, cover basic pickslanting patterns, cascading pentatonic fingerings, and much more.

For an even deeper dive into the mechanics behind the music, the awesome EJ Pack, included with the Season Pass, is over 30 slow-motion examples with tablature, plus 25 pages of analysis. It’s a complete guide to replicating Eric’s pentatonic and arpeggiated mastery. Scale the High Landrons of technique and grab your Season Pass now!

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Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rotational Picking Mechanic

By | Lessons | No Comments

The most fundamental challenge in fast picking is also the easiest to spot from halfway across the room: the motion mechanic.

To play notes with a pick, we need a way of moving it back and forth in the classic alternating down-up picking sequence.

Historically, this movement, or motion mechanic, has been the most visible and most commonly discussed component of picking technique. The sheer variety of motion mechanics used by elite players has been a source of fascination and bewilderment.

While rotational forearm techniques are probably the most common, elbow and even finger-based motion mechanics are also possible.

Yngwie Malmsteen, to take a highly relevant example for Cracking the Code, uses all three. Malmsteen’s legendarily fast rotational motion mechanic, which he employs for pure alternate picking, is a highly capable all-rounder, and also a great introduction to rotational picking techniques that are so common in guitar. Read More

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Eric Johnson’s Pickslanting Pentatonics

By | Lessons | No Comments

The cascading waterfall of sound that is Eric Johnson’s lead playing has captivated players and listeners for thirty years.

Sonically, it’s an almost formless wash of sunshine. In Eric’s ethereal soundscape, all the edges are smoothed away.

Even the distinction between scales and arpeggios seems to blur. His patterns tumble imperceptibly through positions, like falling through clouds. And his limitless supply of sparsely voiced diatonic chord substitutions only enhances the vertigo. And it’s the seemingly imperturbable precision of Eric’s right hand that makes it all possible.

And now, armed with a modern understanding of picking mechanics, we can actually begin to understand and recreate Eric’s wondrous style. Read More

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Introducing The Magnet

The best smartphone mount for guitarists hits Kickstarter

By | News | 5 Comments

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For a long time now, we’ve been working on an amazing tool that allows you to film your guitar playing with an unprecedented degree of clarity. And that amazing tool now has a name: The Magnet.

We’re proud to launch the Kickstarter campaign for the world’s best camera mount for guitar players. The Magnet uses the power of your smartphone to film your playing at speeds up to 240 frames per second, for an intimate view of your technique. Read More