Subscribe now, and get free slow-mo video and tablature! (Read more...)

Category

Features

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!

Derryl Gabel at the Vinyl 2013

Derryl Gabel: Interview with a Modern Virtuoso

By | Features | 8 Comments

Eddie Van Halen reinvigorated ’80s rock guitar with a double shot of blazing energy and subversive creativity. In the process, he kickstarted a kind of breathless arms race in guitar technique — a promise of stardom via innovation — that was sometimes a little like a Silicon Valley guitar bubble. But out of the melee of technical competition, something ironically straightforward actually happened: we all got better.

A particularly stunning product of the generational advance of musical technology is fusion virtuoso, and Cracking the Code viewer, Derryl Gabel. The archetypal modern lead player, his total command of the guitar’s many colors is both highly enjoyable as a listener and terribly scary as a fellow player. Derryl employs his seemingly effortless dominance of the instrument’s physical mechanics, both left hand and right, in service of an encyclopedic and endlessly tasteful command of modern jazz and fusion harmony. His blazing speed and tasty phrases have won a number of celebrity admirers, from George Lynch to Dweezil Zappa — with whom he’s set to release an album later this year. Read More

IMG_2213-full-edit

Building the Much-Stang

Adventures in Luthiery — Crafting a Small Guitar With a Big Sound

By | Features | 4 Comments

I sold mens suits in high school. Compared to the stockroom at the dollar store, the clothing business offered a far lower risk of maiming my fretting hand with a box cutter, and of course, took place at the very location I’d likely end up anyway: the mall. It was a suburban sinecure of the highest order, offering fringe benefits like girl-watching and free tailoring, while simultaneously conferring valuable life skills. Full Windsor knot anyone? To this day, I can still spot a neck size from twenty paces. Read More

taurus-filter-panel

No More Bull: The Moog Taurus I

A short-lived guardianship of the fattest two-voice synthesizer ever made

By | Features | No Comments

The Taurus had actually been designed by Moog as part of a trio of synthesizers called the Constellation. The lower portion, operated via foot like the pipe organs of yore, would handle bass duties. The upper sections, supplied separately, would present more traditional keyboard interfaces. While the Constellation project faltered, the bass pedal section became a success on its own.  As a rock band accoutrement, its hands-free operation provided guitar-driven songs a keyboard part without, quite literally, lifting a finger.
Read More

arp bts pic 3 bright

Behind the Scenes: Envisioning the Arpeggio Mystery

By | Features | No Comments

In the Arpeggio Mystery, we explore the difficulties a person is likely to encounter reverse engineering Yngwie Malmsteen’s arpeggio-based solos in a world populated by jagged trees, wolves shrouded in fog and shadows, and a circus full of little moving angular pick people. It’s a scene that’s become a favorite of mine, but it didn’t just form out of the ether. A lot of consideration went into the conceptualization of this world, and a lot of work went into its execution, so how did we go about making it? And where did the inspiration for the scene come from?

Read More

Behind the Scenes: Rock Concert Regenesis

Behind the Scenes: Rock Concert Regenesis

Building Fantastical Spaces with Motion Graphics

By | Features | No Comments

Let’s go back to November 19, 1990, to a mid-size concert venue on the edge of campus in a college town on the eastern seaboard…back to one rocking night at Toad’s Place, where both Alice in Chains and Extreme took the stage, performing to a crowd of twenty-somethings, buzzed, and abuzz with excitement. While Troy remembers this night clearly — the cheering crowd, the lights, the energy, the unique sound of Alice in Chains, the picking mastery of Nuno himself — I don’t remember it at all; I was still in Seattle (and in diapers) and wouldn’t set foot in New Haven for another couple decades. If you weren’t there either, it’s hard to imagine the atmosphere and excitement that permeated the space, hard to feel the experience of being at that particular concert. But it’s an important scene to the narrative of Cracking the Code, and in the process of creating Episode 7: Licks et Veritas, we had to come up with some way to depict this event in all its glory.

Read More

black pine soldering 1

Hail, the Cab: Building a Custom 2×12 Cabinet

A detailed look at cabinet construction, guitar track mixing, and impulse response technology.

By | Features | 3 Comments

Cracking the Code Impulse Response Pack

Record the speaker cabinet sounds of Cracking the Code with the Cracking the Code IR Pack!

Includes all the pine cabinet H30 impulses — plus the Marshall 1960A impulses we use for rhythm tracks, and a couple ultra-rare Cornford 2×12 impulses featuring the Vintage 30 speaker recorded via the Shure SM57.

Amid the seemingly illimitable interest in amplifiers, with their mysterious tone crafting abilities, and their steam-punk innards so attractively aglow with filaments and glass, it’s easy to overlook the humble wooden box at the end of the chain. But if your 10-second Chevelle is only as fast as the slicks that hook it to the tarmac, then your supercharged big block of an amp only sounds as good as the device actually emitting those pressure waves into the room: the speaker cabinet.

Indeed, the speaker and cabinet assembly is a good part of any classic tone. That sparkle on the first Van Halen album? Reportedly the work of the glittery JBL D-120 speaker. But with a nearly endless variety of speaker cabinets available in all shapes, sizes, and power handling capabilities, why build your own? As is often the case in the world of extreme guitar sports, the answer is simple: because we can.
Read More

centipede montage - 1

Behind the Scenes: Centipede

By | codenews, Features | No Comments

Retro gaming meets rock in this sneak peak of an upcoming behind-the-scenes look at our audio production process. In this sequence, from Season 1’s Episode 3, “A Pick and Hard Place”, Atari’s trackball-powered classic Centipede provides the visual analogy for an investigation of the fretboard contortions of the infamous descending fours lick. You’ve played it. You’ve cursed it. Don’t worry, we all have.

Stay tuned for the full Centipede studio feature in weeks to come.