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Simple Fretboard Mapping

By Lessons 12 Comments

It’s one thing to know about chords and harmony, and another thing to access that knowledge on an actual guitar. Unlike sight-reading approaches, which are designed for quickly locating specific pitches on the fingerboard, guitar improvisation relies on a system of shapes that work in any key.

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Animated Troy with books and guitar in school hallway.

Announcing the Cracking the Code Scholarship Program

By News No Comments

We’re happy to announce the Cracking the Code Scholarship Program, to help bring our resources for learning guitar technique to as many players as possible.

From sharing videos on YouTube, to making forum access free for all, it’s long been important to us to balance the business side of Cracking the Code with a goal of helping all kinds of guitarists learn and improve.

With the scholarship, we’re now able to offer a reduced-rate monthly membership — our all access pass to the site — for anyone who needs it.

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The Amazing Wim Den Herder

By News 6 Comments

We’ve been speaking with the amazing Wim Den Herder for what feels like forever, to figure out a time for him to get out here to NYC. We were finally able to connect the dots a couple weeks ago. If you haven’t heard Wim play, his style is an utterly unique mix of jazz, funk, and prog punctuated by unexpected dynamic changes and instantly addictive melodies. And he delivers it all on a single acoustic guitar, like a space-age Tommy Emmanuel.

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Mastering Wrist Motion

By News 12 Comments

The wrist is the most commonly used joint in picking technique. It’s also one of the most complicated. At Cracking the Code, we’ve been on a mission to understand how elite guitar players use wrist motion, and to simplify the instructions that let the rest of us in on the secret. Those instructions have arrived! Check ’em out right here:

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Is the Jazz III the ultimate lead guitar pick?

By Lessons 10 Comments

Bright red. Extra pointy. Yes, it’s an iconic pick!

In our poll about which picks Cracking the Code viewers use, the Jazz III was an overwhelming favorite. Despite the name, this pick is popular in many genres, including rock, metal, prog, fusion, and really any style where single-note lead playing virtuosity is on the menu.

What about the Jazz III is so appealing to great lead players? It all comes down to geometry — specifically, its impact on edge picking and tone. For an important lesson on pick point geometry, and how pointy picks compare to those with more rounded points like the classic 351 design, watch here:

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Is this the most influential guitar pick of all time?

By Lessons 5 Comments

Quick:  what’s the most influential guitar pick design of all time? You can picture it: the elongated, isosceles triangle shape, with the flat top and the rounded over point. That’s just… you know, a guitar pick, right?

It’s more than that. It’s the model 351, a design that guitar pick industry pioneers the D’Andrea company produced in the 1920s by way of collaboration with another guitar pioneer, Nick Lucas. This is how that all happened:

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Picks and Abrasion

By News 26 Comments

Unfortunately for us guitar players, abrasion is a fact of life for most materials that guitar picks are made from. And that means your favorite pick’s character may change as you use it. In fact, you might not even like a pick fresh out of the bag, but at some sweet spot in between fresh and worn. Welcome to the struggle!

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Tackling Bebop With John McLaughlin's Picking Motion

By Lessons 37 Comments

How much technique do you need to be a world-class player? To play convincing bebop, for example, with its signature twists, turns, and arpeggiated ornaments, you’d surely need the ability to make any string change at any moment, at any speed, preferably with alternate picking.

But what if the best jazz players don’t really play that way? What if, like the rest of us, they too must contend with the things their techniques both do and don’t do? And what if the difference between their workarounds and ours is that they don’t think of them as workarounds?

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