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Albert Lee's Amazing Wrist

By Lessons One Comment

Our Cracking the Code interview with the legendary Albert Lee is a great example of why it’s important to go out and gather raw data with an open mind. You can only really see what you know, and at the time we did this interview, we “knew” what downward pickslanting was — or at least, we thought we did.

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Closeup of Magnet mounted on a guitar neck

Making the Magnet — have any design feedback?

By News 51 Comments

Nearly five years after our first Kickstarter attempt, we think it may be time for another go at getting the Magnet manufactured!

The Magnet is that red camera mount you’ve probably seen clamped onto a guitar neck in our lessons and interviews. It’s an awesome tool for filming your technique, and it works with any smartphone. 

We designed and prototyped it ourselves, and have had DIY instructions available for a while, but it’s expensive and time-consuming to make. We want to make an affordable version that anyone can buy and use as a tool to learn more about your playing.

As part of preparing for a possible manufacturing run, right now we’re taking a look at some small design tweaks. We’d love your feedback!

Twin Tweaks

One design tweak we’re making is to reverse the orientation of the Magnet, so it faces the bridge instead of the headstock. This way, when the Magnet expands, even with large phones, you won’t lose any more space on the fretboard.

Troy fastening the Magnet to the guitar

If those upper-fret arpeggios get out of control, our next design enhancement has you covered. Sometimes the phone shifts around during aggressive playing, or the Magnet gets bumped, and we wanted to address this possibility. So we’re adding a strap! With one simple drawstring, you can lock the phone in the Magnet, and the Magnet on the guitar neck, at the same time.

Magnet viewed from below with safety strap wrapping around the guitar neck

These two tweaks work together — we’ve been doing a lot of testing, and it turns out reversing the orientation is also what helps make it possible for the strap to better secure the Magnet.

Five years on, we’re amazed this design still works so well. The dual-expansion nature is uniquely functional and has proven itself time and again. And the goal is for the mass produced version to work even better — better tolerances, smoother operation, and just overall nicer to use.

Magnet Feedback

Right now we’re polishing our prototype and looking into getting some new quotes from factories. If all goes well, we’ll aim to do a new Kickstarter next year. For now, a couple quick questions for you!

If you have a DIY Magnet:

Anything you’ve noticed about the Magnet design and how it’s been working? Let us know if you have any suggestions or issues we may want to address. We probably can’t make any huge changes, but we’ll see what we can do!

If you don’t have a Magnet:

What do you think…excited by the prospect of a mass-manufactured Magnet? Other thoughts / feedback welcome! We’ve gathered feedback in the past but it’s been a while, and we’d love any thoughts and impressions you may want to share.

Please share your comments in the forum discussion, linked below!

Simple Fretboard Mapping

By Lessons 17 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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