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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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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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Do You Need To Practice 8 Hours A Day?

By Lessons 79 Comments

A forum user recently posed the following great question about practice time, and how much of it our interview subjects say they did:

Troy, just curious since you’ve interviewed so many world class players. Have you interviewed anyone who has not put in 8+ hours a day practice at some point in their career? It seems that almost everyone I’ve researched with extraordinary technique has put in these type of hours at some point. Usually in their teen years. Just wondering if you’ve run into anyone who hasn’t. Thanks!

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Teach Me How To Eddie!

By Lessons 38 Comments

Sometimes when I have a few minutes of downtime, I toy around with trying to do the Eddie Van Halen tremolo technique. This is the awesomely beautiful and deservedly famous pure forearm rotation motion Ed uses for the famous Kreutzer etude section in Eruption, and for the mesmerizing tremolo section in the acoustic “Little Guitars” intro.

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Cross-training on Mandolin!

By Lessons, Uncategorized 10 Comments

My girlfriend is a violinist who has been playing mandolin the past couple years. So we have a very nice-sounding bowlback classical mandolin sitting in the living room which I will pick up once in a while — maybe every couple weeks. And the technique does seem to be coming along despite very little specific focus on it. Here’s a section of the presto from Bach’s first violin sonata in G minor: Read More

Decoding Wrist Motion With The Clock Face System

By Lessons 6 Comments

The wrist is one of the most important and commonly used joints in guitar playing. And yet, when it comes to popular guitar teaching, its function has been almost entirely overlooked. When it is addressed at all, it’s usually by way of clumsy analogies like “knocking on a door” or “shaking hands” that are so imprecise as to be mostly useless in teaching players how they’re supposed to move. Read More

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