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.Read More
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.Read More
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:Read More
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:Read More
One of our top priorities this year is improving our intro tutorial material to cover even more fundamentals of guitar picking and technique. To that end, the Pickslanting Primer now has an awesome introduction to the tools we as players use most intimately: guitar picks!Read More
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?
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!
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.Read More
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