We’ve traditionally been taught that instrument technique practice is about repeating things correctly until the movements sink in. But it’s hard to do that when you don’t know how to do the movement correctly in the first place. That’s never more true than with crosspicking technique. Read More
You may have heard the term two-way pickslanting in discussions of picking mechanics, particularly when it comes to scale playing. It may even be what brought you to Cracking the Code in the first place. Indeed, the discovery that elite players actually make changes to their picking motion on the fly, right in the middle of a phrase, was groundbreaking. It explained a lot about why exercises like scales are considered fundamental, and yet paradoxically, only the best of the best players seem to be any good at alternate picking them. Read More
Originally published at Guitar World
Molly Tuttle’s take on the Townes Van Zandt classic “White Freightliner Blues” has quickly become a signature tune, and a showcase for her astonishing flat pick skills. Watching her switch effortlessly between rhythm comping and high-velocity single note lead lines is like listening to at least two guitarists at once. In this clip from her Cracking the Code interview, she gives us a closeup look at the way these two awesome techniques intertwine: Read More
Steve Morse’s almost mythical musical capabilities need no introduction. Marrying blazing chops to a singular sense of hook writing creativity, his distinctive brand of rootsy American virtuosity has inspired generations of players to think outside of the pentatonic box. Read More
What if you could take Yngwie’s mastery of sequenced ideas and apply it to Eric’s signature pentatonics using downward pickslanting? Well, now you can!
We recently gave Cracking the Code viewers a cool homework assignment: find a way to play ascending fours, against the pentatonic scale, using the Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson downward pickslanting system. It seems simple enough, but it’s something we don’t see very often on guitar, and for good reason — the picking and fingering can both pose challenges.
With a basic understanding of downward pickslanting mechanics, though, we can design a couple of really nice solutions to this problem that pay fantastic creative dividends.
In this lesson, we explore solutions to the daunting challenge of pentatonic fours — utilizing the DWPS system that you already know — that will help unleash your creativity with pentatonic, whole tone, and diminished sequence ideas.
To grab the slow-mo video and tabs, just sign up for our mailing list and we’ll send you a free download!
The cascading waterfall of sound that is Eric Johnson’s lead playing has captivated players and listeners for thirty years.
Sonically, it’s an almost formless wash of sunshine. In Eric’s ethereal soundscape, all the edges are smoothed away.
Even the distinction between scales and arpeggios seems to blur. His patterns tumble imperceptibly through positions, like falling through clouds. And his limitless supply of sparsely voiced diatonic chord substitutions only enhances the vertigo. And it’s the seemingly imperturbable precision of Eric’s right hand that makes it all possible.
And now, armed with a modern understanding of picking mechanics, we can actually begin to understand and recreate Eric’s wondrous style. Read More
Here’s a question we get all the time: what’s the difference between pickslanting and edge picking?
This seems to be a source of frequent confusion. The two are very different, and do completely different things, but since both involve pick angles and rotation, this can be hard to intuit without a direct visual comparison. The above image is from an animation coming up soon in Episode 3, “Eric the Right”, and is designed to make the difference as clear as possible. Read More
Bruce Lee’s famous exhortation to be like water may just as well have been directed at guitar players. The first of Season 2’s revelations, downward pickslanting, is shapeless and formless. It becomes Yngwie. It becomes rock. It becomes music. It’s one of the most universal and adaptable mechanics in picking — and for guitarists, the root of many of the most celebrated techniques in history. Read More
In 1986, Steve Vai was having one of those years. March saw the debut of the film Crossroads, for which Steve wrote and performed both the rock and neoclassical sequences of the now-famous guitar duel, and in which he also landed a starring role as the devil’s swaggering henchman, Jack Butler. Trailer clips of the film’s climactic musical showdown, with its mesmerizing cascade of diminished arpeggios, had just begun to explode adolescent minds across the country when David Lee Roth stepped into the studio with Steve to record his highly anticipated post-Van Halen grudge album.
The Cutting Room Floor
Not all great ideas make the final cut, and the overly ambitious scene “Eddie’s Arcade”, from Season 1, Episode 1 of Cracking the Code, is a great example of that. An over-the-top homage to Tron Legacy and Back to the Future, it was a tour de force of cinematic animation whose demands on my personal time were ultimately at odds with the exigency of actually getting things finished.