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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

What is two-way pickslanting, and how does it work?

By Lessons 21 Comments

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

Molly Tuttle's Amazing Freightliner Precision

By Lessons 10 Comments

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

Pentatonic Puzzle Solutions

By Lessons 6 Comments

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!

Yngwie and Eric

Yngwie’s mastery of sweeping and Eric’s alternate picking approach give us two great solutions to ascending pentatonic fours!

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.

Check out the complete lesson — including tablature — on Guitar World!

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Eric Johnson's Pickslanting Pentatonics

By Lessons No Comments

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

pickslanting vs edge picking

The Difference Between Pickslanting and Edge Picking: An Explainer

By Lessons 37 Comments

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