Getting Started Guide

If you’ve joined Cracking the Code to get straight on picking mechanics, we’ve put together a short list of first steps you can take.

The first item is a mechanics lesson covering basics of hand and arm movement that we think everyone should know. The second is the Pickslanting Primer, our introductory instructional product covering the picking styles used by players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, John McLaughlin, and more. And finally, we put together a quick introduction to the “Technique Critique” section of our forum, which lets you get feedback on your playing technique.

There’s a lot here, so don’t worry about trying to digest all of this at once. Instead, feel free to watch a little of both mechanics lectures, and then head over to the Pickslanting Primer to try out some real-world phrases. You can always refer back to the mechanics discussions later if you have questions about how any of the picking motions are actually achieved.

In general, whether it’s internalizing these concepts or building hands-on proficiency with them, we don’t recommend the traditional “start slow, get faster” style of practice. Our interviews with great players and our meetings with expert researchers tells us that this approach is more likely to be counterproductive.

In the early stages of learning a new physical skill, your goal is searching for the smooth, natural feeling when that skill “clicks”. Hours and hours of drills and exercises played unnaturally slowly, using technique that is not even likely to be correct yet, is not how motor learning works. Instead, try short sessions, moderate to fast practice speeds, and a high degree of trial and error as you make continual adjustments to find form that feels smooth and effortless.

Establishing Your Picking Motion

Getting hands-on with all the ways you can move a guitar pick


Using the Pickslanting Primer

Our instructional overview of pickslanting playing styles


Technique Critique

Using the forum for feedback on your playing