Cracking the (Guitar) Code
May 29, 2015 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Troy Grady a guitarist who grew up in the '80's worked to discover the techniques used by speed guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen. In Cracking the Code (Season 1 and Season 2), he goes through his struggles and successes in figuring out how to chunk patterns, pick slanting and sweeping and unlock the riffs of these masters. Unlike typical presentations, his feature clever throwback animations that illustrate technique with a German expressionist style. Outside the series, he also discusses the art of transcription in deconstructing Steve Vai's "Intimidation Lick" from Crossroads.
posted by plinth (19 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
While I applaud his fanatical devotion, I found his code cracking to be fairly confusing until reading this article he did on Eric Johnson.
posted by thelonius at 1:51 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

What's that I hear you say? Eric Johnson is OK, but what would be really swell is, if he were in Carole King's backing band? Youtube has you covered.
posted by thelonius at 1:56 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

One thing I really like about Eric Johnson is that he builds a nice, logical cadenza that echoes the rest of the piece without being an exact clone of his album work and messes with the fills in a way that reminds me that we don't work music. We play music.
posted by plinth at 2:06 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

This cartoon character is better than you.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:44 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Shredding has never been my thing, but I admire this guy's devotion to breaking down the stuff he likes and making it so accessible. Thanks for linking to his videos, I'm checking it out now.

One thing that strikes me as I watch these is that either this guy also loves computer graphics or he has a brother that does. Someone sure invested a ton of time animating his thoughts.

I love guitar and have been playing a lot in the last couple of years, trying to get better. I'm making progress, but I'm on pace for a marathon. Or maybe the Pacific Crest Trail...or the Oregon Trail? I definitely shoulda put in more time when I was 15 or 35 or something. Since my playing is only slowly getting better, I've compensated for my slow progress by buying more gear. Now that's something I have gotten good at, lol.
posted by mosk at 3:00 PM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm really confused, isn't this "pick slanting" thing just alternate picking? I was always taught to practice shredding techniques by alternating between down and up strokes, with up strokes coming when you change strings. Am I reading this wrong?
posted by gucci mane at 3:14 PM on May 29, 2015

His point is that when you slant the pick forward, your upstroke comes away from the guitar, making it a little easier to move the pick to the next string.
posted by straight at 3:27 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a lot of fun, thanks!
posted by batfish at 3:44 PM on May 29, 2015

... or he has a brother that does

Or an aunt. Probably an aunt. Aunts are known for being graphics whizzes far more than brothers are.
posted by motty at 3:56 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

I watched S1E1 and I really liked it. He put a lot of work into this. I'll have to find time to watch the rest.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:52 PM on May 29, 2015

Not really my style of music either but these are great.
posted by Songdog at 7:33 PM on May 29, 2015

Hey, that's my cousin! He is an insanely proficient shredder, wickedly smart, and tenaciously obsessive about the pursuits that grab his attention. I'm a pretty smart guy and an okay musician, but he is another type of creature entirely.

The amount of time and effort he put into this project is really incredible. I don't see him much, and in fact haven't in almost two years now, but he has been working on this for a really long time. (Since he first heard EVH, you might argue.)

(Also I think he hired animators, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did a fair bit of it--and associated coding--himself. He's like that.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:44 PM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

i used to be pretty fast, not as fast as these guys, but pretty fast

seems like the older i get, the slower i play
posted by pyramid termite at 8:31 PM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

...and the the better you get, pt.
posted by Bearman at 10:06 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

The World Famous: "I don't know whether to love or hate this. So conflicted."

This. I *want* to hate it, but I can't. I'm sucked in and I can't stop. It's... weird.

He's a good storyteller, regardless. Though the graphics certainly help seal the deal.
posted by symbioid at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2015

uncleozzy: "Hey, that's my cousin! He is an insanely proficient shredder, wickedly smart, and tenaciously obsessive about the pursuits that grab his attention."

Nice :) I had a feeling about that "wickedly smart" - using Enigma machine and van Leeuwenhoek references.
posted by symbioid at 3:12 PM on May 30, 2015

Damn. This music is not really my thing - if I'm going to listen to guitar wizardry I'd rather the acerbic atonal twiddlings of a devotee of Robert Fripp - but his passion for this stuff is fascinating.

(And this plus the recent article on how Eddie Van Halen slowly developed his techniques over the years is kinda reminding me that there's a part of me that wants to acquire a stick guitar and just start fooling around.)
posted by egypturnash at 4:51 PM on May 30, 2015

My brother had that synthesizer, although for us, it was mainly used as a fart-sound piano.

So many fart sounds.
posted by 4ster at 11:38 AM on May 31, 2015

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