Troy Grady is back to save or rob us

Troy Grady in the studio

When I first encountered Troy Grady, he was putting together a guitar technique tutorial DVD unlike any other. Aided by a fretboard-mounted slow-motion camera and a keen eye for minutiae, he had drilled down to the core of shred picking; specifically, the near imperceptible differences between those who excel at it (your Impellitteris, your Gilberts, your Malmsteens) and those who, despite good motor skills and an ear for music, do not (hi).

Though unwilling to divulge too much before the project was complete, his method and insight was thoroughly convincing, promising to answer a number of questions I had about this frustratingly under-researched subject. I was going through a critical breakdown of my own stalled technique at the time, trying to identify what minuscule movements would cause me to trip up on what Troy calls descending fours; how the best players held their picks; peering at grainy video of machines like George Bellas to discern the angles and approaches that let them pour cascades of clean, jewel-like notes tirelessly from their fingers.

No one was talking about it. The net was jammed with tutors who promised secrets of speed, but provided just canned patterns to play, with little to nothing on the vital mechanical aspects that would actually improve a student. Glorified tab is not going to do it.

My own little deconstruction helped; I did get off the legato plateau. But not far enough. I needed more. I needed Troy’s DVD. Surely it was almost complete?

That’s when Troy disappeared, five years ago.

Swine.

Troy Grady in the studio
Troy Grady: Working or something

Last night: an email, a link, a rebirth. Troy Grady, shred fugitive, popped back into existence, trailing an expanded, polished version of his Cracking the Code project, retooled as a web series. Actually as three web series. It’s dazzling. Go see.

I’m not delighted about the timescale, and there’s still paranoia about the whole thing being a wash – what if Troy’s just a wily business school grad with some chops who’s constructed the perfect guitarist paywall? In any other field, people who hold apparently revelatory information behind a barrier that you must pay to cross are not to be trusted. The secrets of real estate! The laws of attraction! Then you see a sleeping bag in their Honda. He wants $60,000 in pre-orders before the project can proceed. He could be in Aruba before our tubes warm up.

Worse: what if, during the series, it becomes apparent the big secret is something totally ordinary, like economy picking? “Yeah, so, it turns out these guys are going down up down down. Crazy. See you.”

But I’ve come too far, held on too long. I have to know.

Don’t Trip, Grady

The following is the pent-up response I left for Troy on his website that, despite its concerns, criticisms, name-calling and threats, he was good enough to publish.

Oh Troy. Welcome back, you bastard.

You show up years ago, radiant as a lighthouse, above a sea of dim fools who think telling people what number frets to press is teaching them how to play guitar. You absolutely convince me that you are the one who has captured, deciphered, and will pass on the secret of picking, the physical secret no one talks about, get me out of a rut that seemed to be endless, up the last flight of stairs to the penthouse of shred. I am ready.

All I’ve ever wanted to do is make that popsicle in the spokes noise of clean, efficient picking. I’ve slowed everything down. I’ve isolated both hands. I’ve scrutinized. I’ve been tricked into watching Tom Hess videos. I’ve done everything Paul Gilbert has said. I’ve blown up the hands of George Bellas to enormous proportions to try to see what’s going on. Is it pick angle? Is it thumb position? Is it muscle relaxation? Is it actually all down to muting? It never comes. Troy knows the answer. I’ll get this DVD he’s making. I’ll watch it however many times it takes, thousands of times. I’ll finally be able to make this blissful noise.

You vanish. The promising world of Troy Grady freezes. I check the website. I check the website again. I give up checking. I check back again, because there it is in my bookmarks, and now it’s been a long time, surely long enough, I can pay my $20 and get woodshedding. I’m left in torment. The only man with the vision to guide the ship has disappeared. I draft open letters like this one in my head. The phrase “I’m not getting any younger” features in them.

Tonight you explode back into existence amid a multicolored maelstrom of new information: slick graphics, expanded scope, a pathway to illumination. The dream is not dead. The dream is more alive than ever.

Yet I’m told it’ll be another two years (and, less importantly but still surprisingly, between sixty and eighty bucks) before I can have all the information at my disposal to even evaluate, let alone learn. Furthermore, I’m told there had better be another 3,000 people like me, or the crowd-source-fund-start thing will fail and the knowledge will slip once again into the ether!

So help you God:

1. The series better complete

2. I better be amazing at the end of it

The new clips look outstanding. It’s going to be digestible and entertaining. The production level is a real surprise. Don’t leave again. I will find you.

Gray

13 Comment

  1. Have you checked out the first episode of season 2 yet? It’s pretty great.

  2. Gray-

    Everything you wrote was exactly on my mind- save that you had known of him prior to “Cracking the Code.” I enjoyed the way your email read, and was hoping I would see a response. I’m going to lay down some cash to his 2nd series. The larger part of me is going with clever marketing and not a cracked code at all.

    Thank you

    -T

    1. I was deeply impressed by the first season, light as it was on useful mechanics, and Season 2 is looking better so far for the real nitty gritty. He’s somehow made a broadcast quality show about this hunger we guitar weenies have, and little by little, he’s feeding it with real, usable info. But boy, it is little by little, and now that he’s charging $100 per virtual seat for seminars behind another curtain, where even Cracking The Code subscribers can’t see, my fears of financial priority are renewed. We can only keep watching!

      By the way, Troy did answer my message here.

      1. Relaxed picking hand. That’s the most important aspect of implementation of Troy’s instruction. You should feel almost zero friction when you are picking across a string. The tone voicing of the pick attack should have a damped, tight, harmonically rich sound. You can’t accomplish this if you have tension. When I was developing this I found it best to start super slow…then start to build speed…when you feel tension in your right hand stop. Use a metronome to incrementally increase speed. There is a threshold that once you pass it you can blaze. You’ll see…it only takes practice

  3. The fly in the ointment, as you mentioned, was gleaning “useful mechanics” out of Troy’s clusterf**k of a website. I want to see the nitty, gritty, here’s-how-to-do-it, technique how-to stuff. I think he can teach that quite well, especially to the more anal retentive guitarists among us. But what we get is a series of videos that are interesting, but don’t give me what I want. Technique! Yeah, he alludes to it, but keeps it just out of reach.

    Hmmm. Stinks like marketing. I’ve got my credit card handy and am ready to purchase the keys to speed, but am presented with a myriad of confusing options and monthly fees.

    Yo, Troy, stop playin’ hide the salami!

    Thanks for an excellent review and the chance to vent. I should go post this on *his* site. 😉

  4. I think some of you are the “wrong” audience. Troy doesn’t “teach” how to do it in the manner that you expect. He is not telling you to “pick down, now up, now down…..” he is explaining the science behind it. It is enough for some. I hate to sound arrogant or elitist but this method is enough for people that can and will actually get somewhere with this information. And the “some of you(s)” whom I am pointing the finger at, I would suggest that you watch the videos then watch them again. I have little trouble digesting this stuff but there were times when, after watching for the second or third time I was able to digest more. Work with what you have. Its free, on youtube. Take it and insist on getting as much out of it as you can. Its not going to be handed to you. Soon enough there will appear others on youtube who take this information and make it more digestible by breaking it down even further. Till then, watch the videos, then watch them again and apply as much of it as you can. Take the concept and sit down with your guitar and see what you can accomplish with a few facts. Don’t worry about getting it just like Troy or Yngwie, or Eric Johnson. Take it and make advances in your technique.

    1. Well said

  5. He’s the real deal. He gives in great detail the most important ingredient lacking in every other instructional media. And he’s got the chops to back it up.

  6. Concerning the naysayers: the info is plain as day…couldn’t be any clearer if you had a lab setting at NASA. Quit bitchin’ and use your ears to develop some vibe then revisit the videos.

  7. The Troy Brady approach if you were to sum it up very very quickly explains and makes clear that an important element of pick playing is being able to switch strings very quickly and very smoothly. With some practice, anyone can get some speed going alternate picking one note on one string. It is when we switch the problems start.

    He explains that in order to switch strings really fast, we must be out of the plane of the string when we are switching, or else you will have to make two motions, up to get out of the way of the string and then over. This is way too slow and difficult to be accurate with. He introduces a concept called “pick slanting” where the pick is slanted either upward or downward while picking on a string. This allows one to be out of the plane of the string after a stroke so you can easily switch to any string after. If you are a downward pick slanter, like Yngwie and many others, you will be out of the plane of the strings after upstrokes. After upstrokes is when you will switch strings in many cases. You will makes this happen by arranging the notes and using hammer on/pull offs when necessary to insure it. The opposite is true for upward pick slanters (Di Meola, Vinnie Moore).

    There are some (PG) who are up/down pick slanters – this allows one to be able pick alternate pick pretty much all the notes however there are some downward slanting licks that would be very difficult to alt pick at speed and do it smoothly. Note: the pick slanting I am talking about requires turning the wrist with the pick to get the slant. It is not the same slant that one would do to make it easier to slice through the strings – that is called edge picking. That can also be in a down or up direction. That is not pick slanting.

    It is obvious from the video that Troy considers Yngwie to be an exceptionally talented and innovative guitarist/virtuoso with a brilliant and at times an extremely economical picking technique. Yngwie uses an unusual “asymmetrical picking technique”. Yngwie is a downward pick slanter. He holds the pick at a downward angle creating a less than 90 degress angle on the string in the ascending direction. The way Yngwie switches strings ascending is different than descending. When he ascends (climbs to higher sounding notes), he either changes strings after an upstroke or he simply down strokes or sweeps into the next note depending on pick position. Similar to economy picking, but with easy angles. This allows Yngwie the ability to pick everything if he wanted to easily at very high and smooth speeds while ascending. He always has a way to the next string no matter what his left hand is doing. And his downward slanted pick makes sweeping while ascending very easy and clean and natural. When descending, Yngwie changes strings only after upstrokes. He never sweeps downward when descending (though it may sound like he does) , as the downward pick slant, which he always maintains, does not allow for it. If necessary he will use pull offs to make sure he can switch after upstrokes. This also gives Yngwie a less mechanical sound than some other shredders since he is varying the texture of the notes using some pull offs etc as a natural part of his technique.

    Some players will slant the pick when necessary to switch strings. Paul gilbert does this for example with his famous 3 notes per string alt picking. His wrist will rock very slightly so he can be up and out of the plane of the string when switching. Troy maintains neither way (downward vs multi pick slanting) is better, and he offers that downward slant picking can create lines almost impossible to alternate pick smoothly.

    A lot of Troys stuff is basically pick slanting (again not edge picking) and strategies on how to switch strings, which really can only be done one way (sometimes more) depending on pick slanting if you want to keep it fast smooth and accurate. He also notes that no one, not Paul G, Shawn Lane, Vinnie Moore, not Yngwie and especially not Eric Johnson (who seems to struggle with understanding pick mechanics in a video) has discussed pick slanting and its importance in making high speed accurate lines possible. It can’t be done any other way because of the physics involved.

    It’s way more than economy picking which is really about picking direction. This is about pick angles and the geometry of virtuoso picking technique and picking direction. If you had to sum up Troys stuff in one word I would call it “geometry” or “angles”.

  8. That should read “he never sweeps upward when descending”.

    1. Thank you Tee, now I see you as almost a friend. hhahah

  9. Hello Gray, I’m glad I have found your website.
    On this post, I must ask you, why you said you have been “Tricked” into Watching Tom Hess videos? For you, whats wrong with them? ?
    I’ve haven’t watched nor bought it yet, but looks like Good Material! So whats the matter for you? 🙂

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