Been playing for 40 years, but suck at picking

I’m mostly self taught and grew up listening to 80s Metal. I never learned how to pick like the masters (Yngwie, MacAlpine, Vinnie Moore) or more contemporary guys like (Govan, Vai or Gilbert). I play a lot of styles, but again I’ve been limited by my lack of picking prowess. I basically gave up trying, but maybe wasn’t trying correctly? I saw the Cracking The Code program and was intrigued. My number one question is what is the best way to start this program? Please let me know and I will dedicate myself to the practice techniques you prescribe (of course I will sign up for the full blown membership as well).

Looking forward to advice! AdrianK


I’ve been playing for 37 years and was in the same boat…making good progress now. Watch the pick slanting primer. It’s a comprehensive ‘from the ground up’ explanation of the concepts. Then, take some video of yourself and post it for feedback. In my experience everyone here is supportive.


Really? That’s great that you are making good progress now. How long have you been at this program and how often and long do you practice?

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I agree with the above about watching the primer, and then just trying to get the basic motion going at some medium-fast speeds.


I started with the free content around July/August last year, then joined up about November/December as I wanted access to the interviews as well as tabs. I practice an average of an hour/day. I have young kids/family so I get up very early to ensure I have some focus time when no one needs me for anything. I feel like I’m 16 again, obsessive about music and guitar…in a good way, because I bring my musical maturity with me so it’s the best of both worlds. It helps that my wife loves what I’m doing - she has a little guitar repair business - so we’re both guitar nuts. I’m sure my kids will end up sporty lol.

With regards to picking breakthroughs - I spent alot of time with the ‘Wrist Motion Checklist’ - I printed it out and referred to it constantly to get set up, then I just picked one note slowly to get it, then burst with 3 notes, then 4 etc. I did this for about a month (maybe two lol), then it clicked and I got my first fast motion going. Everyone has a different process - that was the one that got me out of the gate.


Welcome @AdrianK. Things are quiet around here now, probably because of the pandemic that we are in.

The best way to start, since you are subscribed, is to go through the Pickslanting Primer and experiment with the different movements and chapters.

The absolute best advice I can give is to learn licks and patterns that are fun to you. If you are doing something in the Primer that “feels like work”, then skip it and do something that you genuinely enjoy.


Welcome @AdrianK!

I’m pretty new here too. I was hoping my experience can help you with yours!

I wouldn’t classify my picking as poor prior to finding CtC, but I was definitely working against myself. I’ve still got a ways to go before I’m satisfied. My goal is sustained 16th notes at 200 bpm. Right now I’m in the 160 - 180 range. In my formative years, I used to peak around that speed and couldn’t sustain it. This was due to poor efficiency (string hopping) and brute force, rather than using the elegant solutions outlined on CtC. Now I feel controlled in those ranges, even with little to no warmup. I haven’t been playing much the past 4 years, but just since mid January when I got my membership I started playing almost daily, just about 30 - 60 minutes. At that point, I was struggling with 16th notes much above 150 bmp, so I’m really happy with my progress.

For me, the initial success I’ve enjoyed came in 2 parts:

  • After learning the different grips and orientations, determining what my default technique was over the years. For me, I was a rigid upwards pickslanter, but getting very little ‘escape’ on my downstrokes. Also, I played mostly with the trailing edge…sort of weird, after seeing how much more comfortable the leading edge.
  • After coming to terms with the above, reverse engineering any patterns I wanted to play and figuring out how to solve them. Just about any picking problem can be solved by either downward pickslanting with an escaped upstroke; upwards pickslanting with an escaped downstroke; a combination of these 2; swiping; crosspicking. Now, crosspicking I am not interested in. So for my playing, I just take that off the table. I have the utmost respect for those who have mastered it, but I’m classically trained and there is nothing I’ve heard crosspicked (that I’m interested in playing) that I can’t replicate with my nails or sweeping, as appropriate.

It turns out most of what I wanted to play was more suited to downward pickslanting. So it was jarring to undo what’s been comfortable for me these past ~25 years. I did a lot of practicing tremolo picking with downwards pickslanting and it felt more and more comfortable. I rely heavily on rest strokes and honestly things didn’t really ‘click’ for me until I did this. I didn’t throw away my upwards slant altogether, as there are passages where it’s beneficial. I did switch to leading edge picking, as well as using a bit more of the edge.

Anyway, sorry that was long. If I had more time, I would have made it shorter :slight_smile:
I offer you great encouragement and I’m confident you’ll enjoy success here if you carefully follow the material and, when in need, reach out to any of the helpful members on here. Best of luck!

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Thanks for feedback…I appreciate your thoughts

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