Ideas for a Cracking the Code mini-course - any feedback?

I’m thinking about ideas for some kind of short, free, self-contained lesson sequence we could put together as an intro to what Cracking the Code is about + what our material is like.

Right now we have various free downloads people can grab on the site (musical examples with videos / tabs) but I think it would be great to have something better aligned with our focus on technique, that more clearly indicates the value of the rest of our stuff.

Couple initial ideas for this:

  1. Picking Diagnostic: overview of how to understand your own picking — if you have a speed issue, if you’re stringhopping or pickslanting, learning to see what kind of motion you’re doing, and some tips for how to experiment with various picking possibilities.

  2. How to Practice: covering some tips we’ve learned and observed from our interviews about what things tend to be effective (or not) when it comes to motor learning and acquiring new technical skills.

Of course I think it would be great to make more videos on both these topics, but the technique diagnostic sequence seems like it could be particularly helpful, not only introducing people to how we think about things, but a first step to greater technical understanding and improvement.

I’m imagining a sequence of perhaps a few videos, contained in a section on the site, that anyone can access with a free account. Perhaps could be a section at the beginning of the Pickslanting Primer. We could include some emails about it as well to walk people through it over the course of a week or so.

I’d love to hear any ideas you may have on this! Anything that you think could better help you get started with our lesson material? Or if you have a free account, anything you’d want to see that might tip the balance in deciding to subscribe?


What brought me here was the CtC youtube-series. I always thought about it as the entrance material, even though it is pretty in-depth.

Its accessible, fun and gives a good overview about your approach, imo.

After i found it, i watched the whole thing in one night. It’s a bit long, yes, but i dont think that anybody who falls into the category of your target-audience (commited and frustrated with their progress, i guess) isnt happy about the quantity of valuable material in that series.

Maybe in some rare cases people get misguided by the comic-visualization and richness of guitar-folklore and dismiss the material as pure entertainment.

A trailer about the series which highlights the mechanical analyses might help to avoid that.

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Thanks! Yeah we love the original Cracking the Code episodes, agree that the series serves as a fun intro. Indeed pretty long though, I think close to 3 hours total, and does take a bit to get into the technique-heavy material.

The other issue is that it’s several years old at this point and doesn’t reflect a lot of the stuff we’ve done more recently / are currently working on with the Primer.

I’m thinking something that’s more hands-on, active, step-by-step tutorial style, could give players some practical takeaways relatively quickly. And also might provide more of a clear reason to sign up and explore the site more, and show that the YouTube stuff is just the tip of the iceberg.

A new trailer / intro video sounds like a good idea too, will put that on the long term to do list.

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I think both topics you discussed would be great as an intro to the CTC.
I think number one helps with the whole string hopping and getting people into thinking a little more about how they approach picking and to overcome the speed barriers they face.
The second one would be beneficial so as to help from keeping people locked into doing one thing and getting burn out and opening their eyes to what others have done with respect to practicing musical things or practicing in general and what works and what does not.

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I gotta admit-I definitely feel progress and I am loving all the information and you guys are amazing. But I’m definitely overwhelmed and would love more of a solid curriculum with specific orders of basic approaches (USX, DSX, Swiping etc) at least for most of us looking to work on basic speed picking and accuracy (not two way yet or the fancy Martin Miller Andy Wood stuff). So if that’s the type of idea you’re playing with, I’m all in. “The definitive CtC Method-volume 1 type thing,” Not to mention that you would sell tons of DVDs and books…IMO

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Yeah I agree, that basically aligns with how I was thinking about this.

Something on “how to practice” is a bit more general interest, relevant for pretty much all players. Whereas something on “diagnose your picking” is more a direct hit for people looking for a solution to technique troubles. Eventually we should cover both, in one form or another!

Another thing that comes to mind, as part of a “technique diagnostic” sequence, it could be cool to include some material specifically on how to effectively film your playing (e.g. with the Magnet) + analyze the footage.

Yeah I hear you! This is basically our roadmap for the Pickslanting Primer :smiley:

What I’m thinking about here is more of a short free teaser sort of thing, but also totally agree there’s a lot more for us to add in the Primer as a comprehensive (+ nicely organized / non-overwhelming) presentation of all the foundational technical stuff we know.

We’ve thought a bit about things like DVDs / books, the main issue there is that we’ve come to realize our understanding of this stuff is always evolving, and the web version is really ideal because it gives us the flexibility to keep adding and improving. Won’t take it completely off the table though, maybe in the future when we feel like things are more settled!

I love this idea! I think it’d be good for those of us who can’t afford the paid content! (like myself)

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Good point! And also a good way to confirm the value, for anyone on the fence (to help answer not only “is it worth it?” but “is it right for me?”)

Btw have you seen our new scholarship program? Encourage you to check that out as well if the membership cost is an issue:


maybe you could do what the movie channels and xm radio do and unlock the site for a week or a few days a year on a holiday weekend and let people see the whole enchilada to get the itch if that would be possible to do.

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CTC has already done more than any other institution for modern guitar education (at least in terms of technique) - so what follows is just me being spoiled :slight_smile:

I think what we are really missing is a standardised repertoire for practicing and self-testing the various styles of picking that the team has so carefully analysed. I believe every instrument with established technique has something like this, at least at the classical level.

So - it would be great if this mini-course included some tunes of reasonable length (say 2-3 mins) that showcase what is possible with each technique. A lot of this could be taken or adapted from the various interview transcriptions (and some of Troy’s compositions).

I know I am repeating myself (I said similar things in other threads) - but this seems a relevant place to bring it up again.


I’m with this for sure. Again just nitpicking (I hear what you are saying about the pickslanting primer) but i think there’s nothing wrong with being a little firmer about a specific technique approach. Once people have chosen a basic one or two picking mechanics, lets go off to the races developing it! Also i don’t think the Primer isn’t organized! Its too easy to navigate! Meaning that If someone were taking in the primer as weekly instruction, I wouldn’t just jump to say, the next volcano chapter until I spent a week or two on the the previous one and its main licks. One universal course lay out the practice method and recommended time to spend, then say “If you’ve got this down proceed to the Blackstar Lick” type of thing…Don’t be afraid to give people advice so to speak!

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Good idea, we have actually done a few occasional promos where we offer a seven-day free trial. Maybe we can do more along those lines…

For sure also a great suggestion. I think this is something we’d like to incorporate in the Pickslanting Primer as well. Our to do list includes finishing the picking motions sections, a few others like ‘guitar setup’, then getting into more practical musical examples in a range of styles for the various core picking strategies. And yeah probably could draw a lot on existing stuff for this. Not sure what’d be in scope for the free mini-course I have in mind but perhaps a handful of musical examples as part of it!

Ah interesting. Yeah some kind of intro sequence as I’m envisioning could also be a good way to set the stage for how to approach the rest of the Primer. And maybe incorporating more prompts for self-evaluation and that sort of thing. A bit tricky as we do have to arrange it in some ordered way, but also don’t want to mandate it as a super strict curriculum; a lot of the process is exploratory and depending on someone’s goals they may be better served by skipping around a bit. So that’s certainly something we can aim to clarify as well :slight_smile:

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I don’t think it’s necessary to create a brand new ‘intro’ to the course. The original free CTC episodes were enough for me to get me hooked. As soon as I found the fist video I didn’t get out of my chair until I watched every single one.

As one person stated previously, the entire thing is a little long. However, I didn’t mind the length at all. I understand that some of the younger generation are a little lacking on the attention span side of things and it’s the previous generation’s fault. I didn’t grow up in the era of the internet; having everything you could ever want or need sitting in your pocket. Knowledge within a few seconds away, tangible things within a few days or even hours (amazon now) away…its insane!

Again, I don’t think a new intro is warranted. But, if you really want to spend your time on one (and I personally think you could spend the time better going grocery shopping or playing guitar :sunglasses:), then just edit the original series down into a 20 minute episode. I LOVE the original episodes, they’re very entertaining and educational. I could relate to Troy, almost as if I was watching myself in those videos.

Maybe have some before and after clips of actual subscribers using CTC to show what this series can do for your playing, user testimonies or something to that effect thrown into the re-edit.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it! And it’s not broke.

With all the celebrity guitarists and super awesome soundtrack and excellent animations; what else do you really need to get someone interested? Just re-edit what you already have if you want a new intro.

On a side note, I’d really love to see you guys do Satch and Buckethead.


Thanks for the feedback! Agree the original CTC episodes are a great intro in a lot of ways. And not sure the length of the series is a huge issue. I’m mainly thinking about something to more directly orient players in a practical hands-on way.

Not sure if I’m being clear with what I have in mind, but here’s a hypothetical outline for what it might look like—

  • You’re new to Cracking the Code and come across one of our videos on YouTube. There’s a link at the end of the video: “Sign up for the free Cracking the Code Picking Diagnostic”
  • You click through, sign up, and start to watch a series of 3–5 short video lessons.
  • Chapter 1 has you do the “table tap test” to see if you have trouble with raw speed.
  • Chapter 2 might be “Are you stringhopping?” to see if you have a problem with inefficient motion.
  • Chapter 3 might look at hand synchronization, with a quick test to see if that’s an issue.
  • Chapter 4 could wrap up with some tips for seeing which picking motion you’re using, and how to experiment with others.
  • After 20–30 mins. you have a much better idea of what your technique looks like and what your problem areas might be.
  • Then if you decide you want to learn more, you can jump right into the rest of the material in the Pickslanting Primer.

Some people may still prefer the narrative episodes and that’s great. But some may want more of a quick “show me what I need to learn” entry point so maybe we can provide that better too.

This is definitely worth considering too, though probably for a new channel intro / “trailer” type video of some sort, maybe separate from the “mini course” idea described above.

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I dont know… this is a trademark of many more dubious online products. My point is absolutly subjective but i always liked that CtC doesnt have these snakeoil-salesman -vibes which a lot on online-products give.

I’ve seen too many “Subscribe NOW for INSTANT DOMINATION of the guitar,”, “Get the BICEPS MASSACRE-WORKOUT PLAN, the only way to the RESULTS you DESERVE” etcetc., complete with a fanboy comment of Kevin from wherever who swears that paying 200 Dollar for an average mealplan-pdf was the best thing he ever did.

I have fallen victim to that both in Guitar and in Bodybuilding. I am not dumber than most people but frustration about progress leads to wishful thinking. To be totally honest, i even gave permission to use my name in such advertising once, not because i actually got these magical result, but because you desperatly want to believe you found the magic pill. There is none, good products like CtC help to put you back on the way to progress, they dont make you better overnight.

If i had read the same type of rhetoric in the ctc ads, i propably wouldnt be here.

Sorry in case i got your point wrong, i am sure you didnt want to make a point for trash-advertisement, i might just me oversensitive here after bad experiences for which i have myself to blame.

I would very strongly advise against this. What you’ll get is a deluge of pirates signing up for that week only, using burner email accounts. During that week, all content will be downloaded and then shared on torrent sites hosted in eastern Europe or Asia.

There’re huge amount of such people, and attracting them sounds like a good business idea.

Don’t underestimate pirates. There is already a lot of content from CtC out there, so free weeks wouldn’t change much.

Not underestimating them at all.

As it is, you either need to crack into the members area to download illegally, or pay for a membership and then download under the radar while here.

Most pirates aren’t hackers and most aren’t willing to pay for membership. Most people don’t illegally share what they’ve paid for. Free access makes it open season.

Glad to hear, this is definitely something we’re sensitive to. I think we’re as allergic to bombast as the next person, and don’t need to make any wild promises. I do think it’s possible to have things like testimonials in a more measured presentation, but noted that it’s something to be careful about.

I hear you, certainly worth considering. It’s impossible to prevent piracy entirely but we also shouldn’t make it too easy. Based on how we’ve done this previously, I think the issue is mitigated by a couple factors, 1) free trial signup still requires a valid credit card, and 2) most material on the site is streaming only for subscribers.