Interview Questions


For future interviews, would you guys consider asking guests to play licks that previous people have played? Or create some sort of lick database so we could see how multiple players tackle the exact same problem and the merits of each approach? It would be nice to have a few benchmarks to compare each guest to the next. What does everyone else think about that?


It would definitely be helpful to have a set of standard questions to ask everyone. Perhaps there are some? I wouldn’t think they would have to be too laborious. Just make them a lightening round or something.


Cool idea, definitely something we can consider. There are questions / topics we touch on in many of the interviews so we could find a way to better surface this kind of thing. It’s on our long term roadmap to add more ways of tagging / searching material across our site. We’ll think about it for licks as well as questions. Currently we have simple text search e.g. you could search sitewide for ‘descending sixes’ but lots of room for improvement here.

Not sure if lightning round of questions is Troy’s style, haha, but I’d be curious to see what things people would find useful to have on a “standard questions list” for future interviews. Please do let us know if there are things we should be asking more often!


Touche. I only used the term “lightning round” to imply that these need not, IMO, be the type of questions to drag out, but more boilerplate. How do you hold the pick? Do you anchor your hand? Where does your arm make contact with the guitar? Play a major scale on X strings. etc. Things of that nature. They may be in most of the interviews, but if you start off with those so they’re in every interview at the beginning it provides foundational context for the rest of the interview.


Oh yeah, for sure, I do actually think this could be cool to do. Just thinking it may be somewhat tricky in practice. For example sometimes we’ll start talking with the player while still finishing getting the cameras set up, so it can be hard to even define a clear starting point to the interview :smiley: But good suggestions, agree it would be useful to make it so these kinds of common basic questions are easy to find and compare. Thanks!


Hey Brendan, I think there are a few questions which I’m not sure have ever been asked in the Masters Of Mechanics series which seems very obvious to me since they cut right to the gist of what CTC was based upon.

The question (which would be asked after showing them they use upward, downward, or 2 way pick slanting) is: Do you remember how long you had been playing when you first realized that the trajectory of your pick stroke would have to be at a diagonally upwards trajectory as opposed to a strictly horizontal trajectory to clear the strings when making string changes? Or did you just immediately realize the pick had to have that type of trajectory from when you first started playing guitar based on a logical analysis of the situation and what you needed to accomplish?

For players who say they didn’t start out using pick slanting: What method did they use to make string changes? String hopping? Swiping (whether done fairly quietly or not)? Something else?

Since pick slanting is the key to efficient string changing, it would be very interesting to see what separated the greats who picked up pick slanting very early in their guitar playing from those who played years and years and still didn’t discover it until Troy told them to do it. Is it just a matter of using logic and rationality to realize it would be necessary for them to devise a way to switch strings efficiently rather than blindly continuing the same mistakes without using any critical thinking to analyze why they keep making the same mistakes over and over? Or is it just a lack of imagination on the part of players who “never got it” that kept them from thinking, “There must be something I could change about the way I pick to make changing strings more efficient.”


Troy does often ask players about how they learned and developed technique. Phrasing it like this is probably too specific though; I think many players wouldn’t necessarily think about technique in this way:

The reason being: one of the big themes we see in Cracking the Code is that the inner workings of their mechanic often is something players aren’t consciously aware of at all.

For many elite players, their technique is more the product of an intuitive, trial-and-error learning process, rather than logical analysis. Some players do think more explicitly about technique / mechanics than others, but in general they don’t often articulate it in the sorts of terms we use (pickslanting, angles, trajectories, swiping, etc.)

It’s always interesting to hear firsthand about players’ experiences learning, and this is definitely something we like to talk about in interviews. Maybe there’s more we can try to suss out as far as how their technical learning evolved. When it comes to specific mechanical explanations, though…a lot of the time that part’s up to us!