I viewed the Pick Slanting Primer in chronological order up until the Downward Pickslanting - Yngwie Malmsteen section. That thorough breakdown of picking technique helped me think more about how I picked each string and how to stop trapping my guitar pick when switching strings.
But why was I still not able to shred?
ENTER THE POP TARTS LICK
I watched Troy’s video example on how to play the Pop Tarts lick. This example included two speeds: 1. shredding 200bpm and 2. articulate but very slow motion.
I could play this slow, but my problem like many other people was playing fast…
The traditional advice to play an exercise slow with a metronome until you can shred is disregarded by both Troy and Shawn Lane.
No way was I going down that boring path again, especially since we are instructed not to do that.
I wondered if the Pop Tarts lick was a bit too difficult to start with… how about that second excercise (Single String - Six-Note Pattern) in the Downard Pickslanting - Yngwie Malmsteen Section?
No string switching for the (Single String - Six-Note Pattern) so this appeared at first glance to be easier. I’ll just watch the video of Troy shredding this example… Well, that was also way faster then anything I could play.
At this point I knew that progressing any further into the material was pointless since I could not shred the very first two exercises.
So each day over the course of four days, I alternated between these two exercises.
I typically played for about 1 hour and 15 minutes and would randomly throw in AC/DC Thunderstruck without hammer ons and pull offs to break the monotony.
On the fifth day I could play the Single String - Six-Note Pattern quite fast and arguably shredding.
The Pop Tarts lick was still very slow. Why would there be such a huge chasm between them?
I realized the Single String - Six-Note Pattern was shorter and easier to play. What if I broke down the Pop Tarts lick into smaller sections?
Breaking the Pop Tarts lick down from the beginning on the high E string, this was a total of 8 notes:
I still struggled. What If I broke this down into four note parts and practiced these separately?
12-15-14-12 and then 11-14-12-11
I began playing each four note section as fast as I could. Each note was played individually but using the same wrist/pick mechanics that I use when tremolo picking.
Now what if I bring both four note patterns together?
Now for the B string on the Pop Tarts lick, I would just use the full six note pattern of:
13-12-10-13-12-10 (this could actually be described as a 3 note pattern that’s repeated twice)
Now what if I played the High E pattern and then string switched utilizing the Upwards String Escape that exists when Downward Pickslanting?
Most people can play single notes at 150bpm+ so they are in the shred zone already.
However, many cannot translate this speed into both string switching as well as breaking the riff/lick down into smaller parts and rifling through them.
Cracking the Code has an absolutely epic amount of content and I’m still very much a beginner. However, I have finally crossed that barrier to shred. I’m extremely thankful for this program and Troy’s dedication and unwillingness to quit. I simply would not have reached this breakthrough otherwise.
TLDR: If you are having trouble shredding but can already string switch:
- break down the riff further into smaller note sections or patterns
- play until you can shred this small section (use your tremolo picking technique but pick each individual note instead of playing the same note over and over)
- combine this small section with the next part