The Rusty Cooley Interview


I have subscribed to Masters Of Mechanics for between one and two years now and right from the beginning I was told that Rusty Cooley had been interviewed with the camera attached to his guitar neck and everything. So why is it that whenever I check the list of different interviews available on Masters Of mechanics, I never see his name? Am I somehow missing it, or possibly looking in the wrong place? Thank you!

Not sure if blind or just stoopit

Hey, good question! Yes, we did do an interview with Rusty, however we did this one a bit differently, originally released not as an interview but a batch of clips. It was a product we called the “Rusty Cooley Code Archive”, consisting of clips / tabs but no hour-long full interview edit as w/ those we’ve done more recently.

The way we edited this, many of the clips have bits of commentary baked in, so they also don’t work quite as well as standalone musical examples as we have structured on the new site with Soundslice.

Short story is we’d have to take another look at this and see if we can re-edit to get it more in line with the rest of our interviews. Either as a full interview w/ conversational structure, or just getting all the clips up on the new site by themselves if that ends up working best for this.

Either way, it’s on our to do list but has been on the back burner for a while. We’ll see if we might be able to do something with this soon.


Im dying to see the Rusty Cooley stuff too! I saw one of your youtube vids of him still had a link where you could purchase the rusty archive. Is the lesson still for sale?


Yeah, I was looking for it the other day as well and obviously didn’t see it either. I’m looking forward to it’s release though in whatever format works for you guys!!


If you go to Troy’s Youtube channel’s “Videos” page and scroll down and reload enough times you will find 4 short clips of Rusty Cooley:

frightening stuff.

I had the impression that were more of them. Maybe some of them were taken down?

If Rusty sat down once if front of CtC’s camera once, maybe he’s open to doing it again. But I am sure that the CtC staff has this on their to do list. Plus, there’s enough interviews in the pipeline to get excited about.

On a side note: I am thinking about cancelling my Netflix account because I am watching too much CtC that my Netflix is almost useless :sweat_smile:

Cheers \m/


I believe there were actually two interviews filmed. First interview he ever did was with Rusty.

You can tell it was a while ago because of lack of Dean and facial hair! Playing is still as great as ever. Not sure what the first interview was like since Troy hadn’t got his format down at that point, but the Marshall Harrison one was very enjoyable and was done the day after.
Would love to see one, or both of these interviews if time ever allows. But I agree with @kounistou, it’d be great to see another interview or live broadcast with him again at some point. There’s a lot to learn from him.

While we wait, I reccomened his Truefire course. It’s mostly a collection of licks, but there’s some interesting arpeggio ideas and picking patterns that are pretty fun to try out!


Yeah, someone was just asking me if Rusty swipes on his 5s and 7s? That’s why I couldn’t remember, the interview isn’t on here. Is Rusty a swiper? I never got into his playing.


I bought the Rusty archive as soon as it came out. Can confirm, he swipes both at top speed and the more “moderate” stuff (putting “moderate” in quotes here to feel better about myself :wink: ).


I think we need to differentiate between the kind accidental contact that occurs in everyone’s
playing and the sort of systematic swiping that is used by people like Batio and Jorge Strunz. I don’t think Rusty is a systematic swiper, where he uses it specifically on certain string changes all the time, as a “technique”. It’s a little more complicated than that.

Alternatively, what you will also see, is that he will often pick an even number of notes per string while fretting an odd number. So the picking “works out”, even though it doesn’t line up strictly with what is going on in the left hand. In other words, it’s not like Yngwie where you have a certain number of picked notes and then a single legato note. When Rusty does a lot of these odd number patterns, there is no specific “legato note”. It’s just wherever it lines up, and it’s a little different every time.

You could call this “unsynchronized” but I don’t think that adequately explains what’s going on. I think he actually can tell by feel that the picking needs to be even, and he is choosing the closest match of even numbered pickstrokes to whatever he is fretting. It’s not 100% consistent and sure you will probably see swiping here and there. But the number of times you will see an actual even number of notes, uwps-style, where the last note is a downstroke, means I think there is a sort of formula at work.

The resulting sound is somewhere between picking and legato, you may like it or not. I think it’s cool. I can’t do it that’s for sure. It’s also impossible to notate in tablature. Picking six notes per string while fretting seven. That’s what it is, transcribe it as you like!

Rusty may be coming in soon, we’re trying to set that up.


I don’t mean to sound too confrontational here, and I haven’t looked at these clips in a while, but what would you call his descending outside string changes then? I remember seeing pretty systematic swiping here without extra pickstrokes. There’s also an instance of him playing the PG-lick out there on the internet using what looks to me like his top-speed mechanic and the swiping seems pretty audible to me, let me see if I can find it (2:30 or so here):

Addendum: Hasn’t the sort of “accidental contact” you mention always been referred to here as swiping before? Or are you talking about changing what we mean when we say “swiping?”


lol, well it seems like either way the term will seem to have a negative connotation to it. Thanks for the info. I will surely check the Rusty stuff out whenever it is put up.

The reason I asked is, I find myself acquainted with quite a few alternate pickers that design their playing around keeping the pick strokes even. But they do swipe if they get caught on a stroke that would require any rotation.

What I am calling swipers is any player that will swipe, instead of rotating, out of a trapped pick stroke anytime the situation arises… So if they are good, they of course would avoid a trapped pick stroke. I feel that there are A LOT of players like this.


This is what I was figuring Eric… I think Paul Gilbert swipes that lick in Intense Rock if I’m not mistaken. :bear:


No confrontation taken!

What I’m describing definitely happens in his playing, and I’m pretty sure there are examples of it in the “Code Archive” clips if you still have those. I’m not saying he does this exclusively on every clip, but I am saying it happens and it explains why his playing sometimes has a kind of legato sound to it even when he is picking continuously. Rusty was the first person we ever filmed, so I’ve seen this with every version of the camera that we’ve ever built. I had no idea what I was seeing at first and it wasn’t until much later that I realized what was happening.

Note also that he has a few different techniques and what we’re describing here is his elbow hyper picking technique. What you’re calling “moderate” mode is his more traditional (if we can call it that) two-way pickslanting technique. In that technique, he is making the motions to escape when necessary. He may have occasional string contact but it’s the kind of accidental contact that happens in everyone’s playing.

And yes, Rusty’s ‘moderate’ mode is probably fast enough for most people! I know he has hung his hat on the elbow technique, in a sense, even though it is not as traditionally accurate as his 2wps approach.

That may be the case, but again, I’m not saying this is systematic in the sense that he simply doesn’t bother escaping and hits all strings at all times, as a standardized approach, the way Jorge does. And he doesn’t even really selectively but consistently hit certain strings the way Batio does. He may do bits of those in various cases, but what he does do that none of the others players appear to do is the odd/even thing. And it happens often enough that I don’t think it’s accidental.

I have some footage of him playing the PG lick, and what is actually happening is interesting and changes whether he is doing the inside or outside version of it. In one of them, I think it’s the outside version, he actually does what I call “displacement”, which I’ve talked about a little bit here:

In other words, I think the general thing I get from his playing is that he can tell by feel that the pickstrokes need to be on certain strings to go fast and actively changes up the picking structure to accomodate that, even when it doesn’t strictly match what is going on in the left hand.


I would resist the temptation to think this. As an example, Strunz and Farah just put out their latest album, and it contains the intro jam they played during our interview. It’s now an official tune called “Butterfly’s Wing”, and you can listen to the studio version of it right on their home page, here:

That’s Jorge on lead for most of that song. Knowing what we now know about his technique, I have to say, it really is pretty amazing how damn good this sounds. Calling that a “mistake” really overlooks the fact of how well this can actually be done if you really want to. And I don’t even completely understand how he’s getting it so silent. A capella, in the room, it’s more audible. But even then you won’t hear it on every string change. And he is the most extensive user of it of anyone we have interviewed, and that includes Rusty.

More generally, again, if we really want to understand how things work out there in the world, I think it’s worth making a distinction between players who have taken this concept and baked into their technique in a repeatable way, versus those players like me - and I will certainly put myself in that category - who do it occasionally as more of a mistake.

Even in the mistake category, you will have players who will bonk an open string so hard that you’ll hear it from a mile away. And then there are those who will hit surrounding strings and you will never hear it or even it know it is happening without the kind of close-up footage that we film.


As a great example of Rusty’s two-way pickslanting technique, check this out:

I remember that when he played this, he didn’t think it was all that good, and said something to the effect of how come I can’t do this as fast as the other lines? I on the other hand thought it was great.

I still think this speaks volumes as to the guy’s innate ability to learn complicated mechanics intuitively. Swiping or not, and I’m sure there’s some of it here, he is clearly making the “correct” escape motions and the line sounds great. Not too many people can play this line or for that matter even know how it should be played.

And much of his sweeping is unassailable. The arpeggio sequence at :35 of this clip is just straight up cool, in my book. I don’t have shredcam footage of it but I love the writing and it sounds clean to me. And the three-string min7 arpeggio at 1:30 is about as fast and accurate as I think sweeping can really be done:


Now this kicks ass man. :grinning:


And finally here’s that arpeggio sequence dropped into Logic and lined up with a click:

That’s 190bpm sextuplets, or about 285bpm sixteenths. I know this is sweeping, but this isn’t just slamming across all six strings, once, as fast as you can strum. These are repeated synchronized fretting movements. In the slow motion version of this from the clip above, you can see that the two-way pickslanting of the sweep, and the synchronization, is all on point. And it sounds like it.

Why do I care? Well I just think Rusty gets a bad rap and I know some of that boils down to creative choices and matters of taste. And trying to change anyone’s mind on that is swimming upstream. But Rusty is a legit natural when it comes to the range of mechanical abilities he has, as much as any of the players we have interviewed.