STG 128: Cracking The Code – Interview With Troy Grady


complete guitar player

Troy Grady has spent years researching, studying and unraveling the secrets of the world’s fastest professional guitar players and has recently created and released an amazing video series called “Cracking The Code”. In it, he attempts to unravel the mysteries of how famous virtuoso-level guitar players developed their technique, why the average person has so much trouble trying to develop to that level and what to do about it. Troy was kind enough to spend some time talking with me about the video series, his research and how it can help guitar teachers be more effective.

In this episode, you’ll hear my interview with Troy Grady where we discuss the history of modern electric guitar playing, how he was able to get up-close HD video footage of the picking technique of monster players like Steve Morse, Tommy Emmanuel, Frank Gambale and Rusty Cooley, and how to take the basic technical concepts he was able to identify and apply them to your own playing and to your guitar lessons. Troy has done some ground-breaking work that I really think will change guitar playing as we know it. This interview will explain how.

Items Mentioned In This Episode

Link –
Link – Cracking The Code (YouTube)
Link – Buy “Cracking The Code” Season Pass

Podcast Transcript

Hey, what’s up, everybody? Welcome to the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast. I’m your host, Donnie Schexnayder, and I’m here to help you be more successful as a guitar teacher by attracting more new students, keeping your existing students from quitting, and getting paid what you’re really worth. The topic we’re going to talk about today is Cracking the Code – Interview with Troy Grady.

But first, this podcast is sponsored by Music Teacher’s Helper – the best way to manage your private music lesson studio. Music Teacher’s Helper is online scheduling and billing software that you can access from your computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone that saves you hours every month, enables you to generate reports for taxes, and ensures that you never lose track of a payment. Once you add a student, which is super easy, you can choose to automatically send students custom invoices that can be paid with a credit card if you make that an option. You can automatically email lesson reminders to your students, late payment notifications, and even your lesson notes. You can use the free easy-to-build website templates to help market your studio online, and so much more.

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They offer a 30-day no-risk trial, where you can test it out to discover how much time you’ll be saving. And if you use this special address to sign up, which is, you’ll save 20 percent off of your first month if you choose to sign up after the free trial. Now let’s jump right into today’s topic, Cracking the Code. Interview with Troy Grady.


Donnie Schexnayder: I have a special guest on the STG Podcast today, and that’s Troy Grady, a great guitar player from Brooklyn, New York, and the creator of the Cracking the Code video series. So, here’s a quick description of the series from Troy’s website.

“Cracking the Code is a groundbreaking documentary series that explores the puzzle of virtuoso guitar picking. The show’s three seasons chart thousands of hours of research, across nearly three decades, in pursuit of an elusive formula for plectrum dominion. Melding archival footage, in-depth interviews, painstakingly crafted animation, and custom soundtrack, it’s a pop-science investigation of an age-old mystery: Why are some players seemingly super-powered?

The surprising answer is that the world’s top guitarists rely on a system of highly efficient, highly precise, and yet nearly subconscious mechanical techniques. In Season 2, we’ll discover the most ingenious and critical of these techniques: pick slanting. To replicate this, students of the instrument would have to traverse years of practice only to arrive independently at precisely the same set of subtle hand movements. This is like expecting every Swedish chef to reinvent the meatball,” and that sounds exactly what we, as guitar teachers, need to know to be able to help our students improve their playing technique and get better results from their lessons. So, Troy is going to unlock some of the secrets for us in this interview today.

So, I just want to welcome you. Hi Troy, welcome to the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast.

Troy Grady: Hi Donnie, thanks for having me.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah, tell us a little bit about your story. How did you get started with playing the guitar?

Troy Grady: Well, I’m laughing because I didn’t bring my meatball recipe with me, but if you were expecting that, I’m sorry, but you will be disappointed.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah, I had different secrets in mind.

Troy Grady: Excellent. So, how did I get started? I got started probably the same way that many people did, by aspiring to spandex pants and fantastic hair in the mid-’80s. In the show, you see this Dave Lee Roth, smile banner hanging on the wall above the recreation of my childhood bedroom, and that is unfortunately for my childhood self, exactly what it looked like. Dave and his crazy stare was hanging over my bed, warding off women for at least a half-mile radius in all directions.

So, while I practiced endless renditions of Eruption and Steve Vai songs Eric Johnson songs, and all of that great stuff. So, it was kind of a golden age of fantastic guitar technique and although the guitar as a pursuit for teenage dudes, I think, still is popular as it ever was, the difference between then and now is that this stuff was pop music. Right, you had incredible solos happening in the equivalent of a Katy Perry song on the radio, which is kind of what Beat It was for the time, which was Eddie Van Halen’s contribution to Michael Jackson’s worldwide smash hits. So, that stuff. You turn on the radio and you heard incredible guitar playing, and it was hard not to want to be a guitar player back then.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah. So, did you take any guitar lessons or were you primarily self-taught?

Troy Grady: I was a piano player first. We always had a piano in the house, and so I was already, I think, just on the sort of cusp of attaining a certain type of pop music independence on that instrument right around 13/14 because I’m from Long Island and it is I think a local statute that you must learn to play Billy Joel while growing up in Long Island. So, I was doing all that stuff, scenes from An Italian Restaurant, Angry Young Man, and he’s kind of, in a lot of ways, the Eddie Van Halen of piano. Angry Young Man is this two-handed tapping thing, but on Middle C on the piano at a million miles an hour.

And so, that was kind of the eruption of piano. If you could do that, you were the coolest kid on the block. And so, I spent a lot of time doing that, and by the time I got into guitar playing, a lot of the fundamentals were already in place and it was a bit of a point of pride that I’m going to learn how to do this on my own and figure out rock songs off the radio. So, I didn’t take lessons at first. I have periodically, over the years, when I had specific questions, and some of those questions then became Cracking the Code when I didn’t get the answers I thought I should be getting.

Donnie Schexnayder: Okay, cool. So, since you mentioned Cracking the Code, let’s jump right in and talk about that. I love what you’re doing with the video series. It’s funny, it’s nostalgic, and it’s like packed full of all of this game changing information. And I actually found out about it from the Guitar Noise Blog, and then as soon as I did, I sat down and watched all of season one just in one sitting.

Troy Grady: Wow.

Donnie Schexnayder: I mean it really resonated with me that epic journey of learning the guitar that so many of us shared. So, for anyone that may not have heard about it yet, tell us all about Cracking the Code.

Troy Grady: Right, so Cracking the Code is essentially really a couple things and it’s sort of hard to pigeon hole, but it is the story of my search for advanced picking techniques driven by what I felt was almost an inordinately difficult challenge of learning how to do this stuff. And when I sat down to write the show, I did it from an autobiographical perspective, and so the show begins very much in, as you’d say, sort of a nostalgic fashion. Told from my viewpoint, but really as a way of relating to anyone who’s ever wanted to learn to play an instrument really well because that was my story. That’s what the ’80s were all about when it came to guitar playing, and that’s what I felt helped convey the technical information in a way that was more engaging and entertaining with a different type of entertainment than you would typically find in an instructional video.

So, the first season of the show is very much a story, although in that story are the technical challenges that I faced and as a result, those are the threads that will begin to tie together in the next season of the show, as we actually figure out how some of these advanced picking techniques actually work.

Donnie Schexnayder: Okay. So, what kind of research went into coming up with this material? I mean it’s amazing. I’m just curious. How long did it take you to put all of that together?

Troy Grady: Oh God, sometimes I feel like the Charles Goodyear or something, trying to get rubber working and been doing it my entire life, and started wearing rubber hats and rubber shoes, but yeah, I’ve been doing this for a while. It was really a hobby at first and it was sort of a weekend thing, and then I put up the website and started posting pieces of the research that I was doing, which, at the time, consisted of a series of interviews with legendary players using a slow motion camera rig that I had come up with that attached directly to the guitar and allowed me to fill right-hand, picking hand close-ups with the players that I was interviewing.

And again, I did all this on the side, on weekends and evenings, outside of an entirely different career that I was working at the time. And that in itself was an outgrowth of the personal playing and research that I had done years before, attempting to sort of crack the code, as it were, of advanced picking technique, the first breakthrough of which we actually see at the end of season one in the show, in college, and you and I were talking about this earlier, where I sort of accidentally stumbled across what turns out to be one of the most important techniques used by Yngwie Malmsteen to play incredibly fast things with great clarity and accuracy across the strings.

And that’s this technique called downward pick slanting. So, that was kind of the splitting of the atom for me. Once I had figured that out, and that again was a combination of observing and listening, and specifically utilizing Yngwie’s instructional video that he released in the late ’80s, or it was actually early ’90s that turned out to be the Rosetta Stone, if you will, of how his technique actually works. It’s not something he talks about. It’s simply something that you can reverse engineer by watching the video and looking very closely at what his hands are doing. And so, once I did that, I was off and running, and then the slow motion camera came about ten years later when I realized that this could be done in a way. Rather than relying on VHS tapes from 20 years prior, we could actually go out there and meet some of these players, who I think are probably more accessible now thanks to the Internet than they’ve ever been, and actually get an incredible close-up view of their technique that you simply couldn’t get any other way.

And so, that’s when this thing really took off.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah, so you mentioned the special guitar-mounted camera bracket.

Troy Grady: Right.

Donnie Schexnayder: So, that’s how you were able to identify some of the picking secrets of some of the players, and I’ve seen some of the videos on your website with people like Steve Morris and Tommy Emmanuel, and some of those guys.

Troy Grady: Yeah.

Donnie Schexnayder: And the camera allowed you to capture things that they didn’t even realize they were doing themselves. Right?

Troy Grady: Right. That’s one of the core findings I think; is that guitar players are very much gifted athletes in the same way that a Michael Jordan is a gifted athlete. The analogy that I always make is his sort of fade-away jumper. Just the perfection of the way that that’s executed. You think about all the moving parts of that. He’s got a player in front of him that is defending him, and he’s got to do three or four or five other things to get away from that player, leap backwards in the air, launch the ball with exactly the right amount of force and the exact right amount of curving trajectory so that it lands square in the basket from almost straight above, so you get the widest amount of angle of attack on the hoop. Right?

And there’s all this incredible physics that have to go into that, but it’s something that he does by feel in a matter of probably less than a second, from when he pivots, launches, and takes that shot. So, in the same way, most of the great players that we grew up listening to are not fully aware, and we wouldn’t really expect them to be either, of all the moving parts of this super complex system that gets activated whenever they play really fast things. Really slow things also, but really fast things with pick particularly, which turns out to be a pretty complicated, mechanical solution.

Donnie Schexnayder: Right.

Troy Grady: So, yeah, it’s fascinating to think that something that is clearly an engineering process at some level might be going on at a level that is below the level of consciousness. And when I first thought about making this statement on a website or as part of the mission statement of the show, it wasn’t my intent to be provocative necessarily. It’s just this is how things actually work, and I think it’s important that we know that because otherwise, if we sit back and say, “Well, my teacher never taught me that, therefore it doesn’t exist,” then we don’t have progress. You know, the entire history of technological innovation is that we build on what has come before.

And we can’t be afraid of that or threatened by it. This is the natural way of things, and it is not in any way, I think a slight to the abilities of an Eddie Van Halen and an Yngwie Malmsteen that we may know more about what they do than they do, because their artistic achievements stand and will stand forever based on that alone.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah. So, I can’t help but thinking, as you’re describing this, how awesome it would be to have a camera bracket like that that I could use in my teaching studio. Are you guys working on making a version of that available for the general public?

Troy Grady: Yeah, we are. In fact, the original camera that I used for the initial round of interviews ten years ago was more than a bracket. In fact, actually the bracket part of it was a bunch of spare parts that I picked up at B&H here in New York, which is a well-known photographic supply company. And it was a bunch of Manfrotto arms that I had sawed apart and connected together to get this thing mounted on a guitar body and hanging right over the fret board, looking at the picking hand. The hard part was the camera. The camera, at the time, was a two or three-thousand-dollar industrial camera that was intended to be installed in factories, observing assembly lines.

So, a scientific or an industrial application, where you need a camera that can film really quickly, so you have Cheerios or widgets or something rolling off this. Soup cans rolling down the assembly line, and you want to make sure that none of them fall off and you need to be able to step through that footage in super slow motion. And that’s what this camera did, and for the time, it was a super advanced thing, but the actual specs of the camera aren’t. They pale in comparison to what you’re carrying around in your pocket now.

So, that camera was bigger, bulkier. It connected by fire wire to a laptop, and we had to write custom software to actually get it to work. I wrote the sort of UI element of that, but that allows you to stop and start recording, and review movies and save them and so forth, but it was a whole affair. Now, fast-forward ten years later, you’ve got a phone in your pocket than can film at 120 frames per second, which is 20 frames faster than the camera I used ten years ago. It does it in HD, it does it in full color, and the phone itself can play it back in slow motion. Of course I’m referring to the iPhone specifically in this case, although this capability is now available in a variety of A-list smartphones. The high-end smartphones, almost all of them, have now the slow motion capability.

And the UI that the phone has, just inside, just right on the tiny little screen is really quite amazing. You set your in point and your out point of where you want the slow-mo part to begin, and it’ll play it at normal speed until it hits that first mile marker and then it instantly ramps down to the slow speed, plays till it hits the end point marker and then instantly ramps back up again. So, it’s really quite incredible, and we thought: “Well, this is the latest and greatest camera for guitar analysis of this sort,” so we’ve been working on an neck-mounted system for mounting smartphones so that you can film your own technique.

And that’s up on our website. We actually used it in an interview with Rusty Cooley earlier this year, who is probably the single fastest player that I’ve interviewed. Just as a point of example, I actually never measured this before, but we had to produce tabulator for this last interview that I did with him, and towards the end of the interview, he just started, because he’s a super enthusiastic guy, and he said, “Well, you know, we’re trying to crack the code here.” I was like: “What are you doing? We’re done.” He’s like: “No, no, no, we are cracking the code.” So, I had taken the camera down already and he just starts picking as fast as he can, so I ran over and put the thing back on. And when I tabbed it out later, it was like 16th notes at maybe 245 beats per minute, which is a good 20 or 25 beats per minute faster, I think, than what you will hear comfortable from even really great players like – I don’t know – John Petrucci or Michael Angelo Batio.

And again, it’s not all about speed, but I mentioned this in the context of what were talking about earlier as far as athletic ability. There is something that some of these players bring to the table that is special. That is like a Usain Bolt-level of athletic skill that just comes from somewhere that maybe the rest of us can’t replicate. We know how Rusty’s technique works though, the cleanliness and the accuracy part of it. That’s what we talk about in Cracking the Code. Whether you actually get up to that speed or not, that’s an athletic issue and I think I don’t know how much control we really have over that, but it’s fascinating to watch.

And the phone – this is where I was going with this – actually captures it. You can slow it down. You can see individual pick strokes that Rusty is making, which are just a blur to the eye. You can stand there a foot away from him and see nothing but just like a yellow blur of his pick moving back and forth, and the phone, if you give it enough light, will increase the shutter speed to such a high level that you will get crisp movement even at those speeds. And the phone is really kind of miraculous. The phone is really the best guitar camera I could possibly imagine. It’s got a screen. It’s got a battery life that last for hours. It can film in slow motion for hours. It’s got a built-in light, which is amazing. You can click on that LED flash on the top of the phone, and it perfectly illuminates the picking hand when you line it up right.

It’s almost like they designed it specifically for guitar students and guitar teachers. So, you could do it right now. You could put it on a tripod and point it at your picking hand, or your fretting hand for that matter, and you can get this footage. It’s just tricky to stay lined up right because if you move at all when you’re playing, and most of us do, then the angle changes and you can’t quite see what you’re doing. So, the bracket that we’ve come up with grips the neck right at the body joint and just you slide the phone into the slot, you clamp it in, and the camera points exactly at the picking hand, or you can flip it around and then film the fretting hand.

So, it’s super useful. We use it in our own productions. We just released a series of slow motion clips using it, demonstrating different musical styles or picking techniques in different musical styles. So, it’s pretty cool. We’re excited to get it out there, but we don’t really have any experience doing a full-on production run of that sort of thing, so we’re kind of investigating that process now.

Donnie Schexnayder: Cool. Yeah, looking forward to that one for sure. So, the way that you’ve analyzed and broken down all the virtuoso guitar technique that we’ve been discussing into these basic, understandable concepts, it’s really pretty revolutionary.

Troy Grady: Thanks.

Donnie Schexnayder: But now that the concepts have been identified and kind of broken down, what kind of advice can you give us for applying them and integrating them into our own playing? So, I guess I’m asking how can you practice this stuff?

Troy Grady: Right, how do you practice it and also how do you teach it, right?

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah.

Troy Grady: The most important thing is to become comfortable in doing them. Right? And there’s no mad rush to do it because this stuff is, even though we’re learning about this by observing legendary players who are known for fast playing, one of the other sort of fundamental tenets of what we’re doing in the show is that everyone does this stuff at some level already. You wouldn’t be able to play otherwise. This is sort of the fundamental laws, as it were, about how guitar playing actually works. Guitar picking let’s say.

So, the good news it that you probably already do some of this stuff, and part of the challenge is simply recognizing that you already do and utilizing some of the mechanics that may already come naturally to you. This concept of downward pick slanting, if you really think about it, we’re talking about the way that you angle the pick to enable clean string changes. So that if you’re playing really fast on one string, you can move to another string without making mistakes. Well, if you really think about it, it’s pretty much impossible to hold the pick perfectly straight, perfectly perpendicular to the guitar body, because if you imagine the pie slice of 180 degrees, let’s say, that represents a totally flat angle downward and a totally flat angle upward where the pick would be, let’s say, laying against the guitar body in both of those cases, there’s only one spot dead-center along that entire travel where the pick would be perfectly perpendicular.

And it’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to be in exactly that one spot where the pick is totally neutral. More likely than not, most players already do use some type of pick angle or what I call a pick slant. It’s just a matter of recognizing what that is. So, if you use downward pick slanting, you are a part of probably the biggest branch of the family tree of legendary guitar players. That is the most common pick angle in the history of let’s say virtuoso picking. Everybody from Django Reinhardt to Tal Farlow, George Benson to Joe Pass, even great jazz players use this technique almost universally, and then the rock greats that we all look to for incredible picking. Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai. These guys are all downward pick slanters.

So, really realistically there’s a good chance that you do this stuff already. So, how do you begin to take charge of that? Well, in the case of that technique we talk about in the first episode of season two, the pattern that I learned, which is an Yngwie Malmsteen picking pattern that really kick-started this whole process for me, which was a 6-note pattern. We call it the chunking lick. I forget what the name of the scene is, but basically it’s this classic 6-note scale pattern that repeats in one position. And it begins on a down stroke, six notes long, and it ends on an up stroke. And so, that pattern, even though regardless of whether or not you aim to be a shreddy kind of player or a fusion player, it’s a good practice vehicle for simply getting your head and your hands around how these techniques actually work, because it’s really easy to do.

It doesn’t move anywhere. You’re just in one part of the guitar neck, on one string only, but the sort of mystical properties that this lick has, and indeed any lick that has an even number of notes to it that starts on a down stroke, is that once you nail it in one position, you can easily move it to other positions on the same string and then easily move it to other positions on different strings. So, that’s the progression then too. The short answer to your question in terms of the natural way of things would be to learn one of these licks that is specifically engineered to be clean. Learn them in one spot on one string. Then learn them in multiple spots on the same string, and then start moving it from string to string.

And that’ll get you started. It’s very simple to do it, and if you’re already an experienced player, you may be doing it within minutes, honestly. That’s how it happened for me. I had been struggling with this stuff forever. I already had plenty of hand speed. There was just clearly something getting tied up in knots whenever I tried to move from one string to another, although it didn’t occur to me at first that that was the problem. So, the good news here is that I think, especially if you’re a guitar teacher and you have a lot of experience, you probably are very close to attaining a level of speed and clarity in your playing that you may not have realized.

Donnie Schexnayder: That’s great advice, Troy. I tell you what. Let me shift gears. I have a different kind of question for you. You talk a lot about guitar super powers in the videos.

Troy Grady: Right, exactly. Yes.

Donnie Schexnayder: That reminded me a lot of a line from that animated movie, The Incredibles, where the bad guy says if everybody is super, then no one will be. So, what happens when a hundred thousand guitarists apply your information and everybody starts learning how to shred?

Troy Grady: Right, then they become piano players. That’s what happens. And I’m not even joking. I’m joking, but I’m not joking. What I mean by that is that what we’re not really doing is we’re not really taking average players and making them unbelievable. We’re simply eliminating the difficulty that guitar players have, the crutch that we have that players on other instruments do not have. So, again, piano players of course fetishize technique the same way anyone else does, but the difference is they’re not faced with these insurmountable obstacles that make it impossible to achieve it. It’s really on guitar that we have this great divide between a small number of people with incredibly clean picking ability and then everybody else who is assumed to be less good than that.

So, what we’re really saying here is yeah, the so-called guitar gods do have special abilities, but it’s not that you can’t do what they do. It’s that their special ability was they figured it out without anybody teaching them. So, the rest of us, who are normally skilled people, can still play the same stuff that they can. We just need to know how it works. And it’s kind of like it took an Isaac Newton to figure out calculus, but now high school kids take a test on it. Right? A smart one. A smart high school kid can pass a test on it. So, the stuff we learn in eighth grade or sixth grade now in Earth Science would’ve been stuff that blew minds five hundred years ago, but again, that’s the way the technology evolves. We proceed by building on what we used to know and what came before us, and that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing in terms of building our real world guitar super powers.

So, really you’re going to see that guitar playing as a pursuit becomes a lot more linear so that you don’t hit a wall and give up, which really is a very, very common story in guitar playing. You practice for a million years. You don’t get any better. You get frustrated. There’s all kinds of strange almost mythology around developing picking technique that says well, you have to play this exercise or use this metronome thing and increase the speed slightly. All these things, and they’re all little bits of the truth. It’s not wrong, but they’re just incomplete. Yes, starting slow and getting faster works, and it works on a racetrack too, but there are actually shifting and steering techniques you have to learn to be able to do it. Right?

That’s really what we’re trying to do here; is just to make the path a little bit more straightforward. Whether you choose to get all the way to the end and become Superman is entirely up to you. Maybe you just stop at whatever level you’re comfortable with that allows you to write the kinds of songs and play the kinds of songs that you really want to play.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah, that’s great, man. Yeah, I can hear where you’re coming from with that because five years from now, we might have this whole new level of guitar playing where it’s similar to piano players, where there’s tons of people who have great technique. And they can focus on other things.

Troy Grady: That’s the key, right? We want to get past the mechanical because guitar players are overly focused on the speed thing. And ironically, once we make that not that big a deal anymore, then we actually start to focus on the creative thing, which is more important. Right? You know, piano players sit around talking about harmony all day, because why? Because moving your fingers fast is not that big a deal for them. Even when it gets to the level of playing like Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude or something, still there’s a million kids in music school that can do that. So, that’s not impressive. What’s impressive is having written it, or what’s impressive is coming up with that cool riff that you play with your band or that awesome song that takes off on YouTube, or whatever the case may be. We want to get beyond the plumbing. You know, put the plumbing back in the walls where it belongs.

Donnie Schexnayder: Awesome. So, here’s a question for you. What’s the most surprising thing you learned through the process of making this series?

Troy Grady: About guitar playing or about the show?

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah, about guitar playing.

Troy Grady: About guitar playing. I think it was just really I never seize to be impressed by the fact that this stuff has remained sort of obscure for as long as it has. You would think that if there’s a secret missing manual to guitar playing that we all need in order to be able to do this stuff, why isn’t it there yet? Right? And what I’ve discovered by interviewing players at this level, elite players, legendary players, is that they really aren’t aware. I used to think it was some kind of crazy conspiracy. Right, like I would meet with Yngwie and they would be like: “Listen, you’re going to shut up about this stuff.” Right? But it’s not the case.

These guys are some of the most open, friendly, sharing people ever. They’re just not out there giving guitar lessons on a regular basis because they’re rocking arenas, but never once in an interview did any of these guys ever say, “Well, really, let’s not talk about that lick because that’s my secret stash.” It’s never happened. And so, it’s very clear to me that if they were aware of this stuff, we’d all be learning it. We’d all be studying it. It would be in their instructional videos. It’s not some sort of tacit agreement among A-list players to keep the rest of us in the dark. So, endlessly fascinated by this because, again, you would think that we would know more about this, but I just think that at the level that a lot of these players operate, they’re going by feel. They’re going by intuition.

And also, the thing I was thinking about earlier is when you’re born with incredible ability, you don’t realize how difficult it might be to attain that stuff for other people. So, it doesn’t have the resonance of pain that the rest of us suffered through. You know, like playing that scale thing and trying to get a few points higher on the metronome. A lot of these guys just think they struggled, but they struggled for two years when they were like 14 to 16 or something, and then the next thing you know they’re amazing. So, maybe it’s just a perfect storm of happenstance that we have arrived at this point where we aren’t more knowledgeable about this stuff, but again, the whole point is let’s get knowledgeable and let’s get beyond the plumbing.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah, absolutely. So, what’s up next for Cracking the Code? What else can we expect over the coming months?

Troy Grady: Well, we just launched the first episode of season two yesterday actually, which the first part of the story was this nostalgic and fun flashback to the ’80s, and this part of the story is the technical part. So, our big challenge now is getting the show through season two. It’s eight episodes. It’s a huge amount of technical material. And in fact, when I sat down to write it, it was 16 episodes originally, and then we just realized we would be doing this for the rest of our lives. So, we condensed them into eight episodes. They’re still very long. We kind of trimmed a little bit here and there, but not much. It’s kind of hard to take away some of this stuff because you need some of these concepts to build to understand the later ones.

So, we have eight really long episodes and really detailed episodes that we need to get out, and I think really the main challenge of doing that: we have our production process down now. We’ve been doing this for a couple years. The real deal is to get the word out. Honestly we need people to know about this show, to be interested in it, to order it, to share it on various social media channels so that we can come to work every day and keep making it.

Donnie Schexnayder: Cool. Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I invited you to be on the show. I want to help you spread the word because I believe you’re doing a great thing here.

Troy Grady: Super, and I really, really appreciate it.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah. So, how can people get a hold of you to get the latest updates, to purchase seasons of the show, and find out more about “Cracking the Code”?

Troy Grady: Well, you shine the bat signal on the clouds, and then we will see it. Actually it’s a pick. It glows. You shine the symbol of a pick on a cloud cover. Well, I guess the main avenue for that would be our website. That’s You can also catch us on our YouTube channel of course. The YouTube account is simply Troy Grady. And really it’s an interesting time to be doing media because obviously, and you know this, 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be broadcasting ourselves. Right? So, it’s a pretty cool time to be doing this, and you can get us in all kinds of different places. Obviously, on Facebook as well. I think it’s just Cracking the Code, is the Facebook account.

Donnie Schexnayder: Awesome. So, okay, I seriously want to encourage everybody who’s listening to this right now to go over to Troy’s website and purchase the season pass. Not only can you download the episodes as they get released, but you get lots of other bonus content that can help you learn and understand the techniques better. And most importantly, you’re going to be helping to fund this project and get the rest of the series produced, which is going to help all of us.

Troy Grady: Indeed.

Donnie Schexnayder: Yeah, I want to encourage everyone to do that. So, our time is just about up. I just want to say thanks for taking the time to be on the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast, Troy. I really appreciate it.

Troy Grady: Oh, fantastic, and thanks so much for having me.

Okay, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Troy Grady. That’s all for this episode of the Free Edition of the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast. If you’re ready to energize your teaching business and take it to a whole new level, then head over to to claim your 14-day free trial STG All-Access Membership. STG All-Access members get a full length, ad-free podcast episode every single week, covering more detailed how-to topics along with access to my notes and outline for each episode. Members also get access to a ton of other cool things that can help you build a successful teaching studio, like the STG All-Access Podcast Archive, which includes the first 25 episodes of the show that are no longer available to the general public, access to the STG Community Forums, where you can connect with me and other guitar teachers to get help with building your studio, and a whole lot more.

Just head over to to start your free 14-day trial membership today. So, I just want to thank everybody for tuning in. This has been the Free Edition of Episode 128 of the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast with Donnie Schexnayder. Until next time, keep on teaching.

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STG 128: Cracking The Code – Interview With Troy Grady was last modified: August 4th, 2014 by Donnie Schexnayder