I started playing guitar when I was 16, and ever since then, it’s been the focal point of my interests. Initially, I began taking lessons with a local instructor, but later I satiated my ever-expanding desire for technical virtuosity via the internet. Youtube is a bastion for guitar education. I’ve found lessons that range from the very rudiments of the instrument to highly advanced mechanical analysis. One such Youtube whom I found particularly impressive was Troy Grady.
Troy’s Youtube series “Masters in Mechanics” teaches playing down to extreme minutiae. He analyzes the technique of guitar virtuosos, otherwise known as “shredders.” Said shredders include the likes of the Swedish Yngwie Malmasteen, Van Halen’s own Eddie Van Halen, and the late Randy Rhoads. A Yale alumnus, Troy found himself particularly intrigued by the mechanics of 80s heavy metal guitar. From a young age, he sought to emulate such guitarists, but found there was a scientific component not addressed by typical guitar teachers. His lessons stress the importance of downward pick-slanting–a technique utilized by master guitarists to augment tone, precision, and speed.
I was quickly infatuated by his in-depth analyzes of virtuoso guitarists. He uses a self-devised mechanism called “the claw,” which he attaches to the guitar to provide an interesting perspective on the guitarists picking and fretting hands. Troy begins his “Cracking the Code” series with Eric Johnson, famous for his tour de force track “Cliffs of Dover.” Grady teaches you how to use the various picking motions utilized by Johnson himself which include downward pick-slanting, string-hopping, alternate picking, and sweep-picking.
I come from a blues guitar background, which emphasizes the importance of groove and feel. Contrarily, metal-style guitar typically focuses on picking speed and avant-grade methods such as tapping, in which the guitarist uses his picking hand as another fretting device to create violin-like arpeggiation. Troy’s videos really opened up a volume of technique for me to implement into my playing. From watching his videos, I have augmented my physical mechanics and intertwined them with my feel-oriented blues background, effectively expanding my guitar vocabulary to the highest degree. Troy’s scientific analysis of guitar playing incorporates elements of physics to what was once seen as an art strictly limited to being taught from a chiefly instrumental standpoint, where the only learning to be done consists of techniques acquired passed down from player to player. He gives you the tools you need to shred like Eric John, Van Halen, and Yngwie, something that taught him years to decipher, but you can learn within a matter of minutes. This is truly a unique style of teaching that can make good guitar player indeed great.