Rusty Cooley

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Rusty Cooley
Born (1970-04-27) April 27, 1970 (age 54)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Years active1985–present

Rusty Cooley (born April 27, 1970) is an American guitarist and guitar teacher, known for his highly refined guitar technique.[1] He was cited in Newsweek as one of the fastest guitarists in the United States[2] and a master of shredding, an advanced guitar technique.[3] Guitar Player magazine called him "the leading light of the post-Malmsteen shred-volution."[4]

Early life[edit]

Cooley received his first guitar (Peavey T27) and amp (Peavey Decade) for his fifteenth birthday. He immersed himself in music, practicing upwards of four hours a day. He took guitar lessons for a while but became dissatisfied with local guitar instructors and decided to start teaching himself. He relied on instructional books and videos like Doug Marks's Metal Method, Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry and Modern Chord Progressions books, REH instructional videos, and Robben Ford's instructional DVDs.[5]

His early musical influences were guitarists Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Vinnie Moore and Tony MacAlpine.[5] After only three years of playing, he became a guitar teacher at the music store where he had purchased his first guitar. Having finished high school Cooley went to the local college and studied music theory.

Solo work[edit]

Cooley became unsatisfied with working with local musicians and began to create solo music in early 1996 and around this time he switched to using only seven-string guitars.

His debut solo album was the self-titled Rusty Cooley, released in 2003 by Lion Music. It consists of 12 tracks, one of which, "Under the Influence", was released alongside a music video. The album featured Cooley on guitar, Brent Marches on bass, Eric Sands on fretless bass, and Bobby Williamson on keyboard. Music was by Cooley, Marches, and Kelly Carpenter; Carpenter also wrote the lyrics for, and handled the vocals on, the vocal versions of "Dominion" and "The Machine". Programming was done by Cooley and Williamson, while guitar engineering was done by Sands. Cooley also was in charge of the production.[6][7]

Rusty Cooley
Studio album
ReleasedJanuary 13, 2003
LabelLion Music
ProducerRusty Cooley

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Rusty Cooley

1."Under The Influence"6:48
2."The Butcher"4:49
3."Dark Matter"7:49
6."Hillbilly Militia"4:06
7."Jazzmine's Song"5:42
8."War of the Angels"6:57
9."The Duel"3:52
10."Piece of Mind"4:35
11."Dominion (Vocal Version)"4:05
12."The Machine (Vocal Version)"5:05
Total length:1:01:47

Current career[edit]

Cooley is currently in collaboration with ProTone Pedals, testing their new Jason Becker Perpetual Burn signature distortion pedals, which Becker himself could not do as he has been suffering from ALS since 1990, and as such, is no longer able to play guitar. ProTone has more recently been working on a Rusty Cooley signature pedal. Cooley has collaborated with Dean Guitars to produce a signature seven-string model, of which several versions exist.

Cooley is currently working with a new band, Day of Reckoning.[8]


Cooley has been a guitar instructor since his third year of playing. He has released five instructional products, done lessons for magazines (such as his "Metal Guru" column) and posted many lessons on sites such as Shredaholic. He has taught for the National Guitar Workshop three times (1996, 1997, 1998) and given many clinics. Cooley has many successful students, such as Chris Storey/Cris Osuna (ex-All Shall Perish) and Mica Roth, a former member of Hybreed.


Cooley currently endorses Ormsby Guitars, EMG Pickups, Morley Pedals, GHS strings, VHT, Rocktron, Eventide, Maxon and more recently Randall Amplification.[9][10][11]

He previously endorsed Jackson Guitars, Ibanez Guitars and Dean Guitars.

His signature Dean model was released at NAMM in early 2007. It features a super-strat style body with a deeply sculpted lower horn (in order to perform the widest stretches when playing in high positions), EMG 707 pickups, volume control and a three-way switch.

In 2011, Dean Guitars released an eight-string version as well. Nicknamed "Dean RC-8", it has the same features as the seven-string version but with the implementation of a fanned fretting system and EMG 808 pickups.

Cooley appeared on the podcast, Cyber Timebite, in April 2019.



Instructional products[edit]

  • Shred Guitar Manifesto (2000, DVD, Chops From Hell)
  • Extreme Pentatonics (2001, DVD, Chops From Hell)
  • The Art of Picking (2001, DVD, Chops From Hell)
  • Rusty Cooley Performance/Clinic (2003, DVD, Chops From Hell)
  • Rusty Cooley Performance/Clinic 2 (2003, DVD, Chops From Hell)
  • Basic Training (2007, DVD, Chops From Hell)
  • Rusty Cooley Fret Board Autopsy - Scales, Modes & Patterns Level 1 (DVD, 2008, Rock House Method)
  • Rusty Cooley, Fret Board Autopsy - Scales, Modes & Patterns Level 2 (DVD, 2008, Rock House Method)
  • Arpeggio Madness: Insane Concepts & Total Mastery (DVD, 2011, Rock House Method)

Television appearances[edit]

  • Stay Tuned
  • Metallurgy Live
  • Metallurgy Unplugged
  • World Class Guitar Techniques
  • Robb's Metal Works
  • Rusty Cooley's Guitar Asylum TV


  1. ^ Stephens, Matt (June 14, 2011). "Woodlands' guitarist 'A modern-day Mozart'". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 11, 2023. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  2. ^ Mummolo, Jonathan (October 15, 2006). "Technique: Secrets of 'Shredding'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on December 26, 2023. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  3. ^ Jude Gold, "Rusty Cooley's intense licks of doom"[dead link] Guitar Player, October 1, 2003
  4. ^ Matt Blackett, "Rusty Cooley.(RIFFS: Shred)"[dead link], Guitar Player, July 1, 2007
  5. ^ a b "Rusty Cooley Interview". Guitarhoo!. November 18, 2005. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  6. ^ "Rusty Cooley". AllMusic. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  7. ^ "Rusty Cooley". Metal Archives. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Day of Reckoning
  9. ^ "Rusty Cooley". Dean Guitars. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  10. ^ [1] Archived January 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ [2] Archived July 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Austrian Death Machine to release "Double Brutal" this fall". BraveWords. September 10, 2009. Archived from the original on December 26, 2023. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  13. ^ "Derek Sherinian Looking To Start Progressive Metal Band". January 20, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  14. ^ "Twin Cities' AFTER THE BURIAL Record New Album, Line Up Tours". Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  15. ^ "Rings Of Saturn : Lugal K En | Has it leaked?". July 2, 2014. Retrieved July 24, 2015.

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