Paul Gilbert on his struggles to learn alternate picking

This is an interview by Dom Famularo where Paul gets into a cool story that touches on his first breakthroughs with alternate picking, as well as how impossible it felt to him. Even if he didn’t deconstruct picking the way Troy did, he still had moments of despair and triumph that many code crackers will relate to:

A few cool nuggets:
As a teenager, Paul attended a Randy Rhoads clinic where he received a non-helpful answer about Randy’s picking.
The lick that Paul has become synonomous with was shown to him by a GIT student who Paul describes as an Al Di Meola fan (separate from Paul’s story, that lick appeared on Michael Angelo Batio’s Starlicks video, though we can’t rule out that Di Meola may have used the lick earlier).

Jump to 15m58s:


Can’t resist to post a before / after thingy :smiley:

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Paul before:

Paul after:


I know you emphasized the visual, but there’s musical truth to this transformation as well. In several interviews in recent years, including an amazing one with Tom Quayle that I should post, Paul has talked about his quest to become more thoughtful and purposeful in his phrasing, and branch beyond his “widdly widdly” instincts.

He talks about how he has reflected on the fact that it was melodic groups like the Beatles that really inspired him to become a musician, and he felt that was an aspect of his own musicianship that he hadn’t yet explored as much as he’d like. I think in the interview above (as well as other places), he talks about his admiration for Keith Wyatt as a player and a teacher, and that even now, he likes to revisit Wyatt’s insights. A cynic could view that as Paul merely talking up an old friend, but I get the impression he’s sincere.

Edit: Posted the Tom Quayle interview in a new thread:


Wait, so the first success Paul ever had with what we used to call “picking every note”, which he describes at 17:00, was not the result of repeating phrases slowly and correctly but in fact an accident that happened unexpectedly while playing a Judas Priest song? Well, color me surprised.

Edit: By which I mean, I’m not surprised. Only surprised that this is the first I’m hearing of it.


Ah I miss the shreddy PG though. How may people can blaze 3 notes per string like PG? :slight_smile:


I don’t know what he means by thoughtful, but the Paul of the “Get Out Of My Yard” and “Fuzz Universe” era was the most inventive songwriter with the coolest ideas.

Playing blues doesn’t automatically make something soulful, and playing fast pop/rock doesn’t automatically make something derivative.

That being said, I’ll just accompany all my posts from now on with the following necessary disclaimer:


Edit: Talk about feeling old, I just realized Get Out of My Yard will turn 15 this year. Jeez.

One thing is I take him to be referring to this blues thing more in terms of live improvisation, whereas the cool shreddy stuff you’re pointing to was almost certainly worked out and composed.

And I was sort of putting words in his mouth too, but I don’t think it’s like he’s discarded shred entirely either. I get the impression he just wants to be sure that when he shreds, it’s by choice, and not merely a default habit of burning through shapes.

Paul framed it as a challenge to himself to do things that are outside his comfort zone. There’s a good segment about it at 10m48s of the interview with Tom Quayle I posted in another thread:

Paul is gradually becoming the Alton Brown of rock guitar.


That’s very interesting Paul… but we’re all here for 4:38 aren’t we? :rofl:

Joking, I love everything about him


Randy Bachman: “Hello, Springfield!”
Crowd : [cheering]
Randy Bachman: “We’re going to play all your old favorites. But first, we’d like to dip into our new CD…”
Homer Simpson: “TAKIN’ CARE OF BUSINESS!!!”
Fred Turner: “Don’t worry, sir. We’ll get to that one.”
[Band starts playing Takin’ Care of Business]


I was really impressed by the writing on “Get Out Of My Yard” the first time I heard it. It was… Tough to describe, I guess but a lot of very melodic chordal playing with little accentations and fills and suspensions that made it really interesting. Great stuff that I immediately wanted to hear more of (not that I didn’t want to hear more 16th note triplets, either, of course).

Yes, this was fascinating, it was the first time that I heard the “discovery story” of one of the early shred gods. If I follow PAG’s story, he was already a very good player, and then he somehow discovered something—I’m not exactly sure what—and he didn’t fully understand it at the time, but he presumably deconstructed it later… so, yes, he didn’t create anything from theory! What do you think that he discovered? (Perhaps the thing formerly known as 2WPS?)

I think everyone has an epiphany at some point. But it’s interesting how he discovered it - not through exercises or technique books but by stumbling across and playing a lick that was similar to something he heard on a record. And I don’t know about you guys but if I hear someone playing something on a record I can tell usually what technique they used to play it either picking, or swept, or legato or two handed as many cases the sound of something reveals the technique if that makes sense.

U know it’s interesting w Paul, took some lesson shares w him over the covid break, I was seeing if he’d be down for going over the old shred style he did as a kid and it turned out more like us jamming blues and blues rock back and forth more…which was fun and he’s very supportive and stoked to be playing guitar. You just never know sometimes…and we all change and go through different things playing wise. Maybe I’m just meant to play the way I do at this point his advise too me was don’t change a thing…much love for PG. There a clip of him up recently he’s about 18? And it’s insane!!! I was working on slowing it down and learning some of it.