Paul Gilbert's Technical Difficulties Main Riff

Hello everyone,

I guess that’s my first post here, after my introduction :slight_smile:

I grabbed my axe back after a 3 years long stop, and decided to give this riff a go.
I had never played it before, but I think at least some basics are already in place from the times I worked on Troy’s Masters in Mechanics courses.

Here’s an uncut take, after some 4h practice overall (3 days)
(the sound isn’t too clear I’m afraid, not only because of sloppy playing, but also because of recording gear/conditions)

I think I’ve got a few points as to why the riff is called ‘technical difficulties’ :wink: , and I can somehow relate it to Gilbert’ style (although I’m no deep connoisseur of the artist). I think the main point of the ‘difficulty’ is to balance between the sixteenth notes section, which requires extensive pick slanting orientation changes, and forceful picking, with the sextuplet section, which at least in my perception not only requires different muscles, but also a different angle - full UWPS - with a sudden inversion for the first note on the next beat, wich belongs to the next sixteenth section.
That note comes after two strings crossed in UWPS but, since it comes on the next string down, after an UP stroke, it requires either:

  • a swipe, or
  • an inversion of the pick orientation (to DWPS)

I think the second approach will sound better, cleaner, and tighter.
This ‘inversion’ is also a kind of ‘bulding block’ I would want to develop for super-fast runs on 3nps. I would start in UWPS but after the 6th note I would need to change orientation and, while picking the next two notes of the 3nps section, slant back to UWPS.
I remember working on it, but it’s a difficult movement and I can’t perform it well at those speeds. I guess you will notice :smiley:

Please let me know what you think, if you want to discuss further, have suggestions and so on!
(I think there are a lot of subtleties which can be discussed, if interested).



Impressive especially after a 3 year pause. How does it feel, were you able to get back in shape easily? Doesn’t sound too sloppy too me, I think it’d sound great with the full mix and I’m sure you can clean it up even more fairly easily.

It looks to me you are doing a pretty nice DBX motion in the 16th note section - it’d be cool to see a close up.

I’ve always had trouble with the last note. The fingering doesn’t help either! I wonder if you’ve tried using the more neutral / what looks like DBX motion in the triplet runs - that might decrease the need for the drastic switch from DSX to USX (btw you’ll find some of CtC terminology has been updated!).

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Thanks for the feedback @spirogyro!
I might post a short video to address your comments, as they actually go in the direction of what’s to learn about this riff.

My guitar life is ‘bursty’: I started young, I was maybe 13/14, and went on banging seriously for the next 4/5 years. That was Malmsteen era, and Gilbert released his first video but I didn’t get much out of it as I wasn’t able to decode what he was doing.

I quit studying the instrument and kept playing it ‘just for fun’, until I definitely took a longer pause towards 23/24 yo.

I awakened in my 30s in a world of youngsters who could perform ‘alternate picking’ at breakneck speeds (and some insane sweeps too!), so I decided that if they could do it, I could too.
I just sat down and reviewed picking technique. I remember reading Tuck Andress on picking, who was the first for me to spell out the different basic movements of wrist, elbow and even shoulder (I know, Andress is a fingerstyle player but apparently before that he’s been an amazing picker too…).
I got to some decent speed, but still hadn’t cracked it :slight_smile:

Then another 7/8 years pause, and one day I come across this weird video of a guy explaining the story of technique, from fast blues EVH to Vai, to Malmsteen… I got trapped!
At that time I had again had a very long break, but Troy’s materials were so good!

I couldn’t believe how much sense his insights made: I bought the first products of Masters in Mechanics, spanning the basics pick slanting, Yingwie, EJ, Gilbert & MAB.
With Troy’s help and explanations, I was finally able to make sense of it all and to ingrain the different techniques into what I consider a decent level.
Even if I stopped playing again, and for many years, these basic movements are there in their raw form. They’re for sure not polished, and they’re not at ‘performance level’. But they’re there and I can recall them - as I did for this riff - in the space of few hours.

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Still have to get acquainted with the new terminology :sweat_smile:
But I think DBX stands for DouBle eXcape?
If so, I’m not sure I’m doing that. I think of my movements as constantly switching ‘kinda actively’ from UWPS to DWPS, acting on the forearm (no finger joints involved as with Gambale), whereas I understand DBX more as a ‘circle with large radius’ movement that escapes on both ends, like those incredible country players, or Morse or Albert Lee.

But maybe I got it wrong? Anyhow, I’ll try to do a close-up video with some talking too.

Thanks for the discussion!

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Never could play that stuff because of that pinky Paul uses. While picking seems more or less straightforward, left hand fingering is a kind of nightmare for me…