Technical difficulties with Paul Gilbert licks

Small update, this solution is actualy not too bad and allows for very consistent tone and attack when using pure DWPS. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a hard time integrating chugchug palm muting with the TWPS rotations. As an example, here’s the DWPS version of the phrase leading to the C5/Cb5 chord

A-----2-3-5-7---3-3---------- etc...

suggested fingerings:
  2 4 1-1 3 4 3
  2 4 1-1 2 4 2

I’ll try to demostrate this with a video as soon as I get a decent take (anywhere between tonight and 15 years from now :smiley: )

EDIT: of course I mean that pure DWPS can be used for the fast scalar bursts, while TWPS is inevitable for the ``slower" part of the riff.


That muting tone he has (esp on the metal dog version) - is killer and it’s a issue for me - can’t get it with my current picking technique - only if I flat pick it and then it’s a bouncing balance festival! Interesting solution tho! - Would Love to hear a take of that. There’s absolutely no way could I play that run at 13nps.

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I managed to get some time to figure out the muting technique Paul uses on the main riff - I’ve watched all the videos on youtube of him playing and he plays it the same way - and it’s freaking wierd!!
It’s much much higher on his hand, than I normally mute - just under his little finger. He also scrunches up his little finger. All this helps keep the unmuted notes - become super clear. Because he mutes up so high - it’s much much easier to not accidentally hit notes on any return path. And it’s dead simple to get the exact same muting sound - which is a really really precise chug and duration.
I’ve tried it for a hour or and it really does seem like the way to play it - esp for standing up. My hand /thumb and forearm freaking aches for a while after playing like this - great sound tho :stuck_out_tongue: I noticed that he does very very little movement when playing this - it’s like super efficient, and when I tried - the same thing it’s tiny tiny movements!


Here is a first attempt at the DWPS-ified riff that I described earlier (the fast runa are 2 + 4 notes per string instead of 3 + 3). I recorded this a couple of days ago, I wasn’t too satisfied with it because I thought the rhythm was not tight enough. However today I listened back to it and it seemed a bit better for some reason.

I don’t think I’ll be able to record a better take in the next few days, so this one will have to do for now :slight_smile: . I think it shows that it is in principle possible to rearrange the runs as pure DWPS - which for me brings great muting/rhythmic advantages.


Freaking amazing dude! main riff is chunky, runs are in time! - no harmonic squeals tho :stuck_out_tongue:
If I can get to play it as good as that - I’ll be chuffed !


Not sure how you could not be satisfied with that. Sounded perfect to me.


Thank you for the nice comments, and this is very true! Those squeals are very hard to control within the fast pace of this riff (there really isn’t much time to sustain/vibrato them) - maybe I can include that in a few months :slight_smile:

Thank you, I guess sometimes I am waay too picky about my… picking :sweat_smile:, I should probably relax a bit and accept the tiny imperfections of human playing (as opposed to Giblert-Batio playing)!
Looking at it again I think this take does look much better than the way it felt at the time of recording it: I had the impression of “just making it to the other side” if it makes any sense!

But in general I am very happy about this DWPS solution, there is no way I can keep these short runs together with 3nps and two-way pickslanting (For two-way to work best, I always feel like I need to gain some momentum). For reference, I have practiced the 3nps version on and off for at least a year, and it still feels hit and miss and variable on a daily basis. In contrast, I got the DWPS version up and running in just a couple of days!

If anyone had the same issues, I would recommend giving a shot to these (or similar) alternative fingerings.

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Found this video with really great shots of Paul’s right hand:


Hi Tommo!

Great video - I’ve been watching his pick hand for a long time and I totally cracked pauls and malmsteens big trade secret the othe day :P.

Hint: it is their picks :slight_smile:


Cool tell me more :slight_smile:

From that video I got the impression he uses finger movements (bending/straightening the thumb? to navigate some string changes.

Hi Tommo

I’m not giving away the trick easily - sorry hahaha. But you can figure it out from this:

with TD the main riff is flat picked - meaning the pick hits the strings at Exactly 90 degrees perpendicular to the string - that gives the classic gilbert pick attack sound. You can do this a number of ways - bounce the pick around, move hand perpendicular to string (someone does this in a vid on utube) or - modify ur pick :slight_smile:

And actually that’s one of the puzzles I had with both gilberts and malmsteens picking - they both sound extremely loud. Gilbert has said in interviews that he picks very lightly - but produces a massive clean pick attack sound, and that’s a key point - flat picking does exactly that :slight_smile:

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I know the challenge is to strictly alternative pick this, but I’ve been trying to get it to sound ok with economy too. I think this could work with UWPS - you can conveniently mute the bottom string.

U U D - U U D - U U D - U U D - U D U D
U U D - U U D - U U D - U U D - D U U D

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I keep coming back to this song…Here’s how I pick it the intro part:

G - CC - F# - CC - G - CC - F# - CC - F#G
D - UD - D - UD - D - UD - D - UD - DU

Basically, every ascending string is always going to be a down stroke, and every descending string is always going to be an upstroke

From the video though it looks like Paul isn’t doing that, he’s doing upstrokes on the D string a lot

I do the same thing for the triplets – Eh, no I don’t nvm
I play them


Then back to a down stroke

He calls it his “cello” sound I think.

I wouldn’t say that it looks like its 90 degrees though…

I have never tried this but I looked at it for a minute and it seems to want to go as follows (T is trapped, X is escaped, and I’ll use upper-case for hitting the top string, and lower-case for hitting the bottom):

UT ut dt DX ut dx UT ut dx UT ut dx UT DX ut dx

But I’d have to try it, this could be absolute nonsense (note that there is lots of sweeping). :smile:

(And sorry for the calculus flashbacks for those of you looking at dx and dt.)


Cool stuff !!

I still have major problems with this song - it’s the bane of my life :stuck_out_tongue: .

He def starts on a upstroke - because the end part is a pinched harmonic - and starting on a up stroke - ends with a down stroke that enables the P.H.

My problem isn’t the speed or double hitting the downstroke accents anymore - it’s the tone,
I just can’t get the same damn tone - so frustrating!

Both tones for the two different version are seemingly impossible (Metal Dog and the Racer-X version), it’s the muting that’s the tricky part - that super tight response he gets just seems out of my reach.

I did notice the other day on his fret hand his index finger overreaches to the next fret - so I’m thinking he’s doing some kind crazy double muting. I have tried this and it’s getting close to “the sound” - but not perfect. I mute with the index finger of my fret hand - it hits the side of the string at the intersection of the third fret and give super tight control of the decay of that note.

I know one day I will be able to get it to sound good :slight_smile:

Upstroke pinches are possible, no?

I don’t want to say categorically they’re not… But considering they involve slightly muting the string with the edge of your thumb as you contact the string, it would be very, very, very hard to do.

I want to say Troy mentions this in the Crossroads lick he transcribed where he was confident that Vai ended a run on a downstroke because it was a pinch harmonic, though, so maybe it IS categoric.

Upstroke pinch harmonics can be done using the flesh of the index finger to substitute for the flesh of the thumb, at least according to random strangers on the internet. I’ve never gotten a good squeal that way, but I experimented enough to get a few subtle harmonics.

Some folks say they use a third finger to touch the string: hold the pick with thumb and index, use middle or third finger to set the harmonic. In this case, you could reach closer to the bridge for the harmonic. The harmonic touch point doesn’t need to coincide with the picking point.

Upstroke P.H.'s? possible but super tricky!
you can switch quickly to do the P.H.'s - but it goes against the grain of pure alternate picking and put’s my hand into “ambiguity mode” :slight_smile:

Finger muting - helped, but still sounded like gash!

So today I played around with economy picking and hoping, instead of pure rotation.

yup totally get that perfect muting sound he gets - life challenge complete :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s a right old pain - I still occasionally hit the upstroke accent - and it feels awkward (but it’s only been a few hours with this picking style) - but it ensures the pick hits 90 degrees perpendicular every time and gets the sound - that downstroke muting sound with alternate picking!

I also move my hand from elbow as part of the movement - this helps kill the muted notes at the exact right time so the accent notes sound clear.

One thing I’ve noticed with the economy hoping - it’s far far less physical effort (apart from the hop) - super tiny movements.