How To Shred Like Paul Gilbert

Are you stuck in a rut with your guitar playing? Do you get tired of playing the same old sequences and licks using the same articulation?

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Are you stuck in a rut with your guitar playing?Do you get tired of playing the same old sequences and licks using the same articulation? If you answered yes, then I am going to show you how to spice up your playing by combining two common techniques: regular picking and legato playing to achieve very unique sounding guitar licks.

The first guitar player who comes to mind who uses this technique extensively is Paul Gilbert. Some of his most terrifying licks are based on combining picking with hammer ons and pull offs. I am going to explain to you the basics behind this technique and then show you how to build up to playing cooler sounding, more advanced runs and arpeggios.

The most fundamental patterns that we are going to build from will be examples 1 and 2 below.If you want to see videos of me playing each of these examples (fast and slow), visit my site and watch them in the free guitar lessons section available to my free newsletter subscribers.

Example 1 (this is a repeating pattern to be cycled over and over):

Example 2(also a repeating pattern to be cycled over and over):

Make sure that your accents are totally accurate and precise (as I play in the video and as shown in the tab above). The most important thing is the picking/articulation used here. It is NOT all legato, nor is every note picked. The key is combining the two techniques in a seamless way that produces a very "snappy" sound of the accents when they are emphasized with the pick in the midst of the legato notes rushing by.

To step things up, here is a new lick that builds from the previous 2 patterns. If you are familiar with Paul Gilbert's playing, you will probably recognize the sound of one of his classic licks.

Again, pay very close attention to the picking markings indicated, so that you know which notes to pick and which ones to play legato.

You need to keep your fretting hand very relaxed while you play it, and at the same time focus on making the pull offs loud and forceful (more about this below)

Example 3:

The next lick is one I came up with that combines picking and legato techniques using the basic ideas from the 3 examples above and some small position shifts.

Long sequence (example 4)

Make sure that your accents are precise to achieve the right sound (watch the free video on my site to hear it played correctly slowly and fast).Also, practice a longer lick like this one by breaking it into manageable sections before putting it together.

It may look very difficult, but if you practice it only a few notes at a time, you will get through it without too much trouble.

Arpeggio with string skipping.

This particular method of playing arpeggios was also made popular by the great Paul Gilbert. Rather than using sweep picking, he used string skipping to achieve a more precise and rhythmic effect.

The technique is quite challenging at first, so make sure to practice the regular scalar fragments shown above.

I will show you one of my favorite licks to play that will be used in one of my songs in my upcoming album.It shows some more musical applications to this cool technique.

If you want to watch a free video lesson that goes into detail about this challenging arpeggio lick, it is available at my site.

Otherwise, here is the tab below:

As you practice these licks, keep the following things in mind:

1. Your hammer ons and pull offs need to be loud.As I wrote in my (article on sweep picking), try to make them as loud as your picked notes. 2. It is very important to practice these licks both with distortion and without. This is important as practicing with distortion helps with increasing your dynamics, and practicing with distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise. 3. It is very effective to end the licks on a pinch harmonic (watch the video examples to see this).

Practicing this technique will help to open up a new range of sounds for your guitar playing. Be sure to begin applying these ideas to your soloing and improvising right away and you will greatly expand your creative possibilities.

Mike Philippov is a professional virtuoso guitarist, music composer and instructor. He is also a co-author of several instructional products, numerous articles and other free instructional resources available on MikePhilippov.com.

2009 Mike Philippov All Rights Reserved

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Heminator89
    Nice. I knew of this before hand. But having some basic licks to practise in one place is really a bonus.
    ldnovelo
    1570-Shred wrote: "practicing with distortion helps with increasing your dynamics, and practicing with distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise." Should this be practicing without distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise?
    I think he means "practicing withOUT distortion helps with increasing your dynamics, and practicing with distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise." when you use distortion it's easier to make legato and such, but it isnt the same on clean. when playing clean, you can pick some wrong note, but on dist it sounds like a mess.
    Beefmo
    vIsIbleNoIsE wrote: Slash181 wrote: practicing with distortion only helps a player with one thing and thats when they learn to pinch harmonic... distortion compresses, so it amplifies all the noise you wouldn't normally hear if you were playing without it. useful article!
    Absolutely true, compression raises the noise floor. Nothing wrong with playing distorted - infact most of the time its preferable, you react to what you hear coming out of your amp, if you practice unamped then when you record all amped up its going to sound wierd as hell because you're not used to it.
    Dynamight
    Actually I'm stuck on playing exactly the kind of stuff shown in this article all the time, minus the string skipping (I prefer sweeping).
    nemesis65
    Night_Lights : No. When practicing string skips or sweeps, using distortion exposes how sloppy you are because the extra noise really rings out.
    Very true, However i find that when practicing alternate picking, it often helps to stay in clean as you have no gain to amplify notes that are not picked as hard as others. This in turn is also beneficial to ones overall articulation.
    Night_Lights
    Slash181 wrote: Simsimius wrote: 1570-Shred wrote: "practicing with distortion helps with increasing your dynamics, and practicing with distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise." Should this be practicing without distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise? No, practicing with distortion encourages improved muting techniques. Also, a very nice article. Good examples, etc. practicing with distortion only helps a player with one thing and thats when they learn to pinch harmonic... seriously, playing acousticly helps with precision as you can hear what ur playing without a mask over it. you can also practice palm muting without distortion :S but sayin all this and without creating a fuss, everyone has their own techniques which help them progress to a standard they wish to achieve....
    No. When practicing string skips or sweeps, using distortion exposes how sloppy you are because the extra noise really rings out.
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    Slash181 wrote: practicing with distortion only helps a player with one thing and thats when they learn to pinch harmonic...
    distortion compresses, so it amplifies all the noise you wouldn't normally hear if you were playing without it. useful article!
    Slash181
    Simsimius wrote: 1570-Shred wrote: "practicing with distortion helps with increasing your dynamics, and practicing with distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise." Should this be practicing without distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise? No, practicing with distortion encourages improved muting techniques. Also, a very nice article. Good examples, etc.
    practicing with distortion only helps a player with one thing and thats when they learn to pinch harmonic... seriously, playing acousticly helps with precision as you can hear what ur playing without a mask over it. you can also practice palm muting without distortion :S but sayin all this and without creating a fuss, everyone has their own techniques which help them progress to a standard they wish to achieve....
    Simsimius
    Whoops, I meant "Practising". When you have lots of gain, poor muting technique is more obvious, so you will be forces to improve your muting technique.
    subzero364
    i really liked this lesson, some good licks to add to my practicing, plus im a paul fan so its all good
    Simsimius
    1570-Shred wrote: "practicing with distortion helps with increasing your dynamics, and practicing with distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise." Should this be practicing without distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise?
    No, practicing with distortion encourages improved muting techniques. Also, a very nice article. Good examples, etc.
    rockgodman
    Some pretty sweet typical gilbert licks. anybody wanting to sound like paul or even anybody who wants to be a good technical player should learn these licks.
    1570-Shred
    "practicing with distortion helps with increasing your dynamics, and practicing with distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise." Should this be practicing without distortion helps with controlling sloppy noise?
    apak
    cool thanks. Also try paul gilbert's exercises. There are a ton that are good. And petrucci's rock discipline
    troglodyte
    good lesson, i will revisit this once i can successively hammer-on and pull-off