The Leads Are Weak: Hail to the King, Baby!
I’m back for the attack, (Dokken style) after a long couple of tours overseas. I want to thank all the people that came out to support the shows and the people that found me and mentioned this very column with words of encouragement. Thanks for not being dickheads. As for the rest of you, well… Anyhooooo, this time around I’ve got a technique that is very simple and very popular amongst the shred kings. It doesn’t really have a name as far as I know; I refer to it as Gilbert picking.
I’m not even qualified to be in the same fucking area code as Paul Gilbert, but I’ve been listening to a lot of his material lately and he’s got to be one of my favorite guitar players, so I figured I’d dabble in some of his signature picking style. It’s basically a combination of strict, tight alternate picking, and hammer ons and pull offs to create a kind of “pulse” to a run or musical idea. It’s also useful for playing fast as shit, which is very apparent by listening to Paul use the technique.
This idea is very well covered by Paul, so by all means check out his own videos on this technique. He has a bunch that explain it and show other, easier examples. But here’s my take on a Gilbert picking idea: the basic way to break down the lick is to take it by the section. This thing here is in B, and has a pentatonic feel to it, so take it by each individual chunk and practice it separately. You know the deal, slow it down and feel the pulse. Each section starts with a down then up and then pulls. Then I do another up, then down then up, up, down. So basically what you have is an economy style picking pattern with a few notes not being picked. When the lick recycles around, the picking is going to start on another down, so the picking is very cyclical and very pulse oriented. The key to economy picking and mixing picking styles is to feel the pulse of the pattern. I like the mixing of picking styles as it makes picking easier and more fluid for certain licks and the whipping feel of the lick is very cool as opposed to just picking or just legato.
You can use this hybrid of economy picking, alternate picking and legato for just about anything and it’s a very fun technique to master in order to grease up licks and add some interesting ideas to improvisation. Besides, who DOESN’T love Racer X? Try it out. Gofuckyourself.