Char­lie Grif­fiths takes on one of the most tech­ni­cally awe­some and cre­atively in­spir­ing gui­tarists. Mr. Big him­self – Paul Gil­bert!

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Tech­ni­cally awe­some and cre­atively in­spir­ing: Char­lie Grif­fiths hon­ours Mr Big’s Paul Gil­bert.

Paul Gil­bert co-founded Mr. Big in 1988 with Billy Shee­han, ex of David Lee Roth’s band. Gil­bert was pre­vi­ously shred­ding along­side Bruce Bouil­let in Racer X, but Mr. Big al­lowed him to fo­cus more on song­writ­ing with tracks like Green Tinted Six­ties Mind and the acous­tic an­them To Be With You. From 1989 to 1996 Mr. Big re­leased four stu­dio al­bums and en­joyed world­wide suc­cess. As is of­ten the case with in­tense tour­ing sched­ules, ten­sions built up and Paul left in 1996 to pur­sue his solo ca­reer and re­con­vene with his mates in Racer X.

Mr. Big con­tin­ued with Richie Kotzen on gui­tar, record­ing two al­bums, Get Over It and Ac­tual Size, but dis­banded in 2002. How­ever, a re­union tour with Paul back on gui­tar led to two more al­bums: What If… in 2011 and The Sto­ries We Could Tell in 2014.

Paul’s style is as­tound­ing to wit­ness; he is ca­pa­ble of blis­ter­ing picked runs played with pre­ci­sion and power, but also a lot of at­ti­tude.

Ex­am­ple 1 high­lights his trade­mark, three-notes-per-string pat­terns, here ap­plied to the E Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale, rather than the more typ­i­cal seven-note scale shapes. The Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic con­tains a mix­ture of tones b3rd and stretches, which can be quite a chal­lenge even for av­er­age-sized hands.

Ex­am­ple 2 is ‘tinted’ slightly ‘green’ and fea­tures a melodic and su­per-catchy twohanded tap­ping lick played along one string; a great ex­am­ple of us­ing tap­ping mu­si­cally.

Our third riff echoes tracks on Mr. Big’s lat­est al­bum, The Sto­ries We Could Tell. The riff is played in a 16th-note shuf­fle feel and fea­tures open pow­er­chords on the lower strings. To spice things up there are some blis­ter­ing scales within the riffs; some­thing at which Paul is ex­ceed­ingly bril­liant.

Ex­am­ple 4 looks back to the early days with a riff us­ing var­i­ous po­si­tions of E Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic, per­formed with palm-muted al­ter­nate pick­ing and two-handed tap­ping. Our fi­nal riff has a more laid-back feel and demon­strates that al­ter­nate pick­ing doesn’t al­ways have to be full throt­tle, but is equally cool for more re­laxed sit­u­a­tions.

Our solo nods to­wards tracks like Col­orado Bull­dog and Amer­i­can Beauty. It starts in blues-rock style be­fore mov­ing onto a string-skipped arpeg­gio pas­sage and fin­ishes up with some trade­mark Gil­bert al­ter­nate picked sex­tu­plets.

Work through all the ex­am­ples slowly, mak­ing sure the notes sound clean and full be­fore speed­ing up – grad­u­ally. For some of the ex­am­ples a metronome, plenty of picks and a lot of pa­tience will be re­quired. NEXT MONTH Char­lie looks at 80s-90s glam-rock band War­rant, with gui­tarist Erik Turner


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