School of Shred: Paul Gilbert on the Art and Science of Playing Lead Guitar
In this lesson, Paul Gilbert discusses the art and science of playing lead guitar.
Gilbert prefers to use his index finger to tap, favoring an upward flick to produce the initial pull-off. Experiment with your index or middle finger, using either an upward or downward flick. Your tapping hand will experience more up-and-down movement than usual, so try to avoid looking at your fretting hand at all, if possible.
FIGURE 20 is a tapping lick that incorporates both an ascending and descending arpeggio shape. In FIGURE 21, the guitarist introduces his unique “Gilbertism” of tapping and hammering on at the same fret, in this case the fourth. The effect created in this example is a double effect on the B note. Gilbert uses this technique to great effect in many of his blazing solos. As he breaks it down in the video, you can see that it’s more a matter of coordination than hand speed.
Notice in both figures that Gilbert uses the same pattern on each three-note shape. You should see the potential of using this idea on different strings and scales. In FIGURE 22, Gilbert takes this idea up the neck on the G string, staying within the A natural minor scale (A B C D E F G). The main difficulty here is getting the tapping finger out of the way of the fret hand’s third finger as both hands move up the string. Strangely, you may find this lick slightly easier to coordinate than the previous one, even though it looks more difficult!
In FIGURE 23, Gilbert applies the same idea to the A minor pentatonic sale to make it sound more “rock.” Since the shapes are bigger, with the notes being spread further apart, there will be more movement between both hands, so start off by learning two or three shapes at a time and at a slower speed, then connect them and crank up the tempo. You’ll find it helpful to first get acquainted with the fret-hand shapes before adding the tapped notes. This will make it easier to work out the most comfortable fingering patterns for each. Try moving this idea onto other strings, and introduce new scales for variety.
To make your fret-hand shifts easy, use your index finger to slide to the note you have just vacated. You should be able to see this from the side without looking away from your tapping finger. Similarly, your fretting hand doesn’t move as soon as you change shape; it simply taps the same fret as the highest note in the previous shape.
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