Paul Gilbert now drills holes in his picks for better grip – and you can see why in his latest blazing clip

Paul Gilbert
(Image credit: C Brandon/Redferns via Getty)

Not only is Paul Gilbert considered one of the finest electric guitar players of our time, he’s also a highly reputable source for crazy accessories and ingenious modifications. 

Case in point is his almost religious use of a power drill – evident in his Guitar Techniques track, That’s Too Much Like Work – to which he attaches a guitar pick for some rapid-fire picking sounds.

Now, taking to Instagram, Gilbert has given his followers an insight into his latest accessory innovation, which he says could be the key to better grip and quicker picking: drilling holes in guitar picks.

“I drilled four holes in my pick, and it’s easier to grip it,” he wrote. “11/64” seems like the drill bit that works the best. Makita drill, of course.”

Not only did Gilbert detail his latest find, he also showcased his drilled pick in action, using it for yet another blistering fretboard run that emanated from his retro Ibanez ST-300. 

Now, Gilbert is revered for his picking speed, but his latest example is quite frankly off the charts, containing not only lightning-quick right hand action but mesmerizing left-hand speed that sees him almost teleport across the 'board.

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As for what pick Gilbert specifically modified, it’s likely the Mr. Big guitarist took the drill bit to a 0.5mm-gauge piece – a pick size that has been Gilbert’s go-to gauge for quite some time now.

Back in 2021, Gilbert surprised guitarists by revealing his rapid picking, elite enunciation and sharp attack aren't harnessed using solid, robust picks, but are actually the result of using wafer-thin 0.5mm alternatives.

When he made the revelation, the guitarist showed off some custom white “Pie Baby” picks, saying the lighter-than-usual weight gave him his “favorite tone and thwap”. And, though it’s hard to tell, it looks as though Gilbert is using a white pick in his latest video, meaning it’s entirely possible he’s still sticking with the ultra-thin examples.

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Having said that, with four holes drilled into them, we can’t imagine these modded Pie Baby picks have a very long shelf life, so we wouldn’t blame Gilbert if he switched to something heavier. The results speak for themselves, after all. 

As well as demonstrating the perks of using a drilled guitar pick – excuse us while we dig out an 11/64" drill bit – Gilbert also gave us another glimpse of one of his other brilliant innovations: his magnetic body-equipped slide holder.

Blink and you’ll miss it the first time, but if you watch it again you’ll realize the slide didn’t just magically appear out of thin air – instead, the Racer X virtuoso whisks it away from a magnetic strip attached to the lower bout of his ST-300 in one swift motion. We imagine that’s a lot harder to pull off than it looks, though.

To see some more close-up shots of Gilbert’s brilliance in action, head over to his Instagram page (opens in new tab).

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.