Paul Gilbert surprises guitarists with his newfound affinity for 0.50mm-gauge picks

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

Among the plethora of guitar-playing powers that Paul Gilbert has in his arsenal of jaw-dropping techniques, large parts of his playing is defined by rapid-fire picking patterns that boast elite enunciation and sharp attack.

As such, you’d be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that such passages were achieved using a thick guitar pick. However, in a recent post on Instagram, Gilbert has shut down all our theories by revealing he uses a – wait for it – 0.50mm gauge.

Turns out, the fusion wizard doesn’t need a heavy pick for his playing, and instead prefers the tone and attack of thinner iterations.

“Tortex has crafted some “Pie Baby'' picks from some of my drawings from the Argument About Pie Video. .050mm has my favorite tone and thwap,” commented Gilbert on the post.

Safe to say, Gilbert’s snap surprised a number of social media axe slingers, with one commenting, “Can’t believe you use such a light pick with your picking attack!” Another observed, “A nice stiff pick definitely helps with the attack rather than a thin pick, but what the hell do I know… Paul Gilbert is the goat.”

Last year, the Argument About Pie mastermind recalled that he originally switched to thinner picks after running out of heavier ones.

“I had a box of heavy-gauge picks and I ran out of those, so I went a step lighter, and I ran out of those, so I started using the thin ones,” he recalled. “Pick scrapes are so ferocious on a thin pick – that in itself almost makes it worth it. That, and the more I got used to it, the more I found myself strumming acoustic-style through the solos.

“Kind of like when Hendrix would do Killing Floor. There are solos going on but he’s not picking individual strings, he’s just banging away. So thin picks are good for that stuff.” 

As if we weren’t already floored by Gilbert’s expert execution and precise picking patterns, the revelation that he uses such a lightweight gauge just makes it all the more impressive.

It remains to be seen whether the picks shown in the post will be released by Tortex, so keep your eyes peeled if you fancy picking some up later down the line to do your best Gilbert impression.

Paul Gilbert's upcoming album Argument About Pie, on which he played every instrument, will be released June 4.

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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.