PAUL GILBERT INTERVIEW
Guitar Techniques|February 2022
The Ibanez shred king has recorded a Christmas album! ‘Twas is full of great chops and festive fun. Jason Sidwell caught up with Paul to ask about chords, playing slide, great christmas songs and emu picking!
Jason Sidwell

J S: ’Twas was inspired by classic Christmas albums by the likes of Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald. What are your top Christmas albums?

PG: Stevie Wonder's Someday At Christmas and The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album are both records that I like a lot. When I was hunting for chords and arrangements the Nat King Cole versions were my favourite overall. The arrangements are beautiful and sophisticated, and Nat's singing, tone, phrasing, and timing are fantastic. I also discovered The Ventures' Christmas Album. Their surf guitar version of Sleigh Ride is so good. There's no way I could top that, so I took that song off my list. I also checked out Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Amy Grant, The Supremes, and Bing Crosby. It was a real style adventure!

JS: This album might present the most sophisticated harmonic contexts you’ve played in. What can a rock guitarist gain from being able to play these types of chords and solo over them?

PG: It's as much ear training as it is learning the notes on the fingerboard. The first step is just to find something that you like. Then you spend time listening, and some time seeing how things work in the musical context. My ear was opened up to jazz harmony by listening to music that was very structured. The Melody Still Lingers On by Chaka Khan, was something that I immediately liked. But as a rock player, just about every chord was a mystery to me. I looked up a jazz guitar teacher, and we went through it together. That was about 10 years ago, and I'm still slowly climbing the foothills of the jazz mountain. But you've got to start somewhere, and I really recommend doing it with a song that you like.

JS: What was your equipment setup for recording the album?

PG: I wanted to be loud enough to feel my guitar percussively and to get feedback driven sustain. So I cut some holes in a Pignose amp, in order to mount it on a guitar stand. I had the speaker facing toward the floor, and I could keep it really close to my guitar, so I could get the feel of being loud, without actually being very loud. The band and I tracked live in the same room, and I knew that my guitar would be leaking into the drum mics a bit, so that was a way to keep my overall volume down. At the same time, I plugged into a Marshall SV-20C. The Marshall has a 12 speaker and a much more full-range sound than the 5 speaker on the Pignose, so it was important to have the Marshall hooked up at all times. I set both amps clean, then used pedals for distortion. I changed things up every song, but it was some combination of the JHS PG-14, the JHS Haunting Mids, the Supro Drive, the TC Electronic MojoMojo, and an Electro-Harmonix Hot Tubes Nano. I used quite a bit of the Fulltone Deja-Vibe, the Neo Instruments Mini Vent II Leslie simulator, the Catalinbread Callisto chorus, the Ibanez Flanger Mini, and my vintage A/DA Flanger. And for delay and reverb, I used TC Electronic Alter Ego and Arena pedals. My wah-wah was a Dunlop Cry Baby Junior. I used an assortment of Ibanez guitars, and put slide magnets on all of them. I use a Jim Dunlop 318 Chromed Steel slide, as those work great sticking to a neodymium bar magnet. Some of my guitars have been professionally routed for the magnet, and it’s glued in, under the pickguard. But there is a simple way that works for any guitar. First wrap the magnet in some gaffer tape, to give it some cushion from the metal slide hitting it. Then put a strip of foamy double-sided tape on the bottom of the magnet. Stick the magnet on your guitar's lower horn, and you're good to go. It can be removed with a plastic knife, and a guitar pick, without damaging the finish of your guitar, in case you want to change the location, or take it off. I should also mention that I used Ernie Ball RPS .008s. Having light strings allows me to get my action up high, so my slide playing gets a clear tone, and my strings are easy to grab for bending. I also use a very light pick. It's a Tortex ‘The Wedge’ .50mm. I love the tones in that pick.

JS: How long did you spend sourcing songs for the album?

PG: I started thinking about it in late spring and early summer. I really enjoyed listening to lots of different versions to find my favourite songs and arrangements. I also wrote a couple of new songs in the process.

JS: You wear the slide on your second finger which is less common than the third and fourth fingers...

PG: My second finger is the biggest. It has a longer reach than the others, so I think it's easier to keep the slide flat on the strings. I use really light gauge strings, so I have to make sure I'm not getting fret buzz by pushing down too much on the high strings. It seems easier to control the angle and the pressure with my second finger.

LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW!

JS: This is a rollercoaster, stylistically, dynamically and tempo-wise, including some crazy tapping...

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GUITAR TECHNIQUESView All

Justin Sandercoe

As one of the world’s most successful guitar teachers, Justin lends us his insight into learning and playing guitar. This month: All Ten Parts.

4 mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

Big Country

This month Martin Cooper nips over the border as he remembers Scottish rockers Big Country and the talented but troubled Stuart Adamson.

3 mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

10 Chicago Blues Greats

Inject some authenticity into your blues playing as we turn back the clock in the Windy City, and check out the styles of 10 of the Chicago blues greats. Andy Saphir is your guide.

10+ mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

Johnny Winter

This month Phil Short explores the virtuosic style of a Texas blues-rock firebrand with two uptempo, swinging 12-bars for you to learn.

3 mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

MITCH DALTON

The studio guitarist’s guide to happiness and personal fulfilment, as related by our resident session ace. This month: One Hit Blunders.

3 mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

PAUL GILBERT INTERVIEW

The Ibanez shred king has recorded a Christmas album! ‘Twas is full of great chops and festive fun. Jason Sidwell caught up with Paul to ask about chords, playing slide, great christmas songs and emu picking!

10+ mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

PAT MARTINO TRIBUTE

A personal recollection of a jazz guitar legend but also an old friend, from Milton Mermikides.

2 mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

THE CROSSROADS Blue Note Artists

John Wheatcroft explores some of the bluesy-jazz artists at the Blue Note label, with 10 classic and modern guitarists ranging from legends such as Grant Green, Kenny Burrell and Tal Farlow, to John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Julian Lage.

6 mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

OZ NOY Video Masterclass

In another exclusive GT video feature, we welcome back New York based fusion icon Oz Noy to solo over Jason Sidwell’s new track, Guzzle. If you want to solo with bluesy sophistication over a Stax styled stomper, Jon Bishop is your guide.

10+ mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022

FRANCISCO TARREGA Pepita

Declan Zapala brings you this upbeat polka, full of quintessential Spanish flavour, packed full of arpeggiated runs, punchy rhythms, and busy melodies to improve and refine your classical guitar skills.

4 mins read
Guitar Techniques
February 2022
RELATED STORIES

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

Designer Christine Gachot delights in an image of a room by André Arbus that, with its sophisticated lines and Jack-in-theBeanstalk design, is in regular rotation on her mood boards.

1 min read
Elle Decor
May 2022

Feeling, Sensitivity and Consciousnes

ROS PEARMAIN, Ph.D., has been integrating the fields of psychology, psychotherapy and spirituality, through both practical and philosophical approaches, for over 40 years. Here she explores the way a spiritual practice opens up the levels of feeling and sensitivity, as we expand into deeper and deeper levels of consciousness, and how our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies are integrated through the heart.

10 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
March 20201

How to Draw Dinosaurs

Putting it all together, the skull of Ankylosaurus

6 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Fall 2020 # 135

157 minutes with… Rudy Giuliani

What’s better than texting with Trump’s personal attorney? Bloody Marys.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
January 6–19, 2020

Mirroring Multicultural Britain

From its inception the BBC has featured entertainers of colour, but they were often reduced to "exotic” attractions. David Hendy explores how the corporation tried to include diverse voices, from the 1930s to the postwar years

7 mins read
BBC History Magazine
April 2022

A BERRY HAPPY ACCIDENT

This month David Patch explores the fascinating history of hybrid berries and highlights some of his favourite varieties

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
April 2022

COMODIDAD ELEVADA

La ropa deportiva ha dejado de ser exclusiva para el gimnasio. El athleisure ha llegado para quedarse y estas marcas lo demuestran con looks destinados a brillar.

3 mins read
LA GACETA
La Gaceta 252

Phil's 15ft tall Rudolph will go down in history

HOMEMADE FESTIVE TREAT FOR CHARITY

2 mins read
The Herald
December 18, 2021

Strange Times…

A PRIMER ON MALEFIC ENTITIES

10+ mins read
Nexus
December 2021 - January 2022

Rudolph” birthmark girl: Now I help others

SMILING CONNIE SHUNS CRUEL TAUNTS

1 min read
Daily Star Sunday
December 05, 2021