Paul Gilbert on playing rhythmically

The Mr. Big and Racer X axeman explains his approach to rhythmical guitar playing

Image 1 of 5 Paul Gilbert on playing rhythmically
Paul Gilbert
Image 2 of 5 Paul Gilbert on playing rhythmically
Lick 1: The trick here is to play aggressively to get the most out of each note. Get comfortable with the muted chords first, then the riff and then combine the two.
Image 3 of 5 Paul Gilbert on playing rhythmically
Lick 2: Visualise or sing the rhythm as you play through. The fret-by-fret chromatic movement shouldn't be too difficult to master, just make sure you mute the lower strings to stop any unwanted noise.
Image 4 of 5 Paul Gilbert on playing rhythmically
Lick 3: This riff is technically more difficult, so it might be wise to focus on one part to make sure your picking is correct (aim for alternate picking). Again notice how Paul visualises the riff being played as a drum solo, which inspires and helps him remember ideas.
Image 5 of 5 Paul Gilbert on playing rhythmically
Lick 4: This solo doesn't follow a set pattern, but uses similar ideas to the other three fills. The muted notes will help you maintain your groove throughout, so concentrate on making the pick hand comfortable before targeting all the notes.

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In this video lesson, shred guitar hero Paul Gilbert shows you his approach to playing guitar rhythmically.

The basic idea is to play a muted rhythm idea and then improvise along to it. This is easier said than done, but perhaps the easiest approach is to start as Paul does: with one note. This is actually quite difficult for most guitarists, and it can be particularly difficult for shredders who may be used to tearing up and down the fretboard without pause. Focusing on just one note can make you to think more about how you play, as you are forced to experiment with different ideas – such as dynamics (loud and soft), vibrato and pick attack – to keep the music interesting. Time and patience are required, however.

As you get better at this technique you can gradually start to introduce more notes, and this is where the fun really starts. The main riffs we've transcribed are all highly syncopated, so take a leaf out of Paul's book and visualise them being played on the drums. It's a great way of understanding difficult rhythms, and thinking about the guitar in a different way can help make your playing more exciting and original

These progressions will take a fair amount of time to master, so make sure you break them down into small, manageable chunks as there are a lot of techniques to cover. You can learn the examples by following our free tab; there's also a tab guide to help you follow the notation.

For more information on Paul, visit the official Paul Gilbert website.

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