I’ve been a fan of Paul Gilbert since I started playing guitar back in the late 80′s and almost wore out the VHS of his Intense Rock videos. I also saw him perform with Mr. Big on a couple of occasions including a great gig at the Birmingham Hummingbird in England in the early 90′s. I admire not only Paul’s technique and career but also his ability to be an entertaining and enthusiastic teacher.
The clinic was held at a venue called the C3 Church quite a way out of Sydney city centre which wasn’t ideal especially to those without a car but I guess with the fallout from Allans Billy Hyde going bust the promoters could have been left with a limited choice. The location aside the venue itself was actually nice and comfortable and easily accommodated the few hundred people who had turned up to see one of the greats. My only gripes were that there was an issue with the P.A. on the night which kept cutting in and out and that the competition winners who got up to jam with Paul at the end had to use a sub-standard amplifier which sounded horrible. I have since found out that the spare Marshall was faulty and that they were using the venue’s amp. I feel sorry for them, very hard to get inspired and play your best with a buzzy amp.
Paul’s clinic mainly focussed on Rhythmic Vocabulary which, if you are a fan of Paul, you will know this is something he feels very strongly about. Despite being known as a shredder, particularly from his days in Racer X, Paul is a very emotive player who can turn a very simple motif into a stunning phrase just using various rhythmic variations and left hand techniques. All of the ideas that he talked about were demonstrated with a simple example that he would then build on and talk about how to use hammer-ons and picking stroke direction to make the licks easier and more effective. In between examples Paul played a number of songs such as Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’ (above) with a band thrown together from local players, the drummer was excellent you wouldn’t know that he wasn’t a pro, very impressive.
At the end of the night Paul invited up a couple of competition winners to trade 2 bar licks with him on stage. At this point I think Paul should have told them to just keep it simple and to try and use some of the ideas that he had talked about for the past 2 hours but I guess nerves kick in at this point when you are stood in front of someone of his stature. Personally I would have insisted on using a clean tone to make them think about the notes and rhythm more than trying to impress Paul with shreddy licks but that’s just my opinion.
It is always great to learn from one of the masters of rock guitar and Paul is one of the best teachers out there, thank you to Paul Gilbert for visiting Australia. Hopefully next time the promotores won’t miss out the Capital of Aus, I know there were loads of people in Canberra who had hoped to see Paul there.