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PAUL GILBERT: Biography, Guitars and Pedalboard

Paul Gilbert is an American guitar virtuoso who enjoys extraordinary technical ability, being among the fastest guitarists on the planet. Being also a renowned guitar teacher, being among his most outstanding students Buckethead, or Akira Takasaki.

Enjoying great respect from the public and specialized prey for his extraordinary technique and mastery, he is also one of the most beloved guitarists for his good sense of humor and sympathy.

Paul Gilbert: Biography and Team

Paul Brandon Gilbert was born in 1966 in the town of Carbondale, Illinois. But he grew up mainly in the city of Greensburg, in the state of Pennsylvania.

At 5 years of age, he began to play the guitar but left the practice until he returned to the instrument at 11 years old. Initially learning in a self-taught way, although he would end up taking guitar lessons, it didn't take long for him to begin to show signs of his virtuosity.

Forming his first bands in the small town of Greensburg in his teens, appearing at just 15 years of age in Guitar Player magazine in the company of none other than Yngwie Malmsteen. Being the virtuoso guitarist among his main influences like Eddie Van Halen. Although he admits having been influenced by bands that have little to do with his styles like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, or The Ramones.

Contacting when he was still a teenager with the renowned producer Mike Varney, considered to be responsible for the popularity and rise of shredder guitarists in the 80s.

Both remained in contact for some years until in 1984 Gilbert moved to Los Angeles to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) as a student.

Quickly becoming a true idol given his young age, his wide repertoire, quality of interpretation, advanced technique, and extreme speed. Being hired as a professor by the very institution he had attended to acquire knowledge, just one year after his arrival at the academy.

At the same time leading Paul Gilbert the Heavy Metal band formed in Los Angeles, Racer X. The group published its first album in 1986 (Street Lethal). Achieving important recognition in the premises of the city of Los Angeles, recording in 1987 his second studio publication (Second Heat). 

After leaving David Lee Roth's band in 1988, bassist Billy Sheehan began to form a new group with the help of Mike Varney, recruiting vocalist Eric Martin.

Shortly after Paul Gilbert would leave his previous band to join this group, Racer X dissolving a year after Paul's departure. Definitively forming the band Mr. Big after the arrival of drummer Pat Torpey.


Publishing in 1989 a first and homonymous album that would not have major repercussions in the country of origin of the group, but that would enjoy a recognized success in Japan.

Getting the band to fame in 1991 with the publication of their second album (Lean Into It). Reaching number one on the Billboard chart after the release of the second single from the album ("To Be with You").

Gilbert would continue within the group until the end of the '90s, releasing a total of four studio albums with this group.

Until in 1997, he left Mr. Big to start his solo career, publishing in 1998 his first solo album (King of Clubs) in which some of his old Racer X partners participated.

Paul Gilbert would be replaced in Mr. Big by the talented guitarist Richie Kotzen, although the band would end up breaking up in 2002.

After Paul Gilbert's second studio release as a soloist (Flying Dog), Racer X would reunite in 1999, releasing the band that same year a new studio album (Technical Difficulties).

Launching a total of three new studio editions in this second stage, until at the end of 2002 they decided to separate indefinitely to focus on their respective musical projects.

Continuing Gilbert with his continuous solo publications and collaborating on other projects during the first decade of 2000, including his participation in 2007 in the famous project known as G3 with John Petrucci and Joe Satriani.

Until in 2009 Mr. Big met again, publishing the group a new album at the beginning of 2011 (What If…).

Publishing in 2017 what is so far the band's last studio edition (Defying Gravity), without disdaining their continuous publications as a soloist, counting so far with 15 studio editions, the last published at the end of 2018 (Behold Electric Guitar).

Regarding his emotional life, Paul Gilbert has been married for 5 years to Patricia Patterson. He has been married since 2005 to keyboardist Emi Gilbert who usually accompanies him in his solo performances. The couple welcomed their first child in 2014.

Paul Gilbert: Guitars, Pedals, and Amps

Paul Gilbert is a regular user of Ibanez guitars, having his signature FRM series, such as the Ibanez FRM100 with single pickups, or the Ibanez FRM150 with two dual-coil pickups and a single pickup in the center position.

Ibanez FRM 100 and Ibanez FRM 150 Electric Guitars

Another of their signature series is the PGM models, like the Ibanez PGM401 with two humbucker pickups and also a fixed bridge. The Ibanez PGM80P with HSH pickup configuration and semi-floating bridge, or the Ibanez PGM300 with a floating bridge.

Ibanez PGM80P and Ibanez PGM300 Electric Guitars

His favorite pickups are the DiMarzio, opting for the Injector or DiMarzio Area 67 model in single pickups, and the Air Classic, Paf Pro, or the Super Distortion in double coil pickups. Lately introducing the signature DiMarzio PG-13 model in Mini-humbucker format.

Paul Gilbert is one of the few shred guitarists who tend to opt for the fixed bridge for his guitars.

Although it uses other resources such as gluing four prongs and putting them on the tip of a drill.

The strings used are from the Ernie Ball brand, model Paradigm Regular Slinky 10-46 gauge. And the picks used are the Dunlop Tortex 0.60mm thick.

In the early part of his career, his favorite amp was the Laney GH100L, but later he would switch to Marshall amps such as:

 - Vintage Modern 2466

 - 2061X

 - JCM 2000

Although he has also used other brands such as the Germino Lead 55, or the Kemper Profiler Head.

Among the effects pedals you have used are:

 - Ibanez Tubescreamer TS808 and TS9 Overdrives

 - Delays Boss DD-5 and MXR Carbon Copy

 - Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble

 - Xotic Effects AC Booster

 - Ibanez AF2 Airplane Flanger Paul Gilbert

 - Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Electric Mistress

 - MXR Phase 90 Vintage ´74

 - Keeley Nova Wah LE

 - Homebrew Electronics HBE CPR Compressor

Paul Gilbert demonstrates in each of his performances a great virtuosity not only for his technical ability, but also for his ability to move skillfully through a number of musical genres such as Metal, Blues, Pop, Funk, Hard Rock, or Jazz.

But Paul Gilbert is not simply knowledge and technique, showing great taste in the interpretation of all these musical genres (and maybe some more). Being on his own merits in the select club of the best.

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