Gilbert performing with Mr. Big in 2011
November 6, 1966 |
Carbondale, Illinois United States
|Genres||Instrumental rock, heavy metal, hard rock, neo-classical metal, speed metal, progressive metal, pop rock|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards, percussion, harmonica|
|Labels||Universal Japan, Shrapnel|
|Associated acts||Mr. Big, Racer X, G3, Yellow Matter Custard, The Electric Fence|
|Ibanez PGM signature series
Paul Brandon Gilbert (born November 6, 1966 in Illinois, U.S.) is an American musician, best known as the guitarist for Racer X and Mr. Big, as well as many solo albums and numerous collaborations and guest appearances with other musicians.
Gilbert has been voted number 4 on a list in GuitarOne magazine of the "Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time", as well as a spot in Guitar World's "50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time" list.
Gilbert was raised in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Around 1981-82, he first contacted Mike Varney, founder of Shrapnel Records, asking for a gig with Ozzy Osbourne. At the time, Varney couldn't think why Osbourne would want a 15 year old guitarist, but after listening to his demo he changed his mind. Gilbert was featured in Guitar Player magazine at the age of fifteen. They talked for the next 3 years, until Paul went to L.A. for the GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology), and then was ready to record Racer X's debut album Street Lethal.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1985, Racer X originally comprised Paul Gilbert (guitar), Juan Alderete (bass), Harry Gschoesser (drums) and Jeff Martin (vocals). They were heavily influenced by Judas Priest and Gilbert's playing was reminiscent of Yngwie Malmsteen, displaying fast-driven solos with extreme-level technique. Gschoesser was replaced by Scott Travis (later known for being the drummer for Judas Priest) in 1986, and Bruce Bouillet was added as a second guitar player. Bouillet was a very skilled player, as he had to play over Gilbert's always difficult and challenging phrases. Paul Gilbert gained recognition as one of the fastest guitar players in the world due to incredibly technical pieces like "Technical Difficulties" "Frenzy", "Scarified", "Y.R.O." and "Scit Scat Wah". Gilbert left Racer X in 1988. Racer X carried on for a short time with guitarist (and fellow GIT alum) Chris Arvin and vocalist Oni Logan (later of George Lynch's Lynch Mob) when singer Jeff Martin departed to play drums in Jake E. Lee's Badlands, in which he replaced Eric Singer who left to join Alice Cooper. Shortly thereafter, the members of the re-invented Racer X went their separate ways. The original band would eventually reform (although without Bruce Bouillet, who in-turn did produce the first reunion record).
Paul contacted the members of Racer X, and all agreed to return, with the exception of Bruce Bouillet. In mid-1999 the band recorded the album Technical Difficulties. Technical Difficulties went gold in Japan, and Racer X's new record label requested a follow-up. In late 2000, the band released another album, Superheroes. The record was mixed by former Racer X guitarist, Bruce Bouillet.
In order to further capitalize on their new-found success in Japan, Universal Japan requested that the band record a live show for another live CD and DVD. On May 25, 2001, the band played their first live performance in thirteen years to a sold-out crowd at the famed Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. The show was recorded for both audio and video, and in 2002, both the CD and DVD were released under the name Snowball of Doom.
In January 2002, in support of Superheroes and Snowball of Doom, Racer X toured Japan and Taiwan. The band performed these shows in their Superheroes costumes, and the final show, in Yokohama, was hastily recorded in two tracks on the sound board and was to be later released as Snowball of Doom 2. Later that year, Universal Japan pushed for another Racer X release. In October 2002, all four members of Racer X gathered at Gilbert's house in Las Vegas to record Getting Heavier, which was sold alongside Snowball of Doom 2 in a package deal. Although the album was a successful release in Japan, some fans were disappointed with the lighter tracks, which resembled a Paul Gilbert solo album more so than a traditional Racer X album.
Racer X performed at the 2009 NAMM show at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Andy Timmons and his band opened the show, followed by a solo set from Paul Gilbert, and finally Racer X. The Racer X lineup consists of Paul Gilbert, Scott Travis, Jeff Martin and John Alderete.
When Billy Sheehan left David Lee Roth's band in 1988, he joined with Paul Gilbert, who had left his former band, Racer X. They founded Mr. Big, with Pat Torpey on drums and singer Eric Martin. The band was initially a huge success in Japan, and became famous internationally in 1991, with the release of their second album, Lean Into It. This album featured the ballad "To Be With You", which received strong media play and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Gilbert continued playing in Mr. Big until the late 1990s. He left the band in 1997 to pursue a solo career, and was replaced by Richie Kotzen. Mr. Big disbanded in 2002.
In June 2009, Paul Gilbert reunited with original Mr. Big members; Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan, and Pat Torpey, for a world wide reunion tour. They recorded a new album with producer Kevin Shirley. titled What If.... The album was released in Japan on Dec. 15th, 2010, in Europe on Jan. 21st, 2011 and in the U.S. in Feb. 2011. A tour to support the album kicked off at The House of Blues, in Hollywood, CA on April 2, 2011, followed by several dates in Japan in the same month. In May and June 2011, the tour continues in China, Korea, The Philippines and Europe.
In May 2003 he played in an only twice-performing project called Yellow Matter Custard, a Beatles cover band consisting also of Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard), and Matt Bissonette. In February 2011 Yellow Matter Custard re-formed for 3 Nights Across America. Kasim Sulton replaced Matt Bissonette in the 2011 shows due to other commitments. They took their name from a Beatles lyric in "I Am the Walrus": "Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye".
He rejoined Portnoy along with Dave LaRue and Daniel Gildenlöw for a Led Zeppelin tribute band called Hammer of the Gods in November 2003. The same year, he toured Japan with Linus Of Hollywood, TJ Helmerich, and Scot Coogan in support of his solo albums Burning Organ, Paul the Young Dude/The Best of Paul Gilbert, and Gilbert Hotel. In September 2005, he joined Portnoy, Sean Malone, and Jason McMaster in the Rush tribute band Cygnus and the Sea Monsters. In May 2006, he joined Portnoy, Gary Cherone, and Billy Sheehan to form Amazing Journey: A Tribute to The Who, playing three shows. The band (excluding Sheehan) destroyed their equipment after the show in homage.
He was also revealed to be the guest guitarist on the Neal Morse solo album, Sola Scriptura. In 2007, Paul Gilbert toured with Bruce Bouillet for promotion of his first instrumental album, Get Out of My Yard, which was released in 2006. Also joining him was his wife, Emi Gilbert, on keyboards. Paul Gilbert also joined Joe Satriani and John Petrucci in the 2007 G3 tour. This was the 5th North American G3 run and the 12th tour worldwide since its inception.
On January 23, 2008, Paul released an instrumental CD titled Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar. It was released in Europe on March 31, 2008, and in America on April 8, 2008. This is Paul's second instrumental album.
Paul with Racer X performed at the 2009 NAMM show at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Andy Timmons and his band opened the show, followed by a solo set from Gilbert, and finally Racer X. This Racer X lineup consisted of Gilbert, Scott Travis, Jeff Martin and John Alderete.
On June 30, 2010, Gilbert's new album Fuzz Universe was released in Japan, with a release in America and Europe soon after. It is Paul's 3rd solo album being entirely instrumental. A cover of Johnny Cash's "Leave That Junk Alone" is featured as a Japanese bonus track.
Influences and Style
Talking about his influences, Paul mentions many different artists, including: Randy Rhoads, Kim Mitchell, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Iommi, Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page, Robin Trower, Ritchie Blackmore, Pat Travers, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Judas Priest, Akira Takasaki, Steve Clark, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, and The Ramones. Paul has stated many times that he was heavily influenced by his uncle Jimi Kidd who was instrumental in getting Paul interested in playing the guitar. He is also a great fan of The Beach Boys and The Beatles. He states on the Space Ship Live DVD that George Harrison is one of his favorite guitar players. Guitar World magazine declared him one of 50 of the world's fastest guitarists of all time, along with Buckethead, Eddie Van Halen, and Yngwie Malmsteen.
Gilbert composes music in a wide variety of styles including pop, rock, metal, blues and funk, but is perhaps best known for his versatility and speed. He is noted in particular for his efficient picking and his tendency to pick many notes rather than relying on legato for fast passages.
Paul Gilbert wrote his own section of the British guitar magazine, Total Guitar, where he normally demonstrated guitar techniques in the magazine and accompanying CD. Even before that, he contributed instructional articles to Guitar Player Magazine in a late 1980s/early 1990s series entitled "Terrifying Guitar 101". His period of working with Total Guitar spanned thirty-one issues until the November 2006 issue. Paul also teaches at the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) regularly, and is also an "honorary dean" of the GIT division in Japan. Paul visits Japan, enjoying the lifestyle like his Shrapnel labelmate Marty Friedman, who still lives in Japan and speaks Japanese fluently. Gilbert is known for his instructional videos, which are often comical in nature. One of his instructional videos includes him pulling a rabbit out of his guitar, putting his guitar in a straightjacket and having presents thrown at him by members of the film crew. Paul also was, for a short time, the guitar teacher of Buckethead, Joey Tafolla, Russ Parrish (A.K.A. Satchel from Steel Panther), Michelle Meldrum (The late wife of Europe guitarist John Norum) and Nicole Couch of Phantom Blue. Gilbert now writes a column for Premier Guitar entitled "Shred Your Enthusiasm".
Paul Gilbert primarily uses his Ibanez PGM signature series guitars, identified by the unique painted on "F-holes". Although earlier PGM models featured the Ibanez Lo-Pro/Edge double locking tremolo system, many of his guitars (such as his main PGM300) were modified to accommodate a fixed bridge after he stopped using whammy bars in the early 90s, hence the Ibanez PGM301 guitar. Along with his signature guitars, Gilbert often uses his sticker-covered "Dino" Ibanez RG750, in addition to a wide variety of Ibanez solidbody and semi-hollow electric guitars. Recently, Gilbert has been using Ibanez "Fireman" (a reversed-body Ibanez Iceman with single-coil pickups and an extra cutaway) guitars, which he designed himself. A red version The Ibanez Fireman is to be mass-produced for consumers at a more affordable price than the Ibanez PGMFRM1 (current Paul Gilbert signature Fireman) in Fall 2011.
Regarding amplifiers, Gilbert used A/DA preamps (A/DA MP-1) and rack effects units early in his career prior to switching to Laney amplifiers. He praised the Laney amps as having "the best natural distorted sound of any tube amp ever heard" Since the G3 2007 tour however, Gilbert stated that playing with Joe Satriani and John Petrucci inspired him to take a closer look at his own guitar sound. As a result of his search he found the Marshall Vintage Modern series. He currently uses the Marshall Vintage Modern 2266c combo amps. Paul now uses the Marshall JMD:1 (specifically JMD501) amplifier along with his Vintage Modern amplifier. Paul uses Jim Dunlop Tortex picks, of which he prefers the orange (.60mm) picks. As far as cables Paul uses Bullet Cable 30' Coiled Cables, Bullet Cable SLUG DIY solderless patch cables for his pedalboard and effects.
Paul has been known to use the following effects:
Paul also used a modified vintage A/DA Flanger from the 1980s (source: Berlin VIP session interview). You can hear it on tracks like 'Bucket of Rocks', and he also uses it on the 'Snowball of Doom' DVD. Paul stated the flanger had been modified. He would set the flanger to self oscillate, which would make the pitch of the resulting signal alternate up and down to create a sound similar to a dive bomb or a pull up on a whammy bar. Unfortunately, during Paul's 2008 European tour, his trusty A/DA Flanger broke. Thankfully, before the pedal broke, he and Ibanez collaborated to make a similar pedal, with both a regular flanger mode and a mode which can be set to create a close approximation of the A/DA pedal's sound, and the pedal has been released as the Ibanez Paul Gilbert AF-2 Airplane Flanger. He also uses the Psilocybe phaser and THC chorus pedals from Home Brew Electronics.
In the intro to "Get Out Of My Yard" Paul uses a Boss DD-3 Delay pedal to achieve the altered pitch looped effect at the beginning of the track. This was also demonstrated by Paul on the instructional DVD of the same name.
He is also famous for using a Makita cordless drill with three picks mounted on the end of it, which he used most famously on the Mr. Big track "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy".
In 2009, Ibanez released a new PGM model, the Ibanez PGM401, which is rather different from most of Paul's previous models, with an ash body (most of his previous models were made of basswood, although his PGM800 guitar was made of lightweight ash, a similar but different wood than that used in the PGM401), Trifade Burst finish, Cosmo Black hardware and a regular headstock replacing the reversed one of the previous models. Also, rather than the DiMarzio PAF Pro, Tone Zone and Super Distortion pickups used in his previous models, the PGM401 comes with Paul's favorite humbucker model for the past five years, the DiMarzio Air Classic, arranged in a dual humbucker arrangement. Paul has stated that he had the bridge pickup moved 1mm closer to the neck, which he said results in a warmer and thicker sound, particularly for the high notes he often uses in soloing. The F-holes are 3% smaller, to make the look more balanced with the pickup mounting rings. But perhaps the biggest difference from other current Ibanez guitar models, is that the PGM401 uses the old late-1980s neckjoint, which is thicker than the current neckjoints on other Ibanez guitars.
In 2011, Ibanez released a new model for Gilbert the FRM100. The design of the FRM100 was inspired by many hours of playing and performance by Paul Gilbert with the original Ibanez Fireman model featuring a distinctive reverse Iceman body outline.
Guitar Rig & Signal Flow
A detailed gear diagram of Paul Gilbert's 2000 guitar rig is well-documented.
Gilbert currently resides in Los Angeles, California with his second wife, Emi Gilbert, whom he married in 2005.  Prior to this, Gilbert was married from between 1993 to 1998 to Patricia Patterson.
- King of Clubs (1998; Japan Oricon Album Chart #28)
- Flying Dog (1998; Japan Oricon Album Chart #23)
- Alligator Farm (2000; Japan Oricon Album Chart #24)
- Raw Blues Power (2002; w/ Jimi Kidd; Japan Oricon Album Chart #94)
- Burning Organ (2002; Japan Oricon Album Chart #27)
- Gilbert Hotel (2003)
- Space Ship One (2005; Japan Oricon Album Chart #53)
- Get Out of My Yard (2006; Japan Oricon Album Chart #52)
- Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar (2008; Japan Oricon Album Chart #39)
- United States (2009; w/ Freddie Nelson)
- Fuzz Universe (2010; Japan Oricon Album Chart #57)
- Vibrato (2012)
- Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (1991; Japan Oricon Album Chart #59)
- Tough Eskimo (2007)
- Beehive Live (1999; Japan Oricon Album Chart #72)
- Acoustic Samurai (2003; Japan Oricon Album Chart #94)
- Paul the Young Dude/The Best of Paul Gilbert (2003; Japan Oricon Album Chart #31)
with Racer X
See: Racer X Discography
- Street Lethal (1986)
- Second Heat (1987)
- Technical Difficulties (1999)
- Superheroes (2000)
- Getting Heavier (2002)
with Mr. Big
See: Mr. Big Discography
- Black Sheep - Trouble in the Streets- (1985)
- Missing Lynx - Atomic Basement Tapes (1985)
- Darrell Mansfield Band - Revelation (1985)
- Jeff Berlin - Pump It! (1986)
- Joey Tafolla - Out of the Sun (1987)
- Todd Rundgren - Nearly Human (1989)
- Various artists - Guitars That Rule the World (1992)
- Samad - Samad (1994)
- Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus - Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus (1996)
- Akira Takasaki - Wa (1996)
- Gregg Bissonette - Gregg Bissonette (1998)
- Pat Torpey - Odd Man Out (1998)
- Pat Torpey - Y2K: Odd Man Out (1999)
- Various artists - In Rock Soundtrack (2000)
- Hughes Turner Project - HTP (2002)
- Various artists - Battle Gear III: The Edge (2003)
- Kim Fox - Return to Planet Earth (2003)
- Various artists - Guitar Wars (2003)
- Marco Minnemann - Mieze (2004)
- Pintsize - Five Feet... No Inches (2005; credited as "Dick Image")
- Marco Minnemann - Contraire de la chanson (2006)
- Wisely - Parador (2006)
- Jeff Pilson's War and Peace - Light at the End of the Tunnel (2006)
- Jeff Martin - The Fool (2006)
- Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura (2007)
- Neal Morse - Lifeline (2008)
- MC Lars - This Gigantic Robot Kills - (2008)
- Bowling for Soup - Merry Flippin' Christmas Volume 1 (2009)
- Neal Morse - Momentum (2012)
Tribute album appearances
- Various artists - Smoke on the Water: A Tribute (1994)
- Various artists - Jeffology: A Guitar Chronicle (1996)
- Various artists - Merry Axemas: A Guitar Christmas (1997)
- Various artists - Humanary Stew: A Tribute to Alice Cooper (1999)
- Various artists - Warmth in the Wilderness: A Tribute to Jason Becker (2001)
- Yellow Matter Custard - One Night in New York City (2003)
- Various artists - Spin the Bottle: an All-Star Tribute to Kiss (2004)
- Various artists - Numbers from the Beast: An All Star Tribute to Iron Maiden (2005)
- Hammer of the Gods - Two Nights in North America (2006)
- Cygnus and the Sea Monsters - One Night in Chicago (2006)
- Amazing Journey - One Night in New York City (2007)
- Yellow Matter Custard - One More Night In New York City (2011)
- Intense Rock Jams - Sequences & Techniques VHS version (1988)
- Intense Rock II featuring Paul Gilbert VHS version (1991)
- Guitars from Mars Japanese DVD release
- Guitars from Mars II Japanese DVD release
- Terrifying Guitar Trip VHS version
- Eleven Thousand Notes DVD
- Guitar Wars DVD
- Space Ship Live DVD (2005)
- Complete Intense Rock DVD (2006)
- Terrifying Guitar Trip DVD (2006)
- Get Out Of My City Guitar Instructional DVD/VCD (2007)
- One Night In New York City - Yellow Matter Custard (2003)
- Two Nights In North America - Hammer Of The Gods (2006)
- One Night In Chicago - Cygnus And The Sea Monsters (2006)
- One Night In New York City - Amazing Journey (2007)
- Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar Guitar Instructional DVD And Shred Annex (2008)
- The Last Note of Freedom
- "Top Shredders of all Time". Randy Ciak. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time". GuitarWorld. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- Glauber, Gary (May 20, 2005). "Paul Gilbert: Space Ship One". PopMatters. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
- "Racer X To Perform At NAMM". UltimateGuitar.com. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "MR. BIG Begins Recording New Album". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- News[dead link]
- "Paul Gilbert and Freddie Nelson - United States". PaulGilbert.com. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "PAUL GILBERT, FREDDIE NELSON Collaborative Effort 'United States' Out Now - Oct. 24, 2008". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "Fuzz Universe". PaulGilbert.com. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "The Guitar Generation". Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- Cooper, Adam (2000). "Paul Gilbert's 2000 Guitar Rig". GuitarGeek.Com.
- "Emi Gilbert Bio". Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Racer X - The Band". Retrieved 19 July 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Paul Gilbert|
- The official Paul Gilbert site
- The official Racer X site
- Paul Gilbert Guitar Noize Interview
- Paul Gilbert on Last.fm
- Paul Gilbert artist page at Guitar Video Channel