Paul Gilbert Explains Why He’s Got No Signature Playing Style: ‘That Personal Mission of Mine Took Away a Lot of What Would’ve Been Style’ tt

“I wanted to prove that I was a good person by being able to play with the level of control a classical musician would have.”

Paul Gilbert Explains Why He's Got No Signature Playing Style: 'That Personal Mission of Mine Took Away a Lot of What Would've Been Style'

Paul Gilbert explained how he arrived at a place that he describes as having “no style” of his own, noting how he always strove to play with perfect precision, thus removing a lot of nuances that often get characterized as a player’s particular “style”.Playing style can mean a lot of different things from a lot of different people — ranging from phrasing, signature licks, to one’s preferred part of the sonic spectrum — but what Gilbert tells Rick Beato in a new interview might resonate with many a classically trained musician.

As the guitarist explains, he first realized his perceived lack of “style” when an interviewer in Germany asked him why he doesn’t have one, compared to players like Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. Gilbert then realized that “style” wasn’t something he consciously chased, and that his goals of being able to play everything the way it’s meant to be played clashed with the concept of “style” in the first place (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):

Paul Gilbert Says Famous Part of His Solo on Mr. Big's Biggest Hit Was Mistake, Names String Type That 'Cripples' His Playing | Ultimate Guitar

“It got me thinking… The answer is, I wanted to prove that I was a good person by being able to play with the level of control a classical musician would have. A suit-wearing, upstanding kind of kind of musician. And I thought if I can do that, without all the electric guitar noise — which I really didn’t mind; I’ve always loved Jimmy Page — but I didn’t want that to be me, because I wanted to make sure that you could put [my playing] under the microscope, and [see that] every note is clean.”

“And so, in a way, that personal mission of mine took away a lot of what would’ve been style… All the little things that come from struggle — [when] you want to get the sound across but you go, ‘Ah, screw it! Let me dive in!’ — I wouldn’t do that. If I couldn’t play it perfectly, I wouldn’t play it. And so, that’s my excuse for not having any style.”

He added:

“Of course, style was never something I set out to have. I just want to play well. That was kind of it. I just wanted to play the things I liked. I mean, I copied everybody, and still do. So I think that’s where it ends up; in a way, my style is probably perpetually confused. I love Burt Bacharach just as much as I love Yngwie. Can I fit those two things together? I don’t know.”

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