GP Editors Speak Out! Matt Blackett on Ibanez, Paul Gilbert, and the Shreddingest Show at NAMM

 There's been a lot of talk about the gear at this year's NAMM show, but the best concert had to be the bash Ibanez threw to commemorate 20 shredding years of their partnership with Paul Gilbert.
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Guitar Player Associate Editor Matt Blackett in San Francisco, with Abrama keeping him honest.

To celebrate 20 years of Paul Gilbert Signature Models, Ibanez is reissuing all of the PGM guitars from the past two decades and they threw a star-studded bash Saturday night at NAMM to commemorate the event.

Ibanez is letting fans vote on which models get reissued first at

Mike Varney, who launched Gilbert's career by featuring him in GP's Spotlight column back in the 80s, gave the invocation, introducing Gilbert's solo band. They took the stage and treated the crowd to a dazzling combination of technical ability and pop sensibilities. Fellow Ibanez endorsee Andy Timmons joined Gilbert for a rocking version of Pat Travers' cover of "Statesboro Blues." Gilbert also played a few tunes off an upcoming album with new singer Freddie Nelson.

Gilbert's terrifying shred band Racer X took the stage next, wowing listeners with mind-blowing solos and impossible riffs.

On hand to honor Gilbert were his Mr. Big bandmates Eric Martin and Billy Sheehan, Herman Li from Dragonforce, Uriah Duffy of Whitesnake, as well as Larry DiMarzio and Steve Blucher who have been making pickups for Gilbert his entire career.