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Paul Gilbert: This is a "Really Dangerous" Trend Among YouTube Guitarists

Paul Gilbert
(Image credit: Joby Sessions/Future)

Aside from being an absolutely unbelievable player in his own right, Paul Gilbert also happens to be a uniquely gifted guitar teacher.

His words of wisdom on everything from technique to gear to live performance hold a great deal of weight, so when he was recently asked about his views on guitarists - particularly on YouTube - who become incredibly skilled at an incredibly young age, his response piqued our interest.

"Well, I do a lot of teaching so I see those kids on YouTube and I see a trend that, to me, is really dangerous,” Gilbert told Ultimate Guitar.

"I grew up idolizing Jimmy Page and Alex Lifeson and guys who wore their guitars really low. So I did too. All my garage bands as a teenager, I was playing a Les Paul and I had it down by my knees, and you develop a certain technique of how you hold your guitar when you do that.

"I think a lot of people now are trying to fit into their little rectangle [on their computer screen], so their guitars keep getting higher and I see a lot of people holding their guitar like a classical guitar.

"If you want to have strong '70s vibrato like Brian May, Uli Jon Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, of course – all the cast from back then, you have to hold the guitar a certain way with your thumb over [the neck]," Gilbert maintains.

"Most of the cats I see these days have their thumb behind [the neck]... It's kind of a funny arcane thing for me to get a bee in my bonnet about, but it is what it is. It's probably nice for people with small hands. I have these great big hands, so I can still reach stuff even when my thumb is over.”

Gilbert also discussed his career highlights, saying "The most exciting day in my guitar career was when I learned how to do the Jimmy Page lick [from "Heartbreaker"]. You wouldn't believe how many people cannot put vibrato on that E note – it's unbelievably rare.

"I'm over 50," he added. "I'm self-aware enough to know that it's okay – not everybody has to be Jimmy Page. Sometimes I wish that everybody was."