In The Style Of Rory Gallagher

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

On very few occasions does a guitarist bring together all the things that were united in Rory Gallagher. There are better guitarists technically, there are those who shine more because of their sensitivity, or for their rawness, or viscerality; there are those who are so special that with just a few notes they are instantly recognizable, the best furthermore put their talent at the service of their own compositions, and the best of the best, the geniuses, gift us songs for the memory that change our lives… Well, Rory Gallagher overwhelmingly fulfills each and every one of these requisites and that makes him, in the humble opinion of the person who writes these lines, into a giant in the history of the electric guitar.  

Despite that, he is perhaps ‘the least of the Olympus gods’ in terms of being acknowledged as a treasure in popular culture. Almost all your friends who are perhaps a little outside ‘rock orbit’ will have heard speak of B.B. King or Jimi Hendrix at some point but not many would be able to respond to the question: who is Rory Gallagher?

But at Guitars Exchange we are not distant from rock orbit so we are going to speak about the gear of one of our favourite guitarists.

It might seem that this arrticle could be summed up in one sentence: the guitar of Rory Gallagher was a 1961 Fender Stratocaster. The end. But don’t you  believe it, there are other guitars on the albums and the live performances of the Irish genius apart from that marvellous 1961 ‘inheritance of humanity’ in the colour of sunburst (or at least it seems to be that, given that the ‘natural relic' that was around from the 60s onwards was so worn that its colour can barely be discerned). It is this guitar, without doubt, that is the basis of the sound of Rory Gallagher from his beginnings until his death in 1995, and it was probably the first Fender Stratocaster that arrived on Irish soil. The strat is so linked to the image of our protagonist that it is as if we were talking about a magnet, and the stories and legends around it are innumerable. It was always said that his 'heavy relic' came from an event at the end of the 60s in which it was robbed and left in the rain for days, but there are now some who doubt this version. It is also said that the instrument underwent a lot of modifications over the years, starting with its pickups, its neck, the bridge, and finishing in the mix of Sperzel and Gotoh headstocks. All these details are very well reproduced on the custom model with which Fender honoured the memory of this genius years after his death.

But as we said apart from this strat we have been able to see him with ‘other women’ in his arms at other legendary career performances. We cannot avoid mentioning his 1966 or 1967 white Fender Telecaster that he used in the Isle of Wight festival with Taste or the Gretsch Corvette with which we can see him burning the stages up at the end of the 80s with the incredible revision of his classic Bullfrog Blues. Further it is worth mentioning his 1932 National Triolian Resonator with which he was capable of leaving anyone open-mouthed with his more traditional pieces.

Besides these guitars it is worth talking a little about his amplifiers, as there is very good information on the internet about those: there was a Vox Ac30 in his beginnings that was substituted in the 70s by Fender combos like the Twin Amp and the Bassman, both from the 50s. And lastly we need to highlight the very well-known Ibanez Tubescreamer; he based a large part of his original sound on a Dallas Rangemaster pedal that he later substituted for a Hawk booster.

Here you have a good fistful of the things that the greatest and least recognised guitarist of all time used. Read and take a look at his gear but, above all, listen to his music if you have not yet had the opportunity, especially his live performances, because there was only one Rory Gallagher and you are never ever going to hear anyone similar...

Find you own way to the tone of Rory Gallagher