Gary Moore through his most remembered guitars

By Sergio Ariza

Gary Moore was one of the luckiest guitarists in the world, and not because he was able to play with B.B. King, because he was a friend of Phil Lynott and Rory Gallagher or because he was a sort of replacement for Eric Clapton in Cream when he recorded and toured with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in the mid-90s as BBM - all of which he earned with his playing. No, the Irishman was one of the luckiest guitarists in the world because, shortly after his 18th birthday, Peter Green decided to gift him Greeny, his 1959 Les Paul Standard, which is something like a teenager in a fairy tale meeting King Arthur and ending up with Excalibur in his hands. Of course, beyond having one of the most important guitars in history for a good part of his career, the talented guitarist had other fantastic examples in his hands. This is a review of Greeny and some of the others… 

Framus alemana

The first guitar Moore ever owned was a German Framus bought for him by his father for five pounds. He was ten years old and the guitar was far too big for him, with a gigantic cello-like body and two f-holes. The guitar was no marvel, but the Irishman learned to play with it. Soon after he had a Lucky Squire, made by the Italian company Rosetti, which ended up falling apart while the young Moore was on stage during one of his first performances.  


Fender Telecaster

The first decent guitar Moore owned was a Fender Telecaster; it was 1967 and Moore was a Jeff Beck fan, so it's only natural that he opted for this guitar. If Rory Gallagher's Stratocaster was the first to arrive in Ireland, Moore's Tele was one of the first three. Moore couldn't afford it, so he bought it on credit, with the help of the band he was in, on the condition that it would stay with them. But soon after getting the guitar Moore left his bandmates and signed with one of Ireland's up-and-coming bands, Skid Row, whose line-up in 1968, when Moore joined, consisted of Brendan 'Brush' Shiels on bass, Robbie Brennan on drums and Phil Lynott on vocals. It was with that lineup, with Moore and his Telecaster, that Skid Row recorded their first single, New Places, Old Faces / Misdemeanour Dream Felicity.


Gibson SG

Skid Row’s first single would be Lynott's only recording with the band, which was sad for Moore as he had become close friends with the singer, even sharing an apartment, but, following Lynott's absence for an illness, Shiels decided to take over vocals and turn Skid Row into a Power Trio. By this time Moore had switched to a Gibson SG and the original drummer, Noel 'Nollaig' Bridgeman, had returned to the line-up. So they recorded their debut album, Skid, which would be released in May 1970 but by then Moore would have the 'Holy Grail' of guitars in his hands...


Gibson Les Paul Standard 1959 'Greeny'

In January 1970 Skid Row shared a tour with Moore's idol band, Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac. The two bands played together at the National Stadium in Dublin and to Moore's amazement, after the performance, Green approached him and told him he liked his playing. Moore thought he could die happy now, but that wasn't all, Green pulled out his Les Paul and the two spent the night playing together. Green didn't forget about him, or his band, and had his manager take Skid Row to play in England. But Green's mental health was plummeting. In May he played his last gig with Fleetwood Mac and decided to leave the band, but not before parting with his most iconic instrument. Green remembered Moore and told him if he wanted the guitar he could have it; the Irishman couldn't believe it, and told Moore he couldn't afford it, but Green told him to give him something symbolic, so Moore sold his SG and gave the little money he got to Green. That's how Moore got his hands on 'Greeny'; needless to say it was the main guitar for the rest of his career, used during his stints in his friend Lynott's Thin Lizzy, and on his first two solo albums, 1973's Grinding Stone and 1978's Back On The Streets, where it was employed on what is his best remembered song, Parisian Walkways. The guitar would remain with him until in the mid-2000s, but due to some economic problems, Moore had to get rid of it for a figure that was not made public. In 2014 it ended up in the hands of Metallica's
Kirk Hammett so 'Greeny' can still be heard to this day.


Fender Stratocaster (Custom made, Natural, DiMarzios)

The first time Moore was seen using this guitar was during a December 1978 performance in Dublin with a band called the Greedy Bastards, which was none other than the Thin Lizzy line-up of the time along with two members of the Sex Pistols, drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones. The guitar continued to be used during the tour to present Black Rose, the only full album he recorded with Thin Lizzy, as well as being the guitar with which he appeared on the Top Of The Pops while presenting Waiting For An Alibi. However, when Moore left the band the guitar didn't go with him but stayed in the hands of Scott Gorham.


Charvel/Jackson Custom

In 1980 Moore tried to establish himself again as a solo artist and ended up commissioning a couple of guitars from Grover Jackson. The Charvel was one of the guitars he had made for him, with the body of a Strat, in red, two humbuckers and a Kahler 2300 tremolo. Moore used the guitar during the recording of the G-Force album but not live.


1961 Fender Stratocaster

When you already have a '59 Les Paul, you have to look for a Stratocaster from the period between 1961 and 1964 and compare the two most mythical guitars in history. That's what Gary Moore did in 1981 when, while recording with Greg Lake, he got his hands on this beauty. The guitar was there for Lake but he decided not to keep it, to the surprise of Moore who didn't hesitate for a moment to get his hands on it. It became his main Stratocaster and even appears on various tracks on his most celebrated album, Still Got The Blues, Too Tired and Moving On.


Gibson ES-5 de 1956

Moore got this guitar on the same day as the '61 Strat; it was a big day for him. The guitarist was so fond of it that he even used it on the cover of his 1987 album Wild Frontier, but ended up selling it in the early 2000s.


Ibanez Roadstar II RS 530 BK

This is the guitar that starred in the video for Out in the Fields, the song that brought Moore back together with Lynott in the mid-80s, and appeared on his fifth solo album, Run for Cover. Out in the Fields is one of the best songs of his career, and one of the most successful, reaching number five in the UK and third in Ireland. It was also one of the last things the late Thin Lizzy frontman recorded before he passed away on January 4, 1986.


Gibson Les Paul Standard de 1959 'Stripe'

Despite owning one of the world's most coveted '59 Les Pauls, Moore decided in 1988 that he wanted another, so he got his hands on 'Stripe', a guitar similar in appearance to 'Greeny' but with its own sound. Moore was enchanted with the guitar and made it the protagonist of his most successful album, Still Got The Blues, where 'Stripe' was the protagonist of his best-known songs, such as the title track or Oh, Pretty Woman. The guitar featured on all his albums from then on and Moore stuck with it until his death in 2011.