“Where you hold your guitar for the first time is crucial. It signifies how much of a c*** you’re going to be”: Noel Gallagher on how the most stressful day of his life was caused by a guitar strap

There are few better-value interviewees than Noel Gallagher, and now the former Oasis/High Flying Birds man is the latest subject of Gibson’s in-depth Icons series. 

The conversation is packed with brilliant tidbits and amusing tales from Gallagher’s playing career: from his time as a roadie for Inspiral Carpets, into Oasis and beyond, but his story about Oasis’ first show will prove highly relatable to any player that’s stressed themselves out prepping for their first gig.

“I'm sat on a flight case or the top of an amp, jamming with Oasis and we've got a gig on Tuesday,” says Gallagher [around 16.50]. “And it suddenly dawns on me that I've never played guitar standing up. Not only that, I don't own a fucking strap!” 

While, in retrospect, this might not seem an insurmountable challenge, to the young (and penniless) Gallagher, it was a major concern. 

“This is Sunday night and I'm skint and I’ve never played guitar standing up,” summarizes the guitarist. “That seems like a preposterous fucking notion now, but I can only tell you that the Monday was probably the most stressful fucking day of my entire life.”

The first hurdle was overcome when he tracked down an unnamed member of Inspiral Carpets – then an international touring act – who leant him a strap, but sadly this did not fully alleviate his stress.

Noel Gallagher in 1996

Noel Gallagher onstage in 1996 – note his guitar position (Image credit: Ebet Roberts / Getty Images)

“I had to borrow a guitar strap. Borrow!” emphasizes Gallagher. “And then [it was] going home and putting the guitar on for the first time and spending, I'd say, a good hour looking in the mirror going, ‘Where am I gonna [hold it]? Is it there? Is it there?”

The decision meant a lot to the young guitarist – indeed it still does. “I think where you hold your guitar for the first time is crucial,” imparts Gallagher. “It signifies how much of a cunt you're going to be.”

According to the guitarist and songwriter, too high makes you unattractive (“you're not getting no fit birds mate, I'll tell you that for nowt”) but go too low and you’re a goth. The optimum position, in his opinion, is in the middle – something he dubs “The Gunslinger”.

“Anyway, I nailed it – clearly…” says Gallagher, dryly. “And it benefited me, because remember going to the gig and I was more stressed about standing up [than performing]...

“Thank fucking God it was before phones and cameras, because there would be some pretty fucking awkward footage of it now, but you know, an exhilarating experience all the same.”

Check out the full conversation above for more on Gallagher’s playing, guitars and to hear his explanation of the happy accident that was the Oasis sound. Indeed, for more on the latter, check out our guide to nailing Noel Gallagher's guitar tone on tracks like Supersonic.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.