With the help of some now-legendary electric guitar gear and a stacked vocabulary of blistering blues rock chops, Rory Gallagher became not only one of Ireland’s first rock stars, but one of the all-time greats of guitar music.
Those tones – and the various guitars, amps and effects pedals that helped Gallagher conjure them – were the topic of conversation in the latest issue of Guitarist, which recreated the exact rigs Rory played at some of his most famous live outings.
With the help of Gallagher’s nephew, Daniel, and guitarist Barrie Cadogan, Rory’s famed Fender ‘61 Stratocaster – reportedly the first to land on Irish shores – and Vox AC30 combo were pulled out of hibernation, as was the heavily modded Esquire, Marshall 50-watts and assortment of stompboxes that formed the late legend’s gear arsenal across his career.
Taking a chronological approach to Gallagher’s music, the demo above first traces the tones of his early days with Taste, paying particular attention to the band’s iconic Isle of Wight Festival performance – a show that featured Gallagher’s Strat, Vox and Range Master.
It was a simple-yet-devastating signal chain that, as Daniel notes, Rory retained for his first two solo records, 1971’s Rory Gallagher and Deuce.
In the early ‘70s, a Fender Twin and 4x10 Bassman – thrown into the equation to fit the mix of his expanding band sound – became part of his setup, which was further bolstered with a Fender Concert at the end of the decade.
On the pedal front, a Hawk II Tone Expander Booster found its way into the picture at this time to complement the changing amp setup – specifically, a dual Bassman/Concert rig – while even more stompboxes were utilized in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
With a new Marshall-centric backline, Gallagher drafted in a Boss DB-5 Driver Distortion for sound sculpting, and also relied on an MXR Dyna Comp, Ibanez Tube screamer, Boss BF-2 Flanger, Boss OC-2 Octaver and DOD 680 Analog Delay.
“It’s funny how certain pedals and boxes belonged to certain amps,” Daniel observed of Gallagher’s approach to pedals. “The Range Master belonged to the Vox. You don’t seem him putting it into any of the Fenders. It’s the same with the DB-5, it goes with the Marshall 50-watt.”
All of the above – including Gallagher’s modded Esquire set up for slide guitar – can be heard in the Guitarist demo video above.