History of Gary Moore guitars and equipment 1969-89


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Oct 17, 2007
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Rough draft here of history of Gary Moore's guitars and equipment from roughly 1969 through the end of his rock period 1989 After the War.

Guitars, amplifiers and equipment used by Gary Moore in the period from 1969 through 1989.

Gary received his first guitar, an acoustic at age 8. At 14 years he got his first electric a Fender Telecaster.

Gary was a left handed person who learned to play the guitar right handed. At age 16 he traveled from Belfast to Dublin where he met Phil Lynott and at age 17 joined Skid Row with Brush Sheils.

From very early in his career Gary developed an affinity for his guitar equipment that would carry on throughout his career.
Gary approached his guitar playing with a very knowlegable attitude and developed a very technical approach to playing.

Besides a Telecaster Gary had a Gibson Les Paul in Skid Row that was red, had black covered P-90 pick ups with a gold tuneamatic bridge and a trapeze tail piece that was similar to a 1952 style but was of a different appearance.
Also a Fender Stratocaster that was early seventies sunburst with a black pick guard.
He also had a Gibson SG guitar that he would later sell to help purchase the famous Peter Green 1959 Les Paul Standard.
For amplifiers in Skid Row Gary used Orange heads and cabinets, also a Hiwatt amp with Wem 4x12” cabinets.
Skid Row supported Fleetwood Mac in Ireland and that is where Gary first met Peter.
Gary ended up moving to London where he ended up leaving Skid Row and the famous story took place of how Gary ended up purchasing Peter’s ’59 Les Paul.
Peter offered to lend the guitar to Gary and eventually offered the guitar to Gary if Gary sold his current guitar, the SG and Gary ended up paying Peter a pithy sum for the famous guitar, perhaps 100 pounds or so.
As Gary relates the story of acquiring the guitar from Peter:
“One night at the Marquee Peter said “Do you want to borrow my guitar?” “Well yeah!” “So I went and picked it up at his parent’s place, it was in this battered old case”
As befits the passing of the torch, even the guitars case was imbued with karma- it was the same that housed Eric Clapton’s Bluesbreakers LP Standard, the one guitar possibly more sought after than Green’s For a couple of weeks Moore literally lived with the guitar – because his Belsize Park flat had no locks on the doors he’s have to take it with him everywhere he went. A police search for drugs managed to dispense with the case’s handle and Gary was soon struggling down the road with the encased guitar cradled like a baby. Green phoned soon afterward and asked Moore if he wanted to buy the instrument. Following his current anti-materialistic philosophy Green said he would take whatever money Moore could het from the sale of his then main guitar, a Gibson SG for L40, and offered the money to Peter. Green would only take L110.
The guitar continued to live a Hard Road with Gary as since Gary had a premonition that the guitar would be stolen so he had it in the boot of a car he was traveling in. The car was promptly rear-ended by a lorry!
The guitar had been in a flight case by this time but was severly damaged nonetheless. Charlie Chandler, who worked on Gary’s guitars for many years, repaired the fractured Les Paul with metal rods at the headstock end and joining the neck to the body.
Gary recorded his first solo LP Grinding Stone in 1973 and he had the famous Les Paul by that time serial # 9-2308.
On a visit to Hamer guitars in the future, Gary had Jol Danzig of Hamer disassemble the guitar to detect what was the basis of the haunting tone of both pickups together.
The neck pickup had been installed backwards at some point and one of the magnets had reversed polarity so when both pick ups were engaged it gave a haunting tone that was unique to this guitar.
Gary rejoined Phil Lynott in Phil’s band Thin Lizzy in 1974 replacing Eric Bell who had a personal meltdown on stage and left the band.
Gary was using Marshall amps with Thin Lizzy and primarily the Greeny Les Paul.

Gary then joined Colosseum II in 1975 with Jon Hiseman on drums. Gary used the Greeny Les Paul, a Fender Strat and for amps a Vox AC30 and Marshall 100 watt amp and cabinets.
Gary remained with Colosseum through 1978 but again temporarily rejoined Thin Lizzy in 1977 replacing the injured Brian Robertson for a tour.
Gary worked on Andrew Lloyd Weber’s LP Variations during his stint with Colosseum.
When Gary finally left Colloseum II in 1978 he rejoined Thin Lizzy as a permanent member recording the album Black Rose.
Gary used a late fifties single cutaway Gibson Melody Maker with Lizzy live. He had this guitar modified by placing a DiMarzio Super Distortion crème colored humbucking pickup in the bridge position replacing the stock single coil pick up.
In Lizzy Gary used various Marshall JMP amplifiers including a 50 watt Marshall combo amp on stage.
Also in 1978 he recorded his first major solo record Back On The Streets with various guest artists including Phil Lynott.
Gary was again using the ’59 Les Paul for this project.
Gary formed the first Gary Moore Band and recorded 1982’s Corridors of Power.
On the song Don’t Take Me For A Loser Gary explains his use of different guitar tones:
“Yes I used different instruments. The solo’s got kind of a strange sound because the guitar was split in two and one side went through a Maestro octave divider and then directly to the mixing desk, and the other side went through a little monitor on a 2-track tape recorder. We routed the guitar through that and turned it up until it distorted, and then we put a mike on it. So we had a dirty guitar sound coming through this tiny speaker, and this kind of very clean open sound with an octave divider on it.”
Asked how he gets feedback and sustain in the studio Gary replied, “I just drive the **** out of my amp with the Strat and the distortion. You know, it’s like I’ve got three gain stages, I suppose because it’s going through the Roland digital stuff, which has extra gain on it. So I drive that as hard as I can. Of course, there’s so much gain that I can’t take my hands off the guitar without it screaming (laughs).”
This era was the first where Gary used 3 volume pedals on the stage to control other players signal through his top Marshall cabinets.
Asked if he sent his guitar signal through one of his monitor cabs Gary replied, “No. The only thing that goes through the monitors onstage is vocals and drums. I do have a pretty elaborate monitoring system that comes through my spare Marshall cabinets.
I’ve got four stacks behind me, but the top cabinets have bass, keyboards, and Neil Carter’s guitar. Then I have three Boss FV-100 volume pedals on the floor in front of me so that I can balance them out as I’m playing, without having to yell at the monitor guy. I’ve had too many years of doing that.”
Are your Strat’s stock? “Yeah they’re all stock. They’re stupid guitars. One of them is a real old one- like a ’61. I guess it’s pink. It’s my main one that was stolen before I went on tour and it was later returned. I think one of the British Customs people must have stolen it. It went on the Interpol computer, and then the FBI over here was after it, and suddenly it reappeared in Houston. The guy must have gotten cold feet, and put it on a plane to somewhere he knew I’d get it. In the meantime I bought this white one, which is a brand new version of a ’62, with a rosewood finger-board. It’s also stock. I just got to like it, so I’ve been using it for most of the shows.”
When Gary joined Greg Lake to record and tour , Gary came to acquire the ’61 Fiesta Red Strat. The story goes that Greg was looking for guitars that were in pristine condition and Gary hoped he would pass on the red Strat as it was a really good player and he wanted it! It had some wear on it and Gary ended up with it. It had been owned by famous British rocker Tommy Steele previously.
Victims of the Future followed in 1983.
Gary described how he modified his Strats: “I use three tremolo springs. I’ve had the frets done, too. Fender frets are very sharp so I had fatter ones like on Les Pauls put in – Jim Dunlops.
Can you describe your stage effects?
“I use a Roland SRE-555 Chorus/Echo and a Roland SDE-3000 Digital Delay which has a programmable memory. It’s great for me onstage because I can preprogram all my flanging and chorusing parameters, so I can have them exactly the way I want them. It’s great because I only need two switches onstage for recalling presets and turning it on and off. You can bend the pitch of the echo with this other pedal of you want, and you can lengthen or shorten the echo the same way. It’s very easy to work with onstage. So, all my sounds are stored in those two units. The echo you hear from me all the time is kind of a medium-length repeat from the 555, which I use a lot. It’s on almost all the time – especially on the solos. But when I’m playing through a fast rhythm part of something, I leave it off because it turns into a mess otherwise.
Do you use the chorus section of the SRE-555?
No, just the programmable one. I don’t like the sound of the one on the 555 very much, so I just modified the chorus preset on the other unit, and gave it a bit more depth and a bit more range. It suits me better. It’s a slower chorus – a bit more subtle. In general, I don’t like how some choruses mess with the pitch. That’s why I like the Roland SDD-320 Dimension D, for example. It gives you constant pitch, but it also gives you the chorus at the same time. The other chorus sound I have stored in the SDE-3000 is faster, like a Leslie – type chorus, kind of a flanger effect. I use that on “Empty Rooms” for the arpeggio rhthym part.
Are fuzztones included in your setup?
I use a Boss DS-1 Distortion on the Stratocaster. I found it’s a really good unit for my particular guitar because it complements the sound. Having gone through just about all the other distortion units available, this is the one that doesn’t make your guitar sound thin. It doesn’t take away the natural sound. It just gives the Strat a real kick up the arse. In fact, I have it on most of the time. I don’t use it on the Les Paul, though. I go straight into the mixing desk.
I don’t use my rack or effects in the studio that much. I record with the guitar and the amp, and add the effects afterwards, which gives me a little more flexibility. You don’t want to be stuck with an effect, and I figure you can get much better quality by using the studio’s effects; obviously they’ve got ultra high – quality stuff, and I haven’t. Get a good signal to the tape and anything you do with it later is going to sound much better.
My guitars are very hard to play. They have pretty high action. I like it like that because I learned to play on real cheap guitars, and I’ve never gotten over that. I don’t take my guitars for granted, and I appreciate having good ones now, so I kind of let them fight back a bit. I use Dean Markley strings, which I find to be consistent, gauged .010, .013, .017, ..030, .042, and .052. I like the real heavy low E – just to get more balls out of it. It’s good for my picking technique because I hit them. I use a very hard pick – a Fender – and if I use lighter strings, they flap around a lot and break easily.

During touring in 1986 Gary had developed his stage setup touring for the Run For Cover LP this would continue to be the same for the very famous and well received 1987 tour supporting the Wild Frontier LP.
There was a change clearly perceptible in Gary’s guitar playing. Until about two and a half years ago Gary never took to stage without his Fiesta Red Stratocaster and his 1959 ex-Peter Green 1959 Les Paul Standard.
In the meantime, Gary has become more and more interested in new guitars. He started off the G-Force project playing a Charvel guitar and would begin using two special Charvels as well as a Jackson Soloist for the Wild Frontier live and recording use.
Since Gary found a reliable guitar tech in Keith Page, the Floyd Rose temolo system has become a stronger component of his show. “I always used the Fender Stratocaster for a particular sound. As I brought my equipment up to date, I thought I should give the Floyd Rose system another chance.
Two Charvel Strat head style San Dimas guitars which Keith Page converted from twin humbucker style to single EMG 81 bridge mounted style with pick guards and a single volume knob, became Gary’s main guitars.
“It’s a Charvel. Well actually it’s made up of all different pieces of other Charvels I had before. The pickup is a single EMG 81 humbucker…Keith put it together in about two days and I just fell in love with it and started using it in the shows.”
The first built was the white coloured body with matching headstock and a single piece maple neck with chrome hardware and a black anodized R2 Floyd nut.
Later Gary would add the red coloured example with a rosewood finger board and also chrome hardware with a white single ply pick guard as both were equipped with.
Gary had first used the Floyd Rose tremolo in 1985 in custom built Hamer guitars, which he owned two examples of, a black and a white one.
These had solid bodies of necks of mahogany with ebony finger boards. The bodies were of a double – cutaway design with flush mounted Floyd Rose tremolos.
Gary can be seen playing the white one in the live video with Phil Lynott for “Out In The Fields.”
“I use the Hamer guitars simply because I find them really good. A few years after I discovered the Charvels, it was a great experience getting acquainted with Hamer guitars. I wrote the album Run For Cover with these guitars, for example. They’re based on the principle as the old Les Paul Juniors.”
Gary owned a single cutaway 1955 Les Paul Junior which he had obtained from Paul Jones of the Sex Pistols which he used live in 1983-4.
“When I first tried out the Floyd Rose system, it didn’t have a very fine sound, and I didn’t think you could do much with it live. Now I see the whole thing differently, and I must say I’ve gotten used used to it. The voice ability is enormous, and I prefer the Floyd Rose system in every case to the Kahler system, because the sustain on the Kahler system is definitely worse. You just have to play the guitars dry to hear the difference. The Floyd Rose sound is much more natural. It’s my opinion that the sound of a chrome-plated Floyd Rose tremolo is far and away better than, for example a black anodized one. The sound is fuller, with more sustain. An obvious difference.
I don’t have any advertising deal with Hamer. At the time I visited the factory in Chicago, I had a contract with Ibanez. They paid me a bundle just for an advertising campaign because I don’t play their dingers on stage, I just don’t like them that much. So I said to Paul Hamer.’The best I can do is just play your guitar. I didn’t want any money for it, because when I like a guitar, I just like it.’
For acoustic work Gary had been using a black laquered finished Takamine 12 string of which there only existed two, the other owned by Greg Lake, and another single cutaway Takamine.
Also Gary was the first artist in England to have examples of the new Paul Reed Smith guitars a red and blue one.

Thanks to Keith Page the equipment set became standardized for live work.
The center piece is Gary’s legendary 1972 Marshall Super Bass which had been painted purple by the previous owner, Gary restoring it to stock appearance.
This 100 watt amp head was paired with two other Marshall Super Lead 100 watt heads. Each head had a Marshall 1960B cabinet loaded with Celestion G12-75 watt speakers. The third amp has two cabinets, to provide the necessary fullness to the sound.
Before the guitar signal reaches the amps it runs through an Ibanez Tube Screamer, a Roland 555 Space Echo connected to a volume pedal, then into a Roland SDE-3000 Digital Delay, and from there into a Roland Dimension D, where the signal is split into the two stereo channels.
Gary used Gallien Kruger solid state amps in the studio along with a Dean Markley amp.
“On stage I prefer the Marshalls simply because the places we play are very big and only the Marshalls pack the power that I must have.
Gary’s last rock album of that era was 1989’s “After The War.’
By this time Gary had acquired some further guitars
With Greeny being temporarily retired from 1987 onwards Gary turned to a different version of a Les Paul built by the Heritage guitar company in the old fifties Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. Gary had a few different versions of the Heritage guitars including his main model the CM-150 which is featured on the cover of the “After The War”LP. This featured a mahogany body and set neck with a flamed maple top. Gary had fitted a P.J. Marx active humbucking pickup in the neck position and an EMG 81 active pickup in the bridge. Gary would use this guitar on the track Blood of Emeralds. Heritage would later build an extremely limited Gary Moore signature model guitar of two runs of 75 worldwide each.
Gary continued to use Hamer guitars, having a Flying V appearing Vector K.K.Downing of Judas Priest model in blue with a single bridge humbucking pickup.
Also in Gary’s collection were several Hamer Chapparal solid body guitars, Gary also possessed a Hamer Standard since 1984, this had a flamed maple top and headstock and is pictured in promo pictures from the 1984-5 era, Gary never using it live though.
Also the long serving white Charvel guitar had it’s neck replaced with a rosewood finger boarded Jackson logoed Strat head version.
Gary’s amp setup was similar adding the Marshall JCM 800 amps and cabs by this time.
This is a rough draft and many guitars have deliberately been left off but will be addressed eventually.

Stinky Kitty

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Oct 31, 2012
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Thank you for once again bringing an experience of Gary closer to us!

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