Gary Moore’s Guitars and Gear

Robert William Gary Moore was born on April 4th 1952 in Northern Ireland. He grew up in east Belfast as one of five children, and left home very young as a teenager. His new home was Dublin, where he met his personal mentor, and a greatest influence – Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac. In the following years he joined the band Skid Row, then Thin Lizzy in 1974, and finally Colosseum II with whom he would play up until 1977/78. Since 1979 Gary focused entirely on his solo career, during which he released a number of highly successful albums, including “Still Got The Blues” (1990) which became one of the fan’s favorites. He remained active until his untimely death in February 2011.

Gary Moore is most often associated with playing Gibson Les Paul guitars. His main guitar in the early years was a 1959 Les Paul acquired from Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, which he owned for more than 40 years before selling it in 2006. His second Les Paul was also a model from 1959, acquired from guitar collector Phil Harris. This is the guitar that Gary used on his best selling album Still Got The Blues, and the one he kept by his side until his death.

Gary Moore’s Electric Guitars:

1952 Gibson Les Paul Modified

Gary Moore Conversion 1952 Les Paul This guitar was used briefly by Gary during his tenure with Skid Row until 1971. It can be seen on couple of videos recorded during the band performance on German TV music show Beat Club. [Skid Row (Gary Moore) – An Awful Lot Of Woman / Unco-Up Showband Blues – Live, 1971 (Remastered)]

Based on few visual clues the guitar seems to be a modified early 50s goldtop. The pickups are P90s with black plastic covers and a matching toggle switch cover, and the guitar is fitted with three 50s barrel knobs and one reflector knob. The finish on the body look amateur-ish red sunburst refinish, since the red seems to fade much closer to the center than on factory models.

The most promising clue to give us the exact dating of the guitar is the trapeze tailpiece. Early 50s Les Pauls had long trapeze tailpiece extending all the way to where ABR bridge was fitted on later models. Gary’s guitar seems to be a conversion from the long to short trapeze tailpiece, with a Gibson ABR-1 mounted into the old screw holes.

As said, Gary used this guitar very briefly and it pretty much disappeared after mid 1972. If you happen to know what happened to it after, be sure to let us know using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Guitar prior to Gary Moore

Thanks to one of our readers (thanks Wes) the guitar’s history before it came into Gary’s hands is now known. It previously belonged to Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower, who appeared with the Les Paul on numerous occasions until 1970.

Robin Trower wielding the '52 Les Paul. Source YouTube Screencap

Robin Trower wielding the ’52 Les Paul. Source YouTube Screen-cap (Procol Harum – Piggy Pig Pig)

As can be seen on the photo above – the knobs, the trapeze tailpiece, and the color of the guitar all perfectly match Gary’s guitar. The only difference is the humbucker pickup in the bridge position, which is missing from Gary’s guitar. However, if you look at the footage from the Beat Club (link available in the first paragraph, skip to 2:25 minute mark) you can see that there’s a rather large gap left around the P90 pickup that is now present on Gary’s guitar, which clearly shows that there was indeed a humbucker once in it’s place.

1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

Peter Green Gary Moore Les Paul 1959 This guitar was previously owned by Peter Green who himself bought it second-hand in 1966 for around $300. After leaving Fleetwood Mac in 1970 Peter borrowed the guitar to Gary, as he was sort of a mentor to him in the early years. Gary kept using the guitar for some time, and eventually agreed to buy it from Peter respecting his personal wish that the guitar would have a good home with Moore.

The guitar is pretty much stock, except for the neck pickup magnet which was reversed on one of the pickups – a feature now famously known as a “Peter Green mod”. This was allegedly done accidentally in the Gibson factory when the guitar was first assembled in 1959, as was concluded by Jol Dantzig who had a chance to examine the guitar in the 80s. This mod allowed for the pickups to be the out of phase when the toggle switch is set in the middle position.

The magnet was reversed on one pickup. Because the pickup internals looked undisturbed, I concluded that it must have been a mistake at the factory. With Gibson having made over ten thousand electric guitars that year, the odds of the mistake showing up in Green’s guitar seems incredible. But strangely enough, Joe Bonamassa recently acquired an original ’burst with the same condition! [The Secret of Peter Green’s Tone, Jol Dantzig]

Please not that Jol does not specify which pickup had the polarity reversed, neck or the bridge. If you happen to come across an interview where he does go into more detail, please be sure to forward it to us.

Neck Pickup Rotated

At some point circa 1967, Peter took out the neck pickup, and played the guitar only using the lead (bridge) pickup. He apparently got the idea from listening to Eric Clapton.

The pickups were strong, but I took one of them off. I copied Eric [Clapton]. I heard him play one night, and he was on the treble pickup all night long. It sounded so good, I thought I’d take my bass pickup off altogether. Try and wait for the same luck. As if it was luck! It takes a lot of genuine practice and worry to get a sound like that. [The Deep Secret Behind Peter Green’s “Magic” 1959 Les Paul Tone]

A few months later the pickup was back on, but now installed the wrong way around – rotated 180 degrees.

I put it back on the wrong way around so that the poles—the pickup screws—were facing in the opposite direction. People would say to me, “You got that special out-of-phase sound.” I don’t know what out-of-phase is. Phase for what? Phase—it sounds like a good name for a group. [The Deep Secret Behind Peter Green’s “Magic” 1959 Les Paul Tone]

It is important to note that rotating the pickup around has nothing to do with the out-of-phase sound, contrary to what Peter thought. The out-of-phase sound is achieved by reversing the polarity of one of the magnets. To familiarize yourself with this concept, we recommend watching Wills Easy Guitar’s explanation on YouTube [“in phase” and “out of phase” in guitar pickups and what it means]

[…]

Couple of visuals mods are also worth mentioning. While the guitar was still in Peter’s possession he removed the pickguard, and when Gary got the guitar he replaced the two bottom control knobs with the more modern “reflector” knobs – which he found more comfortable to use.

Gary used this guitar as his main in the early years, and almost exclusively until the late 70s. It can be heard all over his first two solo albums Grinding Stone (1973) and Back On The Streets (1978), and in his work with in Thin Lizzy and Colosseum II. As years went on he started experimenting with different guitars, but without a doubt this one of his favorites.

He did sell the guitar after almost 40 years of owning it, faced with some major financial problems. The instrument reached around $1 million when it was first auctioned in the early 2000s. It was again put on sale in 2014, when Kirk Hammett from Metallica decided to buy it, paying a total of around $2 million.

1960 Gibson Melody Maker

Gary Moore Melody Maker Played mainly live in the mid to late 70s with Thin Lizzy, and can be seen during the concert in Sydney in 1978.

Gary modified this guitar by replacing original neck pickup with a white DiMarzio Super Distortion pickup, while the rest seems to be pretty much all stock.

1955 Gibson Les Paul Junior

Gary was first seen using this guitar during the Thin Lizzy 1979 Black Rose Tour. He purchased the guitar Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. [Gary Moore at No.73, 1987]

Unfortunately at this time we haven’t been able to find anything else about the guitar. Gary likely got it between mid and late 1978, when he shared a stage a number of times with Steve and The Greedy Bastards. If you happen to know more, be sure to send us a message.

1970s Fender Stratocaster (Modified/Custom made)

Gary Moore Thin Lizzy Natural Stratocaster Humbuckers

Gary was first seen using this guitar on December 20th, 1978 at the Stardust Night Club Dublin, during a gig with The Greedy Bastards (band consisting of the whole Thin Lizzy lineup and two Sex Pistols members – Paul Cook and Steve Jones) [20-12-1978 STARDUST, Artane]. The Strat was subsequently used by Gary during the Thin Lizzy gig on Top of the Pops, and during the 1979 Black Rose Tour.

Gary Moore with Thin Lizzy Hammersmith 23rd April 1979

Gary Moore with Thin Lizzy, Hammersmith 23rd April 1979. Photo by Alan Perry (www.concertphotos.uk.com)

At first, the guitar was a complete mystery, but fortunately one of our readers (thanks Wilma) found one of Gary’s old interviews with Beat Instrumental magazine. In it, Gary mentioned a Stratocaster that was in the process of rebuilding, and he talked about what he’s gonna do with it. Please note that even though the interview was published in January 1979, it was likely conducted a couple of months prior.

I’ve got another Stratocaster which I’m having completely rebuilt. I broke the neck off while having a row with me chick. So I’ve got the body of the guitar and I’m having a new neck built for it and I’m having Di Marzio put on it. I also have the real heavy modified tremolo unit, with a heavier bracket so you can’t break it off so easily! [Beat Instrumental, January 1979]

So those are the details – the body is the original Fender, while the rest was custom made. It appears thought that the neck still had a Fender logo on the headstock based on the footage, so maybe Gary ended up just grabbing a neck from another guitar. Both of the humbuckers are Di Marzios, which Gary seemed to like very much.

I think Di Marzio pickups are a major improvement on the pickups supplied standard with the new Gibsons and Fenders. The one on the Melody Maker is great: I don’t get noise off it or anything like that. [Beat Instrumental, January 1979]

As far as the tremolo, we haven’t been able to figure out the exact model that Gary fitted on this guitar. It looks just a regular vintage-style Stratocaster tremolo, perhaps modified underneath in some way.

Gary leaves Thin Lizzy

What is interesting about this guitar, is that even though Gary basically built it himself, it seems that he left it behind after parting ways with Thin Lizzy in July 1979. In November that year, the band appeared on Top of the Pops, and surprisingly, Scot Gorham was seen playing Gary’s Stratocater.

1980 Charvel Custom

Gary Moore First Charvel Pink Red According to Grover Jackson, this is the first Grover/Charvel guitar that Gary ever received just before recording the G-Force album in 1980.

After leaving Thin Lizzy during the band’s US tour in 1979, Gary traveled to Los Angeles in an attempt to make a solo rock presence, and ended up recruiting a couple of people and forming a band called G-Force. At the same time he went to Charvel guitar shop on a recommendation from a friend, and ended up ordering a couple of guitars from Grover Jackson himself.

Grover delivered the first guitar to Gary during one of the rehearsals prior to the recording of the album, upon which Gary immediately changed the strings to a heavier set that he was used to, and played with the guitar for the first time.  His Charvel featured metallic red/pink finish on a Strat-shaped body, rosewood fretboard, two humbuckers, and a Kahler 2300 series tremolo.

Although this is pure speculation as there’s no photos from the studio sessions, it is highly possible that Gary used this guitar during the recording of the G-Force album. He didn’t seem to use it live pretty much at all, but it was seen on photos taken of his guitar collection sometime in the 80s.

1980 Charvel Custom “Leopard”

Leopard Charvel Gary Moore Seen around 1980 on couple of photo shoots and during at least one gig played that year. Based on the logo on the headstock the guitar seems to have been made by Charvel, and was likely among the first few that Gary every received from Grover Jackson.

Not a lot to be said about this guitar except for a few things that are obvious from the photos available. It was finished in custom paint featuring leopard pattern, it featured two humbuckers (probably a pair of DiMarzio, with X2N in the bridge position), a maple neck, and a transparent plastic pickguard.

1961 Fender Stratocaster

Gary Moore Guitar Gear Equipment Amps Effects

Gary started using this Strat in early 80s with Greg Lake as his main tremolo guitar. It has been his longest running Stratocaster and one of his oldest guitars overall, since he used it on some of his later gigs as well – including the 2005 The Strat Pack concert which marked the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar. The guitar’s previous owner was Tommy Steele, an English singer popular in the late 50s.

Gary’s Stratocaster was made in 1961, a period which produced some of the most sought-after guitars nowadays. It was finished in either a fiesta-red or salmon-pink color, but due to aging/yellowing and the inconsistencies in early Fender finishes, it’s really hard to tell for sure (not that it matters that much anyway). The only thing that Gary changed on the guitar were the frets, which he replaced with Jim Dunlop jumbos.

The guitar was lost sometime in mid 1984 when Gary traveled to the US to play a tour there. Allegedly, someone at the customs tried to steal it, but soon changed his mind after finding out who’s guitar it was. The guitar then appeared at Interpol in Houston halfway through Gary’s US tour, but he decided to keep playing the white reissue Strat that he bought as a replacement.

1980s Fender Stratocaster ’62 Reissue

1961 Fender Stratocaster white rosewood Gary bought this guitar in mid 1984 as a replacement for his old ’61 Stratocaster which was stolen couple of days prior, and used it for most of the ’84 US tour.

Not much else left to be said about this guitari except that it was completely stock, body finished in white, rosewood neck, and three single-coil pickups. Gary didn’t seem to play it much since he received his old Strat back, and around 1985 he switched to Charvels as his main tremolo guitars.

It is also important to note that Gary owned another white Stratocaster in mid 80s that he equipped with a humbucker in the bridge position. If you happen to see that guitar on a video or photo taken around that period, please be sure to send them to us using the contact form at the end of this list.

1980s/90s Squier Stratocaster

Squier Stratocaster White

Recently we’ve been contacted by a person who owns a Squier Stratocaster signed and possibly played by Gary Moore. The guitar is Korean-made, and based on the serial number (S908261), built sometime between 1988 and 1993. Unfortunately with these guitars, it’s apparently very hard to tell for certain the exact year of production (Korean Instruments Product Dating | Fender Support).

According to the current owner, Gary used this guitar briefly while waiting for his main Stratocaster to be repaired, installing a couple of custom pickups in it. After he received the old guitar back, he took the custom pickups out and gave the guitar as a present to a lady called Linda, signing it on the back of the body (now protected with a plastic plate as seen on the photos). The Squier changed hands once more before it was bought by it’s current owner.

As far as putting the guitar in Gary’s hands retrospectively, some people seem to remember Gary playing a white Squier during the Still Got the Blues tour in 1990. That guitar had custom pickups installed in it, which goes along with the story about this guitar, so there’s a chance that they are actually the same instrument. If you happen to come across a photo or video of Gary playing this Squier, please be sure to forward it to us using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

The owner was also kind enough to share a couple of photos of Gary’s Stratocaster which are available right below. Although he admitted that it would be very hard for him part from the guitar, he’s somewhat open to serious offers. If you find yourself interested, please contact us and we’ll connect you with him.

The owner is now actively looking for offers. For those of you who are interested, he can be contacted at [email protected]

1980s Charvel San Dimas (Red)

Gary Moore Red Charvel San Dimas Gary received this guitar sometime in the early 1980s together with another white Charvel, both of which were modified later on by his guitar tech Keith Page.

The red guitar in it’s original state was a direct Stratocaster replica with an addition of a Floyd Rose tremolo and a locking nut. Sometime in 1986 Gary’s guitar tech took out the three single pickups and installed a single EMG 81 in the bridge position. The pickguard was of course also replaced to feature a single cutout above the humbucker cavity, while the empty neck pickup cavity was used to house a 9V battery for the EMG pickup.

Gary used this guitar from around 1986 to 1989, although he did seem to prefer the white one since he used it for most of the gigs.

1980s Charvel San Dimas (White)

Gary Moore White Charvel San Dimas

This is the second of the two Charveles that Gary received in early 1980s, mainly known for being featured on the cover of the 1983 album Dirty Fingers.

This guitar in it’s original state featured black pickguard with two full-sized humbuckers installed on it. In 1986 Gary’s guitar tech got rid of them and installed a single EMG 81 active pickup in the bridge position, fitted on a white single-ply Stratocaster pickguard. The guitar also featured Floyd Rose tremolo, and a maple neck – which was the main different  between this and Gary’s white Charvel.

Sometime in late 80s the neck was replaced with a Jackson replacement neck with rosewood fretboard and the guitar was used extensively during the 1989 “After The War” tour. Prior to that Gary used from 1986 to 1988 as one of his main tremolo guitars.

1984 Hamer Explorer

 1984 Hamer Explorer Gary received this guitar directly from Hamer in late 1984. It featured natural finish on a flame maple top, two full-sized humbuckers, and a stoptail bridge. Gary was photographed with the guitar on couple of occasions, but to our knowledge never in a live or studio setting.

The guitar is currently owned by John Marks/Rare Star Guitars, and a couple of photos and some of the history of the guitar are available on their website – Gary Moore – Hamer Explorer.

1980s Hamer Special

Hamer GM Special Gary first used this guitar sometime in 1985, and it can be seen during a gig played with Phil Lynott that year on Channel 4’s ECT show.

The guitar was made specifically for Gary, although it was mostly based on a mid-80s Hamer Special model. It featured white finish on a mahogany body, two DiMarzio humbuckers, 22-fret mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, and a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge.

Gary predominantly used this guitar on the 1985 album “Run For Cover”, next to another similar Hamer finished in black.

1980s Ibanez Roadstar II RS1000

Ibanez Roadstar RS1000 Around 1984 Gary endorsed and occasionally used Ibanez guitars and gear (see picks section). He was most often pictured with a cherry sunburst RS1000 model, but to our knowledge he never really used any of the guitar son stage.

One of the guitars that Gary used was the Ibanez RS1000, which featured alder body with bird-eye maple top. The guitar was equipped with two Maxon Super 58 humbucking pickups and a “Hard-Rocker Pro” tremolo bridge. The RS1000 was produced from around 1981 and at that time it was one of Ibanez’s top-of-the-line models.

1980s Ibanez Roadstar II RS 530 BK

Roadstar II RS 530 BK This Ibanez was most famously used in the music video for the song “Out in the Fields” with Phil Lynott (1985). The guitar is a RS 530 BK model, and it features a flat top with red body bindings, 24 frets neck, a Pro-Rock’r tremolo bridge, and standard passive Ibanez pickups [Out in the Fields – Screenshot].

Please note that Gary also used another similar Ibanez guitar in the same video during the scene with the ocean in the background, which is a Roadstar II RS 525 BK. This guitar also features black finish, but features gold hardware and smooth body edges without the binding.

1982 Fender Stratocaster ’57 Reissue

 Fender Stratocaster 50s Reissue sonic blue This is one of the few guitars that Gary was seen playing in “Out in the Fields” video with Phil Lynott (1985). It is most likely a vintage ’57 reissue, featuring a maple neck and either a sonic blue or Daphne blue finish.This guitar, along with some of the previously mentioned guitars, was also seen on the photo taken sometime in mid 80s showing a part of Gary’s guitar collection.

Going from the info on that photo, the guitar was made in 1982 and therefore was one of the earliest ’57 reissues, which were the first ever reissue models to ever come out of Fender factory (alongside the ’52 and ’62 models of course). Although somewhat of a collectible item nowadays, back when it first came out, this model was heavily criticized due to several inaccuracies when compared to it’s original counterpart. The main issue was the neck, which featured a very flat radius, while original 50s Strats were known and loved for their round fretboards [Fender’s First Reissues – Vintage Guitar].

1950s Gibson ES-5

Gibson ES-5 This guitar can be seen on the cover of the 1987 ablum “Wild Frontier”. Gary recieved it as a present from Greg Lake, with whom he worked previously on Greg’s solo album.

That’s right; that guitar’s actually for sale in London. I got that guitar from Greg Lake when I played with him. It’s a very nice one. He has quite a selection of old acoustics. [VintageGuitar magazine – Gary Moore, Back to the Rock]

The guitar is most likely a early to mid 50s pre-Switchmaster model featuring blonde finish and three P90 pickups. As Gary said, it’s been put on sale but we haven’t been able to find any info about it. If you happen to know anything, be sure to send us a message.

1980s Hamer Vector

Gary Moore Hamer V Vector Gary received this guitar sometime in the mid 80s. Most notable appearance is during the recording of the music video for “Ready For Love” in 1989, and on the photos in the booklet from the Empty Rooms (Summer 1985 Version) vinyl.

The guitar was finished in light blue, and it featured a single humbucker in the bridge position, most likely a DiMarzio. We didn’t find a single occurrence of Gary using this guitar live, but if you happen stumble upon something be sure to let us know using the contact form at the bottom of this list.

SynthAxe

The SynthAxe This guitar was most famously used in the “Out in the Fields” video released in 1985. The SynthAxe is a fretted MIDI controller that uses electronic synthesizers to produce sound. It was created in mid 80s by Bill Aitken, Mike Dixon, and Tony Sedivy in joint venture funded by Richard Branson, but less than 100 units were ever made.

1980s PRS Standard 24

 PRS Standard 24 Gary was seen with the guitar on a few photos taken presumably during the Wild Frontier studio sessions in 1986/87, and on the music video filmed with Ferry Aid – a mixed band assembled in 1987 with the goal to generate financial support to the charity set up in the aftermath of the Zeebrugge Disaster.

The guitar featured a 24-fret neck with dot inlays, and seems to have been equipped with an EMG 81 active pickup in the bridge and a classic humbucker in the neck position.

Gary seemed to have owned at least couple of more PRS guitars in the late 80s. He had a white PRS Custom 24 and an orange Standard 24, both of which can be seen in the “Wild Frontier” music video, and he owned a blue PRS seen in the “Over the Hills and Far Away”.

1980s Hamer Phantom A5

Hamer A5 This guitar was featured on a photograph taken of Gary’s guitar collection sometime in the late 80s. We are not sure if Gary ever performed live with it, or used it in the studio.

Gary’s Phantom A5 featured red finish, triple-coil pickup in the bridge, and a slanted single-coil pickup in the neck position. It was also fitted with a Kahler tremolo system.

Heritage H150

Heritage H150 Les Paul Gary played a couple of Heritage guitars circa 1989/90. These guitars were built by a company located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, founded in 1985 by four long-time Gibson employees when Gibson relocated to Nashville.

The guitars were most likely used at least partially on the “After The War” album, since one of them was featured on the front cover photo, and for “Blood Of Emeralds” during the concert in Belfast in 1989.

Gary himself mostly used a modified version of the H150 model which had two EMG 81 active pickups. This guitar was eventually introduced as official Gary Moore signature model, but the company built a very limited number of them.

1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

Gary Moore 1959 Gibson Les Paul This guitar was bought in 1988 by Gary’s guitar tech Graham Liley. The previous owner was Phil Harris, who on Graham request came down to a studio where Gary was rehearsing and offered him two of his guitars – both late 50s Les Paul Standards. Gary ended up with a light-burst worn out ’59 Les Paul Standard – quite similar to the Greeny, but featuring a lot more accented flamed maple top.

If there was a Gary Moore Les Paul that was about Gary, – it was that guitar. Stripe remained with him until the very end, which I quite humble that I had the pleasure of selling him that guitar. – Phil Harris in an interview with Guitar Interactive

Gary first used this guitar on the After The War album in 1989, and it can be seen on the music video for the title song. It was then used on one of his perhaps best known pieces – “Still Got the Blues”, and “Oh Pretty Woman” – on the 1990 album. Since then it basically became one of his favorite guitars, and he used it on nearly all the records up until his death in 2011.

The guitar is mostly stock except for the tuners, which were replaced with Grovers, and the original frets were replaced with bigger ones at some point by Charlie Chandler.

It is perhaps important to note that this guitar was not the one featured on the “After Hours” album cover. That was another 1959 Les Paul, which Gary didn’t particularly like, and ended up selling it.

1968 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Blonde Rosewood 1968 Gary bought this guitar sometime in 1990, and used it for most of his slide work ever since. The guitar can be heard on the original recording of “Moving On” from the 1990 album “Still Got the Blues” while keeping the guitar tuned to open A,  and on the song “If The Devil Made Whiskey,” from the 2007 album.

Gary’s Telecaster was made in 1968, and it featured blonde finish and two original Fender single-coil pickups fitted on a black pickguard. The original ’68 maple neck was replaced by the previous owner with a later rosewood model.

1990s Fritz Brothers Super Deluxe

Gary Moore Fritz Brothers Guitar Gary was seen using this guitar during a concert in London in 1992 on the song “The Sky is Crying”, and in 1993 during the Live Blues concert on the song “Too Tired”.

The guitar featured light-blue finish on a semi-hollow Telecaster style alder body with solid spruce top. The neck had ebony fretboard with abalone dot markers, and the guitar came equipped with three EMG SA pickups.

1960s Gibson ES-355TD-SV

Gibson ES355 Gary was first seen using this guitar during Live At Montreux show recorded in 1997 on the song “One Good Reason”. He picked it up again two years later at the same place to play couple of songs including “I Loved Another Woman” and “Need Your Love So Bad”.

The guitar featured cherry red finish, ABR-1 bridge with a stop tailpiece, large block fretboard inlays, split-diamond headstock inlay, and two Gibson humbuckers. It was also equipped with a Varitone switch which is only available on guitars made after 1959 – which gives us a very broad approximation of the guitar’s year of production.

1990s Fender Stratocaster HSS

Fender HSS Floyd Rose Stratocaster Gary used this guitar during the Dark Days In Paradise tour in 1997 as his main tremolo guitar. It can be heard on “I Have Found My Love in You” and “Like Angels” from the original album.

The guitar was an American-built Stratocaster with a humbucker in the bridge position and a Floyd Rose tremolo installed in place of the standard Fender tremolo. It was finished in black, and it featured maple neck and a white pickguard.

1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Standard

 1961 Gibson SG In Jack Bruce’s (Cream bassist) 1998 instructional film titled “The Cream of Cream” Gary appeared as a guest guitarist, and perhaps as a nod to Clapton picked up an unusual instrument for him – a Gibson SG. The film features interviews with Jack, and separate segments during which the bend composed of Jack, Moore, and Gary Husband performed some of Cream’s best known songs.

Gary’s guitar was most likely a 1961 Gibson SG, or more precisely a Les Paul – since the “SG” branding wasn’t introduced until 1963. It featured cherry red finish, and was most likely originally equipped with the sideways vibrola tremolo since the screw holes are still visible behind the newly fitted stop-tail bridge.

1963 Fender Stratocaster

 Gary Moore 1963 Natural Stratocaster Gary used this guitar towards the later part of his career as a backup for his trusted 1961 Stratocaster finished in fiesta red.

The guitar was originally most likely finished in three-tone sunburst, but the paint was stripped down and the body was refinished with a clear lacquer. All the electronics are alos non-original, including the three Kinman pickups from the Blues set, and the original tremolo was replaced with a modern one.

 

Gibson Gary Moore Signature Les Paul

Gary Moore Signature Les Paul This is the first official Gary Moore signature model issued by Gibson. It was released in 2000, and Gary used it very often next to his main ’59 Les Paul.

Gary Moore Signature Les Paul

A beautiful sample of a Gary Moore Signature Les Paul. Photo credit: WIlma M.

The guitar was mostly based on a ’59 Standard, although it did feature a couple of very noticeable differences. The body was finished in amber burst and the neck featured the same profile as a ’59, but the guitar had no binding on the body nor on the neck. It was also equipped with a pair of then newly developed BurstBucker pickups, although Gary’s main guitar which was actually a prototype featured a pair of Tom Holmes pickups instead.

I use Tom Holmes pickups sometimes. On one of my signature Les Paul models, I’ve played around with different ones. Some new pickups are really good. I mean, if you can’t get a good sound today, I think there’s something really wrong with you! – Gary Moore Still Got the Blues – Again!

Gary possibly used couple of these guitars from 2001 onward, but almost every gig around that period seems to feature the prototype model with Holmes pickups. That guitar is easily identifiable since it’s the only of the bunch to feature pickup covers (stock models came with exposed zebra in the neck).

Gary Moore Signature Les Paul

The stock guitars were shipped without the pickup covers attached. Photo credit: WIlma M.

It is of course possible that Gary requested that his personal guitars had chrome pickup cover, but by looking through videos and photos of the guitar that Gary played from 2001, it all seems to be one same guitar. There’s a very distinguishable dark patch on the lower horn of the body where the flames on the wood appear to be less accented, and it is unlikely that two guitars had this same unique feature.

Gary is pictured with one of his signature Les Pauls with the original pick ups, quite a rare sight. This flyer is from BB King’s farewell concert 2006. (thanks Wilma for the scan)

Gibson Les Paul Doublecut

Gibson Les Paul Double Cut Standard Gary used this guitar in Montreux in 2001 for the song “The Prophet”. The guitar is essentially a double-cutaway version of the Gibson Les Paul guitar with 24 frets and simplified controls (only one control knobs for volume and tone each).

2000s Gibson Explorer

 Gibson Explorer White Gary used this guitar extensively during the Monsters of Rock concert in Sheffield in 2003. It was also likely used at least partially on Power of Blues and/or Scars albums, although we didn’t find a direct quote from Gary to confirm this.

The guitar was finished in white, and everything on it seemed to be pretty much stock. It’s really hard to tell if it was new or vintage, but just watching the Monster of Rock concert it looks like the guitar might actually be brand new. The fretboard has no wear whatsoever, the finish still looks glossy, and all the hardware looks like it’s practically brand new.

1963 Gibson ES-335

1963 GIbson ES-335 This guitar was acquired from Johnny Fean, Gary’s old friend and a guitarist of the Irish band “Horslips”. The guitar featured cherry red finish, square inlays, and a pair of Gibson PAF pickups with no chrome covers.

I used this 1963 Gibson Cherry 335 in London with ‘The PsychoPats’ until it eventually got passed along to Gary Moore. Gary used it on his 2001 studio album ‘Back To The Blues’ . – Johnny Fean

As said, Gary used the guitar on the Back To The Blues album released in 2001, which also featured this guitar on the cover photo. Gary also used it on the song “Have You Heard?” from the 2007 album Close as You Get.

Gibson Firebird

Gibson Firebird Gary acquired this guitar around 2005 and ued it a couple of times on stage in the following years. The guitar was completely stock, with two mini-humbuckers and a fixed bridge.

As far as the usage in the studio, Gary has said that he used the guitar on the song “Preacher Man Blues” from the 2008 album Bad for You Baby.

That very thin, hard sound is a red Gibson Firebird I picked up in Finland last year. That guitar has a nice twang to it, and it really brings out the twang from the spring reverb. – Guitar Player’s final interview with Gary Moore

2000s Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop Class 5

Gary Moore 2005 Tribute Concert Dark Les Paul

Gary Moore used this guitar for couple of songs at the tribute concert for Phil Lynott in Dublin in 2005 [Gary Moore and Friends: One Night in Dublin – A Tribute to Phil Lynott]. The concert featured guest appearances from three Thin Lizzy guitarists Scott Gorham, Eric Bell and Brian Robertson as well Brian Downey ex Thin Lizzy drummer.

The exact model of this Les Paul is somewhat of a mystery, but most of the specs seem to fit the description of a Custom Shop Class 5 model – many of which often feature a highly figured maple tops. Gary’s guitar also seems to have been finished in a custom paint – which is either translucent black or blue (hard to tell due to stage lighting).

This guitar is presently on display at the OhYeah music centre in Belfast.

2000s Gibson Les Paul ’57 Goldtop Reissue

 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop Used occasionally towards the later part of his career, most notably during the Avo Session in 2008.

The guitar is a reissue model of Gibson’s 1957 Les Paul Goldtop, and it featured mahogany body with carved maple top and a glued-in mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard. It was equipped with two Custom Buckers (Gibson-made pickups) which were developed to replicate the sound of the original PAFs.

2000s Gibson Les Paul ’58/’59 Standard Reissue

Gibson 59 Les Paul Reissue Gary used couple of these guitars during his last filmed performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on the 6th of July, 2010, but they were also seen on some earlier gigs spanning back to 2007.

During the Montreux Festival alone he used at least three different guitars – a ’58 Reissue finished in lemonburst, a ’58/’59 Reissue finished in noticeably darker color, and a ’59 Les Paul Collector’s Choice – a replica of the Peter Green Les Paul that Gary played in the early days.

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Gary Moore’s Acoustic Guitars:

1980s Takamine PT-015

Takamine PT-015 As far as the acoustics, at least in the early years, Gary pretty much stuck with one brand – Takamine. Everything we know about these guitars comes from a photo taken of his personal guitar collection in 1985, since Gary was rarely seen playing acoustics live.

On the mentioned photo Gary was seen setting next to a Takamine PT-015 which is a 6-string model featuring arched spruce top, rosewood neck, ebony fingerboard, and a palathetic bridge pickup.

Takamine 12-String Custom

Gary Moore Takamine 12 String This is the second Takamine guitar seen on the before mentioned photo of Gary’s guitar collection taken in 1985. This guitar was allegedly custom-made for Moore, and only two of them exist in the world, the other one belonging to Greg Lake.

1989 Takemine CP132SC

This guitar was sold through Bonham’s auction in June 2016. According to the info provided by the house, Gary used the guitar on Nothing’s The Same from the 1992 After Hours album, and With Love, Remember from 1994 Ballads and Blues.

The Takemine CP132SC is a nylon string classical model featuring rosewood back and sides with solid cedar top. It was built in Japan, and was equipped with Accuracoustic preamp.

The current owner of the guitar was kind enough to contact us and share a photo of the guitar in its current state.

Ozark Resonator

National Duolian Resonator Bought and used specifically for the song “Sundown” on the album “Close As You Get” released in 2007.

Gary Moore’s Amps:

– Hiwatt Custom 100
Used in the very early days with Skid Row, circa 1970 – around the same time he started using the Peter Green Les Paul.

– Peavey
Allegedly used in the early days, but also seen on photos dating back to circa 1983 (Phil Lynott and Gary Moore at the Cal Expo on August 18, 1983). Exact model unknown.

– Marshalls
By 1973 Gary seemed to have started using his first Marshall – which based on the photos was a 1959 Super Lead. He continued using the same amp through 1974 during his tenure with Thin Lizzy and later on in the 80s, although some other Marshall amps were also occasionally included in his live setup. For example, a Marshall JMP Master Model 2204 was seen during a live gig in 1977 with Thin Lizzy, and a couple of Marshall Super Bass and Super Lead (both 1987 and 1959) models were used from mid to late 80s.

– Vox AC30
Allegedly used during the Colosseum II era.

– Soldano SLO100 & HR50 
Used mostly just live from the very late 80s up until 1993 – which is when he started using Marshall almost exclusively. The SLO100 was usually used for the clean tones, and the HR50 for the dirty tones. Both of the amps were hooked up to a Marshall 1960 B 4 x 12″ cabinet fitted with EV 12″ speakers.

– Marshall JTM45 Reissue
First used on Still Got the Blues album with Marshall 1960B 4 x12″ cabinets fitted with Electrovoice 12M speakers instead of the usual Celestions. All of the JTM45 amplifiers owned by Gary were stock models straight from the factory, with no modifications.

– Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker Reissue
Used occasionally from the early 90s. The amp can be seen on couple of gigs, including the concert with B.B. King in 1992 and Blues For Greeny gig played in 1995.

– Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Gary used this amp in his live setup for more than 10 years consistently from around 1994/95.

– 1969/70 Fender Showman
Used for the songs such as “Need Your Love So Bad” and similar – but mostly where Marshalls couldn’t deliver as much reverb as Gary wanted.

– Cornell-Plexi 18/20 Combo
Used on the 2006 album “Old New Ballads Blues”.

– Marshall 1959HW
Seen as Gary main live amp from around 2008 and up until his death.

Gary Moore’s Guitar Effects:

Gary used quite a lot of different effects throughout the years. This list will not feature all of them, instead we’ll try to separate a couple of most notable pedals that made and influence on Gary’s sound the most, and the ones that remained on his pedalboard for the longest time:

– Roland SRE-555 Chorus/Echo
Used in the late 80s, mostly during the Wild Frontier tour. Gary only used the echo from this pedal, while the chorus came from a separate unit in the rack – a Roland SDD-320 Dimension D.

– Roland SDE-3000 Digital Delay
Used during the same time as the previously mentioned SRE-555 unit.

– Boss DS-1 Distortion 
Used since the mid 80s to give boost to his Stratocaster guitars.

– Marshall Guv’nor (Mk 1)
Perhaps the most important pedal in Gary’s arsenal. First used in late 80s/early 90s, most notably from that period on Still Got The Blues album.

– Ibanez Tube Screamer
He used both the TS-9 and the TS-10 models.

(…more to be added)

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Here’s a fun clip of Gary demonstrating some his pedal effects:

Pedals featured in the video are as following: Boss DS-1 Distortion, Boss CE-2 Chorus, Boss DM-2 Delay, Boss OC-2 Octave, Boss BF-2 Flanger

Gary Moore’s Guitar Strings:

– Dean Markley, either a .010 set (Dean Markley 2504B – this set is heavier on top than a standard set), or a .009 set (Dean Markley 2508).

I string my guitars with Dean Markleys—sometimes .010-.052, and sometimes a .009-.048 set. Honestly, I only hear the difference in gauge on the bottom strings, not the top. [Gary Moore, October 1, 2007, Guitar Player Magazine]

Gary Moore’s Guitar Picks:

– Herco Flex 75 1mm Picks – Allegedly used in the very early days.

– Ibanez Extra Heavy Celluloid Shell Picks – Used during the 1984 Irish tour. Check out some photos of these picks kindly provided by our reader John: Photo 1, Photo 2.

– In the later part of his career he used either Gibson or Fender heavy picks.  [Gary Moore, October 1, 2007, Guitar Player Magazine] Although the details are unknown he likely stuck with celluloid picks with standard 351 shape. If you’re in market for some check out either Gibson Standard Heavy picks or Fender 351 Shape Classic picks.

Contributors: Wayne, M. Giordano, M. Beckmann, John D., djhorrocks, hitteg, Paul, Carlo, Russ, hproding, Rob Aartsen, chris-r1968, jmdirectlyfromjm, rsniders, Wes, Wilma, Manfred, ingemar