Gary Moore’s 1961 Fender Stratocaster

Gary started using this Strat in 1981 while recording with Greg Lake. According to Gary’s guitar tech Graham Lilly, the guitar was initially meant for Greg, but it ended up with Gary.

[…] A chap turned up to the studio, with a couple of guitars. Gary was there and he was sold one first. It was an ES-5. Gary also tried the Strat and even just acoustically was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s incredible. But the deal was that it was there just for Greg to have a look at. So Greg turns up, […] Gary said he had his fingers crossed thinking, ‘Please don’t buy it. Please don’t buy it.’ After a bit of deliberation, Greg passed on it, because it was maybe just a little bit too beaten up for his tastes. So Gary was like: ‘Right, that’s mine.’ That was it: the deal was done.

The Red STRAT, Guitarist, 16 Dec 2016


Gary’s Stratocaster was made in 1961, a period that 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).

There are also rumors that the guitar could’ve been refinished (check the Guitarist article linked above for the source), and that the original finish was possibly sunburst.

The first major change that was done to the guitar during Gary’s ownership of it was a re-fret job. The original frets were replaced with Dunlop 6100 fret wire. The original wire would’ve been tiny when compared to this, but apparently, larger frets were Gary’s preference.

It was the biggest wire that Dunlop did at the time, 6100. Which might upset a few purists, but it works, you know? The intonation would be pretty good on it because the frets were such a solid lump […] So they certainly worked.

The Red STRAT, Guitarist, 16 Dec 2016

The second thing worth noting is that both the neck and the middle pickups are not original. According to Graham Lilly, the neck pickup was rewound by Seymour Duncan in 1998, while the middle pickup was replaced with an SD Antiquity single-coil in 2003.

Aside from that, one of the original tone pots was moved over to be used as the volume when the old volume pot died. A brand new tone pot was installed in place of the old one.


This has been Gary’s longest-running Stratocaster and one of his oldest guitars overall. Perhaps most memorable, the guitar was used during the 2005 The Strat Pack concert which marked the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar.

Gary Moore – Red House, Fender Stratocaster 50th Anniversary. Source

As far as studio use, the guitar was featured on a number of songs, including Too Tired and Moving On from the Still Got The Blues album. Aside from that, according to Graham Lilly, it was also used to an extent on Gary’s last three albums.

If you happen to come across any interviews from Gary where he mentions using it on any other songs, be sure to leave a comment below.

Gary Moore – Moving On

Stolen at Customs?

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 whose guitar 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.

One of the (Stratocasters) 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. […] In the meantime I bought this white one, which is a brand new version of a ’62, with a rosewood fingerboard. It’s also stock. I just got to like it, so I’ve been using it for most of the shows.

Original Source Needed


GroundGuitar counts on your criticism and feedback. In case you notice anything wrong with the information posted on this page, or you have knowledge of something that you would like to share, be sure to leave a comment below.

In case you want to talk to me directly and privately, please use the Contact Form and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (Dan)

Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gerald Vos
Gerald Vos
2 months ago

Luckily I’ve seen GM a few times over the years, both in his rock/metal phase as when he (re)found the blues – absolutely staggering musician (not just in guitar, but a good vocalist and great frontman too!).
Instantly recognisable, and he was a huge influence on my playing back in the day…

There’s a brilliant gig from 1981 on YouTube, played at the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands.
With Ian Paice on drums, Neil Murray on bass and Don Airey on keys!
Blistering stuff!!
I’ve often wondered how he got thát sound out of a simple Strat ;)

Don DeMille
Don DeMille
2 years ago

One of my all-time favorite guitarists! Thanks for the work put into this site. It is incredible!