Rory Gallagher’s 1966 Fender Telecaster

access_time First seen circa 1970

Rory was first seen playing this guitar during a gig played sometime in early to mid-1970 [Photo of Rory Gallagher 1970 Copenhagen, Denmark]. The exact date of this gig is unknown, but January 1st (as noted in the original photo description) seems to be unlikely since Taste played Ulster Hall in Belfast on that exact date.

The next time Rory appears with this guitar is the Isle of Wight concert in August 1970. At that point, the guitar featured white finish, although Rory was quoted saying that the finish wasn’t original.

A white ‘63 Telecaster. The lead pickup was rewound. It was repainted; I stripped it down to its natural wood, and then I tried to get the natural creme finish that I could get, but it turned out kind of white. I used that with Taste as well. It’s a very good Tele. [The Wearing of the Blues, Guitar for the practicing musician, August 1991]

If the original color was indeed cream/blonde (as it appears to be on the Copenhagen photo), a question arises as to what prompted Rory to repaint it in the first place. Since the guitar was relatively new when he acquired it, it is unlikely that it had any wear on the body. Of course, there is a possibility that Rory bought the guitar that was damaged in some way that required a new paint job to restore it, but that that doesn’t appear to be the case based on the Copenhagen photo. It is somewhat possible that the guitar was already white on that photo as well, and there could’ve been a yellow stage light shining on the Telecaster which would make a white Telecaster looking yellow. If you happen to know of something that would explain this, please be sure to contact us.

Rory playing the Telecaster during the Isle of Wight festival in 1970
Rory playing the Telecaster during the Isle of Wight festival in 1970

The first modification that Rory did to this guitar was the replacement of the original threaded steel saddles with steel grooved ones (the steel grooved saddles were a new innovation for the 1968/69 season, [A.R. Duchossoir, The Fender Telecaster, p. 67]). Unfortunately, due to lack of any photos from around the period, we couldn’t pin-point when exactly the mod took place. If we’re to guess, since Rory did the same exact mod on his Esquire in early March 1972 (read more on it in the Esquire section), it is likely that the Telecaster mod was done around the same time.

From this date and up until around 1974, the guitar seems to have remained unchanged. The next mod that Rory did to the guitar was in spring of 1974, and it involved removing the cover of the neck pickup. The guitar was first seen in this condition on the footage of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert dating to August 5th, 1974.

Rory's Telecaster without the neck pickup cover. Screencap Don-Kirshners Rock Concert YouTube
Rory’s Telecaster without the neck pickup cover. Screencap Don-Kirshners Rock Concert YouTube

It appears though that by 1975 the guitar was reverted back to it’s previous condition [Rory Gallagher with the Telecaster, 1975], as the mod probably didn’t produce the desired results. Rory stated on couple of occasions [Rory Gallager on rhythm pickup on Teles] that he thought that the neck pickup in the Telecaster wasn’t particularly strong, so the removal of the metal cover was likely done to see if that would help boost the sound somewhat. The same mod was applied to his Esquire, as mentioned in the section dedicated to that guitar.

Unfortunately, from 1975 up until early 1979 Rory seemed to have used his Esquire more often that the Telecaster as his main slide guitar, which leaves us with a very few photos and videos of the guitar from that period to inspect. The latest photo of the guitar that we were able to find is from the Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, which based on rather shaky info, was sometime in late 1975 (more specific info about this is available in the Esquire section).

This is obviously a rather big gap in time, and it is unlikely that the guitar remained unused for that whole period.  If you happen to know of a photo or a video taken at a later date, basically between late 1975 and May 6th, 1979, please be sure to contact us.

The next time Rory appears with this guitar to our knowledge is the May 6th, 1979, or the evening before the legendary Rockpalast Concert played in Wiesbaden, Germany [May Festival Wiesbaden 1979]. The Telecaster seemed to have gone through some major changes. The neck pickup is now completely gone, and what looks like a Bill Lawrence L-220 or L-250 took it’s place. Next to that, another Bill Lawrence pickup was added to the middle position, essentially converting the guitar to a three-pickup Tele.

There are couple of photos of decent quality taken at a later date, showing the mentioned mods in much greater detail. They were taken on August 22nd, 1980, which is of course when Rory played at the Reading Rock Festival [Rory Gallagher, August 22nd, 1970 – By: Peter Still]. Looking at these, you’ll notice that the toggle switch on the Tele is actually in the treble position, meaning that only the bridge pickup is in the use, while the two custom pickups are sitting idle. Also, the guitar is not used for slide, which leaves us thinking towards what purpose did Rory plan to use this guitar.

From that date on, the guitar seems to have been retired as a stage instrument, as Rory begins using couple of different guitars. Most notably, the Gretsch Corvette which he used as his main slide guitar from around 1979, and a Fender Lead II which he was seen using during the 1983 European tour.

Around 1987 Rory reverted the Telecaster back to the way it was. The same was done on his Esquire, which was

I’m a Strat player because of the three pickups, the out of phase thing, as well – even on my Stratocaster I’ve neutered the middle tone control. I think probably the ideal guitar would be like a Telecaster lead pickup on a Stratocaster body[…] I turned against the rhythm pickup on Teles, years ago, and I put two Strat pickups in the middle and rhythm position, but then lately I’ve reverted back to the way they were. [Guitarist, June 1987, Rory ! by Neville Marten]

At this point Rory also removed the copper plate underneath the lead (bridge) pickup in order to fix the “squealing problem” as he called it.

The lead one is always the difficult one. What I do with that one, or should I say what Chris Eccleshall does with that one, is just take the brass plate from underneath the pickup and throw it away. He re-earths it somewhere else and that cures it. Plus, you have to put the petroleum wax in. [Guitarist, June 1987, Rory ! by Neville Marten]

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access_time 1963

1961 Fender Stratocaster

Rory bought this guitar (Serial Number 64351) for £100 in 1963 on credit from the owner of Crowley’s Music Store in Cork, Michael Crowley. Over the years, the Strat would become Rory’s main guitar and the one he would most often be associated with. Origin Story The story of how Rory came to own his 1961 Fender Stratocaster is somewhat interesting in itself. The guitar’s previous owner was Jim Conlon, who is known […]

access_time 1995

1958 Fender Stratocaster

Rory owned a vintage 1957 maple-neck Stratocaster that he used only in the studio. This information comes from the 1998 article published in December 1998 issue of The Guitar Magazine, and from the Rory Gallagher official website, where you can see the photos of the guitar. It’s unknown when exactly Rory acquired this Stratocaster, on which specific tracks he used it.

access_time 1982

1978 Fender Music Master

Rory was first seen using this guitar around 1982. Interesting to note, in an interview published after Rory’s death, it is said that Rory owned a Fender Duo-Sonic fitted with a Music Master neck. [Dec. 1998 issue of The Guitar magazine] However since this particular Music Master is accounted for, the interviewer either made a mistake or Rory owned two of them – one of which served as a donor […]

access_time 1979

1979 Fender 25th Anniversary Stratocaster

Rory acquired this guitar upon visiting Fender factory presumably sometime during his 1979 US tour. They thought I couldn’t afford a nice and clean guitar, and they were slightly embarrassed by the finish (of the 1961 Stratocaster) so they gave me a lovely white Anniversary Strat – which I used in the studio a lot. It has a great sound, but the odd thing is that nowadays the people are no longer offended […]

access_time 1971

1958/59 Fender Esquire

First photos of Rory playing this guitar that we know of were taken by Richard Zimmermann on October 20, 1971, in Milwaukee, so it is somewhat safe to say that Rory acquired it sometime in summer or early fall 1971. The guitar is an Esquire model, but Gallagher himself often referred to it as a Telecaster since it was fitted with a neck pickup – essentially converting it to a Tele. The Telecaster is a 1953 Esquire […]

access_time 1959

Rosetti Solid 7

This was Rory’s first electric guitar, bought about two years after he acquired his first acoustic guitar – a dark sunburst general model of unknown manufacturer. This guitar was made by a Dutch firm called Egmond and imported into the UK by Rosetti company, who sold them for about £20 in the 60s. Although we couldn’t find any photos of Rory with the guitar, he most likely had the two-pickup model, since the three-pickup one […]

access_time 1979

1968 Coral 3S19 Electric Sitar

Purchased for $1500 in Florida by Rory’s brother Donal, and used by Rory on tours. He first played the Sitar on a song Philby (1979), but for that occasion, he borrowed it from Pete Townsend. However, the songs Kickback City (1987) and Ghost Blues (1990) were most likely recorded on Rory’s own 1968 Coral. (on Kickback City) The sitar -that was the x-factor. We mixed and remixed it, but there […]

access_time 1979

1957 Gretsch Corvette

Purchased for $80 in a Pawnshop in the late 70s. This eventually became a substitute guitar for the Esquire. At present I’m using a Gretsch Corvette for slide instead of the Esquire. The Corvette is Gretsch’s attempt at a Les Paul Junior, but I took off the Gretsch pickup because it was too weak and I put on a P90, which is an old black Gibson single coil pickup. Beat Instrumental, […]

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