The Rory Gallagher Guitar Archive

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Specs

Make:
Fender
Model:
Stratocaster
Year:
1961
Notes:
Originally Sunburst (See Instrument Description for Details)

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PHOTO BY SHU TOMIOKA

Instrument Description

Rory Gallagher on his 1961 Strat:

“Early on, I got the Stratocaster - in fact it was the first one I ever saw.  It’s supposed to have been the first Strat brought into Ireland.  The guy who had it before me was in a show band and he ordered a red one.  They actually sent a sunburst so he decided to wait for a red one to arrive, and I had the sunburst - it was luxury!  It was easy to play from the start and I’ve kept it ever since - in fact it’s getting better!

I’ve had to take the neck off occasionally and dry it out – it was getting damp with doing so many gigs and I started to have tuning problems.  The pots have gone and the pick-ups have been rewound and things like that.  The tremolo arm is broken - but other than that it’s still in one piece!

  It’s a ‘61 model and it has a very flat kind of neck.  Although they were making the bodies out of Alder and Ash, somebody said mine is actually Maple - which is really a one off!

It was in good condition when I bought it, but it’s got so battered now it’s got a kind of tattoo quality about it. There’s now a theory that the less paint or varnish on a guitar, acoustic or electric, the better. The wood breathes more. But it’s all psychological. I just like the sound of it. ‘It’s also a good luck thing. It was stolen one time and it came back It’s kind of a lucky charm; the guitar is a part of me. BB King might have several Lucilles, but I’ve only got the one Strat. I don’t even call it a woman’s name. It’s what it is. I still play it every day, I just love playing it.”

Donal recalls when Rory’s Strat was stolen in 1961 from the back of the tour van:

“I remember the incident happening in Dublin. Just the sheer horror of it! What made it doubly bad is that a friend of Rory’s in York lent Rory his Telecaster® for an upcoming gig in Dublin. To play in Dublin was the next big step for Rory at the time, so he borrowed this Tele so he could play slide. Sadly, they stole the Tele® as well. That whole week felt like someone we knew had been kidnapped. It was that profound! Rory was so depressed. And, as family, you’d take on the depression as well.”

“In Ireland at the time, there was a television show called “Gardia Patrol.” They featured Rory’s stolen guitar. And, since there was only one television channel in Ireland - everyone watched and the item became hot property. The next thing that happened was the cops found that it had been abandoned. We were very grateful. But, at the same time, when they aired the recovery on “Gardia Patrol,” the cop said, “The thief was probably doing the neighbors a favour!” The corny comment made Rory cringe. I remember screaming at the television, “If you only knew how good this guitar player is!” But, Gardia Patrol was instrumental in getting it back to him.”

Features:

The battle-scars of Rory’s Strat were not down to roughshod treatment, but due to his blood group type, extremely rare, that had a very high acidic content. So when Rory sweated on stage - and he sweated buckets -it was like paint stripper.

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