See Rory Gallagher’s Famous Strat and Other Guitars Up Close

Blues-rock legend Rory Gallagher is the rare instance of a guitarist who was identified strongly with a single instrument. While he performed with other guitars, it was his 1961 Fender Stratocaster that Gallagher played extensively throughout his lifetime, from 1963 until his death on June 14, 1995.

In this video, shot by Guitarist magazine, Rory’s nephew Daniel Gallagher shows and talks about his uncle’s main guitars, including the Strat and several others.

The sunburst Strat was Rory’s workhorse guitar throughout his career. The finish was worn almost entirely away through constant playing, Rory’s sweat (which was peculiarly acidic) and, on the body’s backside, contact with Rory’s jeans.

As Daniel explains, this was reportedly the first Stratocaster in Ireland and was purchased by a guitarist for a showband – essentially a group that played dances – who had expected to receive a red-or a pink-finished Strat. 

The guitarist traded it in sometime afterward, and Rory – then just 15 – subsequently purchased it on installment for 100 pounds from Crowley’s Music Store in Cork. He played the guitar in his earliest bands, including Taste, the rock trio with which he first began to make a name for himself. “It meant a hell of a lot to him,” Daniel says. “And it was a huge part of his sound.”

Daniel also shows Rory’s white 1966 Telecaster that goes back to his days with Taste. Rory used the guitar for slide work, following the style of Muddy Waters, whom he performed with on the 1972 album The London Muddy Waters Sessions.

“A big thing for Rory, slide-wise, was playing on Muddy’s London Sessions,” Daniel says. “I think he learned a lot from Muddy Waters at that session, and [it was] sort of, ‘If that’s how Muddy does it, that’s how I’ll do it.’ ”

Other guitars shown here include his heavily modified Fender Esquire, 1963 “Bullfrog Blues” Gretsch Corvette, Martin D-35, and 1932 National Resonator.

Christopher Scapelliti
Guitar Player editor-in-chief

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.