Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gary Moore Gear Guide

ADHD's Gear Guides at any Budget. I'm a firm believer that the tone comes from the hands. If your trying to achieve a certain guitar hero's tone you have to not just have the chops but you've got to get down their style of attack with your picking hand as well. That said every step you take toward finding the right gear is often very inspiring and WILL get you closer to “that” sound. I'm going to break these down into Guitars, Pickups, Pedals and Amps.

Gary Moore Gear Guide.
Gary Moore with his Signature Les Paul
Gary Moore defines the sound of classic blues based rock n roll. It's the tried and true formula of a Les Paul through a Marshall that has been used by so many players through out the ages. In the Thin Lizzy days it was a Les Paul into a Plexi and then a JCM800. One of the most talked about sounds that Gary is famous for was on the album Still Got the Blues. Gary has said over and over again that the sound on that album was about stripping it down to the basics with a 59 Les Paul, a Guv'nor pedal, and a Marshall JTM 45 reissue. He also used a Soldano and in later years Marshall JCM 2000 DSL's (not to be confused with the TSL). Gary loved to try new gear but always sounded like Gary. He would use any number of pedals to act as a booster and other than the Guv'nor he often used a Tube Screamer or similar pedal to push the amp from crunchy to distortion.

Guitars – While Gary used quite a few different guitars including Fender Strats, Ibanez, and Hamer's, but he is most associated with the 59 Les Paul, he owned two which he named Greeny and Stripe. With the prices of original 59 Les Paul burst well into the 6 digit price range Gibson has begun offering the 59 reissue also known as an R9 Les Paul. These are still quite expensive but do have some subtle differences to the originals. If you have the cash and want the real deal check the labor intensive work over at Historic Makeovers the attention to detail is nothing short of outstanding. I've seen the process up close and the pain staking detail is extremely impressive. But if your looking to buy a guitar without taking out a second mortgage on your house there are some killer options out there.

The Gibson Les Paul Traditional – While the casual observer may not notice the differences between the Traditional and the Standard most players who have spent any time playing will notice them as soon as the pick them up. The new standards feel very different than the older Les Paul's and while they are a more versatile guitar the Traditional is what most people think of when they think of that classic Les Paul sound. The stock 57 Classic pickups are a favorite of tone hounds everywhere.

The Gibson Gary Moore Tribute Les Paul- After his 59's got to expensive to take on tour these were the guitars that Gary was seen using. A 50's profile neck, flipped neck pickup, and mismatched knobs are all tributes to Gary's beloved 59's. Differences include vintage style keys and a lack of binding. Word is that Gary was using the PG Blues pickups from Bare Knuckle before his untimely death in 2011.NOTE Gibson has stopped production of this guitar.

The Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus- Want something in the mid range price that even the cork sniffers won't laugh at? The Tribute Plus is the Asian made Traditional complete with USA made 57 Classic pickups, a maple cap (not just a veneer), Switchcraft electronics and Grover tuners. Check the message boards and reviews on this killer guitar.

ESP/ LTD EC-256 – while there are a lot of knock offs in the budget world companies like PRS, Ibanez, and ESP like to put their own spin on things. The LTD EC-256 doesn't look exactly like a Les Paul but is well built and is cheap enough to spend some extra on aftermarket pickups. In the sub $500 range it holds it's own against others and has a slightly lighter weight and thinner neck. Couple this with some upgraded pickups and you'll have a nice sounding axe that won't break the bank.

Pickups- Gary Moore used a lot of different pickups over the years, but in Greeny and Stripe they were stock 59 humbuckers. Greeny in particular had a flipped magnet in the neck that gave an interesting out of phase sound that Peter Green used more than Gary.

Boutique- Boutique pickups are all the rage these days and there are several companies who offer drop in replacements for the Gary Moore/Peter Green tone. Bare Knuckle Pickups PG Blues set and Lust for Tone Pickups Black Roses set both take slightly different approaches but offer fantastic results.

Seymour Duncan Vintage Blues Set- While the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop offers a Greeie pickup, if your on a smaller budget the Vintage Blues Set is excellent. The SD 59's are often compared to the 57 Classic's that come in the Les Paul Traditional but are said to be a little less gritty. If your looking to get classic sounds out of a budget Les Paul this is a great place to start. Flip the magnet in the neck pickup and play your Peter Green licks. 

The Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates- The legend is that the Pearly Gates Pickup was made to recreate the sound of Billy Gibbons 59 Les Paul. If your looking for an affordable replacement pickup with a little bit more nastiness checkout the Pearly Gates.

GFS Pickups- GFS Pickups have gained a lot of fans in the last few years. While they are developed in the USA they are made in Asia. And while not the quality of boutique companies they make very affordable, very good sounding replacement pickups that sounds much better than the standard budget guitar pickup. Their Vintage 59 pickup should fit the bill for classic Gary Moore tones.

Pedals- Gary Moore made the Marshall Gov'ner pedal famous. Interestingly there are not a lot Gov'ner clones out there and I have yet to try any of them. Gary however also used a Tube Screamers quite a bit.

Trex Moller- Gary used one of these the last couple of years before his death and spoke very highly of it. It is a TS type pedal with a few added features and has a very smooth tone. It also includes a nice clean boost feature that can be activated separately. If you want to try one without spending any money it's available to try in the IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop. Pair it up with the JH Gold (JTM45 model) and try your Gary Moore licks, you won't be disappointed.

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer- This pedal is so tweakable and sounds good in so many situations that it seems like almost everyone has one. It's famous mid range hump cuts through a live mix and it was a favorite pedal of Gary Moore and Stevie Ray Vaughan's.

Mooer Green Mile Overdrive- if your looking for a classic sound and need it in a tiny space you can't beat Mooer pedals. Their micro pedals have been a huge hit and sound very good to boot. The Green Mile is their take on the TS9 circuit and does such a good job Guitar Interactive Magazine featured it in their Gary Moore tone on a budget.

Joyo JF-1 Vintage Overdrive- Joyo has cloned a lot of pedals and while they don't have the record that Mooer does in the quality department the Vintage Overdrive is an very affordable TS9 pedal for the beginner.

Amps- Gary Moore's Still Got the Blues Album is a favorite of tone hounds everywhere and featured a Marshall JTM 45 reissue. In the Thin Lizzy days Gary used Plexis and JCM800's. In the 90's he mostly used Soldano's, mainly on the clean channel. But by the end of the 90's Gary had come back to Marshall's regularly using their JCM2000 DSL.

Marshall JTM45- The Marshall JTM45 reissue is available in a hand wired version and a PCB(Printed Circuit Board) version. It's not quite the same sound as a Plexi, having a looser bottom end but it was a favorite of Hendrix and Eric Clapton as well as Moore's

Marshall DSL- The Marshall reissue of the DSL is a very good mid priced amp. Available in a combo or half stack it sounds good at bedroom levels or on stage and while there were some early complaints about quality control it seems Marshall has taken care of most of these issues. There are also original used JCM2000's that pop up on ebay regularly. Just make sure you get the DSL not the TSL as they sound surprisingly different.

Jet City JCA2212C – The Soldano designed Jet City amps have become a favorite of low budget tone seekers. Guitar Interactive used this amp on their Gary Moore tone on a budget series and it's a very capable of nice clean tones as well as high gain distortion. Jet City has a range of combos and heads available from a bedroom friendly 20 watts on up to 100 watts.  

Obviously there are a lot of alternatives out there but these are a great place to start your tone search. 

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