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This article was originally published in issue #24
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Gary Moore is without doubt one of the most loved and revered modern blues/rock guitarists of the last 30 years. Even after his untimely death, Gary’s popularity continues to grow. Jamie Humphries gives you the clues you need to recreate that unmistakable Gary Moore style. Regular readers of Guitar Interactive will probably remember that I paid tribute to Gary Moore way back in our second issue, following his untimely death in 2011. Moore’s posthumous legend has continued to grow, so once again I was asked to pay tribute to the great bluesman.
Hailing from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Gary Moore was introduced to rock and roll at an early age, through the likes of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Later he became drawn more towards the Blues as he learned of Jimi Hendrix and his lifelong idol Peter Green, who helped kickstart Gary’s career.
In our previous Tech Session we looked at the classic Blues style of Still Got the Blues, as well as a rock track similar to Out in the Fields. So as to not cover the same ground, this time I’ve chosen to look at a mid-tempo Blues style track with a slight twist. I’ve borrowed ideas from Oh Pretty Woman and Walking by Myself, as well as borrowing chord ideas from the slow blues version of the Thin Lizzy classic Don’t Believe a Word. I have presented a rhythm part and two solos, one of which is available as premium material.
First let’s take a look at our rhythm part, which is based around a minor I, IV, V progression in B minor. I have added a few twists in the progression fusing riff ideas with some extended chord voicings to demonstrate Gary’s rhythm approaches. The riff kicks off with a guitar and bass unison line, with the guitar then including the chords of Bm7, and E/B. this riff repeats over our chord I bars. The chord IV bars also include a guitar and bass unison riff and include the chords of Em7, D/E, and resolve to the chord I of A major. The next section adds a little twist to the regular Blues progressions, with the progression shifting between F# minor and E minor, chords V and IV respectively. The riff concludes with the power chords of A5, Bb5, and then back to our chord I riff before resolving to an F#7#9 chord.
Now for our first solo! All of the solos are based predominantly around the B minor pentatonic scales, Blues scale, and occasionally including notes from the B natural minor scale. I’ve tried to include as many classic Gary Moore licks as possible, and also show variations on classic Gary style licks.
The solo kicks off with some pentatonic Blues style licks around B minor pentatonic, which leads into a lick based around the Natural minor scale. At this point we are playing over the E minor chord, implying E Dorian. This is then followed by another Gary style pentatonic “trill” lick that also includes the major 2nd note. Over our chord V to IV repeating section we kick off with lazy sounding lick that outlines both the F# minor and E minor chords, and really negotiates the changes. A lick similar to this can be heard in Still Got The Blues. The first solo concludes with more classic Gary style pentatonic and Blues scale licks.
Gary is also renowned for his tone, and can be mainly seen using a Les Paul through a couple of Marshall half stacks. His choice of pedals has included everything from a Tube Screamer to an original Marshall Guvnor pedal. For the session I used my main Musicman Axis guitar with DiMarzio 36th Anniversary PAFs, into a 5 Watt valve head. I also used a Wampler Plexi Drive pedal which really made the sound authentic. I would aim for quite an overdriven tone, with lots of mids and a healthy dose of reverb.
So what do you do if you just can’t rustle-up the price of a ‘59 Les Paul or a vintage Marshall? We set Jamie Humphries a challenge. Show us how to get that trademark Gary Moore sound from gear most of us can at least aspire to. So here it is: Jamie’s guide to getting the Gary Moore tone on a budget, with a few additional thoughts on the gear we chose, from Gary Cooper.
Jamie Humphries writes: As a guitar tutor and through my work with Guitar Interactive and LickLibrary, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “how do I get the tone?” Obviously, a lot of our favourite guitarists’ tones come from their fingers and not just their gear. It’s safe to say that if you plugged into your favourite guitarist’s rig, you wouldn’t sound like him. I remember reading an interview with Nuno Bettencourt, where he had the opportunity to play through Eddie Van Halen’s rig. He said in the interview that it sounded nothing like Eddie, it just sounded like how he always sounded when he played his own gear. But, equally, the gear does help, and if you study your favourite guitarist’s playing style in detail and then look at trying to use similar gear, or set up your own gear in a similar way you should start to achieve the tone.
In my job I have to emulate many different guitarists, but my starting point is always trying to observe the subtle nuances in the playing style of the player I’m studying. I look at left and right hand techniques, how they approach vibrato, approaches for string bending, their harmonic tools, types of scales or arpeggios, and obviously compositional approaches, types of chords, and common progressions that the chosen guitarist might use.
Gary Moore had a very long and varied musical career, from his early days with Thin Lizzy, to his solo career and he used a variety of different equipment. During the ‘80s his tone changed considerably, as he switched to using more modern guitars from makers including PRS and Charvel, and he started using a more processed sound, using rack equipment, pre-amps and effects units. But in the ‘90’s Gary went back to basics when he released the Still Got the Blues album, ditching the Charvels and the rack gear, in favour of his trademark Les Paul and Marshall amps.
Gary is famous for using Peter Green’s 1959 Les Paul, which he bought from Peter in the late 1960’s and which Phil Harris demonstrates elsewhere in this issue. The guitar is said to be the most famous Les Paul of all time and possibly the most expensive, with its distinctive appearance and unique tone, famously having had the pickups wired incorrectly, producing an out of phase effect when both pickups are selected. Gary also used a variety of other Les Pauls, including his own signature model. These were plugged into either Marshall combos, the JTM 45 Bluesbreaker amp, or a full stack and sometimes in the studio, Fender combos. He would also use an overdrive pedal front end, such as a Tube Screamer or a Marshall Guvnor. Gary’s tone was quite saturated, with a fair amount of gain. He would boost his mid-range and presence control to give his tone bite and also to help him achieve long feedback notes. He would actually have a mark on the stage where his sweet spot was to enable him to get those long held notes that he was famous for.
For our tone analysis we put our heads together down at GI Towers and decided that the guitar we would use would be one of the Vintage “Reissued” series models, the appropriately named V100 “Lemon Drop”, into an all-valve 20 watt Jet City combo. I’ve also included a couple of Mooer pedals for a bit of extra gain and for some chorus on the clean tone. This is all pretty affordable gear (certainly compared with Gary’s own lineup! - Ed).
Gary Cooper writes: We first began to realise how good the Vintage range was way back in Issue 4 when we talked about the history of the legendary 1959 Gibson Les Paul as part of that issue’s our Joe Bonamassa feature. In our never-ending quest to find millionaire tones from ‘real world’ gear, we also put a Vintage V100 MRJBM up against an Epiphone Bonamassa Les Paul and were genuinely knocked-out by how good the Vintage was [link]. Yes, the Epiphone was fine - but we felt the Vintage was finer. As the months have gone by, we’ve tried other Vintage Icon and Reissue models and never once been let down.
They are not exact copies and don’t pretend to be, but they are pretty close in appearance and, more importantly, they play and sound far, far better than they have any right to at the asking prices!
Jamie Humphries writes: The V100 Reissue ‘Lemon Drop we chose for our Gary Moore feature is obviously meant to get us some way towards the sound of the legendary ‘Greenie’ ‘59 and comes complete with the necessary finish similarities and wear marks. There is real attention to detail here, with the non-standard volume and tone pots
being fitted, the same as Peter Green’s/Gary Moore’s guitar, and it even boasts the ‘incorrect’ wiring, which helped give Greenie its amazing tone.
The Vintage comes with excellent quality Wilkinson hardware and pickups, and for a budget guitar, this guitar feels great, with impressive build quality. It’s absolutely the ideal guitar for the Gary Moore fan working on a budget!
Gary Cooper writes: We felt it was important to use a valve amp for this feature and there were several choices - the most obvious being a Marshall. From the current Marshall line-up, something like an all-valve, 15 Watt Marshall DSL15C combo would have been a good choice and there are a few other less expensive valve/tube options from other manufacturers that we could also have considered. By coincidence, we happened to have some of the Jet City range to review in this issue and Jamie was so impressed by their tone that he elected to use the Mike Soldano designed Jet City 2212C 20 Watt combo. You can check out Tom Quayle’s review, elsewhere in this issue, to get another player’s perspective on it. The Jet City combo is a two channel amp, with two independent volume and gain controls making it very versatile. It uses the classic combination of 12AX7 pre-amp valves and EL84 power amp valves and, as you can hear from Jamie’s video, it can certainly do the job!
Jamie Humphries writes: The Jet City 2212C can produce everything from a very thick warm tone, a rich clean tone to a searing lead tone and the build quality, like the sound, is first class. I think it stands up against other valve amps with a much larger price tag.
Gary Cooper writes: Mooer was an obvious choice for ‘cheap but great’ effects (see our review in this issue). This Chinese brand has made a tremendous impact since its launch and though the market is awash with cheap (and plenty of not so cheap!) pedals just now, Mooer has managed to win a lot of users in a very short time. They are well made, small enough to crowd onto any pedal board and offer excellent value for money.
Jamie Humphries writes: I am still pretty blown away at how good these Mooer pedals sound and how much they do when you look at the price. For my lead tone I used the Green Mile tube screamer style pedal on top of the Jet City’s lead channel. The main reason for using the pedal was just to push the amp a little harder and also add some top end crunch to the tone to help with sustain. The Green Mile features a great high end filter, as well as a tone control, so I was really able to finely tune my Gary Moore crunch tone. I also used the Mod Factory pedal, which features pretty much every type of modulation you would ever need in a tiny pedal. I used the chorus setting on the clean channel, with both the neck and bridge pickups selected, to produce a shimmering clean tone similar to the clean chords heard on Still Got the Blues.
The Guitar: JHS Vintage Reissued series ‘Lemon Drop’ MSRP £459 US $ TBC
The Amp: Jet City Jet City 5212RC MSRP £579 US $ Unknown
The Pedals: Mooer Mod Factory MSRP £59.99 US $98
Mooer Green Mile MSRP £49.99 US $99
OK, well hopefully from this feature you can see that it is possible to get pretty close to Gary’s tone, without having to own a credit card with a Rock star budget on it! Be sure to check out the video so you can see and hear the equipment in action, as well as getting my suggested settings. Good luck!