The Legendary Guitars of Thin Lizzy

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There were many elements which characterized Thin Lizzy’s now classic, hard rock sound. However, nothing defined its style quite so much as its brilliant dual guitar leads which came into play during the band’s breakout period which began in 1975 with their album, Fighting, and climaxed with a string of wildly successful albums including Jailbreak (1976), Johnny The Fox (1976), Bad Reputation (1977), Live And Dangerous (1978), Black Rose (A Rock Legend) (1979) and Chinatown (1980). During this five-year period Thin Lizzy featured a somewhat rotating cast of brilliant guitar players, who’s incredible playing abilities and excellent selections of guitars and amplifiers would come to represent one of the primary features of Thin Lizzy’s highly acclaimed sonic identity.

Scott Gorham: Joined Thin Lizzy in 1974 and debuted on its album, Nightlife, which was released later that year. Though Gorham auditioned for the band on a nameless Japanese knock off brand guitar which apparently somewhat fell apart during the aforementioned audition, soon after joining he would acquire a ’69 Les Paul Sunburst Deluxe which he would play through 100 watt Marshall JCM900SL-X heads on top of multiple Marshall 4×12 cabinets. That combo, sometimes augmented by a MXR-Flanger pedal, became a staple tone, and one that can be heard across all but the first three of Thin Lizzy’s albums.

Brian Robertson: Also joined Thin Lizzy in 1974 and debuted alongside Scott Gorham on Nightlife. Though Gorham and Robertson played through similar rigs, Robertson used slightly different equipment and added a few additional effects to his sound, giving him a unique, yet parallel tone that he and Gorham could use to construct their paired guitar lines. Robertson’s guitar tone was distinguished by his ’73 Les Paul Sunburst Deluxe which he would drive through Marshall JPM100 heads on top of Marshall 4×12 cabinets. His rig further deviated from Gorham’s with his use of two WEM Copicat Tape Delays and a Colorsound Wah-Wah pedal. In addition to Nightlife, Robertson’s playing can be heard across Fighting, Jailbreak, Johnny The Fox, Bad Reputation, Live And Dangerous and Life.

Gary Moore: Though Gary Moore only appeared on one studio album of Thin Lizzy’s, the highly praised Black Rose (A Rock Legend), the Irish blues guitarist had a long relationship with the band which began in 1974 when he filled in after Thin Lizzy’s first guitarist, Eric Bell, quit. However, even with only one recorded album appearance, Moore’s contributions to the band are some of the most well-known and admired. During Moore’s Thin Lizzy years, he was known for playing a ’59 Les Paul Standard, whom he’d purchased from his personal mentor and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green, as well as a ’60 Gibson Melody Maker which were put through a Marshall 1959 Super Lead on 4×12 cabinets.

Snowy White: White was one Thin Lizzy’s last guitar players, and co-wrote the title tracks on the two studio albums of theirs which he appeared on, Chinatown and Renegade. Though not quite as fiery or aggressive of a player as Gary Moore, White’s British electric blues pedigree made him a solid fit for the band and helped keep its sound strong and powerful into its final years. Like the other guitarists of Thin Lizzy, White’s sound was defined by a Les Paul guitar, in his case a ’57 Gold Top, played through a pair of Vox AC30’s.

 

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