Style Study: Rory Gallagher

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Published on 03-31-2016
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Famed for using a Fender Stratocaster (the first one in Ireland), Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher has a distinctive style which incorporates Blues, Rock and even some Celtic overtones. There is more to Rory's style than just minor pentatonic scale. In the three examples we see in this article there is a use of the pentatonic scale, major scale as well as pentatonic with an added 9th. The use of these harmonic devices plus the way he executes them technically (trills, bends, pre-bends, etc.) is what really sets Rory apart from the pack to create a recognizable and personal sound. You can get a lot out of Rory's playing by simply trying out some of the harmonic devices he uses to spice up your usual pentatonic blues playing. I suggest you sit down and figure out the A minor pentatonic scale for example and figure out where the 9th (B in this case) would occur around the shape. Take shape 1 of A minor pentatonic, the B occurs on the 7th fret 6th string, then in the next octave on the 4th fret 3rd string (or 9th fret 4th string- same note same octave different location), and finally on the 7th fret 1st string. This is just one position, work out all 5 and then incorporate this new hybrid scale into your improvisation. Good luck and keep wailing away!

Lick Breakdown

Lick 1
Here we see the use of the E major scale, one that most guitarists, especially blues guitarists tend to avoid! This just shows how with a little imagination and interesting articulation, you can really breath life into any scale. Although the major scale may feel sterile when you trot up and down it, don't forget, you can bend notes and treat it like a blues scale in essence.

Play like Rory Gallagher
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Lick 2
Here we see the use of hybrid picking for this bluesy rhythm example. I chose to assign the pick to the open 3rd string and use the middle finger of my picking hand to play the top line. Be sure to keep the rhythm on the 3rd string to a steady pulse. Break this exercise down into small chunks, remember that accurate repetition is the key to building any skill.

Rory Gallagher Licks
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Lick 3
Double stop bends and trills are the theme here. With these double stop bends we see that the 2nd string is static (ie not bent) whilst the 3rd is bent, the key here is to be able to have independence and control over both the fingers, be observant and diligent whilst trying this one. This is a technique that many country guitarists utilize. Remember when playing trills that you must have control and play them in time!

In the Style of Rory Gallagher
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