Rory Gallagher's Fender Stratocaster.
Gallagher was always associated with his well worn 1961 sunburst Stratocaster.
It was reputedly the first in Ireland, and was ordered from Fender by Jim Connolly, a showband member performing with The Irish Showband. Connolly ordered a cherry red Stratocaster through Crowley's music shop in Cork in 1961. When Fender shipped a sunburst Stratocaster instead, it was put up on sale in 1963 as a second hand instrument, which Gallagher bought in August 1963 for just shy of £100 at Crowley's Music Store on Cork's McCurtain Street.
Speaking about Gallagher's purchase of the famous Stratocaster his brother Donal recalled: "His dream ambition was to have a guitar like Buddy Holly... This Stratocaster was in the store as a used instrument, it was 100 pounds... in today's money you couldn't even compare you might as well say it was a million pounds... my mother was saying we'll be in debt for the rest of our lives and Rory said well actually with a guitar like this I can play both parts, rhythm and lead, we won't need a rhythm player so I can earn more money and pay it off so the Stratocaster became his partner for life if you like."
The guitar was extensively modified by Gallagher. The tuning pegs are odd, all of these have been found to be replacements. Second, it is thought that the nut has been replaced and interchanged a number of times. Third, the scratchplate was changed during Gallagher's time with Taste.
The pick-ups, none of which are original, were also changed. The final modification was the wiring, Gallagher disconnected the bottom tone pot and rewired it so he had just a master tone control along with the master volume control. He also installed a 5-way selector switch in place of the vintage 3-way one.
The most notable effect that the years of touring have had on the guitar is the almost complete removal of its original sunburst finish. Although the Strat was left abandoned in a rainy ditch for days after being stolen from the back of a tour van in Dublin, this is not believed to have caused any ill effect. All of the wear was caused by Rory's playing, not misuse. A borrowed Telecaster was also stolen at the same time but never recovered. When the Strat was recovered after two weeks, Gallagher swore he would never sell it or paint it after that.
It also had a period of time of having a replacement neck, with the original neck bowing due to the amount of moisture it absorbed during continuous touring. The neck was taken off and left to settle, and was eventually reunited with the Strat after returning to its correct shape.
Rory's biographer Marcus Connaughton believes the Strat was the key to Rory's sound. Rory could talk about it all night - "It's dated November 1961, in certain people's opinions this is when Fender hit their peak. I like the maple neck. Like on the earlier guitars, they’re probably a bit more crisp, but there's a warmth to this, a mellowness because of the rosewood neck. This is the best, it's my life, this is my best friend. It's almost like knowing its weak spots are strong spots. I don’t like to get sentimental about these things, but when you spend thirty years of your life with the same instrument it's like a walking memory bank of your life there in your arms."