Rock music fans have a lot to owe Robby Krieger. We must thank him right off for having the good sense to join Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Jim Morrison to give us The Doors, one of the most amazing bands of all time; and again, from this band, the gift of songs that are authentic pop cultural anthems from the 20th century such as Light My Fire or Touch Me (among several others which also belong to them) and lastly, and more precisely, in our world of the 6-string, we must thank him for tossing overboard that old cliché that says all rock guitarists sound the same. No way; Robby Krieger only sounds like Robby Krieger.
His combination of classical training, along with his love for flamenco and old school blues, bear fruit to one of the most particular styles we have been able to pinpoint throughout his reign over rock music in sales and we’re going to take a look at what he played to get his sound.
Some years before a guy named Angus Young entered the music scene there was already a guy who had seized the Gibson SG as his favourite guitar. More specifically, we are talking about a Gibson SG Special with P90 pickups from 1964. Most likely, The Doors first record was recorded entirely with this model. The following year, in 1968, he got a Gibson SG Standard that was fixed with ‘humbucker’ pickups in place of the aforementioned P90s, staying true to his preference for SGs. The only thing left to do was add to these the ‘54 Gibson Les Paul Custom that he basically used for the slide bits. Finally, we can’t fail to mention the Ramirez, bought by his father in Madrid, which he used to let loose his flamenco influences evident in songs like Spanish Caravan.
As far as amps go there are several interviews on the internet with Krieger himself recalling quite clearly the models he used and has been using for all these years. The first ones he used with The Doors were Magnatones; shortly after he used an Acoustic 260, and to finish off, he used, of course, a Fender Twin Reverb . More recently, on tours he did with The Doors of the 21st Century, he plugged into the newest Fender Hot Rod Deville, both the 2 and 4 speaker models.
As you will well know if you’re fans of this California band, Robby Krieger’s sound is not based on his pedals although, on rare occasions, he reached for the mythic models of the day, those ones collectionists look for as if it were the Holy Grail. We’re talking about the Vox Tone Bender and the Crybaby. He also remembers using a Maestro Fuzztone at the end of the 60s.
Generally we find ourselves in the presence of simple gear, played in a simple way, but which can, however, produce the solos and riffs most heard and copied in history, and above all, played in a unique and totally recognisable way. We already spoke about how hard it is to get your sound when we go inside the world of Carlos Santana. Robby Krieger is another great example of a unique guitarist who just sounds like himself...and for that we must be very grateful.