At Guitars Exchange we have realised that it is time to introduce, little by little, those guitarists who, maybe because of their name, we fail to identify at first but deserve a spot on our special altar of the electric guitar. Many of them are as big as the biggest names and as good as the best but, perhaps their fleeting time in successful bands or having lived far from the centre of attention from the public at large makes them outstanding ’outsiders’, which we would like to call for recognition here.
A clear example of this type of guitar player, rock stars in their day of course, but whom may have been overshadowed by the passage of time, is Brian Robertson. This guy, whose name may escape some of our young readers, has been the guitarist in two of the most acclaimed bands from the 70s and 80s, Thin Lizzy, and Motörhead.
Mainly with the former one, together with Scott Gorham, he formed one of the most incredible lead guitar couples ever heard and likely one of the most influential due to the almost non-stop harmonisation they did on their solos, which was something that the following generation of ‘heavys’ and ‘metalheads’ certainly noticed and adopted as the new way of playing rock.
To leave half the world gobsmacked with his solos he used, mainly in the Thin Lizzy years, a 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe which was modified over the years, finally fitting it with some Gibson PAF originals. According to what he himself has said in various interviews, it is this guitar that we can hear in his stint with Thin Lizzy, both in the studio and onstage, although his black 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard is remarkable as well. Both guitars were also used for his brief time as the substitute for Fast Eddie Clarke in Motörhead.
It seems that it was precisely 1977 when he changed the pickups on his Deluxe for the PAFs and began to use his ‘60 Les Paul more. This is maybe why we can see him with it in the photos of the absolutely legendary Live and Dangerous, a record that should be part of the education of any music-lover initially and also of any rock guitarist that wants to enjoy 2 authentic aces of the 6-string lending their talent to another genius, Phil Lynott, and his beautiful songs. If you haven’t listened to this album, what are you waiting for?
Apart from his guitars, we can say he used Marshall Super Lead amps in the early years, but he used others as well, like the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier and even made use of lesser known brands such as the Carlsbro, precisely for the recording of perhaps the best studio album he was ever on, Jailbreak, by Thin Lizzy.
Regarding his pedals, we have only found info about various models of Phasers he used in the 70s from the company MXR, but what we can tell you more about is one of his most characteristic sounds, that of his wah, which he whipped out for the mythic Colorsound pedals, a British fabrication that was in fashion in the mid-70s and which of course we recommend to you if what you like in a wah that it has a great trajectory.
And perhaps it’s precisely this trajectory that was missing from good old Brian Robertson that lingered in the popular memory as much as other more famous ‘guitar heroes’. After his exit from Lemmy Kilmister’s group he didn’t show his head again in the best-sellers list... but here at Guitars Exchange we know what he was and still is: an authentic master of the electric guitar, at least to me, the writer of this piece, when there weren’t so many YouTube tutorials, Live and Dangerous serves as an original instruction manual on how to do things well with a 6-string.