Alan Murphy-Guitarist


Alan’s friend Jim Hedges recalled that early on Alan had a Fender Telecaster (with only one of the two pickups working!)

They went to Take5 in the West End to sell it. Alan saw a cherry red Gibson 335 and could only raise sufficient funds by Jim throwing in his Eko guitar part exchange and Alan’s Telecaster plus £50. This was to become Alan’s main guitar for many years. He changed the colour from red to blond, later bitterly regretting this and changing it back to red again!
Later on, during the Kate Bush tour Alan experimented with the idea of using a MXR delay unit between a Mesa Boogie and the Session Power amp. No other effects were used except the occasional volume pedal. The guitars he used were the Gibson 335 and a Roger Giffin strat.

During a trade show John Hill from Fender introduced Alan to Paul Rivera who built the original Mesa Boogieamplifiers. For some reason Alan found that he could no longer get a good sound out of his trusty Mesa Boogie mk II. Paul had since moved to Fender and designed a small 18-watt amplifier called the Super Champ. Alan was bemused when asked to demonstrate this tiny amplifier, but after a couple of days, despite the lack of volume, became totally dedicated to the tone.  From then on (1981/2) Alan always used Champs for recording solos. Alan owned 3 ‘Champs’ and none were modified at all, aside from changing the wiring so that the footswitch controlled the mid-boost instead of reverb (Alan didn’t use the amplifier’s reverb.)

Alan didn’t take to guitar synthesisers due to the note time delay and for the lack of response to the techniques guitarists use, as well as the inability to respond to double string bends. However he used a revolutionary version of the guitar synth – the ‘Stepp DG ‘ – after spending a day with Bill Aitken , although this instrument also had delay problems and couldn’t respond to damping techniques or string sustain.

In 1986 Alan was using mainly Fender Squire Stratocasters and had about 12 or 13 of these. On one of these he replaced the pick-ups with Bill Lawrence single coil humbuckers to improve the noise aspect. He also ownedFender Esprits and Elites, an Aria RS Esprit and of course his 335. On some of the Stratocasters, he had Kahler tremolo systems fitted which required some routing of the body to have them fitted.

He was still using the Fender Super Champs,  which small size often caused amusement to recording engineers until they heard it! Alan bought a Mesa Studio 22 (20 watts) at this time.

Alan was not keen on floor pedals as he felt they were too noisy, but preferred rack units and had a fairly extensive collection of these. In particular he used a Roland Dimension ‘D’ chorus and a Roland SDE 3000 delay. He used Jim Dunlop plastic picks (Jazz,1,2 & 3). His string gauges at this time were either 9, 11, 15, 26, 36 & 46, or 10, 13, 17, 26, 36 & 46.

Around 1987/88 Alan was looking for a new Strat/Aria type guitar and spoke to Martyn Booth from Yamaha Guitars. Alan mentioned his fondness for his old 335. Martyn told him if he could be patient, he would come up with something. Within 6 months the MSG prototype with a Floyd Rose tremolo was produced. This prototype was to become Alan’s main MSG out of the 2 he owned.

Martyn had no idea about Alan’s illness, but recalls that later on Alan was complaining about the weight of the MSG hurting his shoulder and Martyn suggested he replaced his plastic Fender strap with a thicker one.
Martyn recalled feeling slightly embarrassed when demonstrating guitars in front of someone with Alan’s skills but remembers him as being very encouraging. Once, when he was playing, Alan stopped him and said “what was that you played?”!

See also the 1989 ‘Home & Studio Recording’ magazine article
Alan Murphy | Guitarist | Equipment