Glenn Tipton used a vast and an assorted number of guitars over the years.
Until the ’78 some of his favourites were Gibson SG’s and Fender Stratocaster. From that point, he switched to Gibson Les Paul Custom and a modified CBS-era Fender Stratocaster with Dimarzio Super-Distortion cream-bobbined pickups, and a heavily modified black maple neck. The features also include a customised Hahler pro flat-mount tremolo system. These pickups gave that guitar a very distinctive sound and style. For the Screaming for Vengeance tour, a chrome custom pickguard was added, like in many other Glenn’s guitars. This is the first guitar that people associate with Glenn’s image.
It’s a favourite piece of the arsenal due to the amazing sound ‘like a cross between a Gibson and a Strat’ and the power of its sound. It was used on the solo of Metal Gods.
This was the first of many mirror scratch-plates, very appreciated due to the interesting visual effect that happens when its hit by lights on stage.
Out of numerous SG’s over the years, He stills keeps some of them. Unfortunately, a large quantity was lost or broken, all of them mainly sprayed in black, and many of them with his trademark mirror pickguard, made from highly polished stainless steel. One of the gems of his personal collection is an SG with original ivory tuning pegs, Gibson humbucker at the neck, and an EMG81 pickup at the bridge position. Served its time live, frequently used for recording. This is the guitar used in the solos of ‘Grinder’ or ‘Delivering the Goods’, among many others.
Trying new ideas, and experimenting new sounds, Glenn serves himself with a nu-metal tool: an Ibanez RH Series seven-string. It was used in some recordings (like in Angel of Retribution) with amazing results. Glenn, in the same interview with Pete Wadeson, recognises that, even though it’s beautiful de-tuned sound and it’s great to always keep trying new sounds, ‘producing ideas that may lead to new pastures or trigger fresh inspiration’, he is not very much into that low-tuning guitar style.
For quieter parts of the songs or soft intros, Glenn used largely Fender Telecaster models. Is of his belief that if you play a chord on a telecaster you will find a response and musical quality that few guitars have. He used mainly a ’69 model but always in the studio while he refused to ever use it on stage.
Humbuckers are always on demand while we play heavy metal, and Glenn reinforces his gear with more double-bobbine pickups: many Gibson Les Paul was used through the years. ‘Beyond the Realms of Death’ was recorded with a black one that got lost after a cabinet accident while touring in Sheffield. His favourite nowadays is a 60’s replica made in ’95. After trying many of them, Glenn confirms that some replicas sound better than a couple of old originals. “Just plug it in and instantly you will have that unmistakable Les Paul sound.”
On the electronic side, Glenn used mainly a silver Roland G-707 guitar synth with an added Kahler and a Godin LGXT lately, in Nostradamus era. The first one is a key part of his studio gear, with fantastic sounds, nevertheless, using it live was a ‘nightmare’, with technical issues to avoid glitching. Very innovative at the time, Glenn was criticised for using it in the early times. But, as a trail-blazer, it’s use become extended and normal with the years. Glenn was one of the first guitar player searching in that new direction, trying to break new ground, ‘making guitar life interesting and a challenge’.
The experimentation and deep search in his music lead us to very diverse models. Another one that deserves a mention is the 24-fret graphite bodied Fernandes Sustainer, that uses a magnetic process allowing you to get endless harmonic sustain, soaked in echo, many lead lines were recorded with it.
Some other guitar that we may find in his inventory:
-Gibson Explorer – with some modifications, it was used largely in live performances 2010’s
-Gibson 335 – It was used for the first time while Glenn was preparing ‘Baptism of fire’, the first solo album, in 1997. Aesthetically satisfying, it was used in the solo of ‘Enter the Storm’ due to its sound, that reminds the sing of birds. Not initially meant to be extensively used, it became an essential part of Glenn gear. Even though the model itself presents some feedback issues and are like a noisy squeal, Glenn’s creamy one counts with his seal of approval “(…) is so smooth and doesn’t feedback at all. I really enjoy playing it and looking at.”
-Plastic translucent red Legend – Originally bought to be transformed into a lamp(!), Glenn was very happy to discover a very raw and unrefined sound on it. So he kept it in his gear. “It illustrates a certain way of thinking – if a guitar has use and sounds good in its own way, who cares how much it costs or who made it.”
-Acoustic and semiacoustic guitars: Black ESP Eclipse semi-acoustic, 12 string Yamaha, Alvarez (used on “the Fire burns below” solo), Taylor 814CE (used on “Searching” of his second album), Cherry red Epiphone Riviera “It’s just wonderful, plug this guitar in and it almost writes songs by itself. Just playing simple chords gives a sound that’s so inspiring.”.
These are some of Glenn guitars used through the years. After this review, if he has to pick only one of them: “it would be my ’61 Strat. If it hadn’t been for that – who knows? I might have had to get a proper job!!”