Recreating The Guitar Sounds Behind Classic Irish Riffs

IrishRiffs
When it comes to St. Patrick's Day, much ado will always be made about getting tipsy on green beer, corned beef and cabbage, leprechauns and other trademark Irish tropes. This year, we wanted to shine a light on one of the most overlooked exports of the Emerald Isle - killer rock 'n' roll riffs. We've dissected the guitar tones of six classic Irish rock riffs and are using some of our current guitar pedal staples to recreate them. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

 

 

Thin Lizzy - "Do Anything You Want To"
(Strymon Sunset in 2 Stage mode)

When it comes to rock 'n' roll riffs, no one does it better than Thin Lizzy. The band's signature double guitar harmonies and thunderous bass attack are key to the sound of hits like "Jailbreak" and "The Boys Are Back In Town." For the song "Do Anything You Want To" off their ninth album, Black Rose: A Rock Legend, we double tracked both guitars through the Strymon Sunset in 2 Stage mode. This offers a slightly rounder attack while still remaining saturated and making those harmonized runs bloom.

Stiff Little Fingers - "Alternative Ulster"
(Chase Bliss Audio Brothers in IC Drive mode and Red Panda Context in Room mode)

Following in the footsteps of The Clash, the Stiff Little Fingers were Ireland's answer to political punk. The band wrote about what they saw on the streets during one of Ireland's most troubled eras, and while landmark songs like "Alternative Ulster" are catchy, they are also disturbingly poignant. To hit this riff, we used the Chase Bliss Audio Brothers in Drive mode on the IC side alongside the Red Panda Context in Room mode. The tone is gritty, yet tight with a little touch of reflection from the room.

U2 - "The Electric Co."
(Pettyjohn Electronics Chime and Electro-Harmonix DMM1100TT)

U2 will always be known as the biggest band to come out of Ireland, as the group's career has spanned countless albums and decades. The song we've tackled here is called "The Electric Co." and comes from the band's debut, Boy, which was released in 1980. The Deluxe Memory Man into a Vox has always been a huge part of the Edge's tonal palate. Naturally, the DMM1100-TT and the Pettyjohn Chime were obvious choices. Set the DMM around 275ms to give you a fast, dotted 8th delay, mixed almost evenly with your dry signal to get a percussive, rhythmic repeat. The Chime provides that, “right on the edge (no pun) of breakup” foundation Vox sound to tie everything together.

My Bloody Valentine - "Only Shallow"
(Joe Gore Duh and Red Panda Context in Cathedral mode)

Long thought to be the founding father of the shoegaze movement, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine developed unheard of guitar sounds on the band's second album, Loveless. Between Shields use of tremolo, unique tunings and sampled sounds, the recordings were a step in a completely different direction for guitar-based rock music. We double tracked both guitar parts with the Joe Gore Duh into the Red Panda Context. The Duh is a no frills, fully saturated fuzz that provides a seamless motion between chord changes. The Context reverb in Cathedral mode adds dimension and blurs the riff into a euphoric, dream-like haze.

Them - "Here Comes The Night"
(Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe and Strymon Flint in Spring Reverb and 63’ Tube Trem mode)

Although Them is often relegated to "Van Morisson's first band" status, the group holds a unique place in Irish music history as one of the first rock groups to become popular outside of Northern Ireland. The raucous song, "Here Comes The Night," is the group's follow-up hit to "Gloria," and features Jimmy Page playing lead guitar. We used subtle compression from the Origin Cali76CD to give the hook that plunky, retro sound while the subtle Spring reverb and 63’ Tube tremolo from the Strymon Flint seals the deal.

The Undertones - "Teenage Kicks"
(Strymon Sunset in Ge mode and Strymon Flint in Spring mode)

How do you sum up the teenage experience in one song? The Undertones from Derry, Northern Ireland did it in less than three minutes with one of the most iconic three chord riffs ever written. The Sunset in “Ge” mode is our main weapon of choice for this riff. The gain is set to around 3:00 which gives a nice midrange bark that demands authority. A little bit of Spring reverb from the Strymon Flint mixed in and voila!

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