Rise-Against

“I’ve always owned Gibsons, and I’ve never owned a bad guitar,” Rise Against singer and guitarist Tim McIlrath once told Guitar Edge. So perhaps it’s not surprising that both McIlrath, and lead guitarist Zach Blair mainly rely on Gibson guitars for their unique brand of melodic punk rock. Here’s what the two rockers have had to say about their various Gibson’s over the years!

Zach Blair started out playing a Gibson SG, as he told Gibson.com:

“My first real guitar was a SG, and I knew Pete Townshend used that guitar, so it was always cool to me. For a while, when I started playing in punk bands and I would be the only guitar player, I would only use SGs.”

Blair expanded on the subject in an interview with Florida Today:

“I seem to be a Gibson guy. I started out as an SG guy because all of my idols — you know, Angus Young and Pete Townsend and Tony Iommi — were SG guys, so I was an SG guy, and I love Gibson SGs.”

These days Zach play mostly Les Pauls, and here he tells Gibson.com what it is he loves about the instrument:

“For me, the Les Paul is the greatest rock and roll guitar of all time. If you’re not playing a Gibson guitar and you’re playing this kind of music, whether it’s punk, metal or anything grounded in rock and roll, you’re not really doing it right. I don’t think professionally I’d ever play anything else.”

Zach explained to Florida Today why he thinks the Les Paul is the perfect guitar for Rise Againsts music:

“It's a much fuller sound. Those humbucking pickups which are a lot heavier and a lot bigger and a lot brighter, and for me, they're heavy and I like the fact that they're heavy. I like knowing that there's something around my neck. They hurt me because I move around a lot, and they're always crashing into my hips. But I kind of like that, I kind of respond well to that. I come off the stage and I've got bruises all over my hips, and I'm like, 'yeah, I played a good show.' But, really, it's all tone for me, it's all really just sound. For me personally, a Les Paul, for Rise Against does the best job.”

Zach and Tim are huge fans of the Gibson Les Paul Custom, both using it when playing live with Rise Against, as well as for studio work. According to a recent interview with the guitarists by Music Radar, the pair own at least five Les Paul Custom’s between the two of them. One of Tim’s favorites is a red Gibson Wildwood Les Paul Custom: “I bought this at a shop in Louisville [Colorado] called Wildwood Guitars. They’re one of Gibson’s exclusive retailers, so Gibson lets them pick the woods and go in there and [expletive] with them a little bit, so they give them these signature Les Pauls that you can only get from them.” Zach also shared his thoughts on the LP Custom: “I like the Classic Custom line because they build them on the old specs. When I was a kid, I went to Guitar Center and I bought a Classic Custom Les Paul. That was the guitar I could afford.”

Believe it or not, but Zach and Tim do own acoustic guitars as well! Zach has Gibson J-160E which he refer to as “The Beatles Guitar,” since both John Lennon and George Harrison used them back in the day. Tim, who does most of the acoustic work for the band, likes to use his Jackson Browne Signature guitar, which he got after seeing Browne himself play one. “It’s just a much wider, fatter-bodied acoustic: a big, boomy, incredible-sounding guitar,” said Tim about this acoustic beauty to Music Radar.