Lynyrd Skynyrd

These days guitarist Gary Rossington is the sole surviving member of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup. The band that most people, including the band themselves, thought was over after that horrible plane crash in 1977 that left the band without singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines, has been steadily releasing new material since their re-formation in 1987. In August Lynyrd Skynyrd released their 13th studio album, Last of a Dyin’ Breed. Rossington use Gibson guitars exclusively, favoring his 1959 reissue Les Paul, nicknamed “Bernice,” but occasionally a Gibson SG as well. Here we've collected some quotes from Gary about his Gibson guitars, and guitar playing in general that we hope you'll find interesting.

In an interview with Guitar World, Rossington talked about his first electric guitar. This was before he was able to afford a Gibson guitar:

“My first electric guitar was from Sears, too. We didn’t have much money when I was younger, so I had to collect Coke bottles and cash them in and get a paper route to afford a guitar. That guitar from Sears came with a case and an amp and everything all in one. It was really cool.”

Earlier in the year, Rossington spoke to, and he expanded further on the setup of his '59 Les Paul:

“I always use my ’59 reissue Les Pauls. I’ve got one that’s a sunburst and one in black that I play slide on. I’ve got the action a little higher on that and the strings a little lighter, so it’s dirtier. As usual, I just played all Gibson Les Pauls and I left the other models of guitars to the other guys for contrast.”

Gary Rossington is known for his excellent slide guitar work. He talked to about the different tunings he uses:

“I love Les Pauls. Most of the time I use standard tuning for slide. Early on, we didn’t have the time to change tunings on stage, plus I only had one guitar back then, so I learned to play slide in standard. But I like to play in open E a lot. I use that on this CD [Last of a Dyin’ Breed] a lot, and open G. Duane Allman was real fond of open E and played it great, and he was a big influence on all of us. We were still teenagers when we’d go to see the Allman Brothers. When I first heard Duane he was tuned to open E and I didn’t know what the hell he was doing until I discovered open tunings for myself.“

When Gary Rossington first came up with the famous slide guitar intro to “Free Bird,” he employed an unusual technique for avoiding fret buzz from the bottleneck slide, that he has stuck with to this day, as he told Guitar World in an interview:

“I use the G-string, and then I tune the B-string to a G. It's that drawling kind of sustained sound. Then in the old days when we first started playing it I had this guitar, I forget what kind it was, it wasn't a Les Paul. I don't think it even had a name. It was just this electric guitar, it was white... I kept clinking fretting down on the notes, so I put a screwdriver all the way up the neck to play 'Free Bird,' like a pedal-steel or something. And then after a while I got to where I could play without [the screwdriver]...but it sounded cool so I just never quit, and I still do it today with a cord now, not a screwdriver. It screws the whole neck up in the frets, but that's the story on the slide part of 'Free Bird.'”