Ritchie Blackmore Biography
Richard Hugh “Ritchie” Blackmore (born 14 April 1945) is an English guitarist and songwriter. He was one of the founding members of Deep Purple in 1968, playing jam-style hard-rock music which mixed guitar riffs and organ sounds. During his solo career, he established a heavy metal band called Rainbow which fused baroque music influences and elements of hard rock. Rainbow steadily moved to catchy pop-style mainstream rock. Later in life, he formed the traditional folk rock project Blackmore’s Night transitioning to vocalist-centred sounds. As a member of Deep Purple, Blackmore was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2016.
During the 1960s, Ritchie Blackmore played a Gibson ES-335 but from 1970 he mainly played a Fender Stratocaster until he formed Blackmore’s Night in 1997. The middle pick-up on his Stratocaster is screwed down and not used. Blackmore occasionally used a Fender Telecaster Thinline during recording sessions. He is also one of the first rock guitarists to use a “scalloped” fretboard which has a “U” shape between the frets.
In his soloing, Ritchie Blackmore combines blues scales and phrasing with dominant minor scales and ideas from European classical music. While playing he would often put the pick in his mouth, playing with his fingers. He occasionally uses the diatonic scale, with rapidly changing tonality.
In the 1970s, Ritchie Blackmore used a number of different Stratocasters; one of his main guitars was an Olympic white 1974 model with a rosewood fingerboard that was scalloped. Blackmore added a strap lock to the headstock of this guitar as a conversation piece to annoy and confuse people.
His amplifiers were originally 200-Watt Marshall Major stacks which were modified by Marshall with an additional output stage (generated approximately 27Db) to make them sound more like Blackmore’s favourite Vox AC30 amp cranked to full volume. Since 1994, he has used ENGL valve amps.
Effects he used from 1970 to 1997, besides his usual tape echo, included a Hornby Skewes treble booster in the early days. Around late-1973, he experimented with an EMS Synthi Hi Fli guitar synthesizer. He sometimes used a wah-wah pedal and a variable control treble-booster for sustain, and Moog Taurus bass pedals were used in solo parts during concerts. He also had a modified Aiwa TP-1011 tape machine built to supply echo and delay effects; the tape deck was also used as a pre-amp. Other effects that Blackmore used were a Uni-Vibe, a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and an Octave Divider.
Ritchie Blackmore has experimented with many different pick-ups in his Strats. In the early Rainbow era, they were still stock Fenders, later Dawk installed over wound, dipped, Fender pick-ups. He has also used Schecter F-500-Ts, Velvet Hammer “Red Rhodes”, DiMarzio “HS-2”, OBL “Black Label”, Bill Lawrence L-450, XL-250 (bridge), L-250 (neck). In his signature stratocaster Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4’s are used to emulate the Schecter Guitar Research F500ts and since the early 90s, he has used Lace Sensor (Gold) “noiseless” pick-ups.
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