Robin Trower

Robin Leonard Trower (born 9 March 1945) is an English rock singer and guitarist. He started playing in his teens with a band called The Paramounts, but he achieved success when he joined Gary Brooker's band Procol Harum in 1967, remaining with them until 1971 to eventually form his own power trio Te Robin Trower Band.

As other British blues-rocker like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Trower did not start his musical career playing Stratocaster guitars. He moved from being a Les Paul player with Procol Harum to a Stratocaster fanatic in his own solo work from 1971 on. However, the sound that he developed with his Strat was quite different from his British compatriots and is usually associated with the style of Jimi Hendrix. Indeed, Trower and Hendrix names frequently come up together when people talk about the various effects of the UniVibe pedals world of a few years back. When UniVibe fans mentioned Hendrix’s “Machine Gun” or Star-Spangled Banner,” they were going to name Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” in the next breath. These associations with Hendrix have been acknowledged by Trower. He has frequently said that he isn’t copying Hendrix, as such, but trying to follow his footsteps. However, Tower's admiration for the deceased legendary guitarist was not what prompted his switch to the Stratocaster; he said that it was simply a “feel thing.”

As Trower told Steve Rosen in Guitar Player magazine in 1974, one day in 1971, while Procol Harum was on tour with Jethro Tull, he arrived early for a soundcheck. He picked up the Stratocaster of Tull's guitarist, Martin Barre (a guitar that Barre had set up for slide), plugged it in, and yelled, “This is it!”. He was struck by the Strat revelation! Trower continues: “I then switched to Strat. Up to then, I had been playing Les Pauls. I always felt there was something missing on Les Pauls. They had a good fat sound, but they never had that ‘musical’ sound. When I played a Strat I realized it had that strident chord.” Tower's opinion on the “musicality” of the Stratocaster is shared by many other guitarists and acknowledges the clarity and harmonic depth generated by Strat's pickups, wood choices, build technique, and the 25.5-inch scale length.

Unfortunately, the first Stratocaster that Trower bought did not fit with his style. He would later define it as “unplayable” and demoted to backup status. However, he got luckier with the second one, a white Strat from around 1973 or 1974 with a large headstock, bullet trussrod adjustment, maple fingerboard. That became his favourite instrument throughout much of that decade. Tower then acquired a Squier JV series Stratocasters in the 1980s and has mostly played contemporary Stratocasters since then. However, as said for other guitarists of this gallery, the guitar is just one part of the whole equation. Whichever Strat Trower decides to use, he always proves that he will sound like himself whatever gear he chooses to get the job done. The other part of the equation is made by a Fuzz Face, Uni-Vibe, and Vox or Tycobrahe wah-wah (or recent Fulltone equivalents) all run through a pair of 100-watt Marshall heads.

The Fender Custom Shop has issued a Robin Trower Stratocaster which features custom pickups created by Trower and Fender master builder Todd Krause, a wound/reverse polarity middle pickup with a humbucking option in the second and fourth positions. Additionally, it has an alder body, custom C-shaped maple neck with abalone dot position inlays and narrow spacing, large ’70s-style headstock with ’70s-style decal, synchronized tremolo bridge, bullet truss rod adjustment nut and four-bolt neck plate.

Next player: Ike Turner