|Born on: 25.10.1948
Glenn Tipton (born Glenn Raymond Tipton, 25 October 1947, Blackheath, England) is one of the Grammy Award-winning guitarists (and occasional keyboard player) for the heavy metal band Judas Priest. Prior to joining Judas Priest, he played in The Flying Hat Band.
In 1997 Tipton released his first solo album Baptizm of Fire, featuring a host of well-known musicians including John Entwistle, Billy Sheehan, Cozy Powell, Robert Trujillo and Don Airey, among others.
Playing style and technique
Although Tipton did not pick up the guitar until he was 19 years old, he was taught by his mother how to play the piano at a young age. Tipton's piano playing features prominently on Judas Priest's second album Sad Wings of Destiny, especially on "Epitaph", a song that features no guitar. In addition his brother was a guitarist in a band called the Atlantics. When his brother wasn't around Tipton used to sneak into his room and play his guitar.
Tipton is known for his complex, sometimes classically-influenced solos, and he has a very unique guitar-playing technique. Many of his solos are very difficult to tab, and his playing is notable for his double lead guitar trades with fellow Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing. Tipton's solos have maintained a consistent style for most of his career, but he has continuously incorporated various techniques into his playing over the years as he has developed as a guitarist.
In contrast to Downing, Tipton's solos tend to incorporate a more melodic, legato sound, making use of harmonic minor scales, exotic scales and techniques such as sweep-picking arpeggios, legato picking, tremolo/alternate picking, hammer ons & Pull off, and the solos often showcase both accuracy and aggression. However, like Downing, his playing sometimes emphasizes speed rather than precision, and Tipton has been known to occasionally use pinch harmonics and dive bombs in his solos, which Downing also frequently uses. In 1978, Tipton began to incorporate tapping into his playing, which Downing promptly did as well. In the middle 1980s, both guitarists started to use the complex technique of sweep-picking, which can be notably heard on the title track of their 1990 album Painkiller. Both have continuously used these techniques ever since.
Tipton has composed very complex and technical solos over the years without compromising melody and feel, and he reproduces these solos note for note at live shows.
Tipton has used numerous guitars over the years. These include a 1960s Fender Stratocaster up until about 1978. During the period from 1978 to 1979, he used a black Gibson Les Paul Custom, and he started using a modified CBS-era Fender Stratocaster with Dimarzio Super-Distortion (humbucking) pickups. For the Screaming for Vengeance tour, he added a chrome pickguard. For this tour, he also played a Gibson SG Special that he spray-painted black himself. The SG also had a chrome pickguard and stock PAF humbuckers. Around 1984, he switched to a Hamer Phantom GT model, which was fitted with one EMG humbucker, a Kahler tremolo, and one volume pot. A signature model of this was developed and sold to public from 1984 to 1986. Tipton still uses this guitar model, but now with Seymour Duncan Blackouts active pickups. In 2009, Tipton took his Fender Stratocaster and Gibson SG Special out of retirement for the British Steel 30th Anniversary tour.
Tipton has almost exclusively used Marshall Amplifiers. Tipton used Regular Vintage 50 and 100 Watt Marshall heads without a master volume until 1982, when the JCM 800 head was developed. The JCM 800 was used by Tipton and fellow Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing for many years. Before his ENGL endorsement, Tipton used a large rack unit which includes several different preamps and two Marshall 9100 poweramps.
In 2008, Tipton began using ENGL amps. Of the brand, he comments, "ENGL is the first ampline that I have ever used that not only has balls, but attitude, right out of the box". Tipton currently plays through the ENGL Midi Tube Preamp E 580 and the ENGL Tube Poweramp E 850/50.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tipton used a Pete Cornish custom pedalboard with an overdrive unit, flanger, MXR distortion unit, MXR Phase 100, MXR digital delay, MXR 12-band EQ, Maestro Echoplex, line boosters between each effect to preserve the signal from input to output, and a Rangemaster-based custom treble boost connected to the bass channel of Marshall 50 and 100 watt heads with no master volume.
Today, Tipton only has a modified Crybaby 535Q Wah, Digitech Tone Driver, DigiTech Main Squeeze, and a Yamaha midi board controlling other effects and sounds in a rack unit.
Recognition and honors
He was ranked #19 on rock magazine Hit Parader's list of 100 greatest metal guitarists.
Sun Kil Moon released a song titled "Glenn Tipton" on their album Ghosts of the Great Highway.
In the popular video game Guitar Hero II, a playable character called Izzy Sparks, wears clothes very similar to the ones Glenn Tipton used under the Screaming for Vengeance tour 1983.
He was ranked #28 on Gigwise's Top 50 Guitarists.
Baptizm of Fire (1997)
Edge of the World (2006)