Over the years, Pat Allen has become one of the most respected guitarists around, though his first semi-professional involvement with the music business was as a bass player at the age of 13.
As he grew up, Pat found himself fulfilling many different roles in various bands - bass, rhythm, lead, and vocalist and often doing more than one at a time. He believes that his arpeggio style of playing came from these days. When he played lead and rhythm while singing, the arpeggios made up for the lack of other instruments, thickening up the sound during the lead breaks.
In 1988, after forming and fronting the successful band Blues Alley, Pat teamed up with Andy Hiseman to join The Nightrippers, an R&B soul band that soon generated a large following in the Midlands.
By then, Pat had become well known for both his searing solos and his antics on stage - As the tempo quickened he would close his eyes and then the audience knew that there was a "storm-a-comin!" He would just get into the groove and off he would go stomping his way across the stage playing the most amazing licks, breaking all the rules and using all the tricks. Pat and Andy used to rehearse regularly together, and found that they tended towards a common taste in music; arrangements that broke the mould of 12 bar blues, and in particular for the acoustic guitar and Country Blues, this is considered to be the genesis of the Barfly's.
For the acoustic set-up Pat plays a parlour Takamine acoustic guitar, which looks and sounds very similar to the Martin 0016 "New Yorker", featuring a small body and wide, 12 fret neck with a fairly flat profile.
His style of playing the acoustic guitar makes extensive use of arpeggios and harmonics along with Jazz style chord progressions, but believes the real key to his style is that he uses a lot of electric guitar techniques rather than acoustic.
For slide playing, Pat uses a National Resophonic Jazz/Blues guitar with a Highlander pickup fitted between the biscuit and the resonator cone, giving the distinctive and powerful mid-range punch that is associated with these instruments.
The National is strung with .013 strings but the 1st string is replaced by a 0.15, and the action is set high to reduce "fretting" whilst playing with the bottleneck. Pat only uses custom made glass bottlenecks, which have a different tonality from steel or brass slides, and are closer to the original Delta blues sound. He has a very distinctive slide style, with the bottleneck on his middle finger and using very little damping on the strings behind. This, along with an aggressive style gives a slightly harsh, brittle quality to the sound. Both of Pat's guitars are played through an AEG acoustic amplifier.
Despite the move to acoustic instruments, Pat has not lost any of his speed or dynamism. When the Barfly's move into overdrive, Pats eyes start to close - you know it's time to tie the furniture down.
When playing electric guitars Pat uses his Gibson 335, Gibson Les Paul or Musicman with 0.11 gauge strings played through his monster Mesa Boogie Roadster.