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How To Sound Like David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)

By Andy Ng

David Gilmour, like his Pink Floyd predecessor Syd Barrett, played a Telecaster initially, but he soon became one of the first British rock guitar legends to favor the Fender Stratocaster and to create a signature sound with the instrument. His parents bought the Tele for David’s 21st birthday, and he played it for a year (including on the Saucerful of Secrets record) until it was lost by an airline.

Upon officially joining Pink Floyd, Gilmour purchased a custom Stratocaster (the first of many) at a Cambridge music store. During the early Pink Floyd years, Gilmour played a Strat almost exclusively, taking full advantage of its wide tonal palette and vibrato bar in his style. He used a Lewis 24-fret electric guitar on rare occasions for its extended range, as in the solo of “Money,” and continued to employ a Tele sporadically in the repertory. Gilmour strung his electric guitars with Gibson Sonomatic strings made of a customized light-top (using the standard E and B for the B and G) and heavy-bottom set gauged .010, .012, .016, .028, .038, and .050. He used a Herco heavy-gauge pick.

David Gilmour’s earliest amp setup with Pink Floyd consisted of a Selmer 50-watt head with a 4×12 speaker cabinet. By 1970, he found his signature sound with a stack made of Hiwatt 100-watt heads with WEM 4×12 cabinets. The Hiwatt/WEM combination can be heard conspicuously on Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon. In the studio, he sometimes added a Fender Twin Reverb combo amp with two 12-inch speakers to his lineup for certain parts, as on Dark Side of the Moon.

David Gilmour’s early Floyd effects consisted of a Binson Echorec tape delay (like Barrett, he used this device from his first days with the band), a Dallas-Arbiter Fuzzface fuzz box, Uni-Vibe pedal, Vox wah-wah pedal, a DeArmond volume pedal, and Leslie and Yamaha RA-200 rotating speaker cabinets. The latter were routed through the output sections of Hiwatt heads and then to WEM 4×12 cabinets. In 1972, his effects boxes were mounted in a custom cabinet, and his array of processors grew to include a second Binson Echorec and a second Fuzzface, an MXR Phase 90, a Crybaby wah-wah, an Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger, Big Muff fuzz, an Orange treble and bass booster, and a custom-built tone pedal.


Additionally, Gilmour used studio effects like ADT (Automatic Double Tracking, a favorite studio processor first developed at Abbey Road Studios for the Beatles), Kepex for tremolo, various tape effects, studio echo chambers, and backwards guitar. He also employed an EMS Synthi Hi-Fi guitar synthesizer (heard on “Time” on Dark Side of the Moon), and usually played a lap steel or Fender twin neck pedal steel guitar for slide parts. He used various acoustic guitars on early Floyd tracks, later settling on Martin D-18 and D-35 models in the 1970s, and, depending on the song, alternated between fingerpicking and playing with a plectrum.

Andy Ng is a self taught guitar enthusiast. He have played guitar for the last 5 yrs and still going strong! He is also a leading expert on the art of building homemade effect pedals. Pick up tips, techniques and just plain guitar talk at his blog! http://www.guitareffectssecrets.andy-ng.com

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