The life of David Gilmour told through his guitars

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What more can we say about David Gilmour’s guitar playing that hasn’t already been said? Fluid, bluesy and constantly hitting rising high notes, his melodic lines and solos across the Pink Floyd catalog have given the band a delicate touch and distinctive strength for over four decades.

Most progressive rock guitarists would be guilty of noodles, but Gilmour is different. A craftsman in the truest sense of the word, every note played is useful, and Gilmour has learned that economy and restraint are just as powerful as bombastic displays of six-string prowess. The structure of solos like “Money” and “Comfortably Numb” made him a legend, but his riff-conjuring abilities are equally impressive in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” or his aggressive attack on “Pigs (Three Different Ones). ) ”.

More important than his approach to the instrument is its adaptability to all circumstances. The puffy seagull cries of ‘Echoes’, the slinky funk of ‘Have a Cigar’, the disco-infused strut of ‘Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2’, and the pastoral folk of ‘Fat Old Sun’ are all at completely opposite ends of the musical spectrum, and yet Gilmour can perfectly assimilate to each of them. No matter what new genre he plays, his guitar parts are always classic Gilmour.

Still associated with his signature Black Stratocaster, Gilmour has actually used a number of different guitars over the years. Some are variations of his favorite guitar, and others are intentionally different. In order to get an overview of what thrills Gilmour as a guitarist, it helps to take a tour of his gear and find out which guitars were used for which classic cuts. These are some of Gilmour’s greatest stories, told through six of his most notable guitars.

1967: Telecaster Fender white

On March 6, 1967, David Gilmour’s 21st birthday, he received a gift from his parents that would change his life forever: a white Fender Telecaster. Telecasters were traditionally considered country guitars, but it would be through their association with figures like Jimmy Page and George Harrison that the Telecaster became rock and roll royalty.

The fact that Gilmour got this specific model, in that specific color, would be an omen for his future. It was the same kind of guitar his friend Syd Barrett used in his burgeoning band, Pink Floyd. Just months after getting the Tele, Gilmour was offered a spot in the Floyd, apparently to cover up Barrett’s erratic behavior, but Gilmour quickly replaced Barrett completely. It was almost by accident that the white Tele was lost to an airline shortly after Barrett’s official departure, forcing Gilmour to find his own signature sound.

1968: Fender White Stratocaster

Even though it was probably necessary for him to fully replace Barrett, Gilmour was still very upset about the loss of his first real guitar. His bandmates saw how torn Gilmour was over the loss of the guitar and bought him a new one: a White Fender Stratocaster.

Gilmour would use the guitar as Pink Floyd found his own voice after Barrett left. Through the experimental recording sessions of Ummagoum, Gilmour used the white Strat to try to find his own identifiable style. He wouldn’t get it with this particular guitar, but he obviously liked the Strat enough to favor it when he got his next and most famous guitar.

1970: The Black Strat

Manny’s Music was a legendary guitar store in Midtown Manhattan where musicians of all skill levels could find some of the world’s greatest guitars. Everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Bob Dylan walked through the store doors, and when Gilmour walked into the store in 1970 on Pink Floyd’s tour in support of Mother Heart Atom, he saw a black 1969 Fender Stratocaster talking to him.

Everything about the guitar, minus its signature body, would be changed by Gilmour over the years. Necks, pickups, circuits, tuners, bridges: name it, it’s been replaced. And yet, the guitar remains one of the most unique and easily identifiable in the world. Gilmour mainly retired the Black Strat after The final cut, only briefly bringing him back four tours in the 2000s before auctioning off his most famous instrument in 2019. It sold for a tempting $ 4 million.

1971: Bill Lewis Custom 24 frets

When Pink Floyd entered the studio in 1971 to work on their LP Mingle, Gilmour was finally making enough money to start spending it on more equipment. On the same tour he acquired the Black Strat, Gilmour visited luthier Bill Lewis’ store in Canada where he was shown a custom 24 fret guitar that impressed him.

The searing high notes that Gilmour could produce from the guitar would come in handy when recording Echoes’ solo. But his greatest usefulness would come two years later when Gilmour treated those extra frets to their worth during the solo of “Money.” Gilmour remains passionate about the guitar, and it’s one of the few he refused to auction in 2019.

1975: Martin D-35

Gilmour used a handful of acoustic guitars during Pink Floyd’s early years, but he longed for a classic Martin guitar after the band exploded with it. The dark side of the moon. As he had found success at Manny’s Music with the Black Strat, Gilmour went to the store to find another great guitar.

But he never made it through the door. Instead, an amateur musician recognized Gilmour before he got to the store. Gilmour explained that he was looking for an acoustic, and the musical offered him the guitar he was wearing, a Martin D-35. Gilmour spent a total of two minutes playing on the streets before handing over the money. Gilmour often composed on acoustics, and he blew it out for the opening solo of “Wish You Were Here”.

1979: The 0001 Fender Stratocaster

Disco was ubiquitous in the late 1970s, and one of the genre’s secret weapons for catchy funk were the rough guitar lines that added extra beats to the already groovy arrangements. The king of this style was Chic’s Nile Rodgers, known for using a white Fender Stratocaster to produce some of the greatest disco guitar lines.

Gilmour wasn’t very interested in the genre, but when ‘Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2’ started to take shape in its funky form, Gilmour decided to release one of the most legendary guitars of all time: the 0001 Strat. It may be the first Strat ever to be made, but it was personally designed by Leo Fender himself, gifted to Gilmour by his fellow guitar pioneer Rex Gallion. The 0001 Strat proves it, as Gilmour says: “There really hasn’t been any improvement on the Stratocaster, and on the electric guitar.


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