Guitar Techniques June 1996
(Guitar Shop Vol. 3 NO. 6, Guitar Player June 1995,
Guitar World Sep 1994)

The Guitars

Gilmour's main stage guitar is a USA 57 Vintage Reissue Strat fitted with EMG-SA pickups. He has also installed the EMG-EXG expander & SPC midrange presence controls. Apart from the electric's, the only other custom feature is a shortened tremolo arm so that he can keep it in his picking hand more comfortably while playing.

Other guitars used live are an Esquire Telecaster in dropped D tuning for Run Like Hell, two Jensen lap steel guitars one tuned to E B E G B E for One Of These Days & the other tuned to D G D G B E for The Great Gig In The Sky. He also uses two Gibson J-200 Celebrity acoustics one tuned in standard & the other in D A D G A D for Poles Apart & a Gibson Chet Atkins Electro Classical. Both the Jensen Lap Steels & the acoustic guitars are fitted with EMG-H pickups. (These are basically a single coil pickup in a humbucker cap).


On the Strats Gilmour uses GHS Boomers with a customized gauge of (.010 .012 .016 .028 .038 .048) On the acoustics he uses Ernie Ball Earthwound Light's.

How To Gilmour-ize Your Strat

To go along with David Gilmour's taste for pristine Strat tone is his use of EMG active electronic (i.e. battery powered) pickups. Each of his Stratocasters is loaded with low impedance EMG-SA single coils, which he beefs up with two more tone modules: the EXG mid-cut/expander & SPC mid booster. As far as the SA pickups go, they have Alnico magnets which have a little more mid range than the ceramic S magnets. He also has the SPC midrange boost control on there which produces more of a singing humbucker tone.

Finally, there's the EXG which David uses alot for rhythm, since it really helps define the notes, especially when there's a little distortion on and he's moving chord voicing around. The EXG works like a V configuration on a graphic EQ when you turn it up, the midrange gets cut, while the bass & treble get boosted. The SPC is where you really here the Gilmour sound emerge. Turn the SPC all the way up & you get that thick bluesy sound used in Shine On.

The Analogue Footpedals

(A) Boss CS-2 Compression/Sustainer


These are no longer available new from Roland. You can only purchase the CS-3 which (to my ear) does not sound as smooth as the CS-2.

(B) Pro Co. Rat II Distortion.


The first generation Rat's distortion, filter & volume knobs yield various Marshally distortion tones.

(C) Cornish Big Muff.


Pete Cornish custom Big Muff. (looks like Pete has taken an original Big Muff and housed it in a custom box). I don't know if this has been modified in any other way.

(D) Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer.


This GE-7 has been set to be used in conjunction with the Rat distortion pedal.

(E) Cornish Soft Sustain.


This is obviously a Pete Cornish custom effect. Notice the combination of the GE-7 graphic EQ sliders & the knobs for sustain & volume.

(F) Sovtek Big Muff II.


The Big Muff is a very heavy-vibed fuzz with volume, tone & sustain controls. The muff sounds huge & powerful despite it's feeble tone control range & is looser & more gargantuan than say a Pro Co. Rat II.

(G) Chandler Tube Driver #2.


The Tube Driver offers lots of tight girthy gain and has an openness that sets it apart from other distortion boxes. Features high/low EQ, tube drive & output controls. These later became known as Tube Works Tube Driver.

(H) MXR Dynacomp Compressor.


The Dynacomp has a natural sounding expansion & a nice bright tone to it.

(I) Ibanez CP-9 Compressor.

(J) Boss Metalizer.


No longer available new from Roland.

(K) Chandler Tube Driver #1.


The Tube Driver offers lots of tight girthy gain and has an openness that sets it apart from other distortion boxes. Features high/low EQ, tube drive & output controls. This later became known as Tube Works Tube Driver.

(L) Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer.


This GE-7 has been set to boost the top & bottom ranges. Labelled T&B

(M) Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer.


This GE-7 has been set to boost the bass ranges. Labelled BASS

(N) Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer.


This GE-7 has been set to boost the mid ranges. Labelled MID

The Rack

With Dave Gilmour's rack system we meet a marriage of technologies, old & new. He has always exhibited a preference for older, analogue effects but has had Pete Cornish create a switching system which guarantees ease of use with optimum, low noise performance.

(A) Furman PL-8 Power Conditioner And Light Controller.


I can only guess that this controls the lights on top of the rack so Dave can see the pedals.

(B) TC. Electronics TC-2290 Dynamic Digital Delay + Effects Control Processor.


This is Dave's primary delay unit. He uses this on most songs.

(C) Uni-Vibe.


The Uni-Vibe unit features volume & intensity controls, a chorus/vibrato switch & separate speed controls for the slow or fast speed options. It also requires a separate foot switch pedal for fast or slow. Gilmour does not use the chorus option! This effect was originally a footpedal, however Gilmour had his longtime technician Phil Taylor make a rack system out of it. He even had the old logo embossed on the face plate of the new rack.

(D) Digitech IPS-33B Super Harmony Machine.


Diatonic pitch shifter.

(E) Lexicon PCM-70 Digital Effects Processor.


Dave uses the PCM-70 to store the circular delay sounds you hear in Shine On & Time. Because it has a multi tap function it can pretty accurately duplicate the kind of echo Dave used to get from his old Binson echo unit.

(F) MXR Delay System II.


This is another rack system that began life as a footpedal. Phil also added a digital readout that he says is really nowhere close to being an accurate indication of delay time.

(G) Phil Taylor Custom Rack.


This is yet another custom made rack from footpedals. It contains the following effects.

Boss CE-2 Chorus


The original chorus from Boss has rate & depth knobs & sounds sweet, rich & dynamic. There are two CE-2's loaded into this rack one is marked Mono Chorus & the other Left Chorus. (The left chorus is inserted in the signal path for the left channel of Dave's amp setup).

Electric Mistress


The Electric Mistress has rate, range & colour controls, plus a filter matrix switch. This is sort of a bizarre sounding flanger that gets extremely detuned & twisted.



The Tremulator has speed and depth controls.

(H) Dynachord CL5222 Leslie Simulator.

(I) Samson UHF Dual Receiver.

(J) Peterson Strobe Tuner.

Other Effects & Equipment

There are a few footpedals & other items which are not pictured or part of Dave's current live rig but have been and still are used by him in the studio.

MXR Phase 90


This was MXR's first effect and only has a speed knob that yields complex, swirly phase textures with silky highs & lots of vocal inflection. Also does decent rotating speaker imitations at higher speeds.

Arbiter Fuzz Face


The classic of classic fuzzes sounds big, deep & bad. The Fuzz Face takes you from clean to insanity with a mere twiddle of your guitars volume knob.

Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal Distortion


An 80's classic Gilmour used on About Face (notably at the end of Murder). It delivers incredibly gutsy grind & tons of deep bass boost. Features low/high and colour mix controls.

Maestro Rover


The Maestro Rover looks like a late 1950's NASA satellite (I will try and get a scan of this thing) but it's a rotating speaker designed to go between your guitar and your amp. This sure fire attention getter has amp & instrument inputs & features volume, speed, slow & fast controls. A crossover routes the upper frequencies through the Rover's amplifier to the rotating speaker, while the lower frequencies are sent to your stage amp.

Orange Treble/Bass Boost.


Heil Voice Box

The Midi Foot Controller

This Bob Bradshaw designed pedalboard is used to select individual or different preset combinations of effects. This doesn't do the actual switching though. The left side of Dave's rack unit contains his Pete Cornish custom built switcher, which has 24 sends & returns & uses gold plated relays to turn individual effects on and off. In addition to this, it also sends standard MIDI program numbers to the various MIDI processors that are contained in his rack (such as the Lexicon). It can also send almost anything he wants to the rack, such as a delay time or whatever. I'm not sure if he uses any of these features, but it's there.

For information on a similar type of pedalboard designed by Rocktron/Bradshaw follow this link to Rocktron's All Access page.

(A) TC. Electronics TC-2290 Digital Delay + Effects Control Processor. On/Off

(B) Lexicon PCM-70 Digital Effects Processor. On/Off

(C) Doppola's. On/Off

(D) Leslie. On/Off

(E) Left Chorus (Rack Mounted Boss CE-2). On/Off

(F) Acoustic. On/Off


This seems to be a switch Dave uses to toggle between electric & acoustic setups.

(G) Midi.

(H) Store.

(I) MXR Delay System II. On/Off

(J) Graphic B (Mid). On/Off

(K) Graphic A (Bass). On/Off

(L) Graphic C (T & B). On/Off

(M) Tremulator (Rack Mounted). On/Off

(N) Chorus (Rack Mounted Boss CE-2). On/Off

(O) Univibe. On/Off

(P) Electric Mistress. On/Off

(Q) Chandler Tube Driver #2. On/Off

(R) Sovtek Big Muff. On/Off

(S) Cornish Soft Sustain. On/Off

(T) Pro Co. Rat II. On/Off

(U) Chandler Tube Driver #1. On/Off

(V) Pete Cornish Big Muff. On/Off

(W) Hyper. On/Off


This toggles the Boss Metalizer

(X) Ibanez CP-9 Compressor. On/Off

(Y) Digitech Whammy. On/Off

(Z) Bank Switch.


Selects the bank number for preset sounds.

(1) Preset Numbers. 1/0

(2) Preset Numbers. 2

(3) Preset Numbers. 3

(4) Preset Numbers. 4

(5) MXR Dynacomp Compressor. On/Off

(6) Boss CS-2 Compressor. On/Off

(7) Doppola's. Slow/Fast


Selects which speed the doppola's rotate at.

(8) Leslie. Slow/Fast


Selects the speed of the Dynachord CL5222 Leslie Speaker Simulator.

(9) Univibe. Slow/Fast


Selects the speed of the univibe rotating speaker simulator.

(10) Ernie Ball Volume Pedal.

(11) Digitech Whammy Pedal.

FX Facts

Despite the apparent complexity of Dave Gilmour's set up, the actual contents of each track may come as something of a surprise. Essentially his sound is fairly clean, choosing different distortion units to add their characteristic sound to his signal. As an example, to reproduce the track Money from Dark Side Of The Moon live in concert, Gilmour uses this effects combination.

Main Riff: Pete Cornish Soft Sustain with Chandler Tube Driver #2.

Solo: Boss CS-2 Compressor with Chandler Tube Driver #1, Sovtek Big Muff & TC Electronics digital delay.

Solo (Dry Sound): Chandler Tube Driver #1 with Pro Co. Rat II Distortion.

The Amplification



After journeying through the rack system the signal meets an alembic F2-B bass guitar preamp. This has been modified with an extra tube, lowered output impedance & a different capacitor to help cut the low end.



Gilmour has always been a fan of Hi-Watt amps, tending to use AP-100 watt heads on stage and combo's in the studio. Live three of the heads are used as power amps & another three are used as slaves. All use Mullard E-34 valves which are desperately difficult to get a hold of these days, but Floyd head of backline Phil Taylor still has a cupboard full!

(A) Right channel output to 4x12's 1+10 8 ohm.


I am guessing that (1+10) refers to channel inputs on a mixer i.e. channel 1 left, channel 10 right.

(B) Left channel output to 4x12's 2+9 8 ohm.


Again (2+9) could be channel 2 right, channel 9 left. If this is the case then Dave could have, for instance, channels 1+2 as a stereo pair for the Marshalls & channels 9+10 as a stereo pair for the WEM's.

(C) Spare AP-100.

(D) Output to Heil Voice Box via Pete Cornish Dummy Load Box 8 ohm.

(E) Output to Doppola's 87, 88 8 ohm.

(F) Output to Doppola 89 8 ohm.

Speaker Cabinets & Doppola's

Speaker Cabinets

The right channel Hi-Watt powers a WEM 4x12 which is loaded with Fane Crescendo speakers and a Marshall loaded with Celestion speakers. A second Hi-Watt does the same thing for the left channel which also carries a chorused signal from a Boss CE-2 Chorus. (See Footpedals Incorporated Into A Rack Space). In the second rack, one AP-100 feeds the Jim Dunlop Heil Voice Box, another feeds Doppola's 87 & 88 (8 ohm) & a third feeds Doppola 89 (16 ohm).


These rotating speaker units were designed by Phil Taylor & Paul Leader to provide Gilmour with that 'Leslie' effect on his guitar. Leslie cabinets themselves might have seemed the obvious choice, but Gilmour was after a slightly different sound. In the studio he had been using Maestro Rover units which are revolving full range speakers but they are too low powered for live use and so the Doppola's were born. Three units are used on stage each loaded with two six inch 100 watt drivers.

(A) Marshall 4x12 cabinet with Celestion speakers.

(B) WEM 4x12 cabinet with Fane Crescendo speakers.

(C) Custom Doppola rotating speakers.