Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour is one of the most influential guitarists in the history of the instrument. Over four decades of work, he’s expanded the possibilities of the instrument and shaped the minds of thousands of young players. Whether you’re just starting to learn guitar or you’re a seasoned pro, you can learn a lot from hearing David Gilmour play.
But Gilmour’s gear repertoire is just as complex as many of his recordings are. It can be very difficult to emulate his sound without any effects or the wrong kind of amp. If you’re looking for a complete David Gilmour gear guide, this is the piece for you.
Our guide lists everything you need to know to sound as close as possible to David Gilmour. We cover his guitars, amplifiers, and effects pedals. We also discuss David Gilmour’s playing style, where it helps you learn how he sounds. Together, you can use these to mimic his sound exactly.
We also include both budget and high-end options to help players in all price ranges find the perfect tone for them. Read ahead to find out everything you need to know!
David Gilmour is known for playing a wide variety of guitars. While many of these have become famous, some of them are more influential to his sound than others.
If you’re looking to copy David Gilmour’s tone, you’ll need to get a lot of Gilmour-style sounds out of just one or two guitars. It’s important to understand which types of guitar he uses a lot, and know how to get a broad range of sounds out of each instrument.
To start, we’ll break down the guitar styles that he uses the most. After that, we’ll evaluate some of the guitars that he uses less often. At the end, we’ll offer a couple of potential options for you to buy. We’ll cover both affordable and high-end options, to suit all different players.
The Black Strat
Without a doubt, this is the most famous type of guitar David Gilmour has ever used. He’s known for using a few different Stratocasters throughout his career.
The “Black Strat” is probably David Gilmour’s most well-known guitar. In fact, it sold for over $4 million in 2019! It’s a 1969 Fender Stratocaster, fitted with three single-coil pickups in traditional style. While he’s often changed out the pickups, he likes to use three single-coils, without any humbuckers or P90 pickups in the guitar.
Over the course of his career, Gilmour has used the Black Strat with multiple different fingerboards. At times, he’s used necks with rosewood fingerboards, although he’s also used maple necks and fretboards. Over the course of his career, he’s used maple more often than rosewood.
Gilmour used this guitar to record large parts of many different Pink Floyd albums. He recorded the Black Strat to play his solos on most of the band’s 1972 album The Dark Side of the Moon. Many rock critics regard this album as one of the greatest albums of all time.
He also used the Black Strat to record solos on Pink Floyd’s follow-up album, Wish You Were Here. Over the ensuing decades, he loved to use the Black Strat to test out new ideas and play most of his guitar parts on tour. It made a famous appearance in Pink Floyd’s legendary live film Echoes, recorded in the amphitheatre at Pompeii.
Stratocasters have been the foundation of David Gilmour’s sound for decades.
The 0001 Strat
Another famous Stratocaster Gilmour owns is the “0001 Strat.” It’s called this because it bears the serial number 0001. While there’s some debate over its origins, the serial number seems to indicate that this guitar was one of the first production Stratocasters ever assembled.
More importantly, though, it’s been used on some of Gilmour’s most famous recordings as well. He’s owned the guitar for over 40 years, and has used it often, both in Pink Floyd and on his own.
The most popular use of the 0001 Strat was to record Gilmour’s rhythm guitar part on “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2.” This song was the major single from Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall, and became one of the most famous songs in his entire career. He’s also used the guitar to record in sessions with artists like Paul McCartney and Brian Ferry.
No matter where the guitar came from, its tone is beyond dispute. The guitar’s maple neck and three single-coil pickups contribute significantly to that sound. It still retains the original pickups, which give it a sharp, bright tone.
As you can hear on “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2,” these Stratocaster pickups provide bright, clean sounds with plenty of articulation. With a bit of compression or overdrive, you can also get a lot of sustain out of them. They sound great with low and medium levels of gain, which makes them popular in a wide variety of different genres.
Because it was made in the mid 1950s, the 0001 Strat also features a rounder, thick “D” shape neck with a maple fretboard. This neck is different from modern Stratocasters, which utilize “C” shape necks instead.
While you can buy some separate necks from Fender to attach yourself, most of these utilize a “soft V” or “rounded V” shape, which were used later in the 1950s on Stratocasters.
To get the same “D” shape neck, you might want to consider a Vintera Stratocaster, which uses many accurate vintage measurements to provide a modern guitar which retains plenty of vintage feel and character.
A Vintera Stratocaster replicates the bright yet warm sound of his vintage Stratocaster pickups. The three single-coil configuration is another big element of David Gilmour’s Stratocaster sound, and the Vintera Stratocaster series nails that as well.
Because multiple different Vintera models are offered, you might wonder which one to get. A 1950s Vintera model will sound and feel more like his 0001 Stratocaster, while a 1960s Vintera will be closer to the Black Strat. Either one is a great pick, but for the majority of Pink Floyd-style tones, a 1960s Vintera Stratocaster might be your best available option today.
While Vintera Strats aren’t cheap, they’re also not extremely expensive. They’re a great middle-of-the-road option, particularly for players who might already own one electric guitar but want a more capable model.
And even though they do cost a bit more upfront, the Vintera Stratocasters are some of the most versatile guitars on the market. The wide range of sounds that you can get out of one guitar helps justify the extra sticker price. Aside from those, you might want to check out a Fender Mexican Stratocaster.
If you don’t have the money for a Vintera Stratocaster, you might also want to check out a Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster. This range is similar to the Fender Vintera series, but it’s produced by Fender’s low-budget relative, Squier. This keeps costs down and allows you to get the same tones at a much lower price.
Squier Stratocasters are some of the best values on the guitar market today. If you’re not quite sure about replicating David Gilmour’s sound, but you want to try it out, a Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster will be the perfect option for you.
Towards the beginning of Pink Floyd, David Gilmour actually used a Fender Telecaster, rather than a Stratocaster. While both guitars are solid body designs, and they’re made by the same company, they sound quite different. A Telecaster provides a sharper, brighter sound with more “twang” than a Stratocaster.
This is particularly true of the vintage Telecasters available when Pink Floyd began to record back in the 1960s. Most of David Gilmour’s different Telecasters are from the 1950s and 1960s, when they featured different types of neck shapes and pickup outputs than they do today.
Once again, Fender Vintera models provide a great approximation of David Gilmour’s original gear. Vintera Telecasters come in three different models, including one approximating a 1950s Telecaster and one modeling a 1960s Telecaster.
These two models replicate the neck profiles and pickup outputs that Gilmour’s vintage Telecasters would have shared. The vintage pickups provide a slightly lower-output response for warmer, clearer sound without sounding muddy or weak. They’re extremely versatile, particularly for guitarists who like to play a lot of rock, blues, and even jazz.
If you can’t afford a Vintera Telecaster, Squier also makes Classic Vibe Telecaster models. These models preserve the vintage aesthetics of the Vintera models. While they’re not quite as accurate in terms of specs and finishes, they do approximate the sound of a vintage guitar well. Considering their extremely affordable price, they’re a particularly compelling option.
Gibson Les Paul
While Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters have always been Gilmour’s favorite guitars, he’s also used a Gibson Les Paul at many different points throughout his career. A 1955 Les Paul “goldtop” was one of his favorite guitars while Pink Floyd were recording The Wall. He used it to record his solo on “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2.”
Gibson Les Paul guitars usually include humbuckers. Unlike single-coils, humbuckers wire two coils together to cancel hum and feedback generated at loud volumes. However, the Les Paul didn’t begin using humbuckers until after 1955. Gilmour’s goldtop model includes a pair of P-90 pickups instead.
To emulate the tone of these vintage P-90s, you’ll need a guitar with P-90 pickups rather than humbuckers. That means that a modern Les Paul Standard won’t do the job.
A Gibson Les Paul Special is a better choice. The Les Paul Special uses two P-90 pickups, instead of two humbuckers. While it doesn’t look a lot like Gilmour’s goldtop guitar, it provides that classic sound in a similar package. If you’re chasing David Gilmour’s tone, this is one of your best options for a guitar that can sound like Gilmour off of the shelf.
The Les Paul Special also covers a few other important bases. Like Gilmour’s Les Paul, its body and neck are both made from solid mahogany. It also features a rosewood fretboard, with a 24.75 inch scale length to give you a lighter, more slinky feel.
Thankfully for guitarists without as much money to spend, the Les Paul Special is a very versatile guitar. If you’re worried about spending a lot on one guitar, it’s able to give you a wide swath of tones. With the gain cranked up, you can emulate Gilmour or use the Les Paul Special to play hard rock and punk.
Try some cleaner tones, and you’re all set to play rock and roll, blues, or even some jazz. The P-90 pickups combine many advantages of single-coils with those of humbuckers to give you a lovely textured sound.
Unfortunately, a Les Paul Special doesn’t include a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece like Gilmour’s original Les Paul. However, if you
However, some guitarists still don’t have the money to purchase a Gibson guitar to emulate David Gilmour. If you’re one of those players, there’s no reason to worry! Gibson’s budget brand, Epiphone, makes some fantastic versions of Les Paul Specials for much less money.
Epiphone Les Paul Specials offer mahogany bodies, necks, and fretboards, just like the Gibson models that they emulate. They feature the same scale length, and use P-90 pickups as well. All in all, they’re a great way to emulate some of David Gilmour’s lead guitar tones without spending as much money.
David Gilmour has used a variety of different amplifiers throughout his career, but most of them fall into a couple models. Looking at these different types of amps will help you pick one to emulate his tone.
For most of his playing career, Gilmour has favored Hiwatt amps. He likes to use 100-watt models, deploying them in half stacks to get massive tone, volume, and projection on stage.
While he’s preferred other types of amps at times, the Hiwatt sound is a critical component of Gilmour’s overall gear rig. If you want David Gilmour tone out of modern gear, a Hiwatt amp will help you get there.
The Hiwatt Little D is a great option for home playing and smaller gigs. If you’re not rocking out full stadiums like David Gilmour, it’s probably the best bet for you to get his sound. The amplifier is built with a head and cabinet, rather than a combo package. This makes it much easier to transport and assemble in tight spaces. The flexibility is helpful for home practice rooms, jam sessions, and gigs.
The Little D head also comes with plenty of knobs to fine-tune your sound. You can use the three-band EQ knobs (bass, mids, and treble) to adjust the overall tone of your signal. The amp also comes with a presence knob and master volume. These let you dial in extra gain without turning the volume of the amp up a lot.
One of the major advantages of the Little D rig, though, is its attenuator. Because the amp is a genuine tube amp, its 20-watt capacity can get extremely loud for playing at home. If you want to push the amp into overdrive at the 20-watt setting, you might blow your ears out at home!
The attenuator feature lets you turn down the wattage of the amp to only 0.5 watts. This is perfect for playing at home. It doesn’t push the speaker as hard, and keeps the volume lower. However, the amp still breaks up the same way and sounds just as good whether clean or overdriven.
The Little D cabinet features a 12 inch speaker, so that you can get outstanding tones across the entire range. The size of the speaker provides great bass response, as well as clear trebles and present midrange tones.
Hiwatts are a British type of amplifier, and they feature a traditional “British” voicing. British voicings are generally an alternative to American amplifiers, like Fender amps. The British amplifier sound features more emphasis on the midrange, brighter trebles, and extra compression compared to American amps.
Vox, Marshall, Orange, and Hiwatt are some of the most famous British amp companies. Each one of those companies has their own specific sound. For example, Vox amps like the Vox AC4 are known for their jangly, sparkling cleans and saturated creamy overdrive. Marshall amps are often called “crunchy,” and distort nicely for blues guitar playing and classic rock guitar. Hiwatt amps mirror most of the classic British sound.
If you don’t have the budget for a Hiwatt, Vox and Marshall make some great options for you to consider as well. The Vox AC15 is one of the most famous British tube amplifiers ever made. It’s perfect for home practice and studio recording, and it’s loud enough to play some gigs as well. For British-style clean tones, it’s hard to beat.
The Vox Mini Superbeetle is another Vox amp which delivers classic British tones. This is a solid-state amp, and it offers plenty of gain as well as clean tones. This means that you can get great overdrive sounds without making the noise levels uncomfortable at home. For more detail, check out our article on the differences between tube and solid-state amps.
If you want to play more overdriven sounds like David Gilmour, Marshall might be the better company to check out. The company makes plenty of affordable amplifiers as well as rock star-level 100-watt heads.
The Origin5 is a low-volume tube amplifier that provides great sound at bedroom levels. It’s easy to push into overdrive, and it doesn’t get too loud for comfort. If you want to emulate David Gilmour’s tone at live gigs, the Origin20C might be a better pick. This is also a tube amp, and you can adjust the output to lower the wattage for bedroom practice.
For Marshall tone at a more affordable price point, the CODE series is the best thing on the market. These amplifiers are built with digital models, which means that you can pinpoint the tone of a specific song and hear it in your amp with just one click. That makes them an easy way to nail David Gilmour tones without breaking the bank.
While David Gilmour preferred to use Hiwatt amps throughout his career, occasionally he did opt for American-voiced amps, like Fenders, instead. Fender amplifiers are the king of American tone. They provide a smooth, warm sound with amazing clean tones and a lower response in the midrange to keep the sound thick and buttery.
However, Gilmour liked to play Fender Twin Reverb models. These 85-watt amplifiers are simply massive, and they sound way too loud to play in a bedroom or practice room. If you want to emulate David Gilmour’s tone, you’ll need to consider alternative options from Fender.
Thankfully, Fender makes a series of outstanding amplifiers for all price ranges. If you’re looking for an affordable tube combo, the Fender Blues Junior is one of the best options. It’s got a 12 inch speaker for maximum clarity, and it sounds good both clean and overdriven. It’s 15 watts, which is loud enough to take to gigs but quiet enough that you can play it comfortably in your bedroom.
If you want to get closer to David Gilmour’s exact tone on songs from his career, you’ll need to bring in some effects. Digital modeling amplifiers like the Fender Mustang series incorporate effects into the amplifier itself. The Mustang provides extremely close digital models of vintage sounds, and it costs far less than a genuine tube amp. It’s a great fit for bedroom players.
Few other players popularized the role of effects pedals in guitar playing like David Gilmour. Throughout his career, Gilmour was constantly inventing new and creative ways to push the boundaries of guitar sound. Many of his effects — particularly the ones that became famous through Pink Floyd — have become legendary today.
But while Gilmour used many different types of effects, his sonic choices still set him apart from most other guitarists of his day. In a period of time dominated by blues, hard rock, and psychedelia, Gilmour opted instead for vintage lead tones and clean, textural backing sounds.
Rather than relying exclusively on overdriven sounds, Gilmour experimented with both clean and dirty tones. Those clean tone trials helped him explore more effects pedals which could alter your clean tone without boosting it into overdrive or distortion. These are some of the most popular elements in his overall sound.
Delay was one of the key elements in Pink Floyd’s tone. Combined with layers of reverb, it created washed out, dreamy soundscapes on the band’s classic albums. Gilmour also combined it with distortion and overdrive to pump up his lead tones.
If you want to truly emulate David Gilmour’s gear, a good delay pedal is essential. Gilmour used different models throughout his career, but he often liked to use tape echo machines and dark analog delays. These were the only delays available for many of the years wehn Pink Floyd recorded their most famous albums.
If you want a dark, dreamy analog delay that can provide washed out soundscapes like Pink Floyd, Electro-Harmonix’s Deluxe Memory Boy is a great option. This pedal includes six different knobs to adjust the sound of your delay. It also includes modulation built-in, to give your tone a bit of a smooth, warbling chorus. A tap tempo and expression pedal output are also part of the package.
However, for a true David Gilmour-style delay, you’ll want to purchase the Catalinbread Echorec. This pedal models the sounds of the Binson Echorec unit, which was a multi-drum tape echo unit used by Pink Floyd throughout the 1970s. The Binson Echorec showed up on many different recordings, but it’s probably most famous for appearing on the band’s Echoes live film.
The main characteristic of the Echorec is its ability to create syncopated repeats. The multiple drum heads create tape echo at different points in the beat. This means that by using the original Echorec correctly, you could program it to syncopate your delay sounds into any combination you wanted.
The Echorec pedal maintains that functionality with 12 different modes to create different syncopated delays. Beyond the syncopation, though, this is also an outstanding tape echo pedal. The Catalinbread Echorec is based on an old Binson Echorec, and it nails the luscious, smoky sound of the old unit in a much more affordable and durable stompbox format.
The voicing of the Catalinbread Echorec is designed specifically to emulate the tone of the Binson Echorec used in Echoes. That means that the Catalinbread Echorec is the most accurate delay pedal on the market today to get David Gilmour’s tone.
However, David Gilmour didn’t just use delay in his rig. He also loved to use drive pedals to add dirt to his signal. This came in handy on tunes where he used overdrive to play a solo. “Comfortably Numb” is one of his most famous solos ever, and it includes some pristine overdriven tones.
Like most of the other songs in his catalog, David Gilmour used an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi to record the lead guitar solo on the song “Comfortably Numb.” Thankfully for us modern guitar players, the EHX Big Muff Pi is a very affordable pedal.
This is particularly true because Electro-Harmonix reissues many different models of the Big Muff pedal style. If you want to chase David Gilmour’s exact tone on different records, it’s easy to buy a couple of these different Big Muff designs and see which one gets you closest to his tone.
Because EHX is such a well-known company, and the Big Muff is such a legendary pedal, it’s easy to sell any versions of the pedal that you don’t like and make back as much as you paid for them.
Finally, to nail some of the tones that David Gilmour gets, you might want to also include a modulation pedal or two on your board. David Gilmour doesn’t use modulation pedals very often, but if you dial them in low they can be a great way to add extra texture and color to your sound. This is a great way to boost your rhythm playing and add a personal touch to your solos.
Gilmour put an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser pedal on one of his recent pedalboards. That pedal, and the phaser sound in general, is a really great way to get a bit of modulation without coloring your tone too much.
A phaser sweeps through your guitar tone, giving it a thick, “wah” sound. Many players in the 1960s and 1970s used phasers, because they can sound like a rotary speaker at certain settings.
An EHX Small Stone is an easy introduction to the world of modulation effects, and it fits right in with most of Pink Floyd’s recorded work. Considering the way that Gilmour uses it on his pedalboard, it’s also a good choice to stay true to his original gear list. If a Small Stone isn’t available, the EHX Bad Stone also provides the same effect.
David Gilmour is one of the most famous rock guitarists of all time. While his tone is difficult to replicate, with the right gear it’s possible. This David Gilmour gear guide displays everything you need to know in order to sound like him!