NOTE: This website is frequently updated. Last update January 2016.
TONE BUILDING - What do each of the pedals David Gilmour used do and how do you set them to get similar Pink Floyd tones? Which pickups and amps work best for those tones? Here is a general guide to the gear and how to get the tones. There are audio clips demonstrating building basic Gilmour tones using some of the same gear David used. These clips are designed to show what each individual piece of gear contributes to the tone. This is not a comprehensive song by song list by any means, just a general guide based on my experience. I highly recommend you look at Gilmourish.com and The Tone from Heaven for much more detailed reference for all the gear David has used throughout the years. Those guys have really done their home work and have created very comprehensive websites on everything to do with David Gilmour's gear and tone, but for my website I wanted to focus on actual sound clips and settings for reference. Enjoy!
Animals - The effects used and sound clips (coming soon)
The Wall - The effects used and sound clips (coming soon)
After David Gilmour's brief work in 1982 on the last Pink Floyd album, The Final Cut (which was more or less Roger Waters' first solo album), and session work on Atomic Rooster's Headline News album, he completely changed his gear and sound for his 1984 solo album, About Face, and his later session work. The 1980s through the early 1990s was a period where David was working constantly as a session guitarist, making guest appearances on dozens of other artist's recordings, including Roy Harper, Pete Townshend, Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney, Peter Cetera, Kate Bush, Supertamp, Warren Zevon, Arcadia, Rod Stewart, Berlin, and many others. His sound varied throughout this period, but there was a commonality to the tone of many of his guest solos, as well as a unique and aggressive playing style that utilized a lot of harmonics.
The effects used in this period varied, but there was some common gear recurring in David's rig - the Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal, a Mesa/Boogie amp head, Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive, digital delays, and Fender amplifiers. The key to many of David's high gain lead tones was no longer the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff into Hiwatt and rotary speaker amplifiers. It was the blend of a Boss HM-2 with the Mesa/Boogie amp head, and later the HM-2 blended with the SD-1, then the HM-2 blended with a Gallien Kreuger ML250 amp. Mesa Engineering was a small company owned by Randall Smith, one of the first "boutique" hand-made amp makers, and the Boogie was one of the first cascading gain stage amplifiers. It was a very popular amplifier among top guitarists at the time, like Carlos Santana and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Mesa went on to become a huge company, but back then these amps were made-to-order. David often used an early 1977-78 model Mesa Boogie Mark I amp head. It was first seen in his live rig for The Wall concerts in 1980-81. The Boogie and fuzz pedal blend made for some incredible guitar tones. The way David used the Boogie in his signal chain was unique (as described below). The Boss CE-2 chorus and a digital delay were also essential elements of these tones.
Not much is known about the gear used for the About Face sessions. David began making demos in early 1983 then recorded sessions in Paris beginning in July 1983 and later in England. Most of the tracks were cut live with a full band, with additional multi tracking added later. Based on the tones, David was going for a completely different sound than his last few Pink Floyd albums. The Boss HM-2 was released in October 1983 and I hear it all over About Face. I also hear the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff in a few places. David has stated he used a vibrato pedal for the synthesizer-like rhythm on Until We Sleep, running in time with the drum tempo. David has also said he used a Rockman headphone amp for the outro solo on Blue Light, but that was only because they decided in the mixing stage to add a solo. David had no amplifier in the studio, so they plugged the Rockman straight into the mixning board. The Rockman was a miniture solid state amplifier simulator designed by Tom Scholz (of the band Boston) in 1982. It included two clean modes and distortion tones, along with a built in stereo chorus and echo. It could be played using headphones or plugged directly into a mixing board.
For guitars, David has stated he used his Martin D-35 acoustic, his old Black Strat, and his old 1955 Fender Esquire on a few tracks, along with a lot of other guitars. The Black Strat was fitted with a Seymour Duncan SSL-1 bridge pickup, Charvel 22 fret maple neck, and a new Kahler tremolo system installed in early 1983. It was also around this time that David had the tremolo arm shortened to fit into the palm of his hand when playing. This mod, combined with the Kahler's capability to keep all strings in tune when using the whammy bar, created a whole different dynamic to David's use of the tremolo. The Black Strat was used on the Let's Get Metaphysical instrumental, which sounds like the Boss HM-2 + Mesa/Boogie.
The amplification probably varied as on previous Pink Floyd sessions - likely small Fender combos, the Hiwatt SA212, and David's Mesa/Boogie Mark I.
THE ABOUT FACE TOUR RIG - The About Face tour lasted from March - July 1984. The April concerts at the Hammersmith Odeon in London were filmed and released on VHS as David Gilmour in Concert in 1984. Many Gilmour fans do not like the guitar tones from this tour as much as other Gilmour eras. The way the sound of this new rig was setup did not allow the expressiveness of David's playing to come through as well as it did on other tours. I found the way David used this setup for his guest solo work on other artist's records from this era much more interesting, as the sound evolved and became more refined after the tour. I still enjoy listening to the 1984 shows, especially David Gilmour In Concert, even though there was a lot of "sameness" to the lead sound, the chorus was a bit ecessive, and the guitar solos often felt overlong. David was definitely into playing very long solos in this period! However, David's heavenly delay and modulation sound on Short and Sweet and Run Like Hell were stunningly beautiful. It was a fantastic, gritty and watery, modulated overdrive tone - like the crashing rumble of thunder made into music. I was obsessed with this Short and Sweet tone, and got something close at the time, but I never really nailed it until I tried the HM-2 + Mesa/Boogie with the Boss CS-3 into my Twin Reverb. The Run Like Hell guitar tone always sounded different on each tour, but it sounded exceptionally good here as well.
Here area few medleys of various guitar sections from concert soundboards of April and June 1984.
According to David, the gear he used on his About Face album sessions in 1983 - guitars, amps, and effects - was completely different from the gear used for the subsequent tour. That may be, but I think the Boss HM-2+Mesa/Boogie was prominently used on both. The tour gear consisted of Boss effect pedals, a Mesa Boogie amp head, MXR delays, and Fender Twin Reverb II amps.
As stated, the Mesa/Boogie head was key to the tones of this era. David had used the Boogie for light overdrive tones since 1978, in The Wall live rig, and in this rig as an overdrive. For this album David ran the HM-2 into a Boogie head (placed the signal chain using the Slave output), for a blend of the two tones. I believe this combo was used for most of the high gain solos on both the album and the tour, but I think a Big Muff, or Big Muff + Boogie combo was also used for some songs on part of the tour. Gilmour described this exact setup in the November 1984 issue of Guitar Player, after the tour had ended, and just after he had used this rig to record his fantastic guitar work for the Paul McCartney song No More Lonely Nights on October.
The Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal may seem like an odd choice for Gilmour to use. The pedal was first released in 1983 and became a favorite among 1980s hair metal bands and Swedish death metal bands, but it was not strictly limited to playing metal. This was one of the first pedals I ever owned and I played everything but metal with it. It had a unique split-band tone stage. The color L knob added or removed bass bandwidth, and the color H knob added or removed mid range bandwidth. The mids could be completely scooped, even more so than a Big Muff, or completely boosted. Unfortunately the HM-2 lacked any control over the treble range, and by itself the distortion was a bit harsh. When blended with certain slightly overdriven amps however, like the Mesa/Boogie, the combination made a smooth high gain lead tone.
The Mesa/Boogie Mark I head did not power a speaker cabinet in David's rig. It was used strictly as rack effect in the signal chain, no different than an overdrive pedal. A line out after the fuzz and distortion pedals was sent to the Mesa/Boogie Input 1. The Slave line out from the back of the Boogie returned the signal to the signal chain before the delays and modulation effects. In essence, it was just another pedal in the signal chain. After the modulations and delays, the signal was then fed to the primary power amplifiers as usual - typically Fenders. Since a speaker cabinet was not used with the Boogie, the speaker out was plugged into an 8ohm load resistor to prevent damage to the power tubes and output transformer. Some Boogies were also made with an optional graphic equalizer for tone sculpting, but David did not have that option on this model. A Boss GE-7 EQ pedal was used to fine tune the tone.
(left) David adjusting a Boss pedal. (middle) Boss CE-3 stereo chorus. (right) David's pedal board included the following effects:
The pedals David used were all Boss effects and the arrangement of the pedals on the SCC-700 board changed throughout the tour. The CE-3 chorus effect was very heavy and prominent in almost all the songs. To replicate this correctly the depth knob must be set very high (photo above is the Short and Sweet setting). That is a key component to the lead sound used in most of the songs and the overdrive tone used for Short and Sweet and Run Like Hell. The CE-3 is a stereo chorus pedal run last in the signal chain and David split it to each of the Twin Reverbs. Since the MXR delays were not stereo effects with separate L and R channels, the CE-3 ran last in the signal chain. A CE-2 or one of the later Boss chorus pedals will also work for a mono setup, but there is a characteristic of the CE-3 modulation that is very distinct in David's 1984 sound.
A Big Muff can be seen on the pedal board in some photos shot in the rehearsal prior to an April show, but it does not appear to be on the board in the concert video taped on April 30th for MTV's David Gilmour in Concert broadcast and VHS release. Perhaps David was trying it out in this rig and decided to remove it later.
The rack effects were all MXR. At the top of the rack was an MXR Pitch Transposer and Pitch Transposer Display. Based on the official recordings and bootlegs, David only used the MXR Pitch Transposer for the solo at the end of Until We Sleep. There was also an MXR Digital Delay System and MXR Digital Delay System II (along with the Boss digital delay). The reason David used multiple delays was to set each for a different delay time setting for specific songs and to adjust delay time on-the-fly during shows.
Everything was run through a Boss SCC-700 pedal board system, which David would use for the next three years. It was one of the first production made programmable effects switching systems on the market, replacing David's Pete Cornish custom pedal board used for The Wall shows. Any effects connected could be programmed to switch on in any order. Even with that, David found the system lacking for what he needed and added a separate, smaller effects switching pedal board to the rig for delay and volume pedal switching.
The signal was sent to two brand new Fender Twin Reverb II amplifiers for stereo. The Twin Reverb II was a Paul Rivera era design, made from 1983-1986. It was a different circuit than the older Fender Twin Reverbs or Showman amps David had used in the past. The Reverb II's clean tone was voiced like a Twin, but it also had an overdrive stage that sounded a bit like a Mesa/Boogie, something common in the Rivera era designs. The II also had a fairly extreme mid range boost. I believe these particular Twins were used primarily because of that mid range and the Fender clean tone. An extra Twin II was in the rack as a spare, along with the previously mentioned Mesa/Boogie Mark I. The signal went from the Twins to two WEM 4x12 cabinets with Fane Crescendo speakers and two Marshall 4x12 cabinets with Celestion speakers.
For the tour guitars, David used a 1976 Ovation Custom Legend acoustic, a Washburn solid-body acoustic, several new Fender vintage reissue guitars, a Roger Giffin custom headless guitar, and the old, heavily modified, Black Strat. It now included a Seymour Duncan SSL-1 bridge pickup, Charvel 22 fret maple neck, and a Kahler tremolo system installed in early 1983. It was tuned to Dropped D (low E changed to D) to play Short and Sweet, and Run Like Hell.
The floundering Fender company was recently bought from CBS by the employees and re-organized. They had just made a line of high quality vintage reissue Stratocasters, supposedly made to vintage specs. They were not, but the build quality was far better than the previous Fenders under CBS ownership, so in 1983 David went to the Arbiters warehouse in London and picked out several (reportedly 5) of the new reissues to use on the 1984 tour. These included a cream colored '57 reissue Strat with a maple neck, and a fiesta red '62 reissue Strat with an ebony neck. A candy apple red (CAR) '57 reissue Strat was also purchased, but not used on the tour. All had the tremolo arms shortened so David could hold them in his palm while playing.
THE SESSION RIG 1984 / NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS - For David's session work during this period he used a stripped down version of his live rig, which included a stereo setup of two 1983 Fender Concert combo amplifiers with the Boss pedal board and rack effects positioned in between them. The Fender Concert was a Paul River era Fender design, one of the last hand wired amps to come from Fender. It was a 60w, 2 channel amp with bright push-pull on clean channel, mid-boost push-pull on gain channel, and 2x10" speakers. The gain channel sounded a bit like a Mesa/Boogie, but David was only using the clean channel.
Various versions of this rig were used for live gigs and recording sessions throughout the mid to late 1980s. One of the first times this rig was used was for Paul McCartney's Give My Regards to Broadstreet recording sessions in October 1984 for the song No More Lonely Nights. David's guitar work was one of the last things recorded. He had his Black Strat for the sessions and the 57 reissue cream Strat used for the About Face tour. In session photos he is playing the fiesta red Fender 62V reissue Strat with the rosewood neck from the About Face tour, with some modifications. It was fitted with a the SCC-700 Roland guitar sythesizer pickup and controls.
For the song, it sounded like David again used the Boss HM-2 + Mesa/Boogie combo, but the modulation used sounded more like an Electric Mistress flanger than the Boss CE-3 chorus, but the modulation may have been from the Roland guitar synthesizer, as noted below.
Sessions rig for No More Lonely Nights in Paul McCartney's studio in October 1984.
The rig included David's Boss SCC-700 foot switcher and pedal board system from the About Face tour. David also added a Roland GR-700 guitar synthesizer/pedal board to this rig. The GR-700 was an early attempt by Roland at making a guitar synth, but the tracking was not very good and the MIDI function was erratic. It was strange seeing it in his rig, because a little over a year earlier he had this to say about it.
So how did David used the synth? According to what he said in Guitarist magazine in early 1986, the main effects rig and the syth feed were on two separate lines. He would blend in some of the synth signal into the main signal with a volume pedal. Latency casued a slight lag between the time a note was played and the time synthesized signal was heard (a limitation of the technology). When David blended in that latent signal with his direct signal, it created a flange effect similar to an Electric Mistress pedal. This may be the flange effect heard in the No More Lonely Nights solo.
The effects used with David's SCC-700 were the same as the 1984 tour - a Boss CS-2 compressor, Boss SD-1 Overdrive, Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal, Boss GE-7 Equalizer, Mesa Boogie Mark 1 amp head (used as an overdrive with the HM-2), Boss DD-2 Digital Delay, MXR Pitch Transposer and Pitch Transposer Display, MXR Digital Delay System, and MXR Digital Delay System II, into a Boss CE-3 stereo chorus. The stereo chorus was sent to two identical amplifiers on the left and right for stereo. Sometimes David would use four Fender combo amps, two for left and two for right.
GETTING THE TONE - I have experimented for many years to find the exact setup David used for the fantastic guitar tone in No More Lonely Nights. There are several combinations that work, but the closest I have gotten is this setup: Strat with a hot bridge pickup, Boss HM-2 into a Mesa/Boogie Mark III amp head (used as an overdrive in the signal chain) or Mesa/Boogie Studio Preamp (using the MAIN signal Output) set for light overdrive using the lead channel, Boss DD-2 digital delay set for 510ms, Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress, into a Fender Twin Reverb.
GUITAR GREATS CONCERT 1984 - David used this same session rig and 62V Stratocaster from the No More Lonely Nights session a month later for the Guitar Greats concert performed in the Capitol Theater, New Jersey, on November 30th, 1984. David performed You Know I'm Right and Murder, as well as two other songs with all of the guest guitarists cramming the stage. It aired on MTV in February 1985. An MXR M-190 1500ms digital delay was added to the rack, replacing the MXR Delay System II, but otherwise the effects remained basically the same as the Lonely Nights rig. This time David used two Silverface Fender Twin Reverbs on top of the two 1983 Fender Concert amplifier combos. The sound was very much like his About Face tour. David again had the Roland GR-700 guitar synthesizer/pedal board, but it is unknown if he used it. There was is a pitch/harmonizer effect used on Murder, but it sounded the same as the MXR Pitch Transposer used on the 1984 tour for Until We Sleep. The lead tone sounded like the Boss HM-2 + Mesa/Boogie and Boss CE-3.
BOYS AND GIRLS (1985) Session with Bryan Ferry for his sixth solo album. - Gilmour had been friends with Bryan Ferry and Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music for a long time and has worked with each on several projects over the years. Sometime late 1984 or early 1985 Gilmour played guitar in sessions for Ferry's Boys and Girls album, released in June 1985. There were many guitarists who played in these sesions and most of the work is clearly not David. The album only has a general performer credits, not specific to any songs, so it is unlcear which tracks David plays on, but he is definitely playing the guitar solo in Sensation, the triplet time delayed guitar and some of the lead fills in Boys and Girls, and possibly the atmospheric guitar coloring in the background of Chosen One. David is often credited with the solos on Slave to Love, but those were actually played by Keith Scott and Neil Hubbard.
The echo repeats in the Sensation solo have a flanged/phased effect. This may be the effect from the GR700 guitar synthesizer that David described in Guitarist magazine after the sessions were complete.
LIVE AID CONCERT 1985 - A modified version of the rig was used on July 13th, 1985 when Gilmour played a set of songs with Bryan Ferry's band for the Live Aid benefit concert in London's Wembley Stadium. His guitar was not working for the first few songs, but he can be heard on Slave to Love and John Lennon's Jealous Guy. David used four Fender Concert combo amplifiers, stacked on top of four Fender speaker cabinets, which do not appear to be mic'd. The Boss SCC-700 pedal board system and Boss pedals were again seen, as well as the Roland GR700 guitar synthesizer pedal board, but it appears only a few rack effects were used. It is not clear if the Mesa/Boogie amp head was used with the Boss HM-2 this time. David played his new Candy Apple Red '57 Stratocaster reissue with his new EMG-SA pickups and SPC control installed. This was the first major appearance of his red EMG Strat.
Jon Carin was a member of Bryan Ferry's backing band at the time, and he would later work extensively with Pink Floyd and on David Gilmour's solo albums and tours.
IS YOUR LOVE STRONG ENOUGH? (1985) - Session with Bryan Ferry for the Legend movie soundtrack. I did not know David played on this song, but when I heard Is Your Love Strong Enough for the first time on the radio, I recognized that it was David playing even before it got to the guitar solo. From the beginning and throughout the song there are beautiful, ambient volume swells from David's guitar, in addition to the lengthy guitar solo. He used a volume pedal and a digital delay with a long delay time for the volume swells. The solo sounds like the Boss HM-2 + Boss SD-1 combo described above for the Deep End concerts in 1985, only with lots of delay. This song, originally called Circles, was a left over from Roxy Music's Avalon album. Bryan Ferry was asked to contribute a song to the American version of Ridley Scott's movie Legend, so this song was dusted off and recorded with his friend David Gilmour. This is the longer solo from the extended version of the song.
GETTING THE TONE - Similar to the Deep End setup (described above). Run a Boss HM-2 before a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive (with the SD-1 Drive dialed off and the Tone set around 1:30), a digital delay, Boss chorus like the CE-2 or CE-3, into a Fender Twin reverb or other clean sounding Fender amp. Another way to get a similar tone is to use ProCo Rat in place of the HM-2 and SD-1.
For the solo leads, use a 640ms digital delay, with long repeats. Use the bridge pickup on a Strat and playe with a deep tremolo from the whammy bar, in time with the song. To create the volume swells, use a volume pedal before the delay in the signal chain, then fade the volume up and down after picking a note. I hear two different delay times on the volume swells. Some are set at 370ms and some are set at 640ms, with long repeats. There is a variety of things David is doing with the volume swells to create the atmosphere of the song - fading in while using the tremolo bar heavily, bending a note up then fading in on the down bend, fading in while adding tremolo to a note and dropping the whammy bard down on the fade out, fading in after picking pinch harmonic and bending the note.
BROTHER WHERE YOU BOUND (1985) Supertramp Session - One of the first times I ever heard David Gilmour do a guest solo with another band was on the Supertramp song Brother Where You Bound, from the album of the same name. The playing is very fiery and intense, and probably the best thing about this long title track. David only played on this one track. The setup sounds like another variation of his Boss HM-2 + Mesa/Boogie into a Fender setup.
DEEP END CONCERTS 1985/1986 - David Gilmour played guitar on Pete Townshend's White City album and in his short lived Deep End band in October and November 1985. The band only played a few shows, recorded and released on the Deep End Live! album. Townshend put the Deep End band together again in January 1986 for a performance at Midem, Cannes, but David's guitar tone seemed different and did not have the same magic it had in 1985. I was obsessed with replicating the 1985 tone at the time, without much success.
GETTING THE TONE - Gilmour used a similar rig as he had for the Guitar Greats and Live Aid concerts, including the Boss SCC-700 pedal board system, Boss HM-2, Boss SD-1 and other Boss effects, and Fender Concert combo amps. David's lead tone for the 1985 performances could be one of two setups. One is a blend of the Boss HM-2 + Mesa/Boogie amp head, EQ'd with a Boss GE-7 for a brighter tone with more mid range and treble. A digital delay was used, set around 420-440ms.
That setup works very well, but there is another, more simple way to match the tone. Run the Boss HM-2 before the Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive, with the SD-1 Drive dialed off and the Tone set around 3:00. The SD-1 has a very bright mid range, and running it after the HM-2 acts as a mid range EQ for the HM-2 tone, creating the same smooth, fuzzy overdrive tone heard in the concerts. The latter is likely what David used. I have also tried using a TS-9 Tube Screamer with the HM-2, and it does work as a substitute, but it does not blend with the HM-2 quite as well as the SD-1. Another way to get a similar tone is to use ProCo Rat in place of the HM-2 and SD-1. For delay, used a digital delat setting, around 420-440ms. For amps, use a clean Fender amp like a Twin Reverb or similar.
Boss HM-2, SD-1, and CE-3 settings for the Deep End lead tone
The SD-1 is an iconic overdrive, like the Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer. Sonically the SD-1 is also in the same tone family as the TS-9, but it has a bit more low end and a bit more dirt in the distortion. Interestingly, this tone is very reminiscent of the Fuzz Face tone from David's solo in the Pink Floyd song Biding My Time, recorded way back in 1969! David probably used a cocked wah wah pedal to EQ the Fuzz Face to get that version of the tone.
Pete Townshend's Deep End band with David Gilmour performing in January 1986 using the same rig as 1985, although David's sound was slightly different.
David played a lovely flame top Charvel San Dimas Strat-styled guitar for almost all of the 1986 Deep End concert. He bought the guitar at No1 Music Center in Hamburg, Germany during the About Face tour in 1984. It was an early 1980s model, hand-made in the San Dimas, California shop. It was given to No1 Music Center as a gift from Charvel, not intended for sale, but Gilmour was allowed to buy it. Grover Jackson made an arrangement to make a similar looking guitar for No1 to replace the one David bought. Phil Taylor replaced the pickup with an EMG (probably an EMG-H) and installed a dual SPC presence control / volume pot to replace the stock volume pot. It was used several times by David in 1986 and in Pink Floyd's Madison Square Garden concert in 1987.
1986 RIG CHANGES - David finished most of his session and live work with Bryan Ferry, Pete Townshend, and others, including producing an album for Dream Academy. He began work for what would become Pink Floyd's next album. Unhappy with the Kahler tremolo system on his black Strat, David had Dive Bomber Tremolo Upgrade system added to one of his other Strats at this time. "Dive Bombing" is what dropping the tremolo arm all the way down was called, and many players had issues with the Strats going out of tune. This kit included a graphite nut and graphite string trees, replacement saddles with roller nuts (so the strings would roll instead of binding in the saddles) and higher quality springs. This system was later deemed non effective.
David's rig as it appeared in early 1986. An extra chorus and DDL were added for his guitar sythesizer, as well as a Gallien-Kreuger 250ML amp
David's rig was similar to the 1985 version, but it had grown slightly, with a few important changes. The main change was that the Mesa/Boogie was moved first in line to use as a pre-amp for the high gain lead tones, and a Gallien-Krueger amp took its place later in the signal chain as an overdrive after the Boss SD-1 and Boss HM-2. David described the whole rig in detail in early 1986.
Having the Boogie before the distortion pedals in the effects rack signal chain did not last long. In 1987 it was moved back to its position after the distortion pedals on the rack. Something interesting to note is a change added to the Mesa/Boogie owners manual in 1986. Boogies were among the first amps to have Slave outputs and Effects Loop send/returns. The effects loop was added in 1981 and allowed the insertion of pedals and effects in between the preamp and power amp stages on the amplifier. The Slave output was a direct output of the whole amp signal, meant for direct connection to a mixing board or to another amplifier. David sent his pedal board signal to the amp input and used the Slave output jack to send it directly back to the board. In 1986 Mesa released the Boogie Mark III and a rack version, the Mesa Boogie Preamp. The Slave output was renamed the Direct output, and this line was added to the Mark III owners manual - "In some sophisticated set-ups, players run their Direct into their Effects Rack and then from the Effects into other, external amplifiers. Also note that a speaker or load resistor should be plugged into a Speaker jack when using the Direct." That is an exact description of what David was doing in 1984-85, so I suspect this owners manual change may have been inspired by his rig.
Back of a Mesa/Boogie Mark I showing the Slave output and Effects Loop Send/Return jacks
COLUMBIAN VOLCANO APPEAL 1986 - On February 9th, 1986 David played four songs for the Columbian Volcano Appeal fund raising concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. His band was made up of mostly Pete Townshend's Deep End band members, along with Mick Ralphs, who played rhythm guitar for David in 1984. He again used his Charvel San Dimas guitar with the EMG pickup and SPC control. David's rig was basically the same 1984 tour rig, with the Boss SCC-700 pedal board system, Boss pedals, MXR rack effects, Mesa/Boogie amp head, and Fender Twin Reverb II amp heads. His tone and performance of Comfortably Numb that night was one of his best!
GETTING THE TONE - David's lead tone sounded like his 1984 tour setup of the Boss HM-2 + Mesa Boogie into a Twin Reverb, described above, but with a slightly less dominating chorus effect as in 1984.
David's effects rack, including Mesa/Boogie amp head and Fender Twin Reverb II amp heads, can be seen in the background
David's SCC-700 Boss pedal board and Boss effect pedals
David's custom Charvel San Dimas guitar with EMG pickup and SPC presence control
MISSING and THE PROMISE (1986) - Sessions with Arcadia for the So Red the Rose album - Arcadia was a side project made up of members of the band Duran Duran in 1985 (Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor). David plays guitar on Missing and The Promise, mostly just coloring the songs, no big guitr solos.
PINK AND VELVET (1986) - Session with Berlin for their Count Three & Pray album. Bob Ezrin, who produced Pink Floyd's The Wall and David's About Face album, was producing this fourth album by the new wave band Berlin. He called his friend David up and asked him to record an epic guitar solo for the song. Pink and Velvet was not only a good song for the time, but David's guitar solo was hauntingly beautiful and fit the song like a glove.
David's live rig from this period was used for many of his guest appearances on other artists recordings in 1985-87. He was usually seen with two or four combo amps, rack mounted delays with the Mesa/Boogie stacked in the middle, and a Boss pedal board on top of the rack. This rig varied throughout the 1980s, only changing by the amount of delay and the type modulation used. Sometimes the tone had more mid range, sometimes less. Sometimes more bottom end, other times less.
There are numerous examples of David's stellar playing using this setup throughout the mid 1980s and early 1990s, like Warren Zevon's Run Straight Down from 1989, I Put a Spell on You by Mica Paris in 1991, and many others. Here is a 14 minute medley of different Gilmour guitar solos from this period, many of which sound like exactly the same setup. Here is the Song List in the order they are heard.
Most of the time David was using the bridge pickup with this setup, but occasionally he used the neck pickup on songs such as Deep in the Blues (with Les Paul), and the version of I Put A Spell On You he played with Mica Paris and Jools Holland in 1991. This setup sounds great with either pickup, but I suggest turning the guitar volume down slightly and adding a compressor when using the neck pickup.
Here is one of my favorite Boss HM-2 setups: Boss CS-2 compressor, Boss HM-2, Cornish P-1 (or a Ram's head Big Muff) with sustain dialed off, TC Nova delay at 540ms, ambient reverb delay from a Catalinbread Echorec, into a Fender Twin reverb in the left channel and Yamaha RA-200 rotary speaker cabinet in the right.
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