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Signal Chain Effects Order

SIGNAL CHAIN ORDER - David Gilmour has used a wide variety of effects on his pedalboards throughout his career - compressors, fuzz/distortion boxes, overdrives, equalizers, modulations like phasers/flanger/chorus, and delays. While there are many choices available for each of those effects to achieve similar tones as David, it is important to place them in the correct signal chain order to make them process the sound in the same manner to achieve those tones. A compressor is usually placed in the front of the chain to compress the clean signal before any other effects, or to add compression and gain to overdrive and fuzz/distortions that follow it. Overdrives are typically placed after the fuzz/distortions because David likes to blend them together and use the overdrive to EQ the fuzz. The volume pedal is always before the delays. Modulations and delays are usually last in line. Below is a general signal chain order for most eras of Pink Floyd and Gilmour solo work.

GUITAR > COMPRESSOR > FUZZ/DISTORTION > OVERDRIVE > EQUALIZER > VOLUME PEDAL > MODULATION > DELAY > AMPILIFIER

The best examples of why they were placed in this order and how they were used are the song-by-song chains from David's 1994 Pink Floyd Tour and the 1990 Knebworth concert. Experiment and find what works best for you and your rig.

COMPRESSOR PLACEMENT - When David first started using a compressor on his pedalboard in the late 1970s it was placed in the middle of the signal chain. I believe at that time he was only using it to compress his clean tone, so it really could have gone anywhere in the chain. In the 1980s he began combining a compressor with an overdrive or fuzz, so the comp was moved to the beginning of the signal chain. His compressors have been first in line ever since.

BOOST/OVERDRIVE BEFORE OR AFTER THE FUZZ / DISTORTION? - David often boosted/blended an overdrive with his Big Muff fuzz pedals or distortion boxes. The overdrive can be placed before or after the fuzz, and Gilmour has done it both ways throughout his career. In the early to mid 1970s he placed the overdrive after the fuzz, and by the late 1970s he placed fuzzes both before and after the overdrive. In the 1980s he placed the overdrive after the fuzz pedals. In the 1990s he mostly placed the overdrive before the fuzz, but in some instances placed it after. In the 2000s he placed the overdrives after the fuzzes.

VOLUME PEDAL PLACEMENT - It is important that the volume pedal be placed before the delay in the signal chain. This allows you control over the level of signal being fed into the delay without affecting the delay repeats. The primary purpose of this is to cut off the volume when an effect is not in use during parts of a song, or to kill the sound entirely at the end of a song, but allow the delay trails to continue rather than be abruptly cut off. Another purpose that David used a volume pedal for was to create volume swells. For example, David sometimes picks a note or chord with the volume off, then fades in the sound with the volume pedal so you hear the sound "swell" but do not hear the string actually being picked. Another example of volume pedal use is the intro and outro to the song Sorrow. David usually has the sound on the edge of feedback and keeps the volume pedal backed off slightly when playing the phrases, then pushes the volume to full when he wants the feedback. In between the phrases he keeps the volume off so you don't hear the high gian hiss of the Big Muff and booster.

FUZZ FACE PLACEMENT- Because of the nature of the circuit design and the low impedance input that loads the guitar pickups, Fuzz Face type circuits must be placed first in line after the guitar in a signal chain to sound correct. The transistors need to "see" the guitar pickup's impedance directly because they are integral to and function as a part of the guitar circuit. Placing other pedals, especially a pedal with a buffer, before a Fuzz Face can severely alter the tone. There are some fuzz pedals that can generate a similar Fuzz Face sound, like the Skreddy Lunar Module, with a circuit design that allows them to be placed anywhere in the signal chain. One exception to that rule was the Colorsound Power Boost, whcich David placed after the guitar and before the Fuzz Face when playing live in the early 1970s.

EQUALIZER PLACEMENT - In general David usually places equalizers afer all the compressors, fuzz and overdrive pedals. In some instances he has placed an equalizer after each individual effect in a loop.

MODULATION BEFORE OR AFTER THE DELAY? - Modulations are effects like phasers, univibes, flangers, and chorus. They can go before or after the delay, and Gilmour has done it both ways throughout his career. I cannot really tell much difference either way, but I prefer delays to be last in line before the amps.


............Mistress Mystery Page. .... . .


GILMOUR SIGNAL CHAIN ORDERS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS - Below is a simple run down of how Gilmour's signal chain has evolved over the years.

Early 1970s period including Meddle, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii, Obscured by Clouds, and Dark Side of the Moon.

GUITAR > OVERDRIVE > FUZZ > WAH > VOLUME PEDAL > MODULATION > DELAY > AMPLIFIER

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Late 1970s including Wish You Were Here performances and Animals

GUITAR > FUZZES > MODULATIONS > OVERDRIVE > WAH > COMPRESSOR > FUZZ > VOLUME PEDAL > DELAYS > AMPLIFIER

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1980-1983 period including The Wall and The Final Cut

GUITAR > FUZZES > MODULATIONS > OVERDRIVE > WAH > COMPRESSOR > VOLUME PEDAL > DELAYS > MODULATION > AMPLIFIER

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1990-1992 period

GUITAR > COMPRESSORS > FUZZ > EQUALIZER > VOLUME PEDAL > DELAY > MODULATION > AMPLIFIER

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1993-1994 period, including The Division Bell tour and Pulse

GUITAR > COMPRESSORS > WHAMMY > OVERDRIVE > FUZZES > OVERDRIVE > MODULATIONS > EQUALIZERS > VOLUME PEDAL > DELAY > MODULATIONS > AMPLIFIER

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2000-2019 period, including the Meltdown concerts, the Live 8 Pink Floyd reunion, the On an Island tour, The Endless River/Rattle That Lock sessions, and guest appearances.

GUITAR > COMPRESSOR > WHAMMY > FUZZ > OVERDRIVES > EQUALIZER > VOLUME PEDAL > DELAY > MODULATIONS > AMPLIFIER

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2015-16 Rattle That Lock tour and David Gilmour Live at Pompeii

GUITAR > COMPRESSORs > WHAMMY > FUZZes > OVERDRIVES > MODULATION > EQUALIZERS > VOLUME PEDAL > DELAYS > AMPLIFIER

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