Vick Audio Hypocenter Delay

Vick Audio Hypocenter Delay

Delay and echo is as synonymous with David Gilmour, as his Black Strat and Hiwatts. It’s the one effect that really defines his tone and sound and if you can only have one pedal, it should probably be a delay. Vick Audio’s most recent creation is the Hypocenter Delay. Here’s my review.

Vick Audio should be known to most of you. They’ve created some of my favourite effects over the last few years, including the ’73 Ram’s Head, Overdriver and the Tree of Life. The latter is my go-to overdrive over any.

What I’ve always liked about Mike’s pedals is the simplicity and no-frills attitude. Most of the pedals are based on well known classics, with a few welcomed improvements and everything is done with a great knowledge and understanding of tone.

The Hypocenter Delay follows in that same tradition and philosophy. It is digital, based on the PT2399 chip, but it sounds convincingly analog, with dark musical repeats and a very low noise distortion.

The pedal is housed in a T-Rex-ish chassis, with controls for volume, delay, mix and repeats.

The volume controls both the input gain and delay volume. The delay controls the time, ranging from 25ms to 450ms. Not the longest delays but enough to cover anything from slap-back to classic tape and analog echo. The lowest settings also creates a nice doubling effect, similar to some of the new double tracker pedals that have emerged lately.

The mix controls the blend between dry and wet signal and the repeats control, controls the number of repeats from a single repeat to fairly moderate self-oscillation.

The Hypocenter Delay runs on 9V Boss-style adapter and feature true bypass switching.

I must admit that I haven’t been too keen on analog delays up until recently. I preferred those pristine repeats and the accuracy you get with digital. But, over the last couple of albums that I’ve recorded, I tend to use echo and analog voiced delays more and more.

Of course it depends on how you’ll be using delays, but in many cases, I find analog and those dark reverb-like repeats to be more musical and they blend better with a distorted guitar signal.

The Hypocenter has quite dark repeats, similar to the MXR Carbon Copy, and some might find this to be just a bit too dark, but compared to the Carbon and similar pedals, the Hypocenter seems to have more space or room. The repeats creates a nice and lush atmosphere, reminiscent of the Binson.

What I also like about it, is the fact that you can use the volume control to boost the overall signal into the amp and really crank everything for some wild ethereal echo sounds. In fact, when I did this review, I got such a cool tone doing that and I used it to record a solo for a project that I’m working on.

I would have loved to have some modulation built in. It’s not a huge draw back but I think analog echo, or the simulation of it, often sound more natural when you can add just a hint of warble or flutter.

The Hypocenter Delay is a beautiful sounding echo pedal capable of reproducing those classic tones of the 70s Gilmour, including the reverb-like soundscapes of the Binson. For a modest $139, this should be a great alternative for most budgets.

Check out vickaudio.com for more.

YellowSquash Sound Labs Acid Burn Overdrive

Yellowsquash Acid Burn

Overdrives are perhaps the hardest part of the whole tone building. You really need to find one that both sounds great to your ears and one that fits your rig. The Acid Burn Overdrive from YellowSquash promise to be a versatile alternative, suitable for a wide range of guitars and amps. Here’s my review.

As we discussed in the “Knowing which pedals to choose for your amp” feature, different amps require different pedals. An uncompressed, scooped Fender Twin often sound better with mids boosted and compressed pedals. On the other hand, a Marshall or Hiwatt might be easier to set up, with a wider range of pedals, although they often sound better with less compressed and slightly more scooped ones.

The Acid Burn might not be your typical Gilmour pedal. The name alone, might frighten off some players. I did a review of their Iron Fist compressor a while back and it’s truly one of the best compressors I’ve played. Naturally, I was eager to try their new overdrive.

The Acid Burn is housed in a MXR-ish box, nicely powder coated, with controls for tone, gain and volume. A fourth control, labeled “lean/fat”, allows you to fine tune that EQ stage. The pedal feature a bright led, 9V battery or Boss-style adapter powering and true bypass switching.

It’s hard to find any info on this pedal, but while it doesn’t really sound like anything specific, there’s a noticeable British character going on, with a fairly mild compression and a nice top end sizzle. Pedalwise, it’s close to a Powerbooster but there’s a lot more gain on tap and compared to a Powerbooster, the Acid Burn is easier to adjust for different pickups. 



Paired with a clean amp and single coils, the Acid Burn cleans up nicely when you roll back the guitar volume. It is bright, and perhaps a tad too bright for some delicate ears, but the powerful tone control lets you roll off some of that top end, without compromising the attack and presence. This can be further adjusted by adding some low boost and top cut, with the lean/fat control.

As you can hear on the review clip, the Acid Burn has a nice chime and bite with single coils. It has no problem cutting through and the attack and dynamics are very impressive. It responds incredibly well to your playing and let’s you alternate your picking for less or more gain.

With humbuckers, the Acid Burn gets more of that amp-like growl. Again, the lean/fat control makes the pedal very versatile and a bit of low end cut makes a huge difference, bringing out more of that top end presence. Naturally, with higher output pickups, you’ll lose some of the headroom but with the gain set low, you can get some really nice boost even with humbuckers.

So, where does that puts us amp-wise? The Acid Burn sounds great on all the amps I tried and although it did quite well with the scooped Fender, it did sound better on amps with more compression and mids.

As I said, the Acid Burn might not be your typical Gilmour pedal but as you can hear from the review clip, it does those late 70s overdrive tones perfectly. A Powerbooster can be a challenge on smaller amps and bedroom setups and the Acid Burn is an excellent choice for similar tones but a bit more compression and mids.

I really don’t have any major concerns here. The Acid Burn, like the Iron Fist, is extremely quiet and it works well in combinations with other pedals. Both alone and as a booster. Personally I prefer a tone control that doesn’t just open up everything past noon but rather adds a tad more compression. The gain also gets slightly fizzy if you turn it up all the way but that’s pretty much the nature of most overdrives with this wide gain range.

It always cool to play a pedal that doesn’t sound like a thousand others. The Acid Burn is capable of a wide range of tones and, as mentioned, it works especially well on smaller amps and bedroom setups for those classic, transparent overdrive tones.

What is tone? (part 2)
Choosing the right guitar

David Gilmour - Tone Guitars

In this 4-part feature we’ll be discussing the grandest and most difficult topic of them all. Tone. Just what is tone? What is a good tone and how do you achieve it? I’m sure there are as many answers to this as there are guitarists. In this second part of the feature, we’ll look at the importance of choosing the right guitar for the tones you want.

This updated feature was originally posted June 11 2012.

In the first part of this tone feature, we discussed how we perceive tone and that tone is a very subjective experience. I think we can agree that the larger part of what makes up a good tone is in the fingers, meaning how you play, your technique and how you express yourself through and with the guitar. As Eddie Van Halen once said “tone comes from the mind”.

Still, we need some equipment, or tools, to be able to express ourselves.


Guitars

A guitar, or any instrument for that matter, is an extension of you. It’s the tool that allows you to express your music, playing and feelings. Without it, you’d probably be pretty lost as a musician but the right guitar can make you play things you never though would emerge from your fingers.

That’s pure inspiration. An experience that really can’t be described in words.

The perfect guitar


The perfect guitar is the one that feels right just then and there. Simple as that. I don’t really care whether it’s a cheap China copy or if the electronics are barely working. If that guitar is what it takes to nail the tones I want, then the choice is simple.

David Gilmour - Tone Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster. Probably your best choice for replicating David Gilmour’s tones but is it really what you need for your tones?

The perfect guitar is the one that makes you evolve your style or perhaps, slightly change your style every time you pick it up. If I’m not satisfied with a part that I’ve just recorded, I play it again with a different guitar and it always sound different because that particular guitar makes me play in a slightly different way.

The perfect guitar might also be the one that’s been with you for years. The one that has matured along side you as you’ve grown as a musician and every time you pick it up you feel this special connection. It’s a very personal experience.

What makes up a guitar tone?


There is a huge debate among guitarists on whether it matters or not what kind of guitar or model you use. I’ve seen countless attempts at trying to prove that it doesn’t matter. Personally I think that’s both misunderstood and way beside the point. 



First, it doesn’t take a scientist to hear that a thicker neck will sound fuller and have more sustain (in most cases), than a thinner neck. Likewise, how the body is treated, can have a significant impact on the tone.

If you claim that you can just plug any guitar into an amp and it sounds great, then you’re either very aware of what you want and are comfortable with what you have or, the straight opposite.

David Gilmour - Tone Les Paul Goldtop

In many cases, even if you desperately want that Strat or Telecaster, a Les Paul Goldtop with its P90 pickups, can often proove to be a better and more versatile choice. Especially for bedroom setups.

If you claim that it doesn’t matter what guitar you use because you use pedals, then your guitar is probably not the best guitar for you. If it needs pedals to sound good, and not only to get the specific tones you want, then you should probably start looking for a new guitar.

Some guitarists prefer a guitar that’s perfectly set up, with an almost scientific approach. Others, prefer a more demanding instrument. One that they really need to fight but if you win that fight, magic will appear. What both of these types of players have in common, is that they’re very aware of what they want and like.

The setup

A good setup is often overlooked. A curved neck, low pickups and a bridge out of shape can make both the tone and experience pretty hopeless. 

I have never walked into a guitar store and found a guitar that’s been perfect. Regardless of the price, I always notice something that I want to adjust. It does require some experience but once you learn what you like and not, you’ll realise how much a good setup can do for your playing and tone.



Learn how to perform the basic adjustments, including string and pickup height, neck curvage and truss rod and also how you string the guitar. If you’re not comfortable with this, be sure to bring your guitar to a good tech at least once a year and let him know in detail what you want him to do.

Guitarists often talk about the sweetspot and for me, the sweetspot lies in every part of the guitar rig. I may like the strings a tad higher than you and the neck pickup slightly lower than normal but that’s how I can reach those subtle nuances that makes everything sound so much better.

Buying a new guitar


A new guitar should be inspiring. You should feel some sort of connection when you try it and if the setup is off, then ask the store to perform an adjustment before you either buy or dismiss it.

Another good tip is to always try the guitar acoustically. The pickups can always be replaced later on, but the tone and feel of the guitar is harder to change.

I also recommend that you consider how you’ll be using the guitar. Is it your first? Are you about to enter the studio and need something different for that slightly heavier tone? Do you need something for your mantelpiece or one that can stand the abuse of the road?

David Gilmour - Tone Telecaster

The Telecaster is one that I often find myself coming back to and I often use it for recording. It’s a versatile guitar, capable of a wide range of different tones and with the right pickups, it can easily replicate both David Gilmour’s tones and heavier stuff as well.

Whatever you do, never take what neither I nor anyone else says, as the true gospel. No matter how persuasive and convincing we may sound, we’re all just biased by our own experience (some, even by financial motives).

We live in a time where YouTube clips, user reviews and forums are just a click away. And it’s all free! But ultimately, the decision is yours alone.

Allow yourself to be surprised and admit when you’re wrong. Try several models within different price ranges. Not because you need to buy something expensive but to broaden your mind and experience a little.

Even if you’ve set on a Strat, you should try a Les Paul, Tele or even an Ibanez Steve Vai signature (or perhaps not…) just to get an idea what the differences are.

And people, let us all put the US VS Japanese and Mexico issue to rest, once and for all. A stamp on the headstock doesn’t say anything about the guitar it self.

No electric guitar will sound right without a proper companion. In Part 3 of this feature, we’ll look at how to choose the right amp for your guitar and the environment you’re playing in, whether it’s your bedroom, a studio or large concert venues.

What’s your favourite guitar? Does it matter what guitar you’re using? Let us know in the comments field below!

The state of the stomp

State of the stompbox

It’s really an awesome time to be a guitarist. Especially if you’re a stompbox addict like me. But, what’s the state of the stompbox and the industry today? Have we seen it all or are there still new and exciting things to be made?

When I started out playing guitar back in the early 90s, all we had was a few brands. Well, here in Norway anyway, but it was pretty much the same all over. You walked into a store and they usually carried only a handful of pedals, including Boss, Ibanez, Digitech and DOD and a few racks or digital multi effects, like Zoom or Korg.

This was pre the whole vintage and boutique thing but I soon learned that David Gilmour used a Big Muff so I tried to track one down. One day I walked into a store and they got these strange, big green boxes that looked like something left over from the cold war. That green bubble font Sovtek Big Muff Pi was my first true love.

The story is very different today. You can walk into any guitar store and they have racks upon racks with all kinds of pedals. Some familiar brands but most stores also carry a wide range of boutique brands from all corners of the world. Here in Oslo, we have a store selling only rare, vintage guitars and high end pedals and in Copenhagen, were I’m often visiting, there is a store only selling so-called boutique pedals. Not to mention, all the online retailers and direct shopping from the makers.

There was a time when guitarists only had their guitar and amp. Then, in the mid 60’s, the very first stompboxes started to appear, including the Maestro Fuzz-Tone, Vox Wah Wah and the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face.

Some might say that this was the age of the pure tone. You either plugged the guitar straight into the amp, or used effects to bring out the full potential of the amp, driving the tubes for more compression and distortion. Effects, or stompboxes, was not an obsession or something that got in the way of playing guitar. 

But, these guitarists also modified their pedals. The technology was crude and the pedals had all kinds of design flaws. They even got custom units made. You could walk into London’s Sound City or Sola Sound and either get your fuzz modded, or get them to make a new pedal, based on your specific requirements, which is how Roger Mayer and other pedal royalties got into the business.

The stores eventually started to produce their own brands. And by the mid 70s, there was a wide range of pedals to choose from. Like Hendrix before him, David Gilmour was always trying out new gear and the Pink Floyd albums of the 70s, was very much coloured by his ever evolving tone.

Some might say that pedal makers today are only copying the old circuits, like the Fuzz Face, TS808, Big Muff and Powerbooster. But the way I see it, is that they’re continuing the work of the pioneers, by improving the old circuits, offering a more reliable operation, less noise and more modern features, like leds, proper powering and buffered bypass.

The stompbox industry has exploded. The market seems exhausted with pedals and I sometimes wonder how they all survive. The competition is fierce. But, times has changed and much thanks to the internet. I’m old enough to remember a world without internet and that old green Sovtek that I bought, I discovered through word of mouth.

These days, you’re only a few clicks away from finding the information you need about any guitarist and his tone and tracking down the original pedal on EBay or a brand new clone. Before you buy, you can watch a number of high quality reviews on YouTube and read user comments on several forums. We live in a different world but also in a time, where gear, and stompboxes in particular, has perhaps stolen some of our focus in favour of practice and fine tuning our playing technique.

So, what’s the state of the stompbox today? There’s so much cool stuff that’s still coming out and I think the whole guitar community has grown to be a huge place for inspiration and sharing. I’m following YouTube channels, forums, blogs etc and it provides both valuable information and inspiration.

The trend today seems to be a return to the classic tones. Pedal makers has been cloning Big Muffs and fuzz pedals for a long time but we’re now seeing a huge resurrection for complex analog delays and tape machines, optical tremolos and compressors, sophisticated modulation inspired by the analog synthesizers, spring reverb and much more. The technology has come a long way but there’s also demand for the more vintage tones.

It’s also the case of pedal makers trying to find new market. You can’t go on cloning fuzz or designing digital delays forever. And as I said, the competition is fierce. Makers are getting more and more specialised, which makes them vulnerable but you can also strike gold within a certain group of players and communities.

An interesting aspect of the whole small business boutique segment, is that these makers often have a close relationship with their customers. Social media has become a valuable source of information and one can easily recognise a demand. Brands like Skreddy Pedals, Buffalo FX and Vick Audio (and many others) are constantly reinventing themselves and their pedals, both from a business philosophy but not least because they seem to have a close relationship with their customers. It gives you an obvious advantage.

The bigger brands, like Electro Harmonix and Boss are slowly realising that they’ve been “cheated” for a long time and that their customers now often prefer clones of their original designs.

So much in fact that they’re are now trying to reclaim the market by offering clones of their own, like EHX’s Soul Food (Klon) and East River Drive (TS808) and by reintroducing old classics, with popular boutique mods, like Boss’ Waza Craft versions of the BD-2, DM-2 and CE-2. Nothing wrong with that but it says something about the market and the competition.

This is also evident at the two annual NAMM shows, where it seems that the companies are constantly coming up with something new to get the much needed attention.

Talking about clones. Companies like Mooer surprised everyone a couple of years back by introducing an exhaustive range of mini-pedals. All clones of well known classics and popular models. This is nothing new but Mooer has proven that cheap doesn’t mean crap anymore. Cheap parts and labour, with the attention to detail, has proven to be a deadly combination. Lots of other companies has followed in their footsteps and we’re now even beginning to see clones of clones…

I would have no problem with stacking my pedal board with mainly cheap mini-pedals. If you know which to choose, it’s really hard to tell the difference between the real one and the cheap knockoff.

An exciting trend, and one I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of from other companies as well, is TC Electronic’s Tone Print pedals. The pedals are packed with really nice sounds, but once you dig into the Tone Print editor, they take on a whole new life. It makes you wonder if you really need anything else. The attention to detail and authenticity towards both the classic tones and tweak-ability for new sounds, is simply amazing.

One thing I’d like to see more of, is companies interacting even closer with their customers, offering custom designs based on demand. While digital multi processors has been around for a few decades, and some of them are really nice, I’d like to be able to design my own multi effect.

I want to look at a company’s catalog and go “OK, I want that fuzz, overdrive, phaser and delay put together in one single pedal”. Perhaps throw in one or two custom features, like enabling the effects to swap places in the chain and a send/return for additional pedals. 

Some companies already do that if you ask nicely but the designs are usually expensive. I’m sure we’ll see more of that in the future and maybe even companies being based on that business idea alone. It would certainly be something new but also something in tune with the ever growing consumer segment on social media, who more and more expect companies, and not just in pedals, to listen to what they want and demand.

As I said, we live in exciting times and pedal design and production, has come a long way. You can’t really claim that this or that pedal sounds like crap anymore. It all comes down to taste and preference and only you are to blame if you come home with something that doesn’t sound nice on your amp.

So, that’s the state of the stomp as I see it. What do you think? Can we still expect new and exciting things or has the business reached its peak? Please share your thoughts!

What is tone? (part 1)

David Gilmour Guitar Pedals

In this 4-part feature we’ll be discussing the grandest and most difficult topic of them all. Tone. Just what is tone? What is a good tone and how do you achieve it? I’m sure there are as many answers to this as there are guitarists. In this first part we’ll go through the basics and look at how we perceive sound and ultimately, tone.

This updated feature was originally posted June 4th 2012.

What is tone?

I’ve been pondering over the topic for well over twenty years and I’m still not sure I’ve figured it out. One day you think you’ve nailed it and the next day everything sounds like crap. Or, you get a new pedal or a good tip from a friend, and the whole game changes. Tone isn’t static or permanent.

You can’t just go out and buy a bunch of stuff, hit the button and expect it to sound just as you imagined. It can be incredibly frustrating but I think the reason why it is so, is because we have unrealistic expectations. We’re impatient and, dare I say, lack some basic knowledge of how things work.

Electronics are stupid. It’s just a bunch of wires that can’t read your mind and you can’t force them to be anything else than what they are meant to be. Just acknowledging that makes it all a bit easier.

I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where you’ve just bought a new pedal and it doesn’t sound anything near what you expected. The reviews were great, the YouTube clips were awesome, David Gilmour has the pedal but it’s still not right. Why is that?

Throughout this site I’ve tried to put everything a bigger perspective. Endless lists of guitars, pedals, amps and settings are fine but there’s a lot more that makes up a good tone. It’s not always easy to remember though but let’s expand our mids a little…

Tone is how we define the sound coming from the pickups in a guitar, through all the pedals and out of the amp. Tone is the wood and contour of the guitar, the type of lacquer on the neck, the pickups, the string gauge, the thickness of the pick you use, the quality and design of the cables, the tone of each pedals, how they’re tweaked, combined and arranged, the amount of pedals and signal loss due to too many pedals or the “wrong” combination of pedals, the amp and its tubes, transistors and transformers, the settings on your amp, the speaker cab, its construction, size and the speakers.

Tone is also the way you bend the strings, your picking technique, the subtle nuances in your style and how you express yourself. The almost dying battery in your beloved vintage Big Muff, the nearly broken overdrive pedal that only you know how to operate, the way you’ve placed the amp in distance from your ears and the surrounding walls, the humidity that affects your germanium transistors and the quality of your power sources, the thick rug on your floor or the 500 screaming fans in the audience dampening the sound of your amp… I could go on forever.

Tone isn’t static. It changes all the time and you always need to adjust – both your gear and your mind.

Sound and tone behaves differently in different locations and you should therefore never really compare bedroom situation with playing in a huge football arena. A good example is how David’s rig changes according to where he performs. The 1994 PULSE tour was huge, both in terms of stage production and venues. The rig was jaw breaking but it would have been quite ridiculous to use the same rig at Royal Albert Hall or in a studio situation.

One thing is that you would never get to utilize the full potential of a stadium rig in a small studio but it would also have sounded very different. That’s why David and most other recording guitarists often use a much smaller rig during recording sessions, like a small combo amp and a handful of pedals. It’s no challenge for an engineer to make a small amp sound huge but it’s a whole different story to tame a 2 head + 4 cab set up.

David's jaw breaking 1994 stage rig. Not only wouldn't this fit into a studio but you wouldn't be able tame the sound coming from these amps and effects.

David’s jaw breaking 1994 stage rig. Not only wouldn’t this fit into a studio but you wouldn’t be able tame the sound coming from these amps and effects.

Let’s say you’ve spent your savings on a set of EMG DG20 pickups and a vintage Sovtek Big Muff but it still doesn’t sound remotely close to David’s PULSE tones. But have you ever considered what you really hear on PULSE? Here’s what you hear on Comfortably Numb:

A Fender Stratocaster with alder body (nitrocellulose lacquer), C-shape maple neck (nitrocellulose lacquer) and a set of brand new, newly fitted GHS Boomers .010-.048. The neck feature vintage style Gotoh tuning machines and slim frets. The body, Fender vintage style synchronized tremolo system and EMG SA active pickups with active EQ tone controls – EXP treble and bass booster (most likely set to 0) and SPC mid range booster (most likely set to 5-7).

The signal is fed via a wireless transmitter to the Cornish/Bradshaw effect and routing system where it’s routed through numerous modified pedals and effects powered by a custom power system with separately shielded supplies. It’s then fed through an Alembic tube preamp, into the delays and split stereo and fed to the Hiwatt head and 2xWEM+Marshall cabs and the Doppola custom rotating speakers.

The effect setup feature custom modified Boss CS2 compressor, Sovtek Big Muff, Chandler Tube Driver, Boss CE2 (left channel only) and TC2290 digital delay. Add to this, meters upon meters of high quality cables. Mind also that each effect and amp head are carefully set and adjusted for the specific venue.

The speaker cabinets are recorded with carefully placed microphones and the signal is mixed with ambience sound taken from different sources around the venue for the right balance and natural reverb. Additional studio reverb is added in the final mix and most likely there’s also additional compression, EQ and limiting.

And of course, nearly forgot, David’s hands and mind.

You might frown upon all this but every single thing makes up the tone you hear on the album.

- David recording guitars for On An Island in 2006. A couple of combo tube amps and a handful of pedals is easy to record and you can add studio effects for the desired tone.

– David recording guitars for On An Island in 2006. A couple of combo tube amps and a handful of pedals is easy to record and you can add studio effects for the desired tone.

What is a good tone?

Tone is defined by how you perceive sound, based on your very subjective taste and experience. Gilmourish.Com and other guitar sites, magazines, YouTube clips etc, will give you valuable help in your quest for the ultimate tone but none of these should be considered as gospels. Not even this site.

The gear and the settings I suggest are meant to be used as a guide and nothing more. I too search for the ultimate tone and I often come across these Mr. Know-It-All types. Only they have the answers and everything they don’t approve of is crap. Of course that’s just bullshit. There are jerks with too many personal issues everywhere, so never trust just one source but make sure you’ve gone through several reviews and sound clips before you make up your mind. Most importantly though – try before you buy and trust your ears!

Not everyone is blessed with fully stocked guitar shops and unlimited savings accounts. However, a tight budget and seemingly “boring” brands doesn’t have to be a limitation. Regardless what gear you have, you should always spend some time on getting to know it. Make sure the guitar is set up just the way you want it, try different settings on your amp and find the best basis for your pedals. Try different effect combinations and settings and train your ears to hear the nuances in your tone.

Whether it’s high-end boutique or the average off the shelf stuff, most equipment today is very good so it’s more a matter of utilizing its potential and having a realistic concept of what you really need.

A fun exercise is to consider why you fell in love with a certain tone. What made you notice just this specific song, album or solo? Try to describe to yourself what you hear and compare that with what’s actually being used and how its recorded (do a google search for info on that specific recording session).

Music often evokes certain feelings and you’re mind will “trick” you into hearing and believing things that’s not that evident to others. My all time favourite Gilmour tone is from Montreal, Canada July 6th 1977. Ever since I heard that show some 20 years ago, I’ve desperately been trying to replicate David’s lead tones on Pigs and Dogs especially. However, for someone who doesn’t know Pink Floyd that well and certainly doesn’t care that much about studying bootlegs, the Montreal show will just sound like a very bad day for a tired, beaten band that really didn’t want to play at all. Add to this the fact that the recording is pretty poor.

But, when I put it on and sit back and listen, I hear a guitarist at the very peak of his career with a confidence and grandeur that I’ve never heard from any one else. I hear a guitar that cuts through like a knife. I “see” a tall figure with long hair at the left side of the stage playing a black Stratocaster in front of a wall of speaker cabinets. I hear the perfect combination of a Big Muff, Colorsound Powerboost, Electric Mistress, MXR delay and the Hiwatts and Yamaha rotary cab.

Add to this the dark atmosphere of the show. Roger being pissed off at the audience and the rest of the band. David being angry with Roger for ruining the show and the tour. The way David’s tone is “manipulated” by where the person recording the show is standing with his old tape reel recorder and how the sound is echoed in the hall…

This is hardly a rationalized description or a good reference for how David’s tone really sounded that night, but to me, this very show is the incarnation of Gilmour and his tone. The greatest tone of all time.

Studying David Gilmour, or whoever your favourite guitar player may be, has thought us a lot about techniques, gear and tone but you should never forget yourself. Be inspired and learn from the masters but allow yourself to explore your own style and technique. Don’t get too caught up in the whole “I need a Black Strat, Hiwatt and Big Muff” thing but challenge yourself to discover new tones.

Very few guitarists are unique but those who are, have managed to create something new from the old. Hendrix took the blues and made it wild. Gilmour combined Hendrix and The Shadows and created a more mellow soulful blues. Eddie Van Halen refined what Jimi Page and Richie Blackmore had done before him and combined it with a great sense of rhythm. Every one of these dared to experiment and challenge themselves but they were all inspired by someone before them. Don’t be ashamed that you sound like Gilmour but don’t forget to develop your own voice neither.

Next time, we’ll look at guitars and amps and how to create the best basis for your tones.

What’s your favourite tone? Describe it and tell us why it’s so special.