• The Black Strat 40th anniversary!

    This month, May, forty years ago. I could end the post right here and you’d know what I’m talking about. One of the world’s most famous guitars is celebrating its 40th birthday – David’s Black Strat.

    I had two goals when I started this site. Well, I had many goals, but I mainly started my research because I wanted to know how David got his Animals tones and what his Black Strat was all about. The Animals stuff was fairly easy, at least in terms of discovering his pedal setup etc but the Black Strat was a bit more difficult. In 2002, the Black Strat was all but forgotten and all there was was just lot of rumors and too much false information. Who can you trust when even David doesn’t remember? It took me some years to get enough details to begin making my own Black Strat. I learned a lot from pictures, film clips and not least from talking to other Gilmour fans. Still, not knowing everything sort of created this legend and mystery. Was it the same guitar that he used on Pompeii? Was there more than just one Black Strat? Where did it end up? Why didn’t he use it anymore? Which pickups did it have?

    – David and the Black Strat in Amsterdam 19 March 2006 during Comfortably Numb.

    Now we know it all. During the past 4-5 years we’ve gotten all our questions answered from numerous magazine articles, interviews and not least Phil Taylor’s book about the Black Strat. I mean come on! A whole book about the guitar none of us knew anything about some years ago! It was indeed the Pompeii guitar. It was the guitar used on numerous Floyd albums. It did feature a humbucker at one point.

    Still, the big revival came in 2005. After years of absence David actually used the guitar at the biggest event of the decade – the Pink Floyd reunion at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London.

    – One of my all time favourite pictures of David an the Black Strat.

    I’ve told this story many times before but I was there. Right there where it all happened. I was in shock when they entered the stage – the only band that wasn’t introduced… just a heartbeat. I nearly fainted when I saw David playing the Black Strat. I really don’t know why. I mean up ’til that point I had only read about it and it belonged to the old Floyd history but it was extremely emotional. I remember screaming to my friends “He’s using the Black Strat!” They just looked at me and probably thought I was crazy. Pink Floyd was standing on the stage and I was ranting about a fucking guitar! I was in tears, literally crying, and I vaguely remember a guy I’d never seen before took his arm around me and said “It’s beautiful isn’t it”. He was probably talking about the music but I like to think we were sharing the same moment – seeing the Black Strat.

    At this point David was making a new album and of course everyone wondered if he’d be using the Black Strat. I remember reading an interview with Guy Pratt autumn 2005 where he said that David had starting using different guitars that gave him a new tone. I was worried. No Black Strat? Then the Island Jam got released. Still no Black Strat? Some months later I finally managed to sleep, assured that the guitar was indeed once again David’s main guitar.

    – David and the Black Strat in 1977 during the Animals tour.

    Standing right in front of the stage in Amsterdam in 2006, leaning against the front monitors, was an incredible experience. I remember staring right into the Black Strat and feeling a strong sense of “this isn’t real”. All the dings, scratches, the aged pickup covers, the shortened trem arm, the Hendrix strap and David playing his heart out… I’m sure anyone who saw David live in 2006 knows what I’m talking about.

    David bought the Black Strat at Manny’s in New York May 1970. It was actually not meant to be. David had already been to Manny’s only weeks earlier and bought his first Black Strat. As it turned out, most of Pink Floyd’s gear got stolen only days after the purchase and David once again went to Manny’s and bought a second Black Strat. It made it debut performance at the Bath festival, UK, June 1970. – see the “The Black Stratocaster” feature for more pictures and a detailed history.

    People often ask why I haven’t bought the Black Strat replica or signature. I think the main reason is that owning a replica of someone else’s guitar isn’t what’s important for me. It’s looks cool and it’s really nice to play but somehow I don’t feel that it’s David’s guitar. It isn’t of course, there’s only one, but it could be any guitar for all I care. I’ve made my own replica as many of you’ve done. I bought it long before I even knew there excised a Black Strat and when I did know, I tried my best to make it sound like David’s. I did all sorts of things – including a lot of mistakes – but in the end I think I reached my goal. Funny thing is though that it’s actually quite different from David’s but for me that’s kind of the point. It’s like a tribute but at the same time my very personal guitar with years of experimenting, admiration of David’s work and tones and lots of happy moments built into it. Every time I look at it I think of the day I saw David in 2005 and all the stuff I’ve learned throughout the years from talking to other fans – you!

    It’s strange though… to celebrate a guitar. I mean, it’s basically a couple of pieces of wood and some wiring. Hardly worth a fraction of it’s collectors value. But, it doesn’t really matter. It’s THE guitar. It’s the guitar used on a handful of the world’s best selling albums of all time. It’s the guitar used on some of the best guitar solos ever played. It’s not just a guitar it’s a piece of my, yours and the music history. Join me in celebrating the Black Strat!

    Cheers!

61 Responsesso far.

  1. Henrique says:

    Well, first of all, yes, let’s celebrate this wonderful guitar. But… let’s never forget that this piece of wood wouldn’t paint all those Mona Lisas without David’s hands.
    I have to say, I’m very jealous when I hear about people that went to the last pink floyd’s show and the last Gilmours tour. I’m from Brasil and the maximum I could see was Roger Waters on stage. It was great, but as a guitarist, my dream is still to see David playing live. Maybe I will see, maybe not…
    I have also to say that I cried watching the pink floyd in 2005, even so far away from them. But the last solo of Comfortably Numb was just amazing and every time I watch it, it makes me shake all my body. It was great played, with the best guitar, with the band together in a such special occasion.
    Let’s hope that David keeps doing his great job and feeding our ears and souls with good music.

  2. Rick says:

    As a “Born-Again” guitar player after many years away from a fretborad, the re-discovery of (and attempts to replicate) the incredible sounds David Gilmour created is an unexpected gift. The history surrounding the “Black Strat” legacy is virtually unique in rock music – at least to my knowledge. The fact that David could achieved the huge bends on a 7.25″ radius neck remains a testament to his skill and abilities of his long-time tech, Phil Taylor. I have heard more than one guitar tech tell me not to exepct to be able to achieve more than one-note bends on a 7.25″ neck without fretting out.

    Thanks for the article.

    Rick

  3. Martin says:

    Brother will be great for me to play sheep from start to the end but if I’m asking to much ill be satisfied with whatever you do.Thanks man.

  4. Alessandro says:

    Happy 4oth anniversary Black Strat!

    I just bought a Fender Custom Shop replica, is a killer tone guitar, no fuss!

    Bjorn brother, your site is simply amazing, keep it up!

    [Congrats on your new guitar! – Bjorn]

  5. Martin says:

    The black strat reminds me for Animals tour thats why i askd you for these one

  6. Martin says:

    O and your site is…well you know is the best

    [Thank you Martin :) – Bjorn]

  7. Martin says:

    Bjorn brother can you do a guitar lesson on sheep and pigs three diferent ones.Thers non in youtube

    [I’ll try. What parts are you referring too? – Bjorn]

  8. mens says:

    God save the Red Strat!!!!

  9. Alan says:

    [Funny things is too that David actually used the red Strat on the rehearsals but Phil insisted that he’d use the Black on the show. Finally someone talked some sense into David :) – Bjorn]

    But I couldve sworn reading that David used the Black Strat for fun or a joke…or something like that.

    [Phil writes about the Live 8 soundcheck in his book about the Black Strat and says he was the one insisting on David using it. There are pictures of David using the red as well but as we know he used the Black on the actual show. – Bjorn]

  10. Arnold says:

    Man great article! You brought tears to my eyes as I imagined that moment at Hyde Park. Cheers and happy aniversary to this piece of wood that has given us all kind of feelings. I truly believe THAT piece of wood changed the world in some sort of way

    [Cheers Arnold! – Bjorn]

  11. tim says:

    Though i was always partial to the red strat with the EMGs, it took some getting use to seeing the black strat once again. Nice piece Bjorn, and happy anniversary to the black strat.

    Speaking of the red strat, i am curious if we will see a red strat DG signature model in the future also. Like everyone else, i’m torn between the two.

    But again, happy anniversary black strat and good job Bjorn.

    Cheers. Tim in TN.

    [Perhaps there will be a second guitar from Fender but I doubt it. I think he is and wants to be associated with the Black and I’m not sure it’s a good idea marketingwise to release another guitar. Who knows? – Bjorn]

  12. zeke says:

    Does anyone know if Gilmour is releasing another album in the future?

    [I guess anyone knows as little/much as you. No news… – Bjorn]

  13. Romain says:

    Nice article, as always!

    I really like that 2nd picture as well, looks like a father and his newborn kid, and I’m sure that once in a while, we all stare at our favourite guitar like he does.

    Maybe one day we will talk about Bjorn’s blackstrat ;)

    [Cheers Romain! One of my all time favourite pictures of David. – Bjorn]

  14. -Paul says:

    Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, Bjorn. And to think that when Phil Taylor approached DG with his idea of a book on the Black Strat he thought it was a daft idea. He’s obviously not in touch with the depth of our mania!

    Thanks to the Black Strat for being the link between DG’s musical mind and our ears.

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  15. Rawd says:

    Hello Everyone,
    The annverisary of the Black Strat doesn’t bring about the
    debate (with me) of which one of David’s guitars sounded better,
    on which album, but rather brings back a vivid memory of
    the concert I attended back in 1972. I remember working my way up to the edge of the stage right below where David was
    standing and playing. I was literally just a few feet from him.
    I was dabbling in a garage band at the time, but didn’t have clue how he was doing what he was doing. I was simply spell bound… as I watched him perform the DSOTM, and step on the Black Box on the floor. Which I thought (at the time) was some kind of guitar synth, it just couldn’t have gotten any better…. Hard to believe that he was playing at that level (as a relatively young man), at that time, all those years ago!
    I distinctly remember the Quad P.A. systems as well. Which, had the heart beat going around the room from corner to corner…
    They were also the first Band I saw use piro on stage. When Roger hit the huge gong a flash pot exploded…. I and everyone else jumped back instinctively….
    It was a truly a WOW moment for me, one I won’t ever forget!
    = Rawd =

    [Great story! Thanks for sharing! – Bjorn]

  16. Jean-François says:

    Ok, just a last thing and then I will stop :)
    Bjorn, you said that the rosewood era is “just 6-7 years in the whole history”.
    Right, but I think you shoudn’t count in terms of years.

    Even if there is more than 30 years between the wall and now, it’s just 3 albums – the wall, TFC, and On an island- (and not the bests IMHO) with this version of the strat, just a few tours and most not with the original band.
    So, the 6-7 years are far more important in term of music, legend, myth, than the next thirty ones.

    I guess that most of PF fans would agree to say that the best era of the band is in the 70s, somewhere between Meddle and The Wall, and this is mainly the rosewood era ! :)

    And in the end, I would love to see a gallery with more pics of the strat with the rosewood neck ! :)
    Best
    JF

    [In the end I guess it’s irrelevant what either of us thinks. Everyone has their favourite era and album and from a commercial point of view I can understand why Fender and Gilmour decided to go for the current version of the guitar rather than a replica of an older model. But, you always have the oppurtunity to make your own replica based on the era you like or perhaps a mix of several versions… We all have your way of showing our admiration and awe :) – Bjorn]

  17. David F says:

    It’s best to celebrate the birth of a guitar than it is to celebrate, or to be reminded of, the birth of some people who are in our history books, let me tell you that. And read biographies of them? No, good Lord! They’re best left forgotten. Let’s celebrate people, places and things who give us joy. If we’re freaks, then let us be happy freaks… Happy birthday, Black Strat.

    [+1! – Bjorn]

  18. mens says:

    the italian gilmourish, with tons of treats!!!!! check it!
    http://www.giampaolonoto.it/guida-al-sound-di-david-gilmour/

    [Well, call me a grumpy old dick but I’ve seen this site before and had some correspondence with the guy… All I can say is that it’s a shame that people can’t figure out how to make a site on their own. Copying and basically rewriting other’s stuff is disappointing to say the least. I welcome every new Gilmour site on the net. We are many who wants to pay our tribute and competition is always healthy… stealing and copying however should not be rewarded. Sorry but that’s my honest opinion. – Bjorn]

  19. Mouloudo says:

    : D Im glad you did something about that anniverasry, I was quite worried when you told me few months ago that you probably wouldnt since everything was already wrote ^^ thank you :)

    [It’s always fun to celebrate! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  20. Jean-Francois says:

    Totally agree about legend, myth, history of this music, this guitarist, this band, these albums. There’s no doubt about that, and I don’t want to argue about something I’m likely alone to think :)

    On thing that surprise me is if most of fans think that the best era was with the rosewood neck, why all fans build their black strat clones with maple ? Just because it’s the “current” version of this guitar ?
    I don’t know if some Gilmour fans like a little bit of Knopfler tones (David does ;-) as he said in an interview), but for many of “us” (well, david is just my 2nd fav guitarist, equal with hendrix), the holy grail of Knopfler tones is from 77-79 era, with 2 strats from 61-62 (one cap maple, and one rosewood). No Knopfler fan would build a strat with the specs he use today. If so, they would better buy the sig model which is far from the original IMHO. every Knopfler fan who want to achieve the 77-79 tone is looking for early 60 strat, with cap maple or rosewood, and e.g. not the texas special PU that you can find on the sig model.
    Well, it’s very difficult to me to explain what I mean, because of my very bad english, but I guess you get the whole idea.
    And in the end, I must admit that I love David’s rosewood tones, but I prefer the maple look ! Arrgh ! you got me :)

    Cheers
    JF

    [Fair point and I guess I’m one of those who prefer the rosewood but has a maple :) Works nicely for me though but that’s got more to do with the fact that I have several Strats both maple and rosewood and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Anyway… Cheers! – Bjorn]

  21. Chris says:

    It really depends on when you were first exposed to the sounds of Pink Floyd/Gilmour to what version of the Black Strat you can really identify with – opinions will differ of course. For me it was the Wall versus Dark side. The current version is simply a culmination of years of experimentation and modification, regardless of what neck, tremolo or pickups were installed on it in the past. I prefer to see it as celebrating the evolution of the Black Strat more so that the actual guitar itself.

    [Agree. – Bjorn]

  22. Richard Stone says:

    Although you’ve hinted at it here, Bjorn, I’ve never really read your thoughts about David’s red strat. Leaving aside the history and emotions for a moment, how do you compare the two on sound alone and why do you think David converted to red so completely for such a long time?

    [Well, as you can hear on the 2006 DVD there’s a big difference in tone. The Black Strat sounds vintage with it’s classic single coils while the red sounds much more modern with a tone that I guess can be described as something between single coils and P90 humbuckers. Other than that the guitars are more or less identical with alder bodies and maple necks – the current maple neck on the Black Strat is taken from one of the blonde ’57 Strats David bought together with the reds.
    There are many reasons why David ended up with the red. Back in 1984 few guitarists were sentimental about their old gear and most of them, including Gilmour, threw themselves at all the new stuff that was coming out – new guitars, new pickups, digital pedals, fancy amps etc. The 80s offered a lot but also took away much of the uniqueness of each musician. David also wanted new guitars so that he wouldn’t have to tour with his old stuff… after all they had some value having been used on some of the greatest albums of all time. The reason for installing the EMGs came from wanting something a bit more relieable and silent. Being on stage today is something completely different than in 1985 where the huge light rigs and all sorts of electric interference ruined your signal. The EMGs became the solution and as he donated the Black Strat to Hard Rock Cage the red became his new partner. Then things starts to be a habit and a part of your playing. It’s funny to hear David talk about why he returned to the Black Strat. He was almost reluctant but he soon understood that he’d always preferred that classic single cool tone and that the EMGs “really didn’t sound like a Strat”.
    I guess my opinion is that I’ve never liked red guitars and PULSE is far from my favorite Floyd album or era. Still, I use the EMGs my self for my Airbag sounds and I guess I’m a bit torn on the whole thing. You can’t dismiss the 80s and 90s, there are some wonderful moments (to put it mildly) but I will always prefer WYWH, Animals and Wall :) – Bjorn]

  23. Antonio says:

    Oh By the Way,
    I’m very very excited about the 3rd edition of Phil Taylor’s “The Black Strat” and I’ve read somewhere that it will also contain a CD and I hope Phil has corrected some “mistakes” about the last necks from 1997-2005.
    Bye,
    ANTONIO

  24. Antonio says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    it’s Antonio again, How are you ?
    I wonder if you remember that interview with David filmed in his Studio about the release of “Live in Gdansk” and about the SIGNATURE STRATOCASTER. There are some parts that appeared on Amazon and there was a site called “win a DG strat” and there was a part of this interview where he’s playing one of the guitars next to him. The other parts are on the Fender Clip for the Signature Strat and the last is also on Amazon on the Gdansk page. But I’d like to know where I can find the first part about his Black Strat. Just watch the clip from Fender about the release of the signature Strat and maybe you’ll recognize it.
    Thanks very much and have a nice week.
    ANTONIO

    [It’s been awhile since I saw it but I guess you can find it on YouTube or something. Try searching for “David Gilmour EPK”. – Bjorn]

  25. Jean-Francois says:

    Well, I don’t want to spoil the party ;-) but I still think that’s it’s a nonsense to say that the guitar David used at the Live 8 was the “same” guitar used on “a handful of the world’s best selling albums of all time and on some of the best guitar solos ever played”.
    As I’ve have already said, we al know that its “just” the same body ! Not the same PU, not the same neck, even not the same bridge, nor the same pickguard. How can we say it’s THE guitar ?
    Don’t get me wrong, I love “the” black stratS, I love David ‘s tones in 70’s (far more than in 80’s or 90’s), and I understand the”legend” around this guitar. But seing him playing the Time solo in the DSOTM Dvd on this guitar is no “magic” for me. It would be more “magic” to see him playing on the “original” guitar (I mean with rosewood neck). When I saw this guitar in the DVD and at the live 8, it remained the wall era to me (because of the look, with a black pickguard and a maple neck), but at the time, I didn’t associate with “the world’s best selling albums of all time and on some of the best guitar solos ever played”.
    Well, we’ve already discussed about that some months ago. :)
    I hope all people on this site will understand what I mean. :)
    But don’t forget, David killer tones (Dark side, WYWH, even animals) are ROSEWOOD, NOT MAPLE !
    Cheers

    [I think you’re missing the point my friend. Celebrating the anniversary is a celebration of the guitar, the legend, the myth, the history… the whole package. I understand what you’re trying to point out and I agree with you on the rosewood era being the best but that’s just 6-7 years of the whole history. If you really want to narrow it down, the guitar changed when the rosewood neck replaced the maple… – Bjorn]

  26. Chris says:

    The pic says it all, the wonder of finding an old lost friend after being many years apart! The attachment to this guitar must be so much more personal than it ever was with the red strat, which in my mind was always more of a “work-horse” instrument! Afterall, the Black Strat was and still is the guitar that David used and experimented with to develop his unique tone over the years. I hope that the ol Black Strat still has a few years left in it, and that David will continue to produce some great new material in partnership with it!

    Love the site Bjorn, keep it up!

    Cheers
    Chris

    [Cheers Chris! – Bjorn]

  27. Gabriel says:

    Happy 40th!

    In case you guys wanted to buy one of Dave’s replicas, you can find a link here.

    http://www.wildwoodguitars.com/electrics/misc/r43264/r43264.php

    I’ve personally played this guitar, it’s killer. And the price, relatively speaking, is pretty good too, but I’d bet they’d come down a little bit on the price if you were serious about buying it.

    Anyway, I wanted to share this link b/c I thought some of you might be interested. I don’t work for Wildwood Guitars, but I certainly shop there.

    I’m so lucky to have such a killer guitar store only 20 minutes away from where I live.

    I can relate to having a special bond with an instrument. I’ve purchased many GREAT guitars over the years, but I still love my first Strat. It’s got a “vibe” to it and it does feel like an old friend.

    Great site Bjorn. Thanks for all you do.

    [Cheers Gabriel! – Bjorn]

  28. Kit Rae says:

    [I see there’s a release of the 3rd edition in October on Amazon. It’s a paperback of the 2nd edition, which had +40 pages from the 1st edition. Is the 3rd edition updated once again? Cheers! – Bjorn]

    Bjorn, the description I saw, I think on Amazon, said the third edition includes new material, photos, David testing the Black Strat replica, up to the latest live shows with Bowie, Jeff Beck, and others. My second edition has none of that, so hopefully this is all new content.

    Cheers,
    Kit

    [Damn! Phil is like a used car salesman… now I got to buy my third book :) – Bjorn]

  29. Chris says:

    Fantastic article! You pick some great topics to write about, and accompany them with some top notch pictures too. The one at the top captures the essence of the emotion that goes in and comes out of the Black Strat.

    I just re-read Phil Taylor’s book last night. Fun book to relax with. The trauma David has put that guitar through! I can attest to the feeling of bonding with an instrument. Mine is an Eric Clapton model Strat, but acts and feels like mine all the way. The itch to modify it keeps growing, and the thought of going all black seems cool, though I’m keeping it “tuxedo” for now. With regards to the Black Strat with the ’62 rosewood neck, I’m pretty surprised it wasn’t made as a second version rather than the NOS model. Those two Strats side by side would incredible!
    Keep up the great work!

    [Cheers Chris! – Bjorn]

  30. JFF says:

    It’s funny, not just we mere mortals reach up to the gods for inspiration. Steve Rothery from Marillion’s got his own “Black Strat,” a Fender Squire Stratocaster modified with a black pickguard, EMG pickups, and a non-Floyd Rose locking tremolo, which was his main guitar for many, many years. I attended a clinic in New York given by ol’ Rothers who extolled the virtues of Gilmour and there’s very good money on the fact that that guitar is his omage to the master.

    [Cool! Rothery is a legend on his own :) – Bjorn]

  31. Brandon says:

    Happy Black Strat 40th anniversary!
    It’s amazing how so much great music, that touched so many people came from one guitar and one man. David Gilmour’s tone has influnced my playing from the very start. Now I am getting ready to record a new album and the tone from that guitar has inspired my sound.

    Great Article!

    [Good luck with the new album! – Bjorn]

  32. Quentin says:

    Thanks Bjorn, love the article.
    This guitar is a piece of the Pink Floyd jigsaw that revolutionised music. I’d love to get a ’57 Reissue and make my own or get a David Gilmour signature strat….. if I had a little money!
    Cheers
    Quentin

    [Cheers Quentin! – Bjorn]

  33. João J. Francisco says:

    You make me wonder… that guitar (or parts) were in very special moments in History of Music. That’s strange… maybe that’s why it’s celebrated!

  34. just checked on the tube..
    got it wrong..
    Maple…
    scott

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  35. Thanks for a great article Bjorn…
    I too have seen the Black Strat.it was at Earls court 1981.
    Floyd played there in 1980 also.I did read it was some thing to do with the “Wall”movie as to why they played the following year.(Also there was the dispute with Rick and Nick going on).
    I am not sure as it was 30 years ago but preety sure it had a
    rosewood neck.Who cares i wished it was me standing on the wall belting out the solos of cumfortably numb…
    I think he used it at Hammersmith a couple of years later as well…
    Scott….

    [They did a couple of shows in 1981 that was filmed for the Wall movie but it was never used. It means though that there’s lots off material for a future DVD! David had just replaced the rosewood with a maple at that point :) – Bjorn]

  36. William says:

    It’s hard to believe that David got the black strat forty years ago. That guitar is 21 years older than I and I just it, and its player. I hope I can be playing the same guitar that I have now forty years from now. Great article Bjorn.

    [Cheers William! – Bjorn]

  37. Alex says:

    Yeah, that guitar is definitely more than just the sum of its material parts–it’s an instrument of godliness and pure artistic expression. It has left its mark on a great many masterpieces.

    Also, great photos there! Love the black and white one and also the Animals tour one.

    I’ve neglected my guitar the past couple months… so many things I want to get accomplished. Maybe I’ll have to set some musical goals as well.

    [Always pays off setting some goals :) – Bjorn]

  38. chris says:

    you”ve got to be crazy a little bit confused … no your right what a great slightly modified strat but then again without the great man himself playing it mr gilmour would it sound as good i wonder!

    [Well… I’d assume that at least some of the magic lies in David’s hands LOL! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  39. Dave A says:

    Bjorn thats one hell of a pic mate !!Heres a thought.How about a Little or Big gallery of your own pics.Im sure we would all be interested in seeing them.

    Regarding the Maple or Rosewood debate….Purley the looks not about tone.Its the Maple all day long for me, the contrast in colours just does it for me :)

    [I’m a bit torn. Always loved the all black 74-79 look but I’m also a maple guy… hmm… difficult. I’ll look into the gallery thing but check out the blog archive for my 2006 concert reviews. There are more pictures posted there and in the 2006 live Abum Gear Guide. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  40. I remember the first guitar I bought, a black strat made by Giannini (brazilian brand). I didn’t know about THE Black Strat, but I admit that I began on guitar by listening to David in “Young Lust”. I was 16, and I was amazed. Two years after I sold that strat and buyed a new guitar, with locking nut. At that time it was a big deal, but I should not did that. I miss my black strat, my very first guitar – but I’m happy for the 40th anniversary of Dave’s Black Strat. This leads me to decide one thing: made my own replica! Thanks, Bjorn, for sharing this post! CHEERS!

    [Good luck with your (new) Black Strat project! – Bjorn]

  41. michael says:

    Dude, I read your articles from France since many years now and I’m still impress ….

    longue vie a Gilmourish.com !

    M.

    [Thank you Michael! – Bjorn]

  42. thefatcyclist says:

    Your piece made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. In 2005 I was 12, I’d heard Pink Floyd of course but I was more interested in Travis and Snow Patrol and I could not understand why my dad was sitting with his nose almost on the TV screen watching Pink Floyd at live 8, and I remember the catch in his throat and water in his eyes when he finally turned round and spoke after they had finished. As for the Black Strat it was just a guitar to me.
    Well now I have my own black start tribute, built by my dad, not perfect but close enough, I will never sell it, because of what it represents, a link to DG and PF and a labour of love from my dad.
    C

    [Great story! Thanks for sharing! – Bjorn]

  43. Kit Rae says:

    Happy 40th to the Black Strat! Let’s hope David is still using it this year.

    I remember the first time I saw film of David playing it from The Wall concerts. It was just the coolest looking guitar I had ever seen, and David made it sound so good. I knew I had to have a black Stratocaster at that moment, and that was what my first guitar was. 25 years later I am still playing one, though a bit nicer than my first one.

    I had no idea which songs it was used on for sure until I found your website Bjorn, so thanks for all the info. Who would have thought we would have gotten whole book on that old guitar, now in it”s third edition. The new revised book is supposed to have another 40 pages of pix and info, by the way.

    As always, nice reading, and keep up the great work!

    [I see there’s a release of the 3rd edition in October on Amazon. It’s a paperback of the 2nd edition, which had +40 pages from the 1st edition. Is the 3rd edition updated once again? Cheers! – Bjorn]

  44. Alan Day says:

    Loved the passion of your Black Strat chat! I know EXACTLY what you mean about not having the exact replica. In December 2009 I also built a new Strat for my own Floyd tribute and despite my search for Davids tone chose to my own design. After all there are 4 main points that come BEFORE the guitar, amp or effects … your fingers.

    [Spot on! – Bjorn]

  45. James Cameron says:

    I know how you feel Bjorn. I know it’s just a guitar but I’ve always liked that Black Strat the best. I remember going to see Pink Floyd for the first time in 1986 and I was actually sad that he was using a red strat. I was looking forwards to seeing and hearing the Black Strat. I learned to like the red one too but it could never be as cool as the black strat. I always suspected DG was using the same guitar from the Live in Pompeii and that it was his favorite. I really liked it when it had the black pick guard installed though. That is what really did it for me. There were lots of cool black strats from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton but Davids had the Black pick guard that just made it his Black Strat. Now I’m older and I know all of the reasons why I liked it best from the pick up’s to the pick guard ect. I wish the black strat a happy 40th b. day and on may 1rst next year I will become 40. The red strat was neat but I sure am glad David brought back the Black strat , it’s always been my favorite guitar of all time. BTW, it was nice of you to wish the guitar a happy 40th b.day…thats very cool IMO. p.s. I’m aslo very glad that when Fender made a DG tribute CS strat that they made it the black strat and not the red one!

    [Black is always more classy than red! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  46. Its not just me then! BUt I preferred the guitar when it had the rosewood fingerboard … I remember at school in 1975 in a science lesson, overhearing one of my mates talking about Gilmour’s “amazing black stratocaster with white pick up covers and everything else black” that he’d seen at a gig…. he was right. I saw it twice during the Animals tour and then in 2006 at the Albert Hall. Amazing.

    [I’d given my right arm to see Floyd in 77. You’re incredibly lucky and I agree – I prefer it with the rosewood neck. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  47. bernhard says:

    oh man, I really relate to what you wrote about seeing david, the strat, and floyd at live8. damn, I wish I’ve been there too or seen him in 2006 (that was just the time when I became addicted, it would have been a matter of weeks, and I would have paid anything to see the man play).

    great, great article. my own black strat, although not an intentional cousin to david’s, has seen many mods over the years, too, and has travelled with me to pretty much every gig I have played since I bought it in 2001. it’s not even the most convenient guitar to play, it’s an ash strat, quite heavy, and has a very shrill maple neck. I put a black pg on it at one point, obviously, and only putting in my c69’s more recently. I still have to gig it in this setup, but the day will come.

    what david’s strat really means to him, we can only speculate, I guess in interviews he likes to play down his affection for the guitar a little, but who knows. I recently saw a rather current clip of jimmy page talking about (I guess) his main lp. he was so full of love for the instrument, it was great to see.

    I am happy I bought the NOS version of david’s strat when it came out, I resisted making any personal adjustments at first, but I have since tinkered with the string height, saddles and the bridge. I see the guitar as a sonic guideline if you will, I play it really a lot, more than any other guitar at the moment, and I really, really connect to it, strongly, although always in mind that it mainly is david’s guitar, after all. I get a healthy balance of spirit out of it if you like.

    david’s guitar has seen so much, has so much history in itself, all the mods and changes, all the different necks, and still it’s the strat, because it’s david’s, because it’s the player that defines it, technically, soncially, and because he has always, when used, known how to formulate his thoughts and ideas with it, and get incredible, or rather epic, results.

    reading your article, time and again I realize how much I love the man!

    btw: I’ll be in london next monday and tuesday, I will go and see the funnels of battersea. I reckon I will think of the article, your website, and the whole crazy bunch of floydians meeting here and other places!

    thanks and cheers,
    bernhard

    [Thanks for sharing Bernhard! You have to remember that David is a true British and doesn’t show too much affection for anything… at least not in public :) I think he’s relationship with the guitar is much deeper than he wants to admit in interviews. Why else would he use it as his main guitar after all these years and allow Fender to make the signature/replica? He has also stated in recent interviews that he prefers the classic single coil tone and the EMGs didn’t “quite sound like a Strat”. Hope you have a wonderful time in London! Lading at Gatwick? In that case you’ll be rushing past Battersea right before you enter Victoria Station. Lovely and surreal sight! It’s also well worth taking the trip to Hampton and stroll up the Thames and see Astoria. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  48. Dave A says:

    Nice read thanks Bjorn.Did you take the top picture !

    [Yes, I did :) – Bjorn]

  49. André says:

    Thanks for sharing! And yes, you are crazy! We all are I guess:-) We are crazy after the tone from our guitar God!

    Rock on!

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  50. Michael says:

    Wow, what an article! There was definantly magic being made on that memorial day in 2005. It was a guitarist reuniting with his bandmates and his lost friend. You are a very lucky man to witness this Bjorn!! I was planing on makeing my own replica of the balck srat myself, and from reading this article, I know for a fact that its a journey worth takeing.

    Ceers Bjorn, cheers to all the Gilmour fans, cheers to David, and cheers to the balck strat!!

    [Thanks Michael! Good luck with your Black Strat project! – Bjorn]

  51. Francis Berthiaume says:

    You’re absolutely right. I saw him too in 2006 in toronto second row in the centre ( wich means I was about 10 feet away from him ) and it was surreal. I mean when he played echoes with it, I litterally cried like a baby too only cause of the guitar and the fact that it was som much pompeii style! Same thing went on when he took his red strat for shine on. Man was that good!!!

    [Cool! – Bjorn]

  52. Antonio says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’m Antonio from Germany, we’ve sent a few mails some time ago and you have been very nice to send me the 1995 article about the fantastic # 0001 Fender Strat.

    I love your website and over the years I’ve noticed that you put out some fantastic pictures of david like this last from the Animals tour in ’77 and other pics that we usually don’t find in other galleries.
    So are you interested to make a really good gallery on your website with those fantastic pictures which I’m sure you have many more of these ????

    Thank you for the Black Strat’s 40th anniversary article !
    I’ve had the pleasure to try one of the NOS custom shop replicas in a local shop here in Hamburg, great sound, absolutely !!!!!

    Bye,
    ANTONIO

    (Oh by the way, I’m listening right now to the 1975 bootleg recorded in Boston – “Shine on you crazy diamond” is the current song …)

    [The Boston ’75 is one of my favourite bootlegs! Always loved David’s tone on that one :) I’ve no current plans for a gallery but thanks for the tip! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  53. Bjorn, thanks again for another great article. Reading you describe your concert experiences really makes me even more excited to see Roger do The Wall live this December. I have never seen any incarnation of Pink Floyd live, and I figure unless I move to Europe I will probably never get to see David play live, so Roger’s about as close as I’ll ever come to feeling what you must have felt in 2005. BTW, have you heard from any of your sources who Roger’s going to have playing guitar for him on this tour? I know Snowy White is credited on the “In the Flesh” album, but I’m wondering who he’ll have this time around.

    As for the guitar and whether or not to buy one of the signature models, I’m with you on that one. I made my own replica of the red strat years ago and would never dream of replacing it. To me guitars are like Samurai swords – they each have a spirit and a personality all their own. If you get one that likes you, treat it right and never get rid of it. It will pay you back many times over!

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your memories!

    Brandon

    [He’ll be joined by Dave Kilminster, G.E. Smith and Snowy White. See the complete band list here. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  54. Federico says:

    Very very very nice reading, Bjorn.
    VIVA the Black Strat!

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  55. Lorne in Vancouver says:

    Here is a man that can buy (or be given) just about any guitar-related product being produced or prototyped yet he’ll bang together some various spare parts of of metal, alder, and maple and whip off epic solos and memorable music. The Black Strat is like an old friend yet it is an instrument – a tool – that has been abused and cut up. Not to mention treated like shit at a Hard Rock Café for several years before being returned to its owner as a result of a stern letter sent by Phil Taylor.

    But here’s the thing: my red Strat from ’98 has been with me through thick and thin and it has endured being hauled around to practices and gigs. To me, it has ‘mojo’, ‘vibe’ or whatever one calls it simply because I rely on it and we have always responded well to each other. I am still discovering new sounds out of it. I know what it feels like to bond with an instrument (and, likewise, how it feels to own another instrument and never truly bond with it) and I suppose it’s why I hold Gilmour and his Black Strat in such high regard.
    But shouldn’t the guitar be spending it’s 41st birthday this year?
    “The guitar was, in all probability, constructed in 1969 and then purchased in May 1970 by David from Manny’s Music.” [Phil Taylor, Pink Floyd – The Black Strat, p. 14 (first ed.)]

    [Well, the guitar is from 1969 but this is its 40th anniversary in the Floyd/Gilmour history :) I share your oppinion on owning a guitar you feel especially connected to. It’s unique and as part og you and your music as your actual playing. My Black Strat as the first electric I bought for my own money in ’96 and although my collection has grown since then I always come back to it and I know exactly how it’s gonna sound and influence my playing. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  56. Jason Sam says:

    Hi,I am a big david fan in China.I’ve been read you article for many times.But it is the first time that I leave a comment.

    The website is very great.I love it.Thank you!

    As you know,China is a very closed country.I can’t watch y0utube at all.I can hardly find other floyd fans.

    Hope you will write more things about david and his article guitar–The Black Strat.

    [Thanks for your kind words and post Jason! – Bjorn]

  57. evel1 says:

    Hard to believe that it was 40 years ago, even as hard to believe that my relic is reaching the 2 year mark! Almost paid for as well. ;) Still, a great piece of David history. Good job Bjorn and awesome to see new content. We’ve missed you mate.

    [I’ve been too busy lately but I’m back! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  58. Patrik says:

    Yup, a lot of history goes in to the 40 years of the black strats life.
    A lot of memories and moments, it’s very nostalgic just to think
    of all of the great music it has helped produce!
    Got me thinking, just a rhetorical question here,
    what if David hadn’t reclaimed the black strat from HRC,
    were would we be now..?

    [Hard to say. He was already working on his solo album when he started to use the Balck Strat again in 2005 but I think Island would have sounded different with just Goldtops and Gretsch and perhaps the red Strat. David’s playing much moore like he used to play when he’s using the Black Strat and it must have had some effect on his guitar work on Island. Perhaps even the choice of which songs to play on the tour. Even though David insists the Live 8 show didn’t do much for him other than being a fun experience it must have been an inspiration for the tour and you can’t perform Echoes with anything else than the Black Strat! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  59. Howie says:

    I still remember it. The day I spent in front of the television, only waiting for the greatest band this world has ever seen (in my opinion). I can clearlyremember the thoughts that went through my head the moment I saw that black unknown guitar that David was playing…of course being introduced to Pink Floyd by my father when he showed me PULSE left me expecting to see David playing the red strat. I was kind of disappointed, but after all…it was Pink Floyd…reunited with Waters…David playing his heart out! There was a spirit in the sky! And now…I have my very own replica of the Black Strat and it is probably my best friend!

    The Black Strat deserves to be celebrated!

    Cheers!

    [Funny things is too that David actually used the red Strat on the rehearsals but Phil insisted that he’d use the Black on the show. Finally someone talked some sense into David :) – Bjorn]

  60. Great article as always! Cheers to the black strat!

  61. Jay says:

    You know how to write one hell of an article man, Kudos! Your truely Lucky to be able to experinece those events, I probly wont ever get a glimps of David until I’ve reached the Great Gig in The Sky lol.

    [There’s a lot of people we’ll meet at the Great Gig in the Sky! Cheers! – Bjorn]