Tip of the week (13) – Tone (part 1)

June 4th 2012 | Posted in Tip of the Week | 78 Comments

In this 4-part feature I’m going to look at 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. I in this first part we’ll go through the basics and look at how we perceive sound and tone.

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 crap – or you got a new pedal that redefined all you conceptions – but tone isn’t static. 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 has the pedal and now you got it 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 your guitar, through all your pedals and cables 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 your 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. David’s rig was jaw breaking but it would have been quite ridiculous to use the same rig at Royal Albert Hall in 2006 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.

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? What you hear on Comfortably Numb is:

A Fender Stratocaster with alder body (nitrocellulose lacquer), C-shape maple neck (nitrocellulose lacquer) and GHS Boomers .010-.048 fresh strings. The neck feature vintage style Gotoh tuning machines and slim frets. The body feature 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 digital reverb is added in the final mix and most likely there’s also additional compression, EQ and limiting. And of course, don’t forget, 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.

What is a good tone?
Well, obviously I can’t tell you that. A good 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. 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!

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. In the next parts of this feature we’ll look at ways of choosing the right gear for your desired tone.

A fun exercise is to think about why you fell in love with a certain tone. What made you notice just this specific song, album or solo? Try to describe to your self what you hear and compare that with what’s actually being used and how its recorded.

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 15 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 for 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. However, 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 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.

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 your self. 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 and heavy. Gilmour combined Hendrix and The Shadows and created more mellow soulful blues. Eddie Van Halen refined what Jimi Page and Richie Blackmore had done before him and combined that 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.

In the next segment we’ll look at guitars and amps and how to create the best basis for your tones.

I’d love to hear what’s your favourite tone! Describe it and tell us why it’s so special.

78 comments so far

  1. Francisco Moreira says:

    Inspired stuff! Very good. =)
    Cheers

    [Thanks! - Bjorn]

  2. Kamil says:

    So you want to hear what’s my favourite tone?
    I’ll tell you :
    - my favourite Gilmourish tone is from Dogs, first and dry solo , just love it. It sounds great.
    - not gilmourish tone is strat bluesy fuzzy :) Hendrix tone neck pickup. It has great bell sound, thats all.

    I’m 16 and I love Gilmour :)

    [Cool! - Bjorn]

  3. Joseph Cohen says:

    Great article! I’ve been reading your website for a couple of years now and though when I first started out I wanted a Gilmour tone straight out of Money on DSoTM, reading the articles you’ve posted has encouraged me to think about what I am trying to achieve and to create my own individual tone; based off Gilmour’s but with my own individuality.

    Looking forward to the next two parts!

    [Thank you Joseph! - Bjorn]

  4. Sascha says:

    Favourite Gilmour tone…

    David is actually less about his gear and more about his personality for me musically. I dig Pink Floyd because of the soul in the music all speaking to me, but not because of the rocket science behind it.

    Shine On would be one of my faves, but it is essentially just a blues and no matter if studio, live or acoustic – it’s just as majestic no matter how he plays it. That’s because the soul that is in that song is so awesome. The sound is just the cherry in top of it for me. Does that make any sense?

    I think the tone is not in David’s gear or even in his fingers. It’s a combination of experience in life and music and where he was/is at the time he performs. You said it perfectly with the example of the bootleg that you like so much. It’s the sum of EVERYTHING, not just the gear. It’s in his heart.

    The end of High Hopes from the Royal Albert Hall show is also a good example for what I mean, there’s the man who took guitar sound to another level pouring his heart out with so much grace and dignity on nothing but six nylon strings all acoustic. I almost cired when I heard that for the first time and it took him nothing but a bloody acoustic guitar to get me there lol.

    That being said, my fav tone ever would not be anything Floyd. It’s Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains on “Jar Of Flies” and their untitled album. Prototype Bogners, custom made Marsha’s, modified Rectifiers and a vintage Twin Reverb all stacked (!!!) and combined with just a handful of classic pedals. Yummy.

    [Thanks for sharing! The acoustic ending on High Hopes took the song to a whole new level... amazing! - Bjorn]

  5. Andre says:

    My favorite onde is my dyna- violetmuff-bluesdriver-dd3

    Cheers from Brazil Bjorn, and congrats for this excelent website

    [Thanks! - Bjorn]

  6. Eddy says:

    Inspiring article! I have to admit that I get caught up in the “I need a Muff, tube driver, Hiwatt” thing. :) But I guess its a common obsession among us Gilmour fanatics. This article has inspired me to try to develop my own tone, although it will inevitably have a Gilmour influence.

    Though its hard for me to pinpoint my favorite gilmour tone, I would have to say this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8sm8n1GoSs

    [Well, as I said in the article, there's nothing wrong with being obsessed with David and his gear. I'm sure I speak for all of us that this is as much a hobby as anything else. Studying his playing, his gear, Floyd's music, endless hours watching clips and looking at pictures... it's just like collecting stamps and I like to believe that it also helps us in getting better guitarists. - Bjorn]

  7. Brad says:

    Nice article, my favorite tone from Mr.Gilmour would have to be his Animals and Is there anybody out there? tones! I love the dry solos from dogs and the wet ones on it too. I also love the wet liquidy tones from the Wall live, to me, personally, both tones just sound “agressive” and “dark” and I love that. I was raised on Floyd by my parents, and today there are pictures of me with a little guitar, about 4 years old at the time, in front of the T.V. watching PULSE trying to be David Gilmour lol It was later in life though that I really started listening to certain tones that caught my attention and thats when I really started playing guitar and truly understanding it all. Sorry for the length of this. I just felt like sharing it! Again, love the sight, Bjorn. God Bless!

    Brad

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  8. Jon says:

    My favorite tone from David is basicially any 94 Division Bell bootleg. It is nothing short of heaven and to me this is where he was at his best. I like to study his variations on his solos on certain songs like; poles apart, on the turning away, and sorrow (to name a few) where he would improvise the solo on these and played them slightly different at each concert.

    [I've always thought is was a shame they didn't include Poles Apart on PULSE. The live version is amazing. My favourite 94 bootleg is the Mutinea from Modena, Italy. Sounds like the source is standing very close to David's rig and you get a very honest, unprocessed tone. - Bjorn]

  9. Eric Nyberg says:

    Probably one of your best articles Bjorn. My favorite guitar tone is anything from The Wall, The Thin Ice and C-Numb particularly come to mind. I love that scream of desperation. Other than Gilmour my favorite guitar tone is probably Can’t You Hear Me Knocking by The Rolling Stones. I love that dirt bike like sound Keith gets from a tele.

    [Thanks Eric! - Bjorn]

  10. Alex says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    this is one your best articles ever!
    I’d like to share my experience. As you described, everything affects the tone. That’s a fact. Among the things that have huge effect on the tone I count the room (materials, distance to walls and corner), the speakers, the pick used and the personal playing style. Whereas the guitars’ lacquer, the way how the body is routed, the cables, the type of Muff… do only relative subtle things to the tone which often can be compensated. (Poor cables tend do break or catch-up noise or apply a subtle HF rolloff… that’s why I highly recommend good cables. But I haven’t yet witnessed that a cheap cable degrades the tone in any other way than the above mentioned).

    Another thing to consider is that even if your tone is basically the same as the one you liked on the rehersal two days ago, if the sound of only one of the other instruments is different or only slightly louder or lower it can completely change the way how you perceive your own tone. Plus the human perception itself is constantly changing depending on the physical and mental condition in that specific moment…

    I stumbled upon PF and Gilmour 1994, as the tour was massively pushed in tv ads back then (cooperation with Volkswagen). Prior to the concert (I had tickets for Cologne show :) I tried to get used to that kind of – for me new – music… and I must say I wasn’t all that blown away until I finally saw the show live. And there it was… WOW! I instantly fell in love with Gilmours tones. This experience made me buy another ticket for Gelsenkirchen and made me want to learn to play the guitar some time later. So my taste is little different to your’s, I’m completely into PULSE :) But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy Gilmour’s tones from other eras.

    When I started playing, I didn’t have much equipment of course. There was a Strat clone (which today is still my black Strat :) a HH Electronics transistor combo amp, a Marshall practice amp (one of those small ones you can clip on your belt) and an Ibanez digital delay pedal. I had no glue what kind of stuff Gilmour was using… But when I went straight into the Marshall, into the delay, into the only slightly overdriven HH, with a little verb from the amp… it sounded indeed way Gilmourish :) I did exactly what you are recommending today :) The little Marshall was my Rat/Tube Screamer in that “rig”.

    Well over the years I lost my focus on PF… until I stumbled upon a very non-Gilmourish PF tribute band on YouTube in late 2010… And I thought heck, even I managed to do better with my crappy equipment 15 years ago. Then I discovered gilmourish.com and the rest is history :)

    This is my current attempt to replicate the 94 tones:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXqsFOuTBQk

    It’s some kind of mix between the PULSE album tones and the actual live tones from bootlegs. Little more edgy than PULSE but little warmer than live. And though it’s not yet perfect… but good enough that I received an inquiry from a PF tribute band that I think is doing pretty good :)

    And again… thx Bjorn, for your input :)

    [Thanks for sharing Alex! Good points and great tones in the clip too! Especially liked the Shine On intro tones :) - Bjorn]

  11. Jonathan Price says:

    I love that you’ve taken the time to explain the contextual nature of tone appreciation – I totally agree. Listening to 77′ tour bootlegs was an absolute revelation for me, both for his solo playing and the sheer power of his rhythm work (often overlooked). Listening to the sheer venom of the Pigs solos along with Roger’s maniacal rants evokes images of such unhinged nihilism – it sounds dangerous!

    Favourite tone? That’s really hard. The solo in Time is what made me want to play electric guitar. The Wall is perhaps the best capturing of Gilmour’s tone in the studio; Hey You is so simple but so powerful. Gilmour’s Black Strat Comfortably Numb solos on the 2006 tour have a beautiful sound (there’s something about his red strat and Pulse setup that seems less ‘pure’.)

    But I would like to tip my hat to Gilmour’s SLIDE tones. One of These Days on Pompeii is the peak of atmospheric, improvisatory Floyd and Gilmour’s playing isn’t just a solo, it’s a mood, a feeling, another world. And then, of course, is the same song on Pulse – it just makes you writhe with joy! (especially when he throws in the Crazy Diamond licks).

    Best non-Gilmour tone? Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lenny and Little Wing. His use of dynamics is phenomenal, and in the quiet passages it feels like you can hear texture of the strings on his fingers.

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  12. Daniel Krause says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Another great article here!
    I think you put it right. Aby one of us Gilmour freaks wants to have his gear and sound like him. At least I wanted that for quite some time.
    At a certain point though, I gradually started sounding different…and got my own sound. It’s still very Gilmour inspired, but not all the way anymore. In my band I still use a dynacomp, muff, BD2, CE2 and delays…but it just sounds different to when I play a floyd song.

    I think it’s very important for a guitar player to his own sound…it’s a matter of growing I guess.

    My favorite Gilmour sound…hmm…difficult, there are so many. But…probably Comfy Numb in the 94 tour, or Sorrow, or uhm…something like those…lol

    My other favorites; Bonamassa’s sounds, Gary Moore, Santana…what about Mr. Bjorn Riis from Airbag…you know him? ;-) He’s on my list too.

    Cheers from Holland,

    Daniel

    [Yeah, I think I know him, ha ha! Thanks! - Bjorn]

  13. Hi there!

    You article show us a mature musician. Wise words! We all thank you!

    I grown up with “delicate sound of thunder” and that was my main influence… but when heard Animals, The Wall and Final Cut I got amazed till now!!

    To be honest there’s amazing tones on:
    ATOM HEART MOTHER: funky part (with a fuzz ou Colorsound it’s powerfull)
    ANIMALS: all album
    DAVID GILMOUR: raise my rent and all the rest
    THE WALL
    THE FINAL CUT: few solos, all brutal. “the hero’s return” amazes my even now. His rhythm work is not much spoken but ist’s incredible!
    And… the “not now John” solo… that I would love to hear in this site some day! It’s a forgotten great solo!

    I think David survive the 80′s with honor and got a new sound with TD pedal that flourish on ON AN ISLAND. But that icy sound on ANIMALS and FINAL CUT never come back!
    I got some bootlegs from ANIMALS tour and he drives his amps to insanity!! At that time the coloursound has no Volume control (I think) and to got some gain the volume got bigger. I think that we have afraid to play loud theses days, that’s why rock is so muddy now!
    Somehow the “Australian Pink Floyd Show” have that amazing animals sound!

    Cheers!

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  14. Gabriel says:

    Amazing!! Great article! Nothing like a good read to start the day.
    About my favourite tone… quite complicated answer, but I´ll go with the Animals tone. Both solos on Dogs and the melody are just outstanding. Every time I hear it I feel like I´m being transpoted to the 70´s, and I love that times, though I ´was born in 1980. I don´t know how to put it into words, it´s just magical and a bit nostalgic.
    My second will be Pompeii´s, Echoes solo is amazing.

    Cheers!

    [Couldn't agree more :) - Bjorn]

  15. Gabriel says:

    Oh, I forgot about this, what are those little amp heads on the second picture?

    [I haven't managed to find out all of them but the head to his right is a Marshall JTM45 - Bjorn]

  16. Dave says:

    Spot on, Bjorn. Add to the tone equation the arrangement itself. David’s work is often a jouney: picking the listener up and sometimes leaving them in a different location when the music comes to a close. Note the simple “Hushabye Mountain” that attained an almost haunting beauty when arranged and performed by David. This could become another article altogether!

    [Indeed :) - Bjorn]

  17. Luca says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    another big inspiring article!

    My favourite Gilmour tone is from WYWH and Animals. I’m a Floyd’s fan since I was a teenager, the period from DSoT to Division Bell. After the discovery of Floyds I decided that I needed to learn to play guitar, and in the search of the previous Floyd’s album I found in Animals the great guitar work I’ve ever heard.

    I recently found a similar guitar tone in “Life in the Fast Lane” of Eagles, Hotel California LP. Searching on wikipedia I found that the album was released in 1976 and that Joe Walsh did use Hiwatt amplifiers and some Fender’s guitars. Perhaps that was the golden-period for the tone and for the music? I don’t know but the combination of these ingredients, for me, worked!

    Thanks for your great work!

    Luca

    [Thanks for sharing, Luca! ... and I agree, the 70s was indeed the golden era of tones! - Bjorn]

  18. Derek says:

    To answer what is my favorite tone is as difficult as trying to define how to get a specific one. I usually hook on parts of songs and again, it strongly depends on what I want to hear at that time. PT Arriving Somewhere start of solo and end (acoustic style), Queen Bohemian, King Crimson 21st century, Zappa Maybe You Should Stay with Your Mama (near the end of the song, the guitar goes crescendo, my heart follows guitar and tears come to my eyes, can’t explain why) and many more. Floyd? They have so much awesome songs, still Any Colour You like is for me a masterpiece, strange hu?

    [I've always had a sweet spot for Any Colour and although the album version is great I think David's swirling, smokey tones on PULSE is just amazing :) - Bjorn]

  19. Luka Klinčić says:

    Beautifully written Bjorn,

    Cheers

    [Thanks! - Bjorn]

  20. Hey Bjorn! Great article!! I couldn’t agree with you more about tone being a combination of all of those little factors. The gear is ALWAYS just a foundation for the tone. My favorite tones always boil down to just one moment in a particular solo or song. For example, the very first note of “Shine On…” from PULSE has always stuck with me. Some of my other favorites come from guys like Peter Klett from Candlebox – there’s a moment on the song “Sometimes” from the album Happy Pills that really sticks out. I also have to say, there’s a moment of YOURS on “White Walls” from the “Live in Oslo, October 31st, 2009″ bootleg – the very first notes of the long solo at the end – that stops me dead in my tracks every time I listen to it! Well done, sir.

    I also can’t emphasize enough the mood of the player as a contributing factor on tone. I play out a lot and do a lot of mundane cover material, so I tend to get bored on stage a lot – the whole “it’s just a job” attitude – but I’ve been told time and time again that if I go onstage angry or if I really get excited about playing a certain song, that my tones are much better. There’s just an intensity that genuine emotion brings to your playing that you can’t replicate any other way.

    Anyway, thanks again for another great article, Bjorn, and I am REALLY excited to hear the new Airbag album!! Can’t wait for 10/17!!

    [Thank you Brandon! - Bjorn]

  21. Sande says:

    Well, the best tone in the world? It’s the guitar connected to the decent tube amp (I prefer to have one with two different channels) and then with your picking and the overall touch of your playing it’s how you control the brightness and sustain of your tone… …and if you get it, it’s magical.

    I have never had too much success with pedals, there’s always a downside with every single pedal and I just can’t live with it. Still searching the perfect delay unit. :-/

    Also I don’t think that there is a single best sound in the world. Because the sounds we are creating with our equipment are so related to the song what we are about to play.

    Cheers,
    Sande

    [Good point. David's Animals live tones will always be special to me but what I like changes all the time and that goes for my own tones too. A good tone isn't just the tone it self but how it works with other instruments, the mix and the song. - Bjorn]

  22. Bailey says:

    Ha Bjorn

    Grate article as normal. And I do find myself getting cot up in the holl I need a black strat and all that stuff .But when I’m playing for get all of it and gust play and I find myself in more of a gilmour state of mind the when I’m doing gilmourish thing.

    Iv been a fan of Floyd for about 2 years now, and iv figured out that animals to the final cut is the tone id as a player want to achieve with a mikes of On An Island .But my fev DG tone is on 06s On An Island. There a sen of nakedness and that shene se qua and that unexplainable thing in his playing , lick his going back to the basics.

    Thanks from the states
    Bailey

    [David's OAI tones are very similar to his late 70s tones I think and as you say, very honest and natural. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  23. Rob Spence says:

    Awesome article!
    Rob

    [Thanks! - Bjorn]

  24. Freddy says:

    Spot ön Bjørn!
    I would also add that a particular sound one might like might only sound good in that concept, a great example would be Jimmy Page’s guitar sound in Black dog, the guitars heard on their own would sound terrible but between Bonham’s drums and Jones’s bass the guitars sound cool.
    Ön another matter, do you know where one can pick up some Floyd bootlegs and which shows do you recommend?
    Freddy

    [Thanks Freddy and good point too! Check out Yeeshkul.Com. There's a lot of great shows but check out Atom Heart Mother Goes On the Road 1970, Moonwalk 1972, Echoes in the Gardens 1975, Plays the Animals 1977... - Bjorn]

  25. martin says:

    i think the most beautiful guitar sound was the guitar on “shine on you crazy diamond” on the wywh-album, especially the first notes david plays. and i like the guitar-sound on “the wall” (in my mind one of the bad pf-album … its so boring). or the pf-live in saint tropez thing – also very nice sound.
    i dont like the momentary lapse sound … its sounds … hm, like the late 80s ;-)

    [Yeah, well... Momentary is perhaps the least Gilmourish of all PF albums but there are some nice tones there as well I think. I've always loved Terminal Frost and Yet Another Movie. - Bjorn]

  26. Brandon says:

    one of the most wonderful things ive read about music in awhile. thank you bjorn!

    also, do you know where i can download some of those floyd bootlegs that you mentioned above?

    [Thank you Brandon! Check out Yeeshkul.Com or just search for torrents on Google. - Bjorn]

  27. Frans says:

    My favorite tone is must be the first and last solo’s in the Live in Gdansk version of Echoes and the solo of Where we Start from the On an Island album. Very clean and maybe with a little chorus and comp. Some with a very solid Muff tone. Cluster one…very subtle and sensative.

    It’s of course not only the tone itself but what do with the tone to provide you withsome massive goosebumbs. David managed to do so in nearly all of his songs.

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  28. Ludovico says:

    Hi Bjorn, I follow you since almost one year and this is one of the best article I’ve read, indeed, because of it’s about also one or the most important topic for a guitarist. According to me the best David’s tone is in The Final Cut: smooth warm and powerful…
    I’ve some questions for you and I try to be concise: I’m mainly a classical guitarist and I spent my free time on the electric one (being a Pink floyd fan from my birth!). For my 17 birthday i bought an all original all stock all black 1979 Fender Stratocaster, and few month after I bought an hughes & kettner statesman quad combo, good clean tone and warm crunch..really a good amp. Now I’m 19 and this summer I’ve make up my pedalboard (pedal and case) with this order: Big Muff PI (american one), Boss Cs-3 and the phase 90, electric mistress (not deluxe and the new one unfortunately), Boss dd-7 in the send and return of my amp. From these 2 years of learning about pedals and gilmour tone i know that my guitar and my amp are not good for gilmour tone (i can’t change anything in my guitar because it devaluates: but it sound amazing fat and big). I use the crunch channel of my amp for a little little warm boost for big muff, but my “lead” sound is confused and without definition. What do you advise to me? Could I buy a Boss Blues Driver as a boost of my Muff? Second question: how i can set my dd-7 for a good spacey sound in my lead tones? how i can set it at 440ms or 500ms and so on?
    Thank you indeed, you are my source of gilmour tone and in general for a good guitar tone!
    Cheers from Italy!

    [Sorry for my late reply. Glad you enjoyed the article! I think the best setup for Gilmourtones is to use the clean channel on the amp. I'm not that familiar with yours but try settings the EQs around 50% and the master to about 2/3 of the channel volume. This will allow a better basis for the Muff etc but you would need a booster, both for your overdrive tones and for boosting the Muff. The BD2 is a great pedal. Check out the Fulltone OCD, ThroBak Overdrivebooster etc. Place all effects into the front input. The effect loop is ok if you use the internal gain stage but the gains should be placed in the front anyway. I'm not that familiar with the DD7 but Another Brick In the Wall part 1 is a great example of 440ms. Feel free to send me an email if you have more questions. - Bjorn]

  29. Bender Rodriguez says:

    Thank you for all your articles Bjorn!

    One of My favourite tones nowadays is in the solo of Fat old sun, in the Royal Albert Hall-Remember that night. It made me buy a Tele!
    First and second solos in Echoes -Live in Pompeii are amazing, of course

    I think, however, that the tone is in the man. And the voice is very important too. People forgets sometimes that the tone of Gimour music is his voice too, and the way he sings. his voice tone is as good as his guitar tone (in my opinion)

    cheers!

    [Thanks for your input! I agree that the tone is in the man or his fingers, but the term tone aslo describes the sound you get from using effects and different guitars and amps too. David's Echoes tones would have sounded quite dead if he'd used a Les Paul straight into a JCM800 :) But I know what you mean. David's voice is a huge part of how we percieve David as a musician. In my mind he is complete because he can sing and play guitar as well as he does, which again makes him able to express him self in more way than a vocalist or guitarist. - Bjorn]

  30. Ernest says:

    I like playing own stuff, using my “DG-style pedalboard”…
    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/audio/play/81852492/

    Actually, using my Strat 1st and 2nd pos. (bridge + middle pickup) makes me sound more like Mark Knopfler :-)

    [Thanks for sharing! Yeah, it sounds a bit like Knopfler :) - Bjorn]

  31. David says:

    Great article, I always enjoy reading them!

    The thing that strike’s me about David Gilmour’s playing is, although the gear changes considerably over the years, the soul of the playing still gives it the continuity. If I had to pick an era I’d probably choose Animals/The Wall and Live at Gdansk.

    [Agree :) - Bjorn]

  32. Lim says:

    For me my favorite tone is the univibe/leslie effect in “Any colour you like” from Pulse live. Just pure fantastic. I’ve been emulating that tone in some of my Sunday church worship songs when the opportunity is right.

    God bless Bjorn and rock on!

    [Cheers! - Bjorn]

  33. TQuay says:

    Hello. I think it is hard for me to define a perfect tone of Pink Floyd’s-I love nearly all of them. It is like the way the Beatles wrote Helter Skelter and BlackBird on the same album. The tones are worlds apart but they are both great. True genius! SOYCD and Comfortably Numb-completely different but then again not and both brilliant like nearly everything they did. Best,

    [Good point! Tone isn't just the tone it self but how it works in combination with other instruemnts and the specific song. - Bjorn]

  34. Hugo says:

    My favorite tones?
    For solos… DSOT Time solo.. just great, huge, fat…

    For rhythms…. Porcupine Tree the incident.

    overdrive rhythms?.. PF Animals, and for the less agressive part.. some Pulse/Division Bell tones, you know, when you can’t tell if the guitar is in overdrive or clean…

    Overdrive solos?…so many that I can live with any of them without being hunted by the spirit of the “perfect blues overdrive tone”

    =)

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  35. Marc says:

    Great article, I appreciate all time time and effort, thinking and re-thinking, and editing that went into creating it.
    I don’t have time right now to run a discourse on my fav gilmour tone, but I will at some point.
    I just wanted to say how ironic it is for me that you chose that particular Montreal show as your fave DG tone. I was there and walked out about 2/3 of the way thru the show as the bad vibes and exploding M-80 firecrackers were just too much to bear. Especialy the bad vibes in comparison to the previous PF shows I had seen in previous years.
    I vividly recall DG gritting his jaw and carrying on like a good soldier in spite of what was happening all around him.
    Keep up the great work, I look forward to part 2!!

    [I can't express how much I envy you that experience! But then again, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't favour that show if I did witness it :) That prooves that the recording has much to do with how we percieve tone. Whether it's a close mic'ed cabinet or a taped live show it will colour the tone and our experience. Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  36. Luca says:

    Hi again Bjorn,
    as I told you before, this article is actually inspiring and opens many ways and discussions. Another point that I’d like to focus on is the hard picking, that I recognize as a very personal feature in David’s tone. So, what about of picks? It’s the cheapest part of the rig, and the most commonly underestimated item. Since I started to play guitar I’ve tried many forms and thickness, but recently I got some new very thick picks from Dunlop (http://www.jimdunlop.com/product/Primetone-picks) and I found a big increase in my tone. And also fits better the punch-like tone in David’s typical Dogs, Childwood end’s and so on. In my previous post I mentioned Joe Walsh, that I think he had the same hard picking and for me is the charateristic that I prefer, also respect to other guitarists, for my tone.

    Thanks again for this great resource and point of discussion you’ve created!

    Cheers, Luca.

    [Sorry for the late reply. Glad you enjoyed the article. Picks are an important part of the tone. As you know, David use heavy gauge picks and the fat attack these produce is one of his signatures. I'm using the Dunlop Tortex Pitch Black Jazz 1.14mm my self. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  37. Alex says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    Another great article; not much else to say really, I can’t believe a site about one player’s effects, amps and guitars keeps us coming back, but I still check in every day!

    Isn’t it hard to nail down one supreme gilmour tone? One of the things that I love about the Floyd catalog (supplemented with a healthy supply of bootlegs) is the variety in Gilmour’s tones throughout the decades. Division Bell was the first Floyd album I ever heard, and the opening of What Do You Want From Me? the first Floyd song I ever noticed (on a beer commercial of all things!). I would have to say that it redefined rock music to me.

    Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to hear some of the most varied and interesting of guitar tone all come from the same man (some examples: all the early white strat + germanium fuzz + echorecs tones; the first screaming fuzz solo of Echoes at Pompeii; EVERY tone on Wish You Were Here; Pigs solo in Montreal 77 – also a personal favourite of mine; ABITW1; Numb – of course; up to opening licks of Castellorizon – the first tones I heard come out of Gilmour’s guitar live..) All in all, it is impossible to choose but thankfully, we don’t have to!

    I would have to say that outside of Gilmour tones, I’m quite partially to Slash just playing his Les Paul through a Marshall. I don’t know if you have heard Estranged lately, but his control of the feedback on that track is just utterly ridiculous and a somewhat adequate replacement for Gilmour in a pinch and a good example of how plugging in straight, and cranking up a british tube amp some days is pretty fun ;)

    Thanks again for the site Bjorn, can’t wait for the new Airbag album!

    [Thanks for sharing and your kind words! - Bjorn]

  38. rummy says:

    I’m hooked to the tone from “Shine on” Pulse Live. Nothing else makes my day. Also Joe Satriani has a cool crunchy sound.

    [Agree :) Satriani has always had a great tone! - Bjorn]

  39. Jim says:

    Great post, and I love your site Bjorn!

    My favourite guitar tone of all time is Rush’s Alex Lifeson on the Hemispheres album. From all that I have read, the three key ingredients are: Gibson ES-355, Hiwatt amps and cabinets, and a Roland CE-1 Chorus Ensemble.

    The elements I like are the unique, ‘spongy’ attack of a semi-hollow guitar, the clear, hi-fidelity sound of the Hiwatt (even when overdriven), and the lush, thick chorus when in use.

    I can get pretty close with my Ibanez AS-180, Tech 21 Leeds, and Pod X3 Live (great CE-1 sound, OK Hiwatt sound). But I’ve learned a few things in trying to match his tone:

    1. His sound varies from track to track. I can get the gain just right for one song, but then it’s too much or too little for the next. (He also used his guitar volume knob a lot back then)

    2. I can get it to sound pretty good playing Rush songs, but for anything other than Rush I don’t like it as much.

    3. If I just set up a tone to my liking using these components, I get a better all-around sound and it still works well for Rush, even though it isn’t “exact”.

    So, as your post recommends, I’m learning to just relax and try to get themost out of my gear without trying to exactly match any single reference.

    [Thanks for your input Jim! I think most album recording varies more than a live setup. On an album you can experiment and use all kinds of gear to get the tones you want but on stage you're pretty much left with what's in the current rig. That's important to acknowledge when you're trying to replicate certain tones. Although David uses a Muff for all his lead tones on Wall, his sounds differ on many of the tracks. - Bjorn]

  40. Pete Picard says:

    i’m perfectly happy with the
    Hiwatt custom 50 (1976) with matching 4X12″ pretty beat up CAB i use all the time …

    83 SmithStrat (2 Knobs)Maple neck for the clean and echoey sounds

    TELE 52 RE

    a new mexican TELE custom ROSEWOOD NECK heavyly modified
    (an old Gibson humbucker at the neck, noiseless tele bridge pickup, a custom preamp , and an out of phase switch,BETTER POTS AND RESISTORS + bigsby vibrato …
    that’s my SUMMERS/KEITH/STEPPENWOLF/GILMOUR/and personnal touch Frankensteiner
    next step is to try and put an old BigMUFF Pi circuit in there but we’Re lookin’ on how to ROUT the body for the best result any sugegestions?

    2004 Les Paul Classic more for the Distorted sounds but sometimes clean that guitar bites in a pretty good way

    2009 (i beleive) LES PAUL BFG
    (no varnish. tone chambers in the body, kill switch (usefull for that ol’ tremolo sound ;-) ), P90 neck pocket and T500 @ the Bridge)
    killer and super lite weight

    Epiphone Sheraton II semi hollow dual Gibsons HUMBUCKERS…

    pedalboard is:

    Boss tuner,

    Boss CS2, (compressor)

    Big Muff (US1972 ) and/or
    new Double Muff
    (more reliable than the old one in live settings)

    Danelectro Tuna Melt (vibrato)cheap but effective and does not colour the sound like other vibrato i’ve tried… i know it’s weird…lol

    MXR Phase 90

    and personal fav’ MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
    (from Johnny cash to Gilmour and everywhere in between… to me the best bang for the buck in a delay (les than 200$ canadian dollars), i don’t like the digital stuff…tested and tried)

    and i would like to congatulate you on your reserch nice WORK dude and i enjoy your playins too you ROCK!!! would definateley like to hear other stuff than Floyd , even if there my favorite alltime band…i’m allways curious hav a grat musical journey

    [Thank you! - Bjorn]

  41. Steve says:

    I think David said it best in a BBC interview, “lean into the sound” love that comment;)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8k-CQuiTw4

    [Fantastic quote! I bet he has leaned into his sounds many times throughout the years :) - Bjorn]

  42. Ryan says:

    Excellent article!!! I wish this article was on gilmourish 6 years ago when I first stumbled upon the site haha.

    I remember when I first heard Pink Floyd. I was 15 and my dad had this huge CD collection.. Anyway, I found a CD with in my dads collection that stood out…no name on the cover…no picture of the band…just a prism and some colors. At that time I was a Beatle head and guitars weren’t that “important” to me. I threw the CD in and skipped a few tracks…I heard clocks chiming…an intro that I still cant describe…some dude singing about dull days and waisting hours…a mean and driving song structure…and then…through my tiny little stereo…a solo that I had never thought was possible, allowed or even human caused my whole body to tingle and my brain to disconnect. “Time” scared the hell out of me…but it also planted that little ‘tone’ seed that drives us all crazy.

    not just the guitars in that song…but the bass…the drums…the electric piano…all of it…its sort of a blue print on “how a track should sound.”

    Great article once again!

    thanks

    [Thanks for Sharing Ryan! Great story! - Bjorn]

  43. Patrik says:

    Just listened to the Dark Side of the Moon, Wembley 1974 on http://www.youtube.com/OfficialPinkFloyd

    Chilling stuff.

    What say you, Bjørn & others: tone, eh? :P

    [It sounds awesome! - Bjorn]

  44. Tim says:

    Nicely considered post – I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

    [Thanks Tim! - Bjorn]

  45. Jean-Francois says:

    Hi Bjorn
    fabulous article, as always :-)

    I remember talking about fav tones on a previous post, but here they are again :

    my fav David’s tones :
    Shine on, twin solos on Dogs, Time and Money solos, Funky dung

    my ZZtop fav tones : Blue jean blues and I need you tonight

    my fav Jimi tones : Watchtower, Little wing, BBC sessions, Midnight

    my fav Dire Straits tones : the 2 first albums, Alchemy, Telegraph road, …well …all !

    other fav tones : Hunter and Wagner on Lou Reed’s R’nR Animal

    and last but not least, 2 fav tones from the guitar right into the desk :
    Revolution (yes I read that John’s ES-335 was directly through the desk) and David’s ABITW part 1

    I often read about this particular gig in Montreal 77. I don’t have the time to search bootlegs and so on, would it possible for you to put just an extract of this gig (e.g. pigs solo, as it was quoted) just to hear what it is about ? thanks very much

    [Check out Yeeshkul.com for Floyd boots :) - Bjorn]

  46. Andre says:

    Hey Bjorn, where does David use the dyna comp and delay? Before or after the muff+boost? What is the sequence of the pedals? Thanks

    [wah wah > fuzz (vintage style silicon or germanium models) > compressor > distortion (Big Muff/RAT etc) > overdrive/booster (Tube Driver/BD2/Colorsound PowerBoost/Tube Screamer etc) > modulations (phaser/flanger/chorus/UniVibe, in no particular order) > volume pedal > delays. - Bjorn]

  47. Matt says:

    High Hopes lap steel in Gdansk. Unbelievable tone. Here is my attempt to do something like it, though it falls far short.

    [Nice tone! Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  48. Hi Bjorn,

    What a great article! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I agree with you… most of us get caught up in some kind of gear hunt in the search for this thing called TONE… but it’s not really about the gear.

    For me… I always thought 99% of one’s tone comes from one’s technique… one’s touch, vibrato, bending, string attack, picking, etc. It comes from how you PLAY the guitar… not so much what KIND of guitar you play. I also think it’s related to WHAT you play too.

    I bet Gilmour could play some cheap Strat off the shelf through some cheap amp and pedal and he would still sound amazing. It would still sound like Gilmour.

    It’s the Indian, not the arrow… but one still needs a bow and arrow if one wants to hunt (kill something)… and the kind of tools you use really depends on the playing situation (bedroom, living room, studio recording, bar-gig, bigger club, etc.) Of course… the better the gear you have the better your potential is for sounding great, but it doesn’t mean you will sound great. From my experience as a player, TONE comes down to HOW you play.

    We often forget this. If players spent half the time they spend on acquiring gear (and on the Internet) and instead spent that time focused on their playing (aka practicing, rehearsing)… their tone would improve, their musicality would improve and they wouldn’t need so much gear.

    I think a LOT of why Gilmour sounds so great has a LOT to do with his band and the type of music he is playing. Know what I mean? The Floyd always create a great musical ambience and really set things up such that Dave can come in and just hit one out of the park, so to speak.

    Also, I’m a firm believer of playing acoustic guitar… nylon, steel string… it doesn’t matter what kind… but from my experience, a guitarist that can get a good tone out of an acoustic guitar… usually gets a good tone out of an electric guitar. I think the two types of instruments complement each well. It’s something a lot of electric players tend to overlook.

    So… there you have it… my two cents. (I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that.)

    By the way, I can’t wait to hear your new Airbag album. I love your guitar playing (and yeah… it does sound a lot like Dave’s, but that’s okay) and Airbag is cool… very mellow and moody stuff… which is right up my alley.

    Cheers,

    ~gabriel

    [Thanks for your comment Gabriel! I agree. Tone is mostly the person playing and the tool or vehicle is the guitar or what ever instrument you're playing. But I also believe the player needs to be comfortable with the instrument and setup. As you say, David would probably sound like himself whatever he plays on. Sure, and so would we, but David wouldn't be able to really shine and express him self musically if he didn't feel comfortable with the instrument. Likewsie the tones coming from the amp. You can devide tone in two - the tones coming from the person that plays and the tones that comes from the equipment. I don't think neither can be overlooked. The indian wouldn't be a good hunter if he didn't use the bow and arrow he's familiar with :) Cheers! - Bjorn]

  49. Andre says:

    The wah wah goes to the guitar or AMP? Thanks a lot. Tour site os awsome!

    [For the seagull effect you need to reverse connect the wah. - Bjorn]

  50. Hi Bjorn and Gilmour fans. Thanks again for a brilliant post. More information than I have ever found in the Guitarist magazines on the shelves.

    Why some days does my tone sound great and the music flows yet on other days – with no settings changed – does nothing come out right and the tone has just gone? Is it, like the lunatic, just in my head?

    Thanks again for the awesome web site.

    Howard

    [Well, that's the tricky part... It could be a number of things... humidity and temperature affecting the equipment. Changes in the power current or increased electric interference. Your mood, ear fatigue... Maybe you moved the couch or something that dampened the tone... Old tube amps have a tendency to be moody and live their own lives... It's hard to find one answer... - Bjorn]

  51. Glenn says:

    Not necessarily a favorite, but nevertheless a meaningful tone for me is found on Robin Trower’s Daydream. It’s really a Hendrix cop in many ways, but the tone is just beautiful. It was in listening to it that I realized that one of the common ingredients in many of the players’ sounds I loved (especially DG) was a tube amp. After years of playing, it was the first time that my ear recognized, registered or “heard” the tube sound – that glassy, compressed “squeezed” sound of a tube being driven hot, like a storm in a bottle. Beautifully dynamic and clear and silky and raw all at once. I didn’t have the money at the time, but it inspired me and I saved for my first tube amp, finally bought it, plugged in and immefiately heard elements of “that tube sound”.

    [Yeah, tube amps have a special certain something :) - Bjorn]

  52. Luis says:

    Hi,

    I have multiple ideal TONES in my mind (if I may have more than one:-)). Let me share what goes in my mind:

    Clean Fenderish tones: John Mayer with its Two Rock. By the way, is Two Rock a good gilmourish amp? The new Studio Pro line looks cool!

    Spicy Clean tones (one of my favourites I wouldn’t mind listening to the rest of my life): Gilmour – end part of Echoes in Gdansk. Could never copy that without being fuzzy (is it the TD only plus amp?)…

    Overdrive / Rhythm – That scratchy Sheep tone from the studio album. Also the Have a Cigar live tone (very similar).

    Thanks,

    LC.

    [I don't have any experience with Two Rock but it sounds quite nice judging by the clips and I'm sure it would do fine as a Gilmour amp. - Bjorn]

  53. Nathan says:

    My favorite DG tones are found back to back on the PULSE DVD. The pristine, clean tones of Coming Back to Life followed by the devastatingly loud Sorrow, absolutely spectacular.
    I also have a special place in my heart for the original studio Mother solo, which ended up being the first thing I ever learned to play on guitar.
    My other favorites:
    Adrian Belew’s “seagull” sound from Matte Kudasai live in Frejus 1982
    Belew’s original Elephant Talk solo
    Frank Zappa’s Muffin Man and City of Tiny Lites solos from Baby Snakes
    Jimi Hendrix’s big rhythm sound on Voodoo Child
    Jimmy Page’s disgustingly dirty Telecaster sound from the really early Zeppelin radio sessions
    And maybe more unique than anything else, Robert Fripp’s “soundscape” tone from the later King Crimson albums; he’s like a one-man orchestra

    [Ah, yes... Robert Fripp. Now that's a man with a unique tone! - Bjorn]

  54. Nick says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    What a great forum! Favourite Gilmour tones, well, where do we start?! I will probably agree with so many others and apologise for any repetition.. Meddle, Echoes – Classic. DSOTM: Time, is SO classic. WYWH SOYCD, man, that is classic!! Animals, Dogs – yep, classic.. The Wall, Comfortably Numb, you guessed it – classic (that one really goes without saying doesnt it), and I think, one of the greatest tones of all, The Divison Bell/Pulse – Coming back to life – Bjorn – so underated, the tone throughout is, well, unbelieveable! Goose bump stuff! From the age of 9 years in 1987 and ‘Learning to Fly’ to present day, My musical universe has revolved around David Gilmour and PF.. David’s emotional tones touch my soul in a way no other musician has, I’m so glad these tones have inspired me to take up the guitar and so grateful that we have you Bjorn to fly the flag! You my friend have been a truly exceptional source of information and have contributed so much to my understanding of ‘THE’ tone, so from one DG fan to another, THANK YOU!
    Cheers from New Zealand and may the New Zealand All Blacks bring the 2011 World Cup home to where it really does belong!
    Kind regards,
    Nick

    [Thanks for sharing and you kind words Nick! - Bjorn]

  55. Justin says:

    That was one of the best articles that I have read on this site! Well said sir. i have a few favorite Gilmour tones; Time solo from album version of DSOTM, Empty Spaces from the live Wall album (that lead melody just cuts into you!!); the Dogs solo (dry). I also really like the Echoes tone on the Live in Gdansk album.

    Outside of PF, my other absolute favorite tone is Jimi Hendrix’s Bold as Love tone on the album. Live hendrix tone would be Machine Gun from Live at the fillmore-band of gypsys. Words cannot explain the intense feeling I get listening to this. It doesnt even sound like someone is playing a guitar. This is music produced straight from the soul!

    I thank you Bjorn for sharing your vast knowledge here on your site. I do have one question; I play through a Peavey classic 50 (2×12) combo which has a master volume. When you say, “set the master 1/3 or 2/3 of the channel volume.” say I have the channel at around 6, would I set the master to about 3 to 4?

    [Thank you Justin! Yeah, that Machine Gun tone is amazing! If you have the channel at 12:00/50% (noon) I'd set the master at about 8:00/20%. Depends on the amp's character and how loud you play but something in that area. - Bjorn]

  56. Manuel says:

    One of my favorite tones would be echos from the pompeij recording. Pay attention to Davids rhythm guitar, very smooth and warm clean tone in the beginning. At about 7:20 there is this amazing mild overdrive tone, used by david to create some sort of crescendo, simply by hitting the strings a little bit harder. This is one of the reasons why it’s my favorite, cause everything’s very puristc and essential, no exagerated pedalboards, just a fuzz, a wah, an echo unit and a volume pedal, lying bare in the sand of the amphi theatre, creating fantastic sounds under david’s control.

  57. Tim says:

    My own favourite guitar tone is not from David, but from Mick Ronson. He seemed to be able to make it sing, as if you’re not sure if you’re listening to a female voice or a guitar. Listen to ‘Time’ from Aladinsane or ‘Moonage Daydream’ from the Ziggy Stardust album and you’ll know what I mean.

    I just love this site. Well done Bjorn.

    [Thanks Tim! - Bjorn]

  58. David McDade says:

    Amazing article Bjorn as allways! You put down in words what ive had in my head on the subject of tone for years. As for a favorite DG tone the answer is a very long complex one for me, so ill just put a few of my top favorites. Shine on from Vienna off the Live in Gdansk bonus tracks, his acoustic version of Shine on from Robert Wyatts Meltdown(i love that version and have been trying to get it down by ear because I cant find a good tab), the solo on Yet another movie off Momentary, and the last solo on the end of Sheep. I could go on til theres a 1000 page book worth of space taken up hehe, but ive taken too much space allready. Oh on a side note ive got a JJ 12AU7 tube on the way to put into my 50w vox valvetronix-xl so hopefully that will help take the muddy overly gainy tone from my amp and mellow and hopefully brighten the tone some.
    Oh btw thanks again for all the help I do very much appriciate your imput!
    Happy playing Bjorn, Cheers!

    [Thanks for sharing David! - Bjorn]

  59. Steve says:

    I have been listening to it all for years and years, and I love it all to death but to tell you the gods honest truth, I love what David did with On An Island. A perfect blend of all the different genres on one album.

    [Indeed! - Bjorn]

  60. Gabriel says:

    Wow, “tone”, the big deal. I remeber when I started playing guitar, way back, I was in a metal band much more like Maiden. I used to be in love with the “tone” I developed back then.. and when I think of it it was awful!
    Like you said, “tone” is something that evolves and keeps moving constantly.

    My fav David tone, Dogs and Pompeii.
    Also Marc Ford´s tone on his first solo album “It´s About Time”, don´t know what he used to record that one (my guess is a fuzz, maybe an Analog Man, some vintage amp like a Fender Deluxe or something like that, a delay and some OD) but it sound soooo good, very much like in the 70´s.
    Adrian Smith tone has always been great, but on “Somewhere In Time” and “Seventh Son…” he took it to another level.

    Can´t wait for the next part! Great work!

    Cheers!

    PS: A little offtopic here, Bjorn. For slides, what do you play? Lap Steel? Electric guitar with raised nut?

    [Thanks for sharing! Indeed, Adrian's tone on Somewhere and Seventh is awesome :) I rarely play slide but when I do, it's usually on a Les Paul with just a standard action. - Bjorn]

  61. Nathan says:

    In the time between the last time I posted on this article and this time, there’s been one tone that get a more emotional response than I’ve ever felt for an instrumental guitar – the first time I heard the live version of Shine On from the WYWH Immersion set… the final rendition of Syd’s theme after the last verse… Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr and Shine! The swirling Leslies, the sweeping phaser, the haunting Binson echoes, it was almost a religious experience. Another tone I’ve really fallen in love with is the opening chords from Short and Sweet on DG78, it’s like the Colorsound showcase.

    [Ah, lovely! - Bjorn]

  62. Eric says:

    Best tone for me, My Fender Black Strat I custom made with various parts, and either a BYOC Large Beaver, or Analog Man Sunface, with little bit of good warm delay, some good compression, and some boosted overdrive (BK Butler on the big rig at practice, or a BD-2 at home) on a guitar solo! Nothing compares to it. Sends chills up my spine every time. I’ll have to send pics of my gear soon for the gallery :)

    [Please do! - Bjorn]

  63. Jae says:

    Favorite tones? I wouldn’t know where to start. Dave’s voice singing Wish You Were Here at the RAH? It left a lump in my throat and made my wife cry. So much more maturity than on the original recording. I’m fond of the tone/playing on the live recording from the Darkside Immersion discs. I blew out the speakers on my Bassman trying to get that Time tone. Any Colour You Like has me searching for an affordable Leslie. I could go on all night, Dave’s just such an inspiration. There are many other guitarists I listen too and admire, but Dave just hits all the right notes at just the right time

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  64. Sean says:

    Bjorn,

    Just to echo what many have said. Your emphasis you stressed on finding your own voice as a player is excellently stated. I’ve known many superb guitar players out there that can play anything backwards and forwards, but they are always frustrated and have told me that they always feel that “something is missing” from their playing. I think that particular “something” is simply that they have all the technical proficiency in the world, but they have yet to satisfy their muse by finding their inner voice through their instrument in many cases.

    We are all definitely Gilmour enthusiasts here, but I think it is this fact that David isn’t as technically proficient as someone like Vai, Satriani, Malmsteen (yes, debatable, but despite David’s ability to play every mode on the fretboard I can’t really see him getting into a dual with the likes of those shredders or someone like Danny Gatton… may he rest in peace), however, he evokes so much passion and emotion because he absolutely has mastered his inner voice through his instrument. This is why I enjoy reading your blog so much as it isn’t just a “here is what David uses” but it invokes this desire for the readers to case study David’s style and help the reader to discover their voice as a musician. David himself even uses this strategy. I seem to recall on one of the easter eggs on the Gdansk dvds that he said something to the effect of “I keep trying to think how Jeff Beck would do it.”

    That being said, my inspiration has always been Live at Pompeii. Being able to see the sort of free form playing the Floyd were doing at that time coupled with Gilmour’s raw tones. I really enjoy feeling the sense that he has his Hiwatts cranked to that tipping point you so often talk about that makes the pickups in that version of the black strat to create a fat, glassy, slightly overdriven tone. ~thanks again.

    [Thanks for sharing and for your kind words, Sean! I have learned a lot from studying David's playing and with the years I'm pretty satisfied with how I sound and play. I notice that I drift further and further away from him style-wise but I think that's because I have the confidence now to explore other styles and develop my technique and tone. I can only speak for my self but I think players like Gilmour, Clapton, Page, Van Halen, Hendrix etc are important to study, both in terms of tone and technique. These are all very concious of their playing and tone and has done so much to influence music for the past 40 or so years. I think that any guitarist that doesn't recognice and appreciate this legacy is fooling him self. - Bjorn]

  65. Keith Clarke says:

    Sean’s last post, and your reply nailed it! Q: the Boss double pedal Rotosim, is it worth a go? There’s a used one at a local shop for $135.00? It’s a store I despise, so I didn’t want to go through the hassle of ” interrupting ” their sales to the shredders that frequent the nameless big chainsaws store, not Sam Ash, the Ash here is great!. Thought I’d ask.
    Peace to all, K~

    [That's the RT20 right? I definitely think it's worth it. I use that one my self. Perhaps not THE best rotary sim on the market - the Strymon Lex for instance is better - but it's an overall great pedal I think. One of the few that has effect mix knob and you can anything from subtle chorusing to fat Leslie. - Bjorn]

  66. Keith Clarke says:

    In response to the Tip of the week (13) Tone, the greatest sound I’ve ever heard in my mind,(it plays there almost everyday, since I first heard it in ’77, is the 2nd? solo in Dogs, right before the lyrics,” And when you lose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown.”, it’s almost indescribable how it makes me feel. I still get gooseflesh just thonking about it. It sounds thinner tone wise than any sound of Davids I can think of, but it’s like he reached inside his soul, and pulled it out of the deepest recesses, kicking, and screaming. Those stacatto pinch harmonics near the end, the 1st though fourth string A chord like bends, that growl, the multiple notes bent into place, without changing string, or fret, the incredibly high notes, and low lows and final three measure mutiple bends that seamlessly flow into the word ” And”. I don’t know how else to describe it. My best friend at the time worked for CBS, distributing new recordings to radio stations, and I got t a promotional copy about 2 or 3 weeks before the stores, or stations, and . it immediately became my favorite modern(post Meddle) Floyd Album

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  67. Jon says:

    I used to be a bass player (not so much now) when I herd Roger Water’s bass playing on Hey You I fell in love with that tone, its the tone i strive for when I put bass on my tracks. I like to describe it like a small stone tumbling in a river that roughs against the bottom ever so often. When I herd it as a teenager it made me want to be a bass player.

    After i got a bit older i had gravitated towards guitar (mainly because i had no buddies to play bass with). I had never thought much about being a good guitar player and it was never that important to me (i just wanted to write my songs). But one day i watched Live at Pompeii and i herd the “echoes” solos, and the solo for “one of these days -that’s when i fell in love with the guitar (and i slowly started playing less bass).

    its a tone that i don’t necessarily strive for but when i hear it i’m inspired to be a guitarist, not to sound like Gilmour but to do what he did and make beautiful sounds with the guitar.

    [Thanks for sharing! Listening to others, appreciating their tone and technique is an essential excercise in finding your own style. It's David playing bass on Hey You, though... :) - Bjorn]

  68. Dean says:

    First. This site is a master piece! Thanks so much for the dedication to it and sharing what you have learned with the world.

    Second. In regards to the theme of this discussion regarding tone. I have always shrived to attain the Gilmour tone, however not by way of replicating every every piece of equipment. In fact, I do not own any of the stuff listed. I have been using a digitech 2101 & Jackson Dinky Dx Pro since 1993, and had long ago found that I could achieve the Gilmour tone with this equipment by first beating my head against the wall and stabbing my ears with an ice pick before playing. Having long realized I am pissing in the wind, I have done exactly as you have suggested. That is, ……

    “Be inspired and learn from the masters but allow yourself to explore your own style and technique.”

    Trying to match the Pink Floyd tone with what I have had forced me to concentrate on the aspects of tone that did not involve what I lacked in equipment. Consequentially, my playing technique improved considerably and I learned how to best use what I did have. And Indeed, I have found my inner voice.

    Nevertheless, you have succeeded with much work and research in getting so freakin close to the sound I have craved all these years, but just did not have the right equipment and electronic expertise to attain. So, I am afraid I now find myself ……..

    ” caught up in the whole “I need a Black Strat, Hiwatt and Big Muff” thing”.

    I have gone too long without with what I logically always needed & wanted from the beginning. Part of that need was good instructions from individuals, such as yourself (you being at the top of my list), who have proven themselves successful in reconstructing David’s amazing tone. It’s been a long time dream and I do not want to see “match David” tone” on my bucket list.

    I am going over this site with a fine tooth comb before I make my move, as clearly there is much more to this than having the right equipment. With your mentoring, perhaps I can get closer to what I always wanted at my fingertips.

    This site is comprehensive, but what does concern me more than the knob adjustments is the routing of all the equipment (who’s on first and what is on second). This site is a huge library of information, so maybe I have missed the page where it is addressed. If not, a simple picture or diagram would be a nice feature to add to this already amazing effort (gilmourish.com), however I feel a bit pigish asking, while in the midst of all the other valuable information you have placed on my plate. So many questions and I am sure you have very little time to answer everyone.

    Thank you, thank you, repeatedly……………………. @(~..~)@

    [Hi Dean! Thanks a lot for your kind words and for sharing your story :) Not quite sure I caught your question but if you're asking about how the pedals should be lined up... There are many ways of doing this and it depends on what gear you have and what tones you're looking for. The "normal" way of doing it is as follows: guitar > fuzz > wah > compressor > distortion > overdrive > booster > phaser/chorus/flanger/Univibe > delay > volume pedal > amp. Let me know if you need help with a specific setup and I'll try my best to help. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  69. Dean says:

    “Let me know if you need help with a specific setup and I’ll try my best to help.”

    Indeed I do need help. However, I think the equipment I have at the moment will not serve. Therefore, I am going to start with the guitar. The main tones I am looking for generally begin at 1969-. I have been discussing this with the people I deal with, and they are trying their best to help me out. We have looked over the information you have provided trying to find the happy medium among all of the modifications that took place over the years. What do you suggest I do to get started (i.e. which guitar model)? I am looking at this as a project of love, therefore money will have to take the back seat on this ride, however I do not wish to waste it on things that are not related to the tone (i.e. color, aged knobs, etc.).

    To get me started, which guitar should I get that will serve me best in this pursuit?

    Also, I am not a big fan of the fender tremolo system (i.e.whammy bar). Unfortunately, my initial investigation indicates the American Fender models are sold only with this system, save having it custom built. However I did see a Mexican strat with the Floyd Rose system, but I am not comfortable enough with the idea of going Mexican. Out of shear luck, the people I am dealing with found a Floyd Rose system in their attic, which is supposedly designed specifically for replacing the fender system (sez so on the box). The item has long been discontinued and they are offering it to me for $50 (originally listed $199.00). Yes or no?

    Once I get over this hurdle, I will be better prepared to deal with the things that follow in the chain.

    Please feel free to use my email address if you feel it becomes necessary in the course of our conversation.

    Also, I do not expect you to help me for nothing and will be sending a contribution to support this site & encourage others who have found it useful to do so as well.

    Again, thank you very much Bjorn & I will be awaiting your response regarding the guitar!

    [Hi Dean! It's always difficult to suggest a guitar because and instrument is a personal and subjective experience. It should be... Playing an instrument is all about inspiration. A guitar that doesn't feel right won't be played for very long. I guess my best advice is to try a bunch of different models and choose the one that feels right. Play them acoustically and focus on the playability and acoustic tone. Wether you end up with a US Standard, Hot Rod or Vintage doesn't really matter in regards to tone. You can always replace the pickups for something more suitable for your preferred tone, like the Fender CS69. That being said, I must say that I really love the US Vintage 57 and 62. The contour, lacquer and overall playability is very comfortable. The tone is very close to David's Black Strat (Hendrix, Vaughan, Beck etc) but swapping the stocks with a set of Fender CS69 really makes a difference. In terms of trem arm, I think a Floyd Rose would be a wrong way to go. My personal opinion of course, but my experience is that these systems do more harm to your tone and playability, than good. Especially on a Strat. The vintage trem system featured on the mentioned models is easy to operate and keep stable. You can also replace the stock with a Callaham Vintage S system for even better operation and tone. It really depends on what sort of guitar you're looking for. Hope this helped as a start. Feel free to contact me on post@gilmourish.com for more :) - Bjorn]

  70. Dean says:

    There seems to be a problem with the donation page. It will not accept the information in the amount field? I tried several times but it rejects the attempt and erases all the other information I put in. What am I doing wrong?

    [Hmmm... That's strange. It seems to be working fine. Please refresh your browser and try again later. Perhaps there's some server issues at Paypal's. Thanks a lot for your support! - Bjorn]

  71. Chris Cameron says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    My favorite Gilmour tone is without a doubt the stuff on Animals. Was introduced to Floyd by my older brother when the Wall came out and was hooked immediately and started playing because of it, but as i matured a bit and heard Animals, i just fell in love with that tone. Especially on Dogs, and the last chords at the end of sheep. Great stuff.

    You probably already have this but here you go in case you don’t. Amazing recording of the Boston 1977 show and with download included.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAkfE2WgrQs

    Best website on the internet, thanks for all the great info.

    [Thanks for the link and your kind words, Chris! Indeed a fine performance! I've had this bootleg called Curse of the Pig for some years, which is the same show. Love David's tones on the Animals part especially... Cheers! - Bjorn]

  72. Keith says:

    Hi,HI,Hi, Bjorn! I wasn’t sure where to post this, so I thought tone may be as good a place as any. As I’ve stated before, while as a beginner, I owned a few pedals, but by the time I started to gig professionally, I had taken some advice from Rick Rubin, and simply plugged a guitar,(Mainly my 25th Anniversery Starat, Then only the ’71 ES33,), straight into a Marshall Jubilee, and later The JCM Slash, which is the same amp. Now that I’ve gone all Gilmourish, I’m using all of the pedals, aned in the order, that I’ve talked with you about many times. I’m having some trouble with my Wah situation. I purchased a 1998 RMCIII wah for a very cheap $135.00, and after getting it home, and numerous emails with Geoff Tesse, thought I had a perfct setting for an early Vox/Crybaby, but regardless of where I am in the sweep, it’s impossible with it engaged to get anywhere close to the normal, fat sound of my amp,is this normal? Do whas thin the sound out alot when engaged? I’m thinking of sending the pedal to Teese, to be gone through, and if needed, repaired. In the interim, which Vox, or Crybaby models currently made, and availible, will do the Seagull effect, without modification? I’d like a reasonably cheap wah to use if I send the RMC back. However, if it is normal for a wah to thin the sound, I most likely don’t have a problem. The Wah effect itself, seems to have a nice sweet spot, and I realize that thinning, and thickening the tone is what a wah does, but I thought that it would be color neutral somewhere in the sweep? Also, If I put the wah after the JH-F1, and turn the fuzz to 100%, all I get is squeal, Teese said this is normal, I am not sure what to do, and really need advice with this one. I’ve never spent more than 5 minutes with a wah, 25 years ago before this purchase. Help me Obi-Wan, you are once again, my only hope
    As usual, this post will self destruct in five seconds, Good luck Bjorn, Keith :oD

    [Well, my young padawan... Wah's has a unity signal around 50% of the sweep. Not quite but aprox. Most wahs will alter the tone quite dramatically and although you shouldn't experience and overall drop in the signal there will be a noticeable thinner sound for most of the sweep. As with all effects it also depends on your amp settings and how this interact with the pedal. Have you tried plugging the guitar straight into the wah and then into the amp without any other pedals in between? How does that sound? Experiment with different setup and listen to the tone to determine whether you need to fix the pedal or not. Fuzz and wah is a classic but rather strange combo. You can get all sorts of weird results. It's a good idea to roll off the gain on the fuzz by just a hair. They seem to get much more noisy and harder to tame if you set the gain at 100% rather than 95%. The "normal" way is to have the fuzz in front of the wah but try the other way around too. Are there any buffers in the chain? Boss pedals? These can interfere with the fuzz. In regards to the Echoes sea gull sounds - both the VOX V847 and the Dunlop Cry Baby Standard works nicely. - Bjorn]

  73. Josh says:

    My favorite tone is the beginning of the delicate DVD. I believe it’s the song signs of life. I know it’s not a super rippin solo or anything, but the first time I watched that , hearing those few simple notes, I was hooked. From then on I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to blast that first riff out to the audience, with so much power behind it. I’ll probably never know what that feels like, but that’s ok. I love the Floyd so much, I usually have to force myself to listen to other music after a month of just Floyd. And it was those first few notes that started this obsession. Thank you for making this site. I can’t seem to stop browsing through it. Lol

    [Thanks for your kind words, Josh and for sharing your story! Actually, the DSoT VHS was one of the first encounters i had with Floyd as well. I'd heard some of their albums and Animals was spinning constantly but I was completely hooked after seeing that concert. Great performance and the whole vibe of the film is very haunting and suits Floyd's music much better than PULSE I think... - Bjorn]

  74. Diogo says:

    Noobish question. How exactly do the mid frequencies affect the tone? My amp only has treble and bass, so I can’t mess around with it. Tried modifying them after recording too, but I don’t hear a difference.

    [Mid range is very important because that's the natural range of your ear. A guitar without mid range sounds great on its own but might be difficult to hear in band setup. Amps without a mid range control usually have enough mid range anyway. If you want to increase it, try an EQ or pedals with more mid range like a Tube Screamer and RAT. When you boost the mid range with a computer it depends on your monitor speaker and how well they translate the signal. Your ear won't pick up mid range as it will with bass and treble but you will notice that the guitar get warmer and sometimes even a little boxy. Add a backing track and toy with the mid range to hear how the guitar lies in the mix. - Bjorn]

  75. Josh says:

    Bjorn,
    I was wondering if, in your opinion, the screw in solderless system from Evidence is as good as there other Pre soldered patch cables(like the ones availible from Ears). I feel that the SIS would work better for me as far as cleaning up my pedal board, however, if the Soldered Cables are far superior, then thats what I want cause I dont want to sacrifice tone. Thank you for your time -Josh J.

    [I haven't tried the SIS yet but I know Tony wouldn't put his name on anything that's not superior in quality. - Bjorn]

  76. Tom says:

    Hi Bjorn, just wanted to firstly say congratulations on writing such a superb, insightful & truly educational guide ! :)
    And while we ‘re on the topic of tone, I actually felt like asking your personal opinion regarding this… I know you’ve mentioned that your favourite Gilmour guitar tone is from the Animals/Wall era & in particular you regard the song Dogs as one of its finest moments. I myself couldn’t agree more. Actually, besides hearing the original album version many years ago, it was oddly enough the time back in 2002 when I saw Roger Waters In the Flesh tour that I witnessed it being played live. I am quite sure you may seen this concert either live or perhaps on dvd. The guitarist on that tour was Doyle Bramhall II & as much as I will forever regard David as the master, I was literally floored & awestruck at Doyle’s playing on Dogs & the guitar tone that accompanied it. He obviously put his own personal stamp on it the way he played, but that tone to me felt very organic, emotional & just down right raw. What’s more, I’ve read that he used a digital modelling amp, a Yamaha DG130 head & an assortment of pedals which am not sure what they were? .. Anyway, since I realise this song is highly regraded by you I just wanted to ask what your thoughts are when you look at Doyle’s guitar tone/playing in contrast to David’s & did you also like the tone he was able to achieve, especially while there is the old tone debate of digital vs tubes. As I’ve mentioned, David is my hero, but to me Doyle’s tone on that performance was also truly superb to my ears.

    Thanks again & would like to send my big congrats to you & your band on the release of your new album, no doubt it will be a huge success ! :)

    cheers, Tom

    [Hi Tom! Thanks a lot for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :) I haven't explored Doyle's work that much but I've always enjoyed his performance with Roger and the In the FLesh DVD in particular. I though he mostly used Fenders and Vox but you might be right about the modelling amp. He's a typical old school player heavily rooted in the blues and of course guys like Vaughan, Hendrix, Albert King, BB King etc... I wouldn't say that he's got a unique tone but it's great nevertheless and his playing is superb. Of all the guitarists Roger's worked with as a solo artist, Doyle's the one I've enjoyed the most and IMO the one that has managed to capture the tone of Gilmour and not just the notes. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  77. Jimash says:

    My favorite tone was a guy hardly anybody ever heard of .
    Stu Daye.
    He was playing at Max’s Kansas City in NY.
    His sound was amazing. And the style he played as well.
    Years I searched for that tone.
    He had a Tele with what looked like DanArmstrong pickups and stereo amp setup with two 50 watt marshalls and two 2/12 cabs and I am pretty sure the sound guy was using a Roland space echo chorus on it.
    Later a sound guy would do me with the eventide Harmonizer and that came close.

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