About Face 1984

Effects, guitars and amps Settings and setups

David’s second solo album About Face was released in the middle of the 1980s and at a time when everyone just assumed that Pink Floyd was dead. Including the record company. David was launched as the new guitar hero and a true rock star and the album featured a stunning list of guest musicians. David’s rig was also heavily influenced by the 80s with all new Boss switching system and Fender amps. The tour was a mediocre hit but it gave David enough confidence to the awake the Floyd beast from its sleep a couple of years later.

Equipment recording sessions

Very little is documented and known from the sessions. The album was recorded in Paris, France during autumn 1983 and it’s likely that David used a combination of several setups including one of the Pete Cornish pedal boards that were used on The Wall and single pedals. The main setup though seems to have been a Boss HM2 distortion boosting a Mesa Boogie Mark 1 60w head with the MXR Digital Delay System I rack unit.

Boss SCC-700 pedal board and additional effects 1984 live performances

Boss SCC-700 assigned units
Boss SD-1 overdrive
Boss GE-7 equalizers
2 Boss DD-2 digital delays
Boss CS-2 compressor/sustainer
Boss HM-2 distortion
Boss CE-3 chorus

Additional units
2 MXR Digital Delay System I
2 MXR Digital Delay Sytem II
Pete Cornish custom volume pedal
MXR Pitch Transposer
Electro Harmonix Big Muff (“Ram’s Head”)

Pedals assigned for keyboard
Boss GE-7 equalizer
Boss CE-3 chorus

Note: David seems to have travelled with a slightly smaller rig than the picture above from 1986. Pictures from the European leg of the 1984 tour reveals only one MXR DDL I and MXR DDL II and there’s also a MXR Pitch Transposer and a Big Muff ram’s head (see inlay). David might also have added new effects during the tour and the rig was also updated for 1985-86 guest appearances.

Boss SCC-700

Presented in 1982, the SCC-700 was ahead of its time. It allowed you to place seven BOSS compact pedals on the board and, with an audio switcher and computer control, store 32 memories of pedal on/off status and connection sequence. The SCC-700C foot controller then recalled the 32 memories on the effects board. – from the official Boss site

The About Face touring rig pictured in David's home studio in 1986. The actual 1984 touring rig was slightly smaller as the inlay picture shows.
1. 2 MXR Digital Delay System II, 2. 2 MXR Digital Delay System I, 3. 2 Conn ST-11 Strobo Tuners, 4. 3 Fender Twin Reverb II heads, 5. Mesa/Boogie amp, 6. Gallien-Krueger 250 ML MK II, 7. Schaffer Vega wireless system 8. Boss SCC-700 board,(from top left) SD-1 overdrive, GE-6 equalizer, CE-3 chorus, CS-2 compressor, HM-2 distortion, DD-2 digital delay, DD-2 digital delay (right side) CE-3 chorus, GE-7 equalizer.
Inlay picture from Utrecht, Holland April 5 1984 (top left to bottom right): MXR Pitch Transposer, MXR Digital Delay System I, MXR Digital Delay System II, Schaffer Vega wireless system, Boss CE-2, Boss HM-2, Electro Harmonix Big Muff ram's head (circled) and 2 Fender Twin Reverb II heads.

Guitars and amps recording session

Fender Stratocaster “The Black Strat”
- 1969 black alder body with a Kahler tremolo and locking system, black pickguard, Charvel 22-frets maple neck and Fender 1971 neck and middle pickups and a Seymour Duncan custom SSL-1 bridge pickup.
Fender Esquire
- 1955 sunburst ash body with black pickguard and maple neck. Fitted with a custom Seymour Duncan neck pickup.
Ovation Custom Legend 1619-4 acoustic steel string guitar
Martin D-35 acoustic steel string guitar

Note: David used a Mesa Boogie Mark 1 head in combination with a Boss HM2 for the sessions. There’s no documentation of other amps but it’s likely that he used the Hiwatt and WEM combo and/or Fender amps.

(left) David pictured with the Black Strat featuring a Charvel 22-frets maple neck that was fitted in 1983 and the Kahler tremolo system with locking tuners. The Black Strat was only used for a couple of songs with a drop D tuning. (right) Although David had bought several new 1983 '57 Fender Strats prior to the tour including the candy apple red, he chose the cream '57 as his main guitar for the tour. The guitar was later fitted with EMG SA pickups.

(left) David used a Ovation Custom Legend 1619 for the tour. The guitar was also famously used on the Comfortably Numb recording sessions. (middle) Among the six guitars David bought prior to the tour was this 1983 '62 reissue. The guitar was later fitted with a Roland custom synth pickup that powered the Roland GR700 guitar synth module. (right) David pictured in Copenhagen, Denmark April 25 194 playing a Roger Giffin custom headless 19 inch scale guitar.


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Guitars and amps 1984 live performances

Fender Stratocaster “The Black Strat”
- 1969 black alder body with a Kahler tremolo and locking system, black pickguard, Charvel 22-frets maple neck and Fender 1971 neck and middle pickups and a Seymour Duncan custom SSL-1 bridge pickup. The guitar was used on “Short and Sweet” and “Murder” on the tour with a drop D tuning.
Fender Stratocaster
- 1983 ‘57 reissue, candy apple red alder body with a white pickguard, maple neck and Fender 50’s reissue pickups.
Fender Stratocaster
- 1983 ‘57 reissue, blonde alder body with a white pickguard, maple neck and Fender 50’s reissue pickups.
Fender Stratocaster
- 1983 ‘62 reissue, candy apple red alder body with a white pickguard, rosewood neck and Fender 60’s reissue pickups.
Fender Esquire
- 1955 sunburst ash body with black pickguard and maple neck. Fitted with a custom Seymour Duncan neck pickup.
Ovation Custom Legend 1619-4 acoustic steel string guitar
Washburn steel string guitar
Martin D-35 acoustic steel string guitar
Roger Griffin headless 19” scale guitar
- Copenhagen April 25. 1984.

3 Fender Twin Reverb II 1983 105W heads
- 4×6L6 tubes. Two mains and one head was a spare.
Mesa/Boogie Mark I 1978 60W head
- 4×6L6 and 2×12AX7 tubes. The amp was used with a Boss HM-2 for boost and distortion.
Gallien-Krueger 250 ML MK II 100W
- 2 channel solid state with 2x 4.5″ speakers. David used this for boost with the speakers bypassed.
4 WEM Super Starfinder 200 cabinets
- with 4×12” Fane Crescendo speakers.
2 Marshall JCM 800 cabinets
- with 4×12” Celestion G12M speakers.

Note: The main guitar signal went through a Mesa/Boogie top for boost, similar to a pre-amp (controlled with an on/off footpedal). The signal then travelled through the Boss SCC-700 and split into stereo by a Boss CE-3. These two signals were fed into two separate Fender Twins and out in the speaker cabs.

Further reading

See these in-depth features for more on David’s gear: Big Muff, The Black Stratocaster, The Red Stratocaster, Telecasters and Hiwatt amps & WEM cabinets.

Acknowledgements and credits
About Face (album 1984), David Gilmour live at the Hammersmith Odeon (concert video 1984), International Musician Magazine (1984), Guitar Shop Magazine (1996), Guitarist Magazine (1986), Guitar Classics Magazine (1985), Guitar Player Magazine (1984), The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia by Vernon Fitch. Thanks to Grace Hudecek, Joe Eggers and Rafal Zychal for help with research. See feature for other references.