David Gilmour’s slide guitars has always been a big part of Pink Floyd’s sound. In the early days, he followed the tradition of Syd, using different slide techniques to create effects and soundscapes. By the mid 70s David mainly used lap steels and with them, he created some of his most memorable solos.
Fender 1000 Pedal Steel
During Pink Floyd’s US tour in October 1970, David bought a couple of second hand guitars at a pawn shop in Seattle. Among these were a Fender 1000 pedal steel.
The Fender 1000 model has two necks with 8 strings on each (David most likely used only 6 of them), Fender humbucker pickups, tone and volume controls and a neck selector switch, as well as 10 pedals. David would rarely or more likely never, use the pedals and they were later removed from the 1000 as also seen in the 2003 BBC Dark Side of the Moon documentary.
The Fender 1000 pedal steel was first used for the recording of One of These Days and possibly Pillow of Winds (Meddle 1971). David did however, perform One of these Days on a Fender Stratocaster, with an open Em chord (E B E G B E), on subsequent tours between 1971 – 1973, including the filming of the Live at Pompeii performance in October 1971, as the pedal steel apparently was too inconvenient to drag around on tours.
The Fender 1000 twin neck pedal steel was again extensively featured on the 1972 – 1973 Dark Side of the Moon recording sessions. Notably on Breathe and Great Gig in the Sky. Both songs recorded with an open G6 tuning (D G D G B E).
While David wouldn’t perform slides on the first leg of the Dark Side of the Moon tour in 1973, he is seen using the Fender 1000 on stage in France, June 1974. By this point, Pink Floyd had written and premiered a new song, Shine On, which would later turn into two separate pieces on Wish You Were Here (1975). The Fender 1000 was also used on Great Gig in the Sky. Both with an open G6 tuning (D G D G B E).
The Fender 1000 twin neck is still in David’s possession (not part of the 2019 David Gilmour Christie’s auction). The guitar was featured on the 2003 BBC Dark Side of the Moon documentary and at the Interstellar Exhibition (2003) and Their Mortal Remains (2017).
Jedson lap steels
“…but one of the first jobs I had to do was to go out and buy two lap steel guitars for the different tunings needed on Great Gig in the Sky and One of These Days, which was an alternative encore but in the end they opted for Echoes. I went off to Sound City, which was the in place to go in the west of London, and they had two Jedsons, a blonde one and a red one. They were about 60 quid each.” Phil Taylor, Guitarist 1995
Jedson is an older brand dating back to the 1920s. By late 1969, the brand was marketed by Dallas Arbiter in London, with a wide range of acoustic and electric guitars manufactured at different factories in Japan. These were mainly copies of well known models. Perhaps what would later be known as counterfeits.
The most well known and sought after Jedson is no doubt the lap steel guitars made famous by David Gilmour. These were early 1970s copies of the Fender Deluxe table/lap steel with six strings, volume and tone controls and two custom single coil pickups.
David Gilmour employed both the blonde and red Jedson lap steels on the British Winter tour of 1974 and the North American tour of 1975 after retiring the Fender 1000 pedal steel.
The blonde was positioned behind Gilmour, in front of his speaker cabinets and used for the band’s new piece Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The guitar had an open G6 tuning and it was hooked up to a volume pedal and a Dallas Arbiter (silicon transistor) Fuzz Face.
The red Jedson was placed behind Richard Wright’s keyboard rig, so that David could swap between playing slide and Hammond organ during Great Gig in the Sky. The guitar had an open G6 tuning (D G D G B E) and was probably hooked up to a volume pedal (although no footage can confirm this).
According to the 2019 David Gilmour Christie’s auction catalog, both guitars were modified by luthier Roger Giffin, with Fender pickups and upgraded electronics.
The red Jedson was once again featured on the 1977 Animals/In the Flesh tour for the slide solos on Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts 6-9).
The red Jedson was used on the 1987-90 A Momentary Lapse of Reason world tour, now custom fitted with an EMG H humbucker. David would play the red during One of these Days with an open Em chord (E B E G B E). The red was again used for One of These Days and High Hopes during the 1994 Division Bell tour, High Hopes during the 2006 On An Island tour and last, for One of These Days during the 2015-17 Rattle That Lock tour.
The blonde Jedson was used for Great Gig in the Sky during the 1987-90 tour, with an open G6 tuning (D G D G B E).
The red Jedson is still in David’s possession (not part of the 2019 David Gilmour Christie’s auction). It’s been displayed on both the 2003 Interstellar Exhibition and the 2019 Their Mortal Remains exhibition.
The blonde Jedson was auctioned at the 2019 David Gilmour Christie’s auction.
Fender Deluxe 6 lap steel
By May 1994, David replaced the blonde Jedson with a similar looking 1960s Fender Deluxe 6 model. As explained above, the Jedson was actually a copy of the Fender model. The guitar was used on Great Gig in the Sky, with an open G6 tuning (D G D G B E).
The Deluxe is based on the Stringmaster model, with the Deluxe having one neck. The guitar feature 29 frets, two so-called Fender “wide-range high-fidelity” pickups, volume and tone controls and a pickup selector.
The blonde Fender Deluxe was once again used for the historical Pink Floyd reunion in London’s Hyde Park for the Live 8 show. This was actually the first time David would perform the slide solo on Breathe live.
David also favoured the Deluxe on the 2006 On an Island tour for Breathe, Great Gig in the Sky and Wot’s Uh the Deal. Again with the open G6 tuning.
The Deluxe was later featured on the recording sessions for Pink Floyd’s last studio album, Endless River (2014) and subsequently during the 2015-17 Rattle That Lock tour, for Great Gig in the Sky and One of These Days.
The Fender Deluxe is currently in David’s possession (not part of the 2019 David Gilmour Christie’s auction).
David Gilmour has owned and played a wide range of different slide guitars. This is also documented in the 2019 David Gilmour Christie’s auction catalog. While some models seems to have remained collection items, several has been used on different occasions.
David used an early 1940’s Gibson EH-150 lap steel during his semi acoustic shows in 2001-02, – High Hopes and Shine on You Crazy Diamond 6-9. The Gibson was also used on a Paul McCartney charity show during the Run Devil Run period in 2000 and on the recording sessions of Take a Breath in 2005.
On the 2006 On an Island album and tour, David employed a 1930s Hermann Weissenborn Hawaiian style acoustic lap steel for the song Smile. The guitar was also used on live performances of Smile and Then I Close My Eyes, with an open Em tuning (E B E G B E).
In January 2007 David, Guy Pratt, Richard Wright and Steve DiStanislao recorded a brief jam session at David’s farm in Sussex. On the piece Jam #166 featured on the Live in Gdansk DVD, David is seen using a Rickenbacker A-22 “frying pan” lap steel.