• How to achieve sweet singing sustain

    We all want it – that rich violin like sustain David is a master at achieving. It can be a challenge though and a real inspiration killer trying to make your guitar sing and all you end up with is a choked dead tone. In this article we’ll look at some tips and tricks for making your guitar sustain on stage and while playing on smaller rigs at home.

    It doesn’t take many bootlegs to realize that David too has had his share of those frustrating moments when the guitar just won’t cooperate. Sustain is often taken for granted but you have to consider your rig as a whole – guitar, pickups, pedals, cables and amp – as well as your technique and the venue to make it work.

    Buying a new guitar and maintenance
    Although not a rule guitars with a rich natural sustain are often to be found in the higher price ranges. Good quality parts and craftsmanship is vital for a good sustain and it costs. Still, I’ve been surprised by many cheaper instruments that in some cases both sound better and has a richer sustain than a more expensive similar models. When you’re buying a new guitar – in this case a Stratocaster – it’s always wise to check the following:

    – There should be no gap between the bolted neck and the body.
    – The bridge should be mounted straight and in the correct distance to the saddle on the top of the neck. If not, the bridge block will touch the body when you bend the tremolo arm and deaden the tone.
    – Bend the tremolo arm and see that there are no sharp edges on the bridge saddles or anything that might prevent a smooth string operation. This is also something you need to check regularly as a sign of wear.

    Be sure to play the guitar acoustically and with an amp you know well before you decide to buy it. Try other identical guitars and also different models and compare their tone and character. One often just pays attention to the guitar’s shape and colour but wood, lacquer and assembly plays a huge role in the instrument’s tone and even two identical guitars might sound very different depending on the selection.

    Once you get home and as often as needed you should do a basic set up. This helps the guitar stay in tune and optimizes its performance.
    – Always restring a new guitar and unless you have a specific preference I recommend that 1-2 hours of playing per day demands new strings at least every 4-6 weeks.
    – Have some lubricant (hair wax and/or pencil graphite) in the neck saddle to avoid the strings from fastening and cutting the sustain (a noticeable snap or creek when you bend the strings).
    – A proper intonation and correct string height/action is crucial for the strings to vibrate as smooth as possible.

    Playing technique
    As you’ll see in this clip your playing technique is equally important as your guitar, pedals and amp in achieving a rich sustain. The way your pick the strings, how you bend them and vibrate them is all a part of your tone and style and by combining the different techniques showed in the clip you can improve both your playing and sustain.

    The rig
    Whether you’re playing at home, on stage or in a studio you should always have some thought and meaning about your setup. As we’ve talked about before it’s very impressive with huge pedal boards and multiple signal splits into different amps but it will drain your signal and kill the sustain. In most cases you’ll end up adding more compression, more boost and more eq, which will only alter you tone. Not enhance it. Different venues demands different setups but there is a reason why David has returned to a much more basic setup compared to what he used in the 80s and 90s. A moderate pedal board and a good sounding amp results in a much more honest and transparent tone that’ll let your own technique to shine through.

    Pedals can be a challenge because the wrong effect settings and/or pedal combinations can do more harm than good. It’s often the small nuances or the so-called sweetspots that makes the difference. The settings I’ve listed throughout this site is not meant to be used as a blueprint for your own setup but a guide for creating your own tones that suits your guitar, pedals, amp and technique. Having this in mind I’ll guarantee that you’ll have a much better sound.

    In terms of recreating David’s tones you need an amp with as much headroom as possible. Preferably a tube amp. Always use the clean/normal channel and set it up for a warm punchy tone. Try this: bass 50%, treble 50-60%, mids 40%, presence 50-60% and the master at about 1/3 of the channel volume. If your amp allows it, linking the outputs (link upper normal with lower bright with a small patch cable and plug the guitar into the upper bright) adds more presence that helps the sustain (set the bright volume at about 2/3 of the normal).

    Stage and studio
    David’s using volume and the feedback he gets from playing loud as a part of his sound. To achieve the same effect I always place the amp right behind me and set the volume according to the size of the stage and match the front monitor so that I get some sound in front as well. Then I start with the pedals adjusting one at a time according to the amp level and the stage’s acoustics. The louder you play and the harder you drive the amp the more you need to roll back the gain on your overdrives and distortions. When everything is matching I find my position on the stage (I don’t run around a lot) and increase the volume on the amp until I notice a vague feedback emerging. When I’m in my spot between the amp behind me and the front monitor I should be able to tame the feedback by taking a step forward or backwards for more or less feedback. We’re not talking screaming noise but that vague vibration you can sense when you push the rig a hair extra. This is what Hendrix invented and guitarists like Gilmour has refined to perfection. It allows him to base his tones on his guitar, amp and fingers and it requires just a minimum of pedals with very mild settings. By making the feedback a part of your sound you can easily get the sustain you want. It just effortlessly pours out of your guitar as an extension of your fingers.

    Playing at home
    Extreme volume is obviously a problem when you’re playing at home so you’ll have to find other ways to get the same result. Whereas on stage a Muff > Tube Driver > delay will be enough for those larger than life tones you might need to use twice as many pedals set much more aggressive when trying to achieve the same tone at home. This of course will add more gain and noise to your tones but careful matching easily solves the problem and again don’t expect David’s football stadium setup to apply for your bedroom. You will need to compromise and do the needed adjustments.

    – In this clip I’m playing low enough so that you can hear the string picking. Hardly an issue for my neighbours. The trick to get the sustain is to combine the right pedals and to set them up for a slightly more aggressive tone than usual. Especially the compressor.
    Setup is: Boss CS2 (level 3:00, attack 12:00, sustain 1:00), Boss BD2 (gain 4:00, tone 8:00, level 1:00), OD808 (gain 9:00, tone 11:00, level 3:00).

    Not all smaller amps have the headroom you need for your Gilmour tones but try to set your amp up for the cleanest tone possible without getting thin or too bright. Try these settings and make your own adjustments: bass 50%, treble 50%, mids 40%, presence 50% and the master at about 1/3 of the channel volume. You might want to roll off the treble a bit and increase the bass and mids for a fatter tone. Increasing the master also adds a bit more bite but be careful that it doesn’t distort. If your amp doesn’t have a lot of headroom it’s better to use the gain stage as a part of your tone by placing all modulations and delays in the effect loop and running only wah, compressors, distortions, overdrives and EQs in the front.

    Choosing the right effects is crucial for achieving a rich sustain on lower volume. Mid boosted pedals like the Tube Screamer overdrive and RAT distortion will not only cover most of David’s tones but their saturated character will also help with the sustain on even the lowest volume. If you do use a booster with the RAT and TS be sure it’s a transparent model like the BD2 or Colorsound Powerboost. Using the TS as a booster with the RAT will be mid range overkill and you’ll end up choking the tone.

    I always use compressors with my home setup. By increasing the sustain and volume beyond what’s normal I get a rich sustain and a nicely saturated tone. It may give you more noise but adjust the gain settings on the distortions and overdrives accordingly.

    Good quality cables are often overlooked but nothing kills your tone like cheap multi coloured spaghetti. There are lots of brands and models to choose from like Planet Waves, George L’s, Lava and Evidence Audio. Cables should be transparent, properly shielded and able to maintain the signal through the path. This will make your pedals sound better and more importantly your sustain last longer. Keep in mind that instrument, patch and speaker cables are equally important.

    I hope this has given you some pointers in achieving those tones we all love. It’s a lot of things to consider but the golden rule is to keep things simple and not trying too hard with too many pedals and complicated combinations. Your tone is the result of years of practice and experimentation and a good portion of patience will get you far!

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84 Responsesso far.

  1. Isaac says:

    Holy moly this is helpful

  2. Simon says:

    Hey Bjorn!

    Do I need compressor or a powerboost or one more Overdrive pedal?

    Mu current setup is a MIM Classic Series 50’s Strat
    Maxon OD808>EHX Green Russian>TC Flashback but i dont get any sweet sounds out of it. I get a decent generic blues tone from the Maxon pedal but everything sounds like crap as soon as I activate the muff..
    This goes into a Yamaha THR10 right now but I am hoping switching to a Katana 50 will give me better results out of the muff as Ive seen people get that on youtube..

    From gathering info on peoples setups out of videos, what I am missing first in the chain seems to be a Boss CS-2 or similar. But this article got me confused. Can it be another OD pedal like Boss BD-2 instead? Or a Colorsound powerboost?

    How should I think regarding this?

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Simon! I don’t have that much experience with the THR10 but from what I remember it’s fairly mids scooped. I might be mistaken but that would make a Muff sound really bad. And keep in mind too that these old pedals were designed to be used with loud tube stacks. Not your typical bedroom type of amp. You can manipulate the set up to handle one to some extent but in most cases you’re often better off with something different. See this feature for some tips. I would also turn off the 808 when you engage the Muff. The 808 has a lot of mids and compression which can make a Muff sound overly compressed.

      • Giambi says:

        I would run the 808 before the muff, keeping the gain as low as posible, in order to compensate the mid scooped amp; this should help in getting a good tone

  3. jorge Luis says:

    hey thanks dude for taking time to reply, and yeah I will take ur advice on trying to lower it down I mean a bit more in terms of volume and mix, delays also thanks once again :)

  4. Jorge says:

    Bjorn, greetings from London, I just started to watch ur videos and I think they are fantastic, also I would like to ask u in regards on the tone and sustain topic, how much delay and reverb could I mix when I start soloing I’ve got the (blues driver, Timmy, boss fb 2) it tends to go so muddy and it’s so annoying even tho I’m trying to keep the delay and reverb to the minimum.
    Thanks kind regards

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for the kind words! I usually set the delays up for 6-7 repeats and the level depends on what sort of delay you want and how that sounds on your amp. A loud and saturated amp will need less delay volume than a cleaner amp and bedroom playing. It’s no point in giving you an exact setting. As for reverb… Check out this feature for some tips.

  5. David Du says:

    hi, bjorn
    i was always confused with the amp settings, that you mentioned”… the master at about 1/3 of the channel volume..” you know my amp just have gain and volume, and no master, so I assume the gain on my amp is the “volume”, and the volume on my amp is the “Master”, right? mostly I dialed gain at 9:00, and volume on 3:00, it’s a clean channel for me to use the big muff and other pedals you recommended. can you please give me guide?
    Thank you!

    • Bjorn says:

      That differs between amps and brands but normally, you’d have gain for the preamp and volume for the master. How these should be set and matched up depends entirely on the amp and how it’s voices. Does it have an early or late breakup? Little or much headroom? And so on… The idea for David’s settings is that you want a tone that’s clean but at the very edge of breakup for a bit of bite.

      • David Du says:

        Thanks Bjorn!
        but we still need to set the amp on clean channel and get more headroom as more as we can? or just at the edge of breakup?

        • Bjorn says:

          I wouldn’t worry too much about how you should do things. Try different settings and find the best platform for your pedals. I like the amp clean but hot enough to hear the tube compression kicking in. How much you should push the pre-gain depends on the voicing of the amp and how the EQ section work with the pre and out stages.

  6. Francesco says:

    Yes. A fender it’s based upon a connection of two pieces of wood, neck and body. It’ s their reaction to create the sustain and so, a great sound. In my experience you do not need to spend a lot of money for a strat because sometimes even a squier play and sound better than a real strat. In my opinion is only a placebo effect.

    • Bjorn says:

      Well, I don’t agree that it’s all placebo or some need to justify an expensive buy. But, tone doesn’t come with a price tag. Tone is subjective and you can find great sounding items within all price ranges. As goes for the shitty items. You just need to know what to look for.

  7. Francesco says:

    Thanks for reply. I have a custom shop D. Gilmour which is an amazing guitar and a lot of sustain even without to block the tremolo. Then, another strat, a masterbuilt 60 relic, different, obvious, but a poor sustain compared with the previous one, plus, the tremolo is blocked with a piece of wood. Probably because of the tone of the wood and the different size of the strings. The Gilmour use 10/48 instead of 10/46

    • Bjorn says:

      Strings can do a difference but I think its more a matter of the wood and the pickups. I know the Chris Rea signature Strat had blocked the term arm, which is what he does but I have no idea how that might effect the sustain.

  8. Francesco says:

    Just one question:
    A poor sustain mean a bad guitar?

    • Bjorn says:

      Not at all. Could be but bad sustain can be caused by a number of things… Bad guitar, bad string and pickup setup, your technique, the effects you’re using and how you’re using them, low quality cables, bad cables, your amp and how you’ve set it up…. the list is long.

  9. Lz Sentelle says:


    I was quite impressed with your instructional video on sustaining notes.

    When I read the section on the importance of cabling, I had to recommend that you try a Mogami Gold. These cables sound amazing. They are extremely quiet. I believe, you will love them Bjorn



  10. Trevor says:

    So compressor is a necessary to get that sustain playing at home?Because I can’t get the castellorizon sustain with tube driver(driver)(or muff)+tube driver(booster) at all.
    Will all kinds of compressors do the work?

    • Trevor says:

      Whirlwind red box and demeter comp1,which one’s better for gdansk and rattle that lock tones?
      Thx in advance!!!

    • Bjorn says:

      Both yes and no. You can get sweet singing sustain with the right amp, pickups, settings and pedals… a compressor is your last trick in the bag :) Let me know what setup you have and I’ll try to help :)

      • Trevor says:

        CS50 neck and mid+SSL5 bridge–>muff–>tube driver–>tube driver(booster)–>TC flashback–>hiwatt T40(usually I keep the volume 8 or 9 o’clock owing to home playing),it’s an easy OAI setup.

        • Bjorn says:

          Your setup looks great so it’s more a matter of how you set it up. Check out this feature for some amp setup tips and this one for Big Muff set up tips. Hope that helps as a start.

          • Trevor says:

            I believe the settings are good, except the home playing volume,I had learnt all of them from here(I have to thx u again).I can cover the gdansk tones quite perfectly with my setup and settings,but IMO the sustain in gdansk and RTL tour lasts shorter than in the on an island album.I guess I’d need a compressor as studio always use one?

            • Bjorn says:

              It might work. David often use a compressor while recording and even more so in recent years than before. You need to be careful though and not squeeze the tone too much or it will sound flat and you’ll lose the attack. You can also add compression in the mix.

  11. tim says:

    What about the straight, short 1/4 to 1/4 metal connectors (with no connector cord). Are these a good option for connecting effects?

    • Bjorn says:

      I don’t know about the sound or signal quality but they cause a lot of stress on the input jacks of the pedal, as they’re slightly angled, while the offset adapter is straight. I’d stay away from them and use short patch cables instead.

  12. Sam Awry says:

    Gilmour use the Alembic fb-2 preamp,a significant element of his live sound. Alembic was essentially a spinoff of the Grateful Dead spending millions on audio research in the 70s. This totally revolutionized live sound, though few in the biz realize how many things that have long been standard were their innovations.

    [I don’t know the history of the Alembic but David mainly used it as a pre-amp for his rotary cabinets so it played a small role in his overall tone. – Bjorn]

  13. Ratan says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I found all of your articles very thoughtful, practical and your site is very informative.
    I have a question about minimum setup of pedals required to get the Gilmour’s tone in home setup at low volume. I am looking for general Gilmour’s sound post 1980. I am using Solid State Amp. I have got RAT distortion, BD-2 overdrive and TC electronics Flashback delay. What will be the next most important pedal I should consider among Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Fuzz, Uni-vibe, Compressor?
    I understand that we need specific pedal based on what tone/song we are covering and some pedals don’t sound good in home setup.


    [Hi Ratan :) David didn’t use flanger, fuzz or UniVibe in the 80s and 90s so a chorus perhaps? A compressor is more like a tool for enhancing and shaping certain frequencies. I definitely recommend it but it’s not a first priority. You may also want to consider a darker sounding overdrive in addition to the BD2, like a Fulltone OCD, TS808 or similar. Check out this feature for some bedroom setup tips as well :) – Bjorn]

  14. Dave E. says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    Bjorn, it is often said that David’s tone is in his fingers. As a student of guitar in general and David’s technique in particular I have been diving into such details, often note by note, in his various performances. Sometimes I could use some help and I have discovered a few tidbits along the way.

    Have you ever considered setting up a forum topic “In the Fingers” where your blog enthusiasts can come to contribute and to learn from other players on how they attack certain Gilmour performances? Setup topically: song by song?

    As I imagine you might see it as too much work, I can imagine it where your readers do most of the posting and you chime in now and then when you have time – hopefully often – but I know you have to be pretty busy.

    Anyway, I would be interested in your thoughts. I can’t imagine a better venue for such a forum than here.

    [Thanks for the tip Dave! Interesting indeed and I’ll consider it :) Cheers! – Bjorn]

  15. Luc Huard says:

    Hello Bjorn…
    Well too late ;0) I bought a brand new Boss CS-3 a few days ago.

    Yes a Boss CS-2 is more the ”real” thing but more expensive than a new CS-3.(low budget)
    I am using it for smooth stuff like Shine On solos and Blues solos (B.B. King)
    The sustain is pretty good for bedroom/home studio level.
    I do not find it too noisy, I read the articles you wrote about the subject. (for settings)
    I am using the setup in David’s gear most recent years. All settings in (o’clock)
    Level 2:00, attack 11:00, sustain 11:30 tone 12:00 with neck (smooth solos)
    Level 1:00, attack 11:00, sustain 11:30 tone 10:00 with bridge (heavy solos)
    Maybe someday I will add a Dyna Comp and I will have the best of both worlds. lolll
    I am using a solid state amp, a Blackstar ID:15 TVP and I am happy with the sound.

    Regard from Canada :0)

    [Glad to hear it works out :) – Bjorn]

  16. Luc Huard says:

    Hello Bjorn, Happy New Year !!!

    So I read this article and some of the posts about the Boss compressor (CS)
    It is a good choice for a home studio / bedroom setup ? (for sustain)
    I love the sound of Pulse, so better a Boss CS than a Dyna Comp ?

    Regard from Canada :0)

    [Hi Luc! The CS3 is very bright and noisy compared to the old CS2. Try tracking down a CS2 off EBay or check out a Dynacomp. They’re great! It’s also worth checking out the Whirlwind Red Box, which is a clone of the original Dynacomp with led and true bypass. – Bjorn]

  17. Brian says:

    I just wanted to comment about the string/hand relationship a little. You always want to have clean hands before you play BUT if you wash with soap you will have soap residue on your hands which is just as bad for your strings as dirty hands, maybe worse because dirt clings to soap residue. A guitar technician told me this lil secret when I told him how often I had to change my strings. This is what I do, I wash with soap to get the natural oils or dirt off my hands, rinse well, dry, then go back and rinse only again and dry again, preferably using a different towel (or a different part of it or you’ll just be wiping that soap residue back onto your hands). It might seem silly but that is some of the best advice I’ve heard on strings & it more than doubled the toneful life of my strings. I never deviate from this ritual now. Also if after a while I start sweating I’ll go do another rinse & dry. I always make sure the last thing I did was rinse, not wash, with warm water (not hot or it’ll make you sweat and not cold because it’ll hinder blood circulation in your hands).
    Cheers Bjorn!

    [Thanks for the tip, Brian! – Bjorn]

  18. Keith says:

    You mean there are actually strings other than 10-46 GHS BOOMERS, that people actually buy? Only strings I’ve ever used! They’re DYNAMITE! Seriously, there is something about boomers that I haven’t found in other strings, they seem to have a very consistant tone, keep that tone longer, I rarely break them, and at a little over 4 bucks, the price has only gone up about $1.50 in 30 years. You may experiment with different gauges, but I don’t think there’s a string manufacturer whose quality, and sound is even close to their consistancy. You’d be hard pressed to convince me to put anything else on my electrics. My Acoustics have always used D’Addario, phospher bronze, nice chime, very consistant quality once again. That of course is only my opinion, however, whenever I’ve crewed, or just been close enough to see, I’ve noticed that Boomers are the choice of most pros.
    Peace Y’all, Uncle Ebb

  19. Pete says:

    Oddly, strings are not mentioned. Cheap strings can kill sustain and tone.

    Bjorn, What strings do you use and/or recommend?

    [I’ve used GHS Boomers 10s for years and are very happy with those. I’m sure everyone has their favourites. I play a lot and prefer new strings so I try to restring at least every other week on the guitars that I use daily. It maintains the tone, tuning and sustain. – Bjorn]

  20. Don says:

    You are so right about good cables. I had used normal cheap cables for years. When I plugged in the first time with a George L cable, I was blown away. My first thought was “wow, there’s too much signal going from my guitar to my amp”. I got over that quickly. Within a week, I replaced every patch cable in my pedal board to George L cables. From guitar to pedal board to amp, and all connections in between were George L. The sound difference was more significant than swapping out amps or guitars. I could not believe it.
    Best regards,

    [Yep, cables can do wonders for your rig! – Bjorn]

  21. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, while you cover this in setups, I want to add something worded perhaps a little differently. Most guitarists, and especially those who haven’t been playing for a lot of years, want their action as low as possible, thinking that it’s easier to play. There is a point where fir for purposes of sustain, and overall tone, this becomes counterproductive. One should play the guitar clean, abd at low volume, or once you get the hang of it, play it acoustically. New strings also help in this process. Fret the low E, or A, above the 12th fret, I usually go for the 15th, or 17th fret, or work my way up from the 12th, hitting the string moderately. If you hear a double note, that means the string is slapping against a fret, causing the note to double, then die, and is a sure sign that your action is too low, or you need to truss the neck, or have your frets redressed. Usually, a slight raise of the action kills the problem, and your sustain, and tone will both benefit greatly. Another sustain killer, are pickups too close to the strings, causing the magnetic field to shorten the time the strings vibrate. A little trial, and error can help with this issue, or if you aren’t comfortable with performing any of the above, a trip to the shop, and a good pro set-up, will do wonders for a dead sounding guitar.
    Peace, Keith

    [Very good point, Keith. I always find that no guitar, within the same model, require the same action as the next. One thing is the actual specs of the neck etc, which may require slight differences in the string and pickup height, but as you say, action is also about finding the sweetspot where the resonance and sustain is right and that is very subjective from guitar to guitar. I think the golden rule is to use the recommended set up guides provided by the brand/maker but always make your own adjustments based on the guitar’s specs, its tone and your playing. – Bjorn]

  22. Keith says:

    I hope you realize I meant the TD for OD, and the OCD or TD for high gain distortions, it’s early! Ha-ha!

    [See my reply below :) – Bjorn]

  23. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, I posted another question after your reply, it seems to have disappeared? I’ll try to remember. Oh, basically, should I ditch the spark, set the throbak on the edge, for boosting cleans, fuzz, and muff, and leave it on, then get an OD like the OCD, or maybe a TS808, or 9, and Is there a budget alternative for the tube Driver, possibly a bit smaller? Or is the TD the only way to go? That’s a hair different, but got the basics in.
    Thanks, Keith

    [Hmmm… didn’t find a second post from you… Anyway, The Spark and Throbak are very similar although the ThroBak makes a better overdrive. I use transparent boosters like the ThroBak, Buffalo, Colorsound etc for boosting cleans, Muffs and fuzz so if you ask me, that’s a great combo for the Reeves. In terms of overdrive, I think both the OCD and Tube Driver will cover your tones. Check out the Wampler Plexi Drive as well for similar tones. The Tube Screamer is, IMO, a great pedal (I use it a a lot) but you should now that it’s very different from a Tube Driver and OCD with lots more mids and less low end. – Bjorn]

  24. Keith says:

    Bjorn, after reading the back and forth with Pete, and knowing the answer about how The REEVES is so bright, I did see one thing I would like to ask about. You use a clean boost for cleans, and I believe I’ve seen you say you leave this on most, or all of the time. If I use my Spark for clean, and Throbak for od, should I set the Spark slightly above unity, dial in my favorite clean tone, and leave it on all the time, and then set the throbak a little higher than unity, and kick it in for OD for solos, and chunky rhythms, to cut through the mix better? I hope that’s clear.
    Thanks for everything, can’t wait to hear back once your package arrives, and is utilized, it should be spot on for everything up to WYWH
    maybe even further, without as much heat, but IMO heat, and over all tone are completely different things!
    Cheers, Keith

    [I base all my sounds on boosting. All my cleans and Muff tones are based on the Powerbooster (now the Buffalo), which is set at the edge of break up with a hint of volume boost. I guess I’m using it more as an EQ than an overdrive. All my overdrive tones are based on the Tube Driver. It’s set for a moderate gain setting but I’ve boosted the volume slightly to push the amp a bit more. For my distortion non-Muff tones I engage the OCD on top of that. Sounds very much like a RAT. Looking forward to the package! I’ll check your mails later this evening :) – Bjorn]

  25. Brian says:

    Disregard last post. I figured it out. The pickups were way too high and choking the tone. Just got this strat a few weeks ago. Never has a strat or guitar w single coils, but I’m definitely diggin it. Don’t know why I waited so long to get one. Still tryin to get those David tones though. Not as easy as you make it look. That’s for sure. Thanks again Bjorn. You’ve the best site, hands down. Brian

    [Glad you figured it out, Brian. I left the comment as it’s a question I get a lot. Hope that’s OK. I may make it seem easy but keep in mind that I’ve been playing guitar for 20 years or so and I’ve spent countless hours, still do, testing new stuff and experimenting with my tones. It’s a never ending quest and I still discover new things and new ways of doing things. It takes time but what’s important is that you enjoy the ride :) Cheers! – Bjorn]

  26. Pete says:

    Great article Bjorn. One thing you didn’t mention was replacing parts on cheaper guitars. I’ve replaced all the bridges on my MIM strats with Super-Vee BladeRunners and all the nuts with Graphtec nuts. This has improved the sound and sustain of my strats. (David replaced the Kahler because he didn’t like what it did to the sound and sustain.)
    Good quality parts can help to improve sustain nearly as much as technique. (Still the first thing any guitarist should work on.)
    Thanks again for all your hard work in both research and presentation.

    [Indeed. A good point… – Bjorn]

  27. Brian says:

    Hi Bjorn, I’ve a few questions about your fx settings. I see that you usually set the tone controls fairly low (10-11 o’clock). How do you still retain the higher frequencies in your tone with your pedal tone settings in the darker bassy range? I find that pretty much any pedal I have has to be at 12 to 3 o’clock to still be bright enough. Also, when you set your fx volume levels, do you match unity with your amp or do you set your muff to drive the amp harder and then match the other pedals to the muff? Could I get a better sustain by driving the amp harder with my muff and booster? I’m using the Pigtronix philosophers tone > Arc fx big green pi > tc spark booster > OCD OD > VFE phaser > Mooer elec lady > Mooer re-echo delay > Blackstar HT5R head clean channel > Line6 1×12 cab. I’m having trouble getting a good sustain without the compressor. Oh Squier Std Strat w stock single coils if that helps. Thanks so much. Oh btw, saw the “Colours” video on youtube….love that song. And your lead tone was really tasty. Kinda sounded like that guy from Pink Floyd. =) Thanks again! Brian

    [Hi Brian! Sorry for my late reply. For of all, thanks for your kind words! That guy from Floyd has a pretty nice tone… :) OK, to business, settings depends on the guitar and it’s pickups, the amp, what pedals you use, the way you use them and combine them and of course what tones you want. But again, the amp is really crucial. The Reeves that I’m using for most of my stuff is very bright so I want the tone on my pedals lower. The Blackstar and other amps like a Bassman, VOX etc are darker sounding and may need higher tone and treble settings from your pedals. I always use a booster for my tones, either a clean boost for my cleans and distortions or a overdrive set for boost. This naturally drives the amp harder but it also adds a bit of presence and compression to the pedals, which again means that you don’t have to boost the tone that much. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  28. ratan Prasad says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thanks for replying my previous comment. As you mentioned that minimum 3 pedals required for Gilmour’s tones are : one distortion, a overdrive and a delay. Can you suggest me what will be the best combination for home setup:
    1) Proco RAT 2 + Boss BD-2 + Boss DD3
    2) Proco RAT 2 + Boss BD-2 + Boss DD7
    3) Proco RAT 2 + Ibanez TS9 + Boss DD3
    4) Proco RAT 2 +Ibanez TS9 + Boss DD7

    I haven’t bought any of the pedals yet. At my place you cannot try a pedal at the store before buying it :(. That’s why I have to be very sure what I am buying.
    Please suggest me the best combination which is most versatile (which sounds good with any guitar and any amp). Thanks for your time :)

    [What kind of idiot store is that? They don’t deserve your money… anyway… All four setups are very versatile. The DD7 has a few more features than the DD3 but otherwise they’re identical. The BD2 has a transparent bright tone with a fat lower end – much like David’s Tube Driver. The TS9 has more mids and appears warmer sounding but I don’t think it fits David’s tones as well as the BD-2. Besides you can also tweak the RAT for tones similar to the TS9. Personally I’d go for either 1 or 2 :) – Bjorn]

  29. Ratan Prasad says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I found all of your articles very thoughtful, practical and your site is very informative. Please keep the good work :)
    I had a question about minimum setup of pedals required to get the DG’s tone in home setup. I am using Transistor Amp.
    My question is what are the most important and what are less important pedals required to get most of Gilmour’s tone. I read almost all the pages of this site, and I came across this chain of pedals mentioned by you:
    Guitar -> Fuzz -> Compressor -> Distortion -> Overdrive -> Uni-vibe -> Phaser -> Chorous -> Delay -> Amp
    (Please correct me if there is some mistake in order or if there is some redundancy)
    I understand that Compressor (Boss CS-2/CS3), Distortion (Proco RAT 2), Overdrive (Boss BD-2 or Ibanez TS9), Delay (Boss DD3) are most important pedals. What about Fuzz, Uni-vibe, phaser, chorous etc?
    For home setup (say I am using Roland Cube 15XL Guitar Amplifier, solid state) what pedals will work and what will not? What should be minimum set of pedal i need? Thanks a lot for your time.

    [Hi Ratan! The minimum of pedals depends on what tones you want to cover. In terms of Gilmour’s tones I’d say at least one distortion, overdrive and delay. With these three pedals, a good amp and guitar, you’ll be able to cover anything. That being said, if you want to have authentic tones then you need more pedals for different tones and pedal combinations. See this feature for some tips on overdrive and distortions, this feature for Big Muff tone setup tips, this feature for general pedal setup tips and this feature for some general amp setup tips. Let me know if you need more help after you’ve read through these :) – Bjorn]

  30. Norm says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    I notice that the CS-2 is often used in your setups, but I can’t find much mention of it. Would you say this is an important component to you tone. You seem to use this over other compressor pedals that you have reviewed and rated very highly. I love your site, I’m just starting out learning guitar, and you site offers a wealth of knowledge describing how things work. I would love to see a step by step video from you showing how you go about setting each pedal up in a chain, describing setting and what to listen for, especially volume and tone settings between say Musket, BD2 and amp (its a bit overwhelming when you end up with a dozen similar knobs).

    [I think the CS2 is one of the better compressors. It has a mild compression, a tad darker tone than other more transparent ones and a very sweet sustain. Works for me at least. I’m using one in my studio setup. I would also say that it was an important part of Gilmour’s tone between 1984-2002. He used it on almost everything. Check out this feature for some tips on setting up your rig. – Bjorn]

  31. JR says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Great article again. Do you have any experiences about the Visual Sound Route 66 comp/od? Could it be used as a booster for a vintage RAT or place it before the chain? Or should I get BD-2 or similar after the RAT and keep RT66 first in the chain?

    [The RAT rarely needs a booster but if you do, I’d go for the BD2 and its transparent tone. The 66 has a Tube Screamer-ish circuit, which has too much mid rage for it to be used as a booster. Nice overdrive though. – Bjorn]

  32. michael says:

    Bjorn have you come across the Biyang tonefancier xdrive od8 (strange name) comes in a very nice stainless steel case and the tube screamer chip is fitted plus two other chips so that you can change the sound. There about £50 made in china and seem amazing value.

    [Never tried them… The Mooer Green Mile is also worth checking out for those classic 808 tones. – Bjorn]

  33. michael says:

    Hi Bjorn
    Again a very interesting explanation of a small bed room or practice setup.
    I have purchased a boss compressor /sustain and have a marshall blues driver ( I know I should use my ears but insecurity is biting me in the bum) Should I buy a boss blues driver. Do you have any experience of the akai blues driver.
    Help me this quest for tone is driving (excuse pun) me into destitution.
    many thanks

    [Depends on what tones you’re looking for. I’ve never tried the Akai but the Marshall and Boss are fairly similar. Both are very good at producing clean boost and classic, glassy overdrive. – Bjorn]

  34. Jeremy Armstrong says:

    Hi Bjorn!!

    With regards to your suggested amp settings, how would these apply them to a Fender Deluxe Reverb (not a reissue)?

    Because there is NO way I can put my bass knob at 50%, with my Mercury Magentics Transformers, that is bass for days! But I would like to try your recommended amp settings ;)

    The Merc trannys allow me to use 6L6’s in my deluxe so I have lots more clean headroom… thanks!

    [Settings are always a very individual thing. Different speakers, placement of the amp, which guitar you’re using, the effects etc will determine the settings. Try setting the amp as I’ve suggested and make the adjustments you need to get the tones you want. Roll down the bass if needed and be careful with the mids and treble… especially such a bright amp as the Deluxe. – Bjorn]

  35. Josh says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Great article, I hadn’t ever really stopped to think too much about sustain but you’re right it is an important tool (and very much so on clean Floyd songs mentioned above). Two other tools I use are an active mid boost on my guitar and an Effectrode Fire Bottle pickup booster which is tube based. I find that running a hotter signal into my Hiwatt tube overdrive and amp works well for me.

    My Levinson blade has a swamp ash body, ebony fretboard and is a very resonant guitar. Getting a guitar with good acoustic and resonant qualities is very important I think!

    Not sure if it’s been mentioned above but DG used to use an Alembic Bass Preamp. Eq via a preamp / rack or pedal would be another way of boosting certain frequencies that would surely affect sustain and feedback.

    Rock on, Josh

    [Thanks for the input Josh. I though the Alembic was mainly used to power or feed the signal to the Yamahas and not so much as a dedicated EQ interface… – Bjorn]

  36. Alex Gonzalez says:

    Hi Bjorn – Great series of articles..Is great to learn something new every time. I set up a pedal board using (in order) a CS3>BD2>TS9(Ibañez) going to a POD X3…I cannot use a small amp (fender-tweed blues junior) because of neighbours…so headphones and low levels is a must at this point! By dialing your settings and choosing a basic classic amp with no processing in the X3, I get way to much distortion with a complete mudded sound…could this be that the X3 (amp modeling) doesn’t like outside stomp boxes? Perhaps using just a preamp and dial back the settings may due the trick? Have you experienced with external stomps and a POD…? Cheers, Alex

    [I use pedals with the POD all the time but you have to be really careful with the settings and it’s also important to not confuse the POD with a real amp. When you’re combining pedals you pretty much need to choose a clean amp setup on the POD. Any gain will interfere with the pedals. The Hiwatt is OK but I often use the Mesa/Boogie stack for a bit more warmth. You need to turn the gain on the amp all the way down or off and only use the master. For this to work you need to use the 1/4 outputs and not the USB – the USB disables the master. Carefully add the pedals but you might need to adjust their gain and volume and in most cases I’d only use one ovedrive or distortion at a time. Combining pedals like David does doesn’t work that well with the POD. This has something to do with different impendance on the POD and pedals that doesn’t quite match. – Hope this helped. – Bjorn]

  37. Alan says:

    Hey Bjorn, I’m having some issues with my sustain when I turn my original electric mistress on. Should I change my setup, heres how it is:
    Guitar>Noise Gate>Electric Mistress>Rotovibe>Amp
    Send Return>Green Russian>MXR Script logo dynacomp

    [I’d ditch the noise gate. They’re always bad for the sustain. I’d also place the Dynacomp before the Muff. Keep in mind though that the original Mistress has a slight volume drop when engaged that might effect the sustain. – Bjorn]

  38. Check out my sustain here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLarsupextw.

    [Great as always Howard! Too bad you have to sell the guitar. – Bjorn]

  39. gary says:

    I would like to vouch for the OD3 as well. I have used loads of overdrives over the years, but have always found the OD3 to be one of the most reliable and versatile. It is also relatively cheap – which is obviously a good thing. I use it with a booster (the orange coloursound one, or the Flyn Hawk replica, which is excellent), and have a Sovtek Muff as well for the more full on sounds. I have never tried a Keeley modded BD2 though, I hear nothing but good reviews about them – that’s next on the list.

  40. Gabriel says:

    Since someone mentioned it, I must ask: what do you think about the Boss OD3 and the SD1 (not the SDF1 lol ) as boosters? never tried neither of them.

    I can´t believe you have answered almost every comment! you rule, Bjorn!!


    [They’re both fairly transparent, which is good for a booster. Not as transparent as the BD2 but kind of right in the middle of a TS9/808 and the BD-2. I prefer the OD3. You can get some really nice crunchy tones with it. Cheers Gabriel :) – Bjorn]

  41. Martin says:

    Bjorn great lesson-again :D Talking about sustain can you examin Have a cigar tone from animals tour I know its your favourite tnx

    [Thanks! I have an extensive Animals feature on the to-do list :) – Bjorn]

  42. Giorgio says:

    Great article as always! I really enjoyed you talked about technique rather than gear this time. At the end of the day that’s what really makes the difference. Perhaps another time you could expand with release bends, hammer-ons or other tricks. I always love how David brings in chords to enrich his solos … I suppose that’s another way of adding ‘sustain’ and tone.
    Mostly impressed also by your Castellorizon clip, did you use any delay or reverb as well?

    [Thanks! Yes, I’m using a Boss DD2 as well. There will be more features like this in the future about David’s technique. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  43. Allan says:

    Can’t agree with you more Bjorn.

    I think when Phil came in he just realised exactly what David needed and set him up with it.

    Then just watched David go and produce the magic :D

    [:-D – Bjorn]

  44. syd says:

    Nice like always Bjorn..by the way do you have any info about 3-knob and internal power supply Tube Driver? a friend of mine is selling one of those and I dunno if they can perform like the 4-knob version, i´m using a strat and a blues jr n.o.s. i´m looking for that creamy Mr Gilmour sustain, I also got the boss od-3 (u should try it!!)..any way the london fuzz sounds fantastic on your video too so i can decide!!!

    [It’s very similar to the 4-knob. It’s been a while since I tried it but I remember it as more or less identical. Keep in mind though that Tube Drivers are quite demanding pedals and can sound quite spiky and thin on smaller amps and solid states. A bit more versatile option would be the excellent Boss BD2, preferably the Keeley version with a bit more warmth and lower end. The London Fuzz is a different effect and can’t really be compared to these boosters/overdrives. But yes, it’s a great pedal! – Bjorn]

  45. Luk says:

    Great Article, the thing about sustain is that it can be a doubled edged sword…
    For long sustained notes in a slow tempo, its allright…
    But for uptight tempos when you require to use a more percusive and punchy sound sustain can be a problem… because the sound get a little muddy…
    That’s what i like about Gilmour he can be groovy and punchy if he wants to or he can just let some long notes fly harmonizing with the keyboards and bass…
    Its important to not overuse it, one of the things I like about early Floyd is that Gilmour wasn’t soloing all the time, he was more subtle and laid back, that I like, you don’t need to have a long solo in every tune, Floyd solos were allways well placed


    [Good point Luk. Every not has sustain, whether it’s long or percussive, but the amount you apply should be carefully measured to your playing and the specific song. As you say, David has a wide range of different techniques and I think songs lime Time is a great example of how he blends those long sustained tones with the hard hitting percussive dry stuff. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  46. Daniel Krause says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Another great article! I think this is one of the things a lot of players don’t look at enough. Carefull placement on stage is one of the most important things for a gig and the different venues can make it very hard to get a good sound, because of stage size or materials used for the building.
    A couple weeks ago I had a gig at a biker clubhouse, which is in sort of a storage building…built with…ofcourse: Sheetmetal. This made getting a good sound very hard…for the whole band.
    I had a lot of feedback trouble because of the sound bouncing back from everywhere. What a pain :-(

    About dialing in the right amout of gain and such…you’re very right. At every gig I have to adjust the settings to make it work right.

    The sustain/slight feedback trick is very nice. I tend to do that too and it works great.

    I really gotta say…Thanks for all the work you put in this website!



    PS: Any idea on a gig in Holland some time again?

    [Thanks Daniel! We don’t have any plans for Holland yet but we’re working on a couple of options that hopefully will happen sometime during the spring months. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  47. Allan says:

    Thanks for the intruiging reply Bjorn.

    I do think he spends a good bit of time on his gear, I can actually see him scrolling through the gear page saying “Not another F***ing TIMMY THREAD!”. But I think knowing what he wants to sound like before picking up a new pedal or amp is a big part of his tone, and he can buy gear with that sound in mind.

    I just really love the fact that he is a perfectionist beyond just getting some awesome pedals, like he makes sure his WHOLE rig is perfect.

    And with regards to Phil Taylor, fair enough, the guy may have introduced him to a few great pieces of gear and builders, but I’d say the team is 70% Gilmour and 30% Taylor.

    For example: If you gave me an empress super delay, an Eventide Modfactor and a Musket fuzz and said – These will make you sound amazing, I probably couldn’t get a good tone from them for at least a couple of weeks of practicing.

    David owes Phil SO much with regards to finding things out and slaving away with his gear, but at the end of the day, it’s David that’s going out there and making it work the way he wants it too.

    Please don’t take that as an attack on Taylor, the man is part of the genius that is Pink Floyd, and an important part to anyone who likes Gilmour.

    I just agree with your theory that Dave knows what he’s talking about in terms of gear and sounds, and he’ll have a big hand in what he uses at the end of the day I guess, with or without Phil.

    [Agree. The thing is that both are British in the true sense of the word and they really don’t like to talk about this and that. It’s all “well, you know…” and not much more unless you have a journalist that really force the words out of them. If David were an American he’d be selling replicas of his rig at the shows :) I think, as you point out, that Phil is a very important part of David’s sound. Soon after he joined as backline technician in medio 1974 he started doing research and bought a lot of stuff for David. He also got David into collecting guitars and amps and David still has a massive collection. Phil also built most of the recording studio in Astoria. Still, and David has talked a lot about this, David always has a very strong idea of what he wants and which sounds that might fit each song. Although he tends to stick with a specific set up he always tried new things and an album can feature tons of different stuff just to get the sounds he’s looking for. – Bjorn]

  48. bruno says:

    hi Bjorn
    at the risk of repeating myself i do think you’re a great guitarist.
    you have understood what electric playin’ really means and increase your own technicity and touch.
    and this it!! thanks for all and play on.
    by the way could you tell me please the complete reference of your WEBER THAMES CERAMIC SPEAKERS?
    thanks a lot Bjorn .keep yourself safe.
    and a big hurry for music!!

    [Thanks Bruno! I have the High Power Series 12″ Weber Thames ceramic 80w 8ohm. – Bjorn]

  49. Jay says:

    to be honest i really dont have too much trouble with tunning even after heavey dive bombs for comfterbly numb it seems to stay in tune so maybe its just too low and the pen trick will work. so were you saying that the more flush i get the bridge the better? ive always had the trouble with a floating bridge on my MIM, when i had my frist setup done my guitar techy had to move the bridge over a little but it was due to something messed up with the stock fender bridge (i didnt get the callaham until last spring.), i did just get off the phone with my tech and we’re ganna see about jack the bridge up a little maybe. one thing i gotta ask is for Gilmour dose he pull up on the bar a whole lot or just down? because my tech said with my kind of bridge setup its not really ment to be pulled up like on a floyd rose.which is okay because its not something im prone to do anywyas. thanks for all the hlep sorry for so much length

    [David keep his bridge flush with the body so there’s no pulling going on there. Whether you want the bridge flush or floating is a matter of taste. I prefer it flush but but a slight 3-4mm float. Seems to operate a bit smoother. This also depends on the guitar and its setup. Some guitars are horrible with a flush bridge and vice versa so you really just have to try different things as see what works for your technique. Check out this feature for more. – Bjorn]

  50. Jay says:

    sorry for the consistant posts, but i wanted to ask about the castellorizon vid in the article, are you useing the 808 to boost the BD-2? ive always been torn between wthe to put my keeley ts9 in front of behind my keeley bd 2(i98% the time im useing the bd-2 to boost my ts9 ), which combination do you this is better? and gabriel i take it that Gilmourdidnt show up last night?

    [Yes, the 808 is placed after the BD2 and used as a booster. I normally don’t do this because the 808 will make the tones muddy but it seemed to work nicely here. See the settings in the caption below the clip. – Bjorn]

  51. Jay says:

    my bridge floats and i have the action set as low as it can go with out causeing trouble (my guitar tech didthe setup for me)., basicly what i was trying to say is when the arm is completely tightend in an is hovering over the volume knob its hit the top of it when it pushed down, when i raise it a little (little ove the strings) it dose work better but i dont have a whole lot of clearence between my hand and pick guard (useing a basic 3 ply) and i basicly use my palm to use it. as for useing the arm itself i do have to push a little hard on the bar but i really dont have to since applying a little pressure gives me a good gilmour style vibrato (im useing the 3 spring setup you have shown els were on the site.), of course that could be normal as ive said in not fully educated on useing the tremlo arm, basicly it just seems the arm could be taller and it would work fine but iwanted to make sure that this is somewhat normal, if youd like i can make a small video showing you my setup and post it on youtube for you to check it out

    [Perhaps you’ve screwed the arm too low? Try using a spring from a ball penn and see if that helps. Keeping the bridge close to the body will make it tighter so it’s a compromise. Flush/nearly flush and tight or floating and smooth operation but a more unstable tuning. – Bjorn]

  52. Steve Schibuola says:

    OT, but since Gabriel mentioned that Dec 13 may have been the Gilmour night on the wall tour – I was there last night – and He wasn’t – but still, an absolutely AWESOME show. The highlights for me were still Comfortably Numb – Dave Kilminster did the song justice, though it was basically a note-for-note clone of the album version – and Roger’s “duet” on Mother – with himself (or “my f$cked-up younger self” in his words) from the 1980 Earl’s Court show. He also “broke character” a few times during the show to thank the audience and tell them how much (now) he really loves playing for a crowd – nice!

  53. Tyler Branham says:

    Well I guess I’ll figure it out for myself but I read in previous articles that you said “the Overdrive/Tube Screamer is also great for boosting a distortion unit like a Big Muff or the RAT just like David is using the Colorsound Power Boost and the Tube Driver.” I guess I’ll eventually get around to getting a BD-2 but this gear G.A.S. is killing me. I really do appreciate your knowledge. I study this site all the time and it has helped answer a lot of the DG tone questions that you just can’t find anywhere else. Thanks again!

    [Glad you enjoy my site Tyler :) Some of the features and comments are beginning to get old and although I constantly add new stuff and go over the old stuff with updates I can’t remember to do everything. It’s not that you can’t use a TS9 or 808 as a booster, I sometimes do, but as my experience with pedals etc grows I now know that you’ll get a much better result with a transparent booster/overdrive :) However, as you can hear in the Castellorizon clip in the article I’m using using the 808 to boost the BD2. It’s set very mild though which is important to not oversaturate the tones. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  54. Allan says:

    Great article Bjorn. I honestly think it’s posts like this that define David’s playing more than through his various effects and the likes.

    It seems to me like David cares more about things like this, going by what you’ve said in the past about his “moments” on stage where things aren’t working.

    I read somewhere that David said he could go into any guitar store in the world and pick up exactly what he needed to do a show. Yet he seems very finicky with having his noiseless board, his extreme clean tone and perfect sustain.

    this of course, is not a stemming of my lust for getting some new gear :P

    [Thanks Allan! I think David likes to consider him self as a guy who doesn’t care much for what he’s using as long as it works. I think that’s just crap and perhaps a way to avoid those boring gear questions :) As you say, I think think he always evaluates his performance and he spends a lot of time on the soundchecks both on stage and in the studio trying to find the tones he’s looking for. Together with Phil he has constantly done changes to his setup and explored both new gear and techniques. Perhaps he doesn’t know when he started using Big Muffs or what he used to record the solo on Childhood’s End but he knows what he likes and what’s needed to get that tone. He think he is very specific about his guitars and amps especially and he seems to be extremely sensitive to any changes that might alter his tones as several interviews with Floyd technicians has revealed over the years. David might not be the typical gear head you see in Beck, Clapton, Satriani etc but he sure knows a lot more than he wants us to believe and I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s Phil that’s the brains behind David’s rig and tone. They’re a team and like an old couple they know exactly what’s needed for the specific performance. – Bjorn]

  55. Micha says:

    Well, I do not think, thaz David Gilmour, his tone and technique is anything extraordinary in regard to “sustain”. It is more the other way round, that too much sustain would disturb most of his solos and licks….a neverending tone could kill a solo, just as I see that David is more a master of leaving out notes, give a solo its room to breathe.

    Honestly, take any distortion or overdrive pedal, that’s it…a long lasting sustain. No secret, no special skill or equipment needed for it.
    As you often wrote, David is hardly using real dedicated overdrive or distortion effects, but more a pure clean Hiwatt amp sound, and then some boosters to give more power and body, but not to add singing sustain.

    So actually, if I do hear the Floyd solos, I do not hear any special sustain…in my opinion this is no David’s aim and his style.


    [I think you confuse sustain with feedback. Any note regardless instrument has sustain and sometimes you want more or less. If you don’t have any problems with sustain then that’s great but that only means that you have the guitar, amp and technique needed for achieving sustain effortlessly. There’s also a difference between a studio recording and live performance. Listen to David’s tone on Echoes, Time, Comfortably Numb, On the Turning Away etc… There’s tons of sustain in each note and if you listen to the live performances of these songs you can also hear that David is experimenting with using feedback as a part of that sound. Again, feedback is not the same thing as sustain and I disagree that any pedal will give you endless sustain. No doubt that a RAT or Muff sustains better than a germanium fuzz… for example. – Bjorn]

  56. Steve Schibuola says:

    Thanks as always for a highly informative article, Bjorn. Lots of good tips there.

    Although I think it technically qualifies as “cheating” there is another way to get long sustain at bedroom levels – using an electro-acoustic transducer. There are commercial versions (eg. Fernandes or Sustainiac) but if you have a spare practice amp (who doesn’t?), you can just buy a cheap ($15) transducer and mount it to the back of your guitar (yes it does mean putting 4 small velcro dots on your beloved axe – this may be a dealbreaker for some!). It’s a fun “toy” for getting ridiculous amounts of harmonically rich sustain. I made a sample recording here:


    I apologize in advance for the awful playing – I was just trying the get some sound samples! And you can skip the first half which is just sustain on a clean tone – it works but its much more interesting with the distortion in the 2nd half. BTW this was on an LP-style guitar. It works okay on my strat but because of the thinner body, and that the bridge pickup is closer to the end of the guitar, this setup doesn’t work on the bridge p/u of a strat – the magnetic field of the transducer acts on the p/u directly and you get the OTHER kind of feeback that isn’t good at all! But it’s really good on the neck and mid pups.

    Anyway, just some cheap bit of fun for the bedroom noodler.

    [Thanks for the tip! I don’t have any experience with this but I’ll look into it. – Bjorn]

  57. Tyler Branham says:

    Nice article! So I just ordered a BYOC triangle version muff, dyna comp, and OD808. Where would you place these in chain with a wah and vintage Rat? Also, do you think the OD808 will suffice in boosting both the Rat and the muff? Here’s what I’m thinking: guitar>wah>dyna comp>muff>rat>OD808. I don’t know if that’s right or not but I would imagine it would work okay. Thanks again for all you do for us DG fans!

    [The chain looks right. The 808 isn’t an ideal booster because it has a pronounced mid range which can makes your tones muddy and over saturated. Try different settings but ultimately I’d go for a more transparent overdrive like the Boss BD2. – Bjorn]

  58. Michael says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    I`ve been having a difficult time with my BD2 boosting the RAT combo. No matter what I do or what settings I get this horrible sound when they`re both on, but when they`re alone, they sound magnificent. I have a nice fender amplifier and a squier guitar, so I do not think those are the problem, are there any settings you recomend? Please help!!!!

    [What amp do you have? Try the suggested amp settings in the article. It’s always important to keep the amp as clean as possible when you use gain pedal combinations to avoid noise etc. Place the BD2 after the RAT and keep in mind that the trick is to combine them not to have them competing. Set the RAT as you want it – I usually keep all controls around 2 o’clock – and add the BD2 with a mild clean boost (gain 9, tone 10, level 12 o’clock). How does that sound? – Bjorn]

  59. Rob says:

    Great tips as always Bjorn! Thanks!

    As I mostly play at home, I don’t usually get the chance to crank up and play at a high enough volume to work with the “controlled feedback” technique that you describe, but I am intrigued enough to try it next time I play with my “louder” amp (Fender Blues Deluxe 40w). The neighbors might get mad, but it’s all for a good cause, isn’t it? :-)



    — P.S. Really looking forward to the new Airbag album when it is released!

    [Stay close to your amp and add a little compression as well. That should “trigger” the feedback. The Airbag album will hopefully be released before the summer. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  60. Wes Wenzel says:

    Great post! As you mention, levels are important when you have a lot of pedals. It can be frustrating at times, but when you change your set up, you always need to ensure each step in the chain is at the right level. This will help your sustain and overall tone.

    [Indeed. Every rearrangement, change and new addition in your rig calls for new adjustments. – Bjorn]

  61. Rafael says:

    Great article. I have a question: You said you recommend new strings every four-six weeks. How do you avoid the strings from getting rusty?

    [Some brands seem to stay cleaner longer but it also depends on how much you sweat and how clean your hands are. I always wash my hands before I touch the guitar and I think I have a moderate sweat. I always restring before a show and every 4-6 weeks between shows or sessions. – Bjorn]

  62. Jay says:

    hey theres an idea, your next tutorial could be about useing the tremlo arm effectively, just thought ide add that to my post above, have a good holiday bjorn!

    [Thanks for the tip and have a great holiday :) – Bjorn]

  63. Jay says:

    your the man Bjorn! nyways, i have a minor issue. You see i have the callaham mex bridge upgrade with the gilmour style short arm (onlything i didnt upgradde was the bridge plate to save money, and when locked all the way in i have no clearence between the arm and my guitar for my hand leaveing me with useing my palm mostly to work the arm, not that doing so dosent work but it can be a little difficult at times (my own playing style is a mixture of Gilmour and Beck depending my mood but i lean more on my Gilmour roots more then anything), another issue is i have trouble with the arm is it tends to hit the top of my volume knob when i have it in the position thats most comfterbal to me (im really just now learning to really use the arm since ive always used my hands for vibrato), and the other issue is it gets in the way of my pick up selector when in the middle position knocking it into my neck pups when i go to grab it sometimes. any tips here to help me out? I love the callaham though, best $160 purchase for my guitar i ever spent.

    [Not sure I understand what you mean. Is the bridge flush with the body or floating? A short arm shouldn’t be hitting the volume knob… – Bjorn]

  64. Gabriel says:

    Wow! Amazing article! As always.
    I guess sustain and noise are the big issues for guitar players, nothing can f*ck your brain more than trying to achieve a noiseless sustaining tone.

    Thanks for this one!

    PS: I´ve read here and there that tonight is THE night, when David will join Roger for Comfortably Numb. Can´t wait to see some vids on YouTube.


    [Cheers Gabriel. Looks like the time of David’s performance is a well kept secret. – Bjorn]

  65. Rick Cash says:

    Great artical as always Bjorn! One thing you have not really mentioned (apologies if ive just missed it) is how you would set say the sustain on say a Boss CS-2 for a live rig where you can push an amp to its sweet spot. Would you simply not use sustain/compression in that scenario?

    [I rarely use compression on stage. Some cleans and mild overdrives demands a compression but I think it’s better to let the amp do most of the job providing a natural tube compression and use the pedal for creating dynamics in solos etc by switching the compressor on/off. – Bjorn]

  66. Mick says:

    not only you´re a killer player, you´re a great teacher too!
    Thank you for the article and video. I found I´m already using most of those tricks subconsciously, but you summed it up so well. I´m sure this is one the most helpful and therefore valuable pieces of information for all players hutning for great tone and other guitar-related joy.
    You do a great job and we all appreciate it very much, don´t we?

    [Thanks Mick! – Bjorn]

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