David Gilmour Stratocaster NOS review

The other day I got the chance to try the David Gilmour NOS Stratocaster at a friend of Gilmourish.Com. It’s been a while since its release but I thought I’d share my thoughts on this long awaited and much discussed guitar.

Let me first point out that it’s obviously impossible to give an objective view. I have tried to approach it as if I was buying a new guitar looking for the features I prefer. Hopefully not too blinded by the fact that this is indeed a David Gilmour Strat. I tested the guitar on a Marshall tube head with a Mesa 4×12” cabinet and a bunch of all the classic gilmourish pedals.

First impression
I couldn’t help but feel excited and my heart jumped when I entered the room and I saw the guitar hanging on the wall. Although I’ve tried my best to make my Strat look as close to David’s as possible there’s something about standing infront of the real deal… well almost. This is a beautiful guitar! It’s very light weight and the balance between the alder body and the maple neck is perfect and doesn’t tilt either way. The maple neck’s nitrocellulose finish was surprisingly dark and the deep black pickguard makes a nice contrast to the black body and the slightly aged pickup covers and control knobs. The alder body has a nice warm and tight tone and the guitar sounds incredible just playing it acoustically. Personally I prefer basswood for a bit more brightness and punch but alder will perhaps give you an overall more versatile and honest tone.

What I first noticed, after drooling over its exterior, was that the setup was spot on. The strings and pickups were nicely balanced and it felt very easy to play. It doesn’t really matter much as one would do one’s own adjustments but it’s always nice to just pick up a guitar and get that instant ”wow!” feeling. The second thing I noticed was that the neck’s finish is very sticky. I guess this is due to the nitrocellulose lacquer and this will be worn down eventually (I don’t have much experience with nitro) but I felt that it made the neck unnesseceraly slow and hard to play. I personally prefer V-shaped necks and to me the C-shaped 7.25” felt a bit like a baseball bat. The trem arm was surprisingly short and made me wonder why David would prefer this. The guitar’s owner and I agreed that its too short and I’d replace it with a 5 1/4”.

The pickups
I was of course especially keen on trying the pickups and the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 bridge was all it promise to be. Incredibly warm and fat with enough top to cut through nicely. I found my self smiling from ear to ear and being overly happy that one was already lying at home just waiting to be installed! Compared to the 69s, the SSL-5 has a slightly higher output and a tighter lower end. The Fat 50s is very similar to the 69s with a slightly more hollow tone and not as much bass. When I hit the Tube Driver I instantly got The Blue, – my favourite track from On An Island and one of David’s finest tones. But again, not much difference from the 69s. The mid pickup was a disapointment and it just confirmed my impression of some of David’s rhythm tones on the last tour – muddy and without any punch. I’d definitely choose 69’s over this one.

Keep in mind that these pickups will sound different on different Strats, – be it an entirely different model or different wood used for the neck and/or body.

The mini toggle switch allows you to blend the neck and bridge pickups. Up/towards you is ”off” and down/away is ”on”. When the pickups are combined the bridge gets a fat hollow flavour much like the middle position on a Telecaster. I didn’t get to try how this sounded with distortions but it sounded pretty cool on stuff like Another Brick in the Wall (part 1). I once had a push/pull volume pot on my Strat that did the same job but I didn’t use it much and reinstalled the original pot.

There’s no doubt that this is a fine guitar. It’s quality all the way through and although I’ve only tried the NOS model you can tell that they’ve put a lot of effort into making sure that all the details and features are correct. It looks like David’s and I would imagine it feels like he’s too. I enjoyed it as much acoustically as pluged in, which is a very good sign. I didn’t like C-shaped neck and the middle pickup, while the SSL-5 totally blew my mind!

I’m sure many of you wonder how the David Gilmour Signature Stratocaster is compared to mine. Well, mine is an ordinary Japanese model modified to death with a numerous fret jobs and all sorts of trail and errors. You can’t compare the two but what I can say is that I’m very pleased with mine and feel that it’s much more ”me” than the Gilmour guitar… but I guess that’s why David prefers his guitars and not mine!

Unfortunately this guitar won’t make you sound like David and I’ve seen some reviews where people are disapointed but that’s just stupid. I don’t think you can be disapointed over a guitar like this. That only means that your expecations are too high and this guitar isn’t for you. Try a US Standard or a Les Paul! But is it worth the 3.500$ or so price tag? If I never knew who David Gilmour was, would I then feel any difference between this guitar and a US Vintage ’57 reissue? Probably not.

A big thanks to Andre for letting me try his new guitar!

94 thoughts on “David Gilmour Stratocaster NOS review”

    1. Last ones were made in February. I spoke to Fender to confirm once I saw it was no longer listed. So, I bought one.

    2. I contacted Fender about this just the other day. Apparently, they’re still being made, but only “by request”.

      Here is a quote from the Fender rep:

      “The Custom Shop David Gilmour Strat NOS begun production on 2008 and we are still building those under request.”

      Hope that helps!

  1. Hello,

    I tried to find more information about the black strat neck without success. I tried a CS black strat during some hours and really love the neck. I can’t buy one, and decide with my luthier to modify an old neck I have (thick in mapple).

    I read a lot of things everywhere about it : V-shaped ’57 reissue, C-shaped 7.25”, but nothing clear, or sure with exact dimensions.

    Is there someone able to take real dimensions of a NOS or Relic Black Strat and post them on this super site ?

    PS : It’s impressive to see that everywhere you ask aroud the world to have any information about it, everyone tell you, try on Gimourish site !! :-D


    1. Hi Franck, the Black Strat is described in this feature. The current neck is a 1983 Fender ‘57 reissue C shape maple neck with maple 7.25″ radius fingerboard and 21 vintage style frets. I believe they used nitro vintage tint lacquer on those. The neck originally belongen to one of the 1983 reissues David bought new prior to the About Face tour.

      1. Thanks a lot Bjorn,

        I read and reread so many times your Black strat described (probably my screen is worn :-) ). But I can’t find a lot of informations if we need to reproduce this neck.
        I also saw on Fender CS website, thickness is 20mm / width 42.5mm at nut, and 22 (I think at 12). We can deduce width at 12, but if someone can make mesurement on his …

        We see 7.25″ radius, … Sure it’s not the the same on full-length. If someone has…

        Also, what kind of ‘C’ and how on the full length ? So many questions I can’t find easily. How are the neck edge (where is the max width) ? If someone could take pictures of this neck it will be helpfull.

        1. It should be a standard neck for the era but there’s no other information available. Contact Warmoth or a luthier specialist and ask for the specs. You could also try Fender Custom Shop I guess or the Fender forum.

  2. Bjorn,

    Over the last few years I’ve gone back and forth on whether to build my own Black Strat or shell out the cash for the NOS/Relic Custom Shop. Been offered a deal on a DG Custom Shop NOS/Relic that I think is to good price wise to pass up. Watched a ton of vid on youtube, and read some info on the forums, knowing its very much a personal choice, if you were going to buy a custom shop, which would you prefer NOS vs Relic? Thanks!

    1. Oh… difficult question. You know, I would probably get the NOS. The Relic is fun but I like my guitars to have my wear and history.

  3. Hi Bjorn,

    Enjoyed your review as always. I have owned a lot of guitars, currently have about 16. Good Gibsons, Fenders etc. About 2 years back I purchased a Black Strat clone made by a guy in the USA, NOS style, basically new 57 re-issue body and neck (USA) desired pickups SSL5, Fat 50 etc. It is a nice guitar and did the trick, even came with the Hendrix strap that David uses.

    2 days ago I received in the post from the USA to Australia my Custom Shop David Gilmour Relic. As soon as I got the case out of the box the first thing that struck me was the weight, heavy. I worked out afterward this is mainly the case, very well made.

    The guitar played fantastically out of the box and looked fantastic, exactly like the man himself has amazing job they have done. I had to tweak the B and E string a little as they were catching the frets when I bent however other than that perfect.

    It does feel different to my other one and in a very positive way. The neck is not sticky at all as mentioned above in fact the opposite, very easy to play. I also like the really short trem arm, my copy had a short arm however this is shorter and I actually like it and find it very comfortable.

    All that is great however the wow factor was when I plugged into my rig, wow, wow, wow. It is organic in sound, it responds and just sounds amazing. I have the miniature switch on my copy however it does not react like this does, I simply love it.

    I estimate I have owned over 50 guitars on the journey and a few Fender Custom shops in my time. This is the best hands down. A real keeper.

    Cheers and keep playing everyone,
    Dave (yes my name really is Dave)
    Melbourne, Australia

    [Thanks for the input and congrats on the new guitar! – Bjorn]

  4. hallo bjorn, i just watched your new airbag video, very nice style, i like the solos very much //// i’m sure you can answer my question. i play a fender american standard strat with a maple neck. the neck’s colour is very bright, and i would like to change it into a darker colour, like david gilmours strat with the emg pickups. i heard that changing the neck will change the guitar’s sound if it was not made ​​from the same material as the old. what would you do? would you buy only a original fender neck? these necks would be very expensive and are mostly used. or would you buy a new neck, not made by fender, as you can find them on ebay from the united states? do you know a shop where i could order a neck?

    [Thanks! Glad you liked the song! The neck is a huge part of the sound so replacing it will change the character and sound of your guitar. All maple neck as usually a bit brighter than rosewoods. The maple has a bright top, full mid range and crisp attack while the rosewood has a slightly warmer, smoother tone and not as much bite to it. Contour, thickness and lacquer also play a role. Check out ReliableFender on EBay. You can trust these and they have a wide range of different Fender necks. I also recommend Warmoth, which makes necks on order, customized to your specs. I have a couple of these my self and couldn’t be happier. – Bjorn]

  5. Hey Bjorn,

    I stumbled upon a website that I thought some others that visit your site might be interested in. Not sure if you have ever heard of it, but Overdrive Custom Guitar Works is selling a lot of parts that make it real easy to Gilmourize your guitar. I just had one of his pre-wired pickguards installed into my Black Strat version 2.0. I had 3 CS ’69s in my earlier Black Strat and am still trying to decide how I feel about the SSL-5. I like its fatter tone for somethings, but I kind of miss the snappy clean tone of the CS 69 in the bridge. Plus… the SSL-5 does not seem to get along well with my Analogman Sunface, did you have that same experience? It seems like you took yours off your main board about the same time you switched to the SSL-5. Anyways… loving my new black strat that I put together using a Warmoth body and neck. I’ll get a pic in to the gallery of the strat and my board someday soon. here is the link:


    [Thanks for the link. I’m aware of the site :) I removed the SunFace since we put the Floyd project to rest and it doesn’t quite fit my present tones. Don’t have any problems with combining it with the SSL5 though but I always use a booster with the SunFace for a fatter and smoother tone so that might be the reason. – Bjorn]

  6. Bjorn,

    I have had the relic Gilmour for about a year and a half now and it always amazes me with the incredible tone. I am a big believer in relic’d guitars now, I use to think it was a dumb idea but from the first time I picked it up it felt like a 40 year old guitar. The very first gig my drummers wife told me it was the best sounding guitar she ever heard. That is saying something as I also played a PRS Cutom at the time!

    I am now building my very own black strat based on a road worn body with a custom made maple/rosewood neck so i can also have a 22 fret guitar. I will send a picture and stats when it is finished. I got the idea for it after seeing your black strat with rosewood.

    Thanks for the idea!

    [The relics aren’t just about the looks but also tone, as you point out. I know there are different opinions about this and while some insist that relics are nothing more than a fake I’ve changed my mind over the years and now see the value of a well worn guitar. The problem with these guitars though is that the neck especially is very sensitive to temeprature and umidity changes and the guitar should be stored in its case or in a controlled environment. – Bjorn]

  7. Just one word about my (red) Mexican standard 2009 Strat and the Callaham bridge/vibrato assembly… I wanted to post this as a comment to your Callaham review, but that article seems to be closed for comments…

    What I don’t like about the mentioned guitar is the neck pocket and the fact that the Polyester varnish looks totally different from CAR bodies with Nitro. But I have the feeling that the stock bridge/vibrato assembly is better than one tends to think after reading through the Internet… The sustain block is not at all smaller than the Callaham’s… The material thickness (top plate) and overall dimensions and weight of both appear to be the same or at least very close… The Callaham short vibrato arm does fit into the hole of the MIM stock assembly. On the other hand the Callaham Assembly’s (ordered for Mexican Strat) holes for the 6 mounting screws did not fit perfectly! Okay, I didn’t need to re-drill but could manage to get the screws in without much force. But I was not overly excited about the fact that there was a total difference of about 4mm!

    Nevertheless, with the Callaham Assembly the guitar has a better sustain – for what reason ever… and that makes it worth the purchase.


    [Callaham offer a wide range of different bridge systems for various models but there might be some variations that might not fit. Either way I think most Fenders today are better off with a new bridge as the ones Fender use are really bad. – Bjorn]

  8. Just installed my ToneShaper yesterday… and it works just like it should :) Very convenient way to get the wiring you want. The pots and switches seem to be good quality. Blending in the neck pup when using the bridge pup (and vice versa) works good and offers a wider tonal variety than a simple switch.

    Since my source material was some old Strat clone from the 90s (by a company that isn’t existing anymore), I had some issues with non perfectly fitting parts… but everything could be fixed quite easily. On a Fender or Squier Strat the ToneShaper should fit without any hassle. To my surprise, the vintage style tremolo assembly from my MIM 2009 standard Strat fitted in perfectly (except for the lower edge of the sustain block that’s jutting a mm or so). This weekend I will try if it’s possible to access the ToneShaper’s dip switches without removing the strings but only removing the screws from the controls part of the pickguard – just as EMG recommends for changing the battery on the DG20s…

    I have the feeling this was a good investment :)

    [Thanks for the update Alex! – Bjorn]

  9. Hullo… and Happy New Year everybody :)

    This seems to be the best place on your site to bring this up… hope you don’t mind. I found something (to me) totally new, that could turn out to be very interesting for some of us Strat tweakers. I stumbled upon it on eBay (yesterday), did some Internet research and ordered it just today – the Acme ToneShaper :)

    For those who don’t know it… it is a simple-to-install (100% passive and analog) electronics package for Strats that enables you to employ a huge variety of PUP and pot switching scenarios without the need of touching a soldering iron. Even the pup wires are attached without soldering!

    I planned to convert my very first electric guitar (a black Strat clone which I bought some time around 1994) into a black DG Strat… But since I would have to replace all electronic parts (pots, switches, wires, …) with higher quality parts, I was a bit scared to start that project. Now with the ToneShaper, everything will probably be set-up in less than one hour. I’m more than excited to check the “Blender” set-up, that enables you to mix the neck and bridge pup’s signals. The electronics inside the TB are shielded what could make additional shielding unnecessary.

    Here you can find the manual, a review and some comments about the TS:

    Does anybody here know this thing or has some experience?


    [I’ve never seen this before but thanks for the tip! I’ll check it out :) – Bjorn]

  10. I would like to buy a 2010 0110102706 American StandardHSS. Then I would like to buy a Fender Accessory kit 099-1363000, but may need a 4th black cover for the HUMBUCK. Change the white pickguard for a black one and change the tuners to black locking tuners, and finally change the bridge to a Kahler USA hybrid 7330B
    so that I can have fine tuners on the bridge….I dont use tremelo.

    Ive asked some questions and am being told I dont want a strat but should get another guitar altogether or a Tele…….I want a all black
    strat made in USA. The American Special already has the black PG, but it has a white trim on it……I dont want ANY white.

    SO here is my problem….How do I buy one that I know its going to be a sweetheart…a 8 or 9 and not just a normal 5 ???????
    When I go to guitar center they only have one HSS in stock and its the wrong color, so they would have to order me ONE and how can I ever compare it to another black one? IS there a store in NYC that would have tons of blacks to choose from????????

    [Although I’ve never been in NY I’m sure you’ll find a guitar store that has more than just one Strat in stock :) Buying a guitar is and should be a project. Don’t expect to find your sweetheart at once but spend some time trying different models and hear how they sound. If you’re uncertain what you really want then try different guitars as well. You might think you want a Strat but what is the point if you really end up liking a Les Paul better? Be patient and allow yourself to spend some time on finding your dream guitar. – Bjorn]

  11. Hey Bjorn thankyou for your honest review. Ive had my DG NOS a couple of weeks now and was wondering about the irritating treble i am recieving from this giutar, dont get me wrong i love it to bits but the treble is spoiling the experiance. Should i change one of the pickups? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards Tony.

    [What amp are you using and what’s the settings? Are you using many buffered pedals (Boss, Ibanez etc)? How does the guitar sound when you plug it straight into the amp without any pedals? Vintage style pickups like the ones on the DG Strat do have a brighter character but the Duncan bridge should be too bright. I would assume that the problem lies somewhere else than the guitar. Then again, perhaps you just don’t like the pickups and should consider something warmer like the EMG DG20 or Fender Texas Specials. – Bjorn]

  12. I have a question about the ss5 bridge pickup would you say it is closer to the sound of a p90 than the cs 69 bridge cheers Andy

    [Not really. It’s nowhere near as hot as a P90. It’s basically an overwound CS69. – Bjorn]

  13. Thank you for this great site!

    I bought Nos Gilmour Strat end here is a list of things that I thought are really good (besides the things you’ve mentioned. I totally agree with you);
    1. Nut. I haven’t ever played a guitar, where the string height above the fingerboard is so low on the first fret. I didn’t know that this is possible. I’ve got a gibson sg, fender dlx strat and steve morse music man. This is by far the best. It is amazing.
    2. Frets. No fret buzz. I checked all the frets; nothing.Usually i can find something to complain about, but not this time.
    3. Overall setup. the balance of pickups, neck, painting…
    4. It is quiet. It makes no extra noise.

    My opinion of course is that it is worth the money. I haven’t ever tried any other Custom Shop model, so i don’t know if it’s just the quality of Custom Shop or am I just lucky.

    Keep up the good work Björn!

    [Thanks for the input and congrats on the new guitar! – Bjorn]

  14. The reason that the middle position is muddy is that supposedly it is not reverse wound from what I’ve heard.

  15. Hi all, this is my first posting on this website, but i just had to say that I recently put a deposit on a DG relic and am immensly looking forward to getting it. I saw a NOS in my local shop back in Sept 08 when they first came out and then saw a couple more in the Nov at a guitar show(one of each)and I never felt any Stickyness to the necks. Anyway it’s gonna be a few months before i get mine but when i do i’ll post my thoughts on it


    [Welcome to the site David! Let us know what you think of the guitar when it arrives! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  16. Hi guys,

    my five cents.

    I finally got my DG Strat NOS. Tried it briefly yesterday, so now I’m able to describe my first impression abt this guitar. Once again, this is just that first contact with the instrument which, I think, is interesting to express in words.

    This one was bought in October 2008 in LA, but arrived in Moscow just a few days ago. It is one of the earliest strats in
    this custom run.

    So, here we go.

    After opening a case – I was astouned by its mirror black laquer finish which has a strong contrast with the dark yellow tint of the neck. For me, it looked much cooler than on fotos.

    The first thing I noticed when I grabbed it, was a feeling that a neck shape is very subtle, so to say, “thin-shouldered C shape” as Fender describes it. That’s right. The neck is slim. I’m prone to a large necks. “V” or fat “C” are much more comfortable, I think, due to the simple fact, that I have large hands and long fingers))) But, it still felt nice to play throughout. And, despite its relatively modest weight and size, this neck rocks!

    After an hour, I came to conclusion, that I can live with this kind of shape. By the way, I’m going to experiment and to change necks on this guitar, one of my favorites is an EJ strat’s compound V/C maple neck. Must try it on DG strat. Because that black body is absolutely rocking)) The guitar is balanced, so there is no tilt any way. It was mentioned here for many times, though.

    The neck was not very sticky as it could be, since that guitar was lying in a case for a long time.

    SSL-5 is fine, punchy and full, fat 50s is also a fine pickup. The middle one is a crap. I was very disappointed abt it. Thanks, Bjorn, I was ready for that)))

    I’m going to replace it with a grey boobbin, CS69. By the way, the middle pickup on an Eric Johnson strat is one of best I have ever heard.

    Neck/Bridge pickup combination gives you…great Jazzmaster’s sound when two pups are on. I can compare, have a vintage pre-CBS JM. Very very cool. It nails that sound easily. And this sound is in a great “surf league”, that’s for sure. So you can surf with DG strat too.


    Didn’t like neither GHS by itself nor that tiny gauge. They have sounded too bright, “loosing” a real power of the two pups and – it’s very important feeling – that guitar can deliver much more with heavy gauged strings. I’m sure.
    Heavy Ernie Balls shall sound far better on this guitar. Will try a Rotosound nickel string also. As said, the guitar is prone to be too bright (through my Fender Deluxe Reverb).

    So, that’s what I can say after a few hours of playing on this wonderful guitar. My first impression is like that.

    Thank you for reading this kind of random review.

    Rock on!



    [Thanks for your review Dmitry! I’ve been away for a couple of weeks and haven’t seen it before now. I agree very much with your thoughts and I also like the fact that you see this is any other guitar and consider experimenting with different necks. Please keep me posted if you do. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  17. Hi
    Nice unbiased review
    I agree with you it is Davids gear. I built my 70’s Strat from All parts, GFS, USA and I am liking it better every day :=)
    So far spent a 300 bucks.
    I built my own effects and there are sundays that when I am playing I think I found the sounds I want. …
    Anyway build your own guitar as you like, we are not David!

  18. Thought you folks might find the setup info directly from Mike Eldred himself at Fender Custom Shop:

    Follow up message
    We are setting the Gilmour’s up to David’s spec…at the time. That means that weather, shipping, store personnel, etc., will influence the specs.
    Low E 5/64
    A 4/64
    D 4/64
    G 4/64
    B 4/64
    E5/64 that is measured at the 15th fret.

    There is about .008 or.009 under bow.

    The bridge is not as pitched as stock; it is only 3/64 off of the body measured at the front of the angled part
    that holds the intonation screws.
    Fretted at the 21st fret the PU’s are:

    L.E. 6/64
    H.E 1/64

    L.E. 6/64
    H.E. 5/64

    L.E. 5/64
    H.E.2/64…you have to lower some of the PU’s depending on the

    Hope this helps,


    [Thanks for the info! – Bjorn]

  19. Ok – small update and A question.

    In less than a fortnight I have accumulated a couple of small nicks on the side of the neck. Do I repair or let the “aging” process begin??

    [Well, that’s a dilemma isn’t it? Sooner or later you have to let it go anyway. The first scratch feels like a punch in the gut but you get used to it… – Bjorn]

  20. Ok sorry it’s taken me so long…It’s been a week since the Black Beauty arrived.

    Seriously – it SMELLS like a great instrument.
    So arrived on time and a snip at £2,050 including delivery from GAK in Brighton…believe me it was good value compared to the prices I was quoted in Demark Street (£3,000!!!)….

    Out of the box I thought the setup might be quite high but it’s perfect. The neck is oh so shiny and does take some getting used to…being a little sticky but hey I hope to wear it out over time. The black paintjob is flawless and it just has that fabulous thing that my previous Tyler lacked – mojo. Tyler was almost trying too hard…this is understated and impeccably tasteful

    So plugging things in involved a swift visit from my Guitar teacher Leo to double check all was well (and to try it out for himself and see what all the fuss was about). “It’s a keeper James”…music to my ears.

    Since then I’ve been generally causing criminal damage to The Wall Pt 2 solo with just a modest amount of gain and reverb and It totally hits the spot. Stuff like Back in Black has a punchy edge to it and real growl! Other more acoustic stuff is also very engaging…

    The small switch adds additional depth switching on the bridge and neck pickups simultaneously. Haven’t used the middle position much as the other combinations give me pretty much everything I need (especially with my limited arsenal).

    Now I’m no tecchie and some might say that with 3 1/2 years playing I don’t know anything BUT…tonewise this totally hits the mark for me ad not just on Floyd tones… This guitar rocks with the best of them getting the most fabulous growl from the bridge pickup.

    Of course its expensive but it is a keeper and I believe my love for guitar playing is about to take on a new dimension….

    [Congratulations James and thanks for your review! Inspiration… that’s what it’s all about! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  21. great reviews and comments guys.

    My NOS Gilmour stat arrives tomorrow before middday

    Will review shortly!

    [Looking forward to it! – Bjorn]

  22. Hi guys
    I though i’d check in and let you all know i got one of the NOS Gilomour strats about 2 weeks ago. I’d had no intention of buyng one, but when i saw it in the flesh, and played it for a few minutes, I knew it had to come home with me…

    I played it as it came out the box for the first week, I wanted to get to know the guitar as it was before I made any tweaks. straight away i loved the tone, I’m not a big user of the middle pick up on a strat, but this one works well, and the neck and the bridge units are wonderful, giving me the clasic gilmour tones we all love.
    After the first week i decided to restring the guitar with my prefered brand of strings (elixir 10’s) as I found the DG sig set a little heavy, and decided to lower the action a little too… and the guitar is even better than it was when I bought it.
    To be fair the neck did feel a little sticky when i first bought it, but a quick wipe with a polishing cloth tends to sort that out, and it’s less of an issue now than it was 2 weeks ago.
    I’ve not been brave enough to take it to a gig yet, but I have taken it to a few rehersals, and it the guitar sounds fantastic when it’s cranked up.

    So 2 weeks on and i’m delighted with the guitar, I’m not sure if it’ll ever become my main instrument, or maybe just one I’ll keep at home for my own pleasure, only time will tell, but every time i play it i love it more and more, and i’m the point now where i’m able (I think) to evaluate it as a working instrument, and not just a Gilmour strat.

    as usual, I seem to have rambled a bit, suffice it to say, I’m delighted with the guitar, and despite the price I’m glad to have the pleasure of playing it on a daily basis.


    [Thanks for the review Stevie! Let us know what you think in a couple of months! – Bjorn]

  23. Bjorn, I was one of the lucky ones to first purchase a Fender David Gilmour N.O.S. Strat and I, like yourself, Love it. I am wanting to take of the nitrocellouse lacquer finish on the neck. I find it sticky as well. What would you suggest to try and elimanate this problem?? That is my only complaint about the guitar. I have waited years and years for Fender to make this particular guitar and I absolutly love it!! I nhave been using a lemon-oil type fretboard cleaner on the neck to help your hands to slide easier. I wish I could get this junk off of it. It would indeed be easier to play. Thanks for any suggestions, Cheers!! Gary J

    [I don’t have much experience with nitro finish necks but it will wear off with time depending on how much you play. Perhaps someone here has more experience than I on if there’s something one can do to make it wear off sooner? – Bjorn]

  24. You know Bjorn,
    maybe you should try a Ruokangas guitar.
    They seem to be very versatile.
    If you can get your hands on one, you should definately make a review of it!

    Greetz and thanks for the awesome job you are doing by making this site.

    [Thanks for the tip! – Bjorn]

  25. bjorn,
    great review on the nos, have never been able to get my hands on one, but its a beautiful guitar. i learned guitar on an acoustic, but finally decided i wanted to be able to learn and play a lot of david’s solos accurately and obviously my ovation wasn’t going to cut it. So i started doing some research a few months back and after almost buying an american standard, i decided to build my own black strat. picked up a 57 reissue c-shape maple neck cij and a 57 ri black alder body, both used so they are somewhat reliced, both still in great shape. Then i found you and kit had upgraded your bridge and tremolo with callaham ones, got my bridge and the rest of the hardware in last week and put everything together, its a sweet setup to say the least. i haven’t even ordered my pickups yet and i’m incredibly amazed at the rewards from building my own strat, its a cool thing. i can’t wait to get those pickups in and plug in….let me say this, if somebody wants the dg strat and has the money, then great, go for it, but if you don’t want to or can’t afford to spend what it costs for a custom shop gilmour, THEN BUILD YOUR OWN! don’t buy an american standard and put a black pickguard on it like i was going to do….well, not unless you want a guitar somebody else built. For the same amount of money, even possibly less, you can have your own….by the way bjorn, i downloaded the 4 tracks from airbag, love it…i’ll be putting an order in for the Lp, you guys are great, keep up the great work with that and with this wonderful site, it’s expanded my gilmour/floyd knowledge tremendously….

    [Although I haven’t built my Strat from scratch I agree that it’s a tremendously rewarding experience to create your own guitar. Glad you liked our music :) – Bjorn]

  26. About the neck and “sticky nitro finish “…
    It is new, it won’t be sticky after a while.
    Even my modern poly neck changed after a while.
    (its high gloss now and very comfortable!)

    [Yes I know. I was talking about my first impression but obviously the neck would feel smoother with time. – Bjorn]

  27. I tried a Relic version of the Gilmour Strat about a month or so ago, and I have to agree that this guitar has a setup that is very personalized for David. I played it through a Fender SuperSonic head with the matching 2X12 cabinet and a stock reissue Russian Big Muff. Tone-wise, it was spot on for the On An Island/Gdansk sound, but I prefer my own version of the “Red Strat” with my Warmoth neck and my EMG DG-20’s. I guess it’s just because I’ve always thought of the Pulse tone as the Holy Grail. Thanks for the review. It helped me to validate some of my own feelings toward this guitar and toward my own Strat.

  28. Thank you, Bjorn!

    You know probably, that specs provided by Fender right before the release in August 2008 stated that the middle pickup should be CS69! Then they changed it, so what kind of the middle pickup is installed? The Fender’s answer is “Custom Single Coil” or smth like that…The middle pup plays crucial role for my playing – 2/4-we all like it – little hope yet that it will need no replacement…

    I like CS69 too, one of my strats has it in all three positions replacing a stock ones. And I also thought abt bridge pup replacement but in end of searching for the sufficient replacement I came to conclusion that there is too many strats which have smth hot in the bridge…so I left it. All in all – great pickus.

    I’d like to say also that the NOS price is just ridiculous – I paid $3999+tax for it. Shame on Fender!))) the LP ’58 Standard VOS I bought in New York last year and which has outstanding custom quality is cheaper than “bolt on” guitar! For example, I have vintage ’64 Jazzmaster, all original, – great guitar – its cost is comparable with DG Relic’d axe Fender produces at present… This is strange however.



    [Yes the first list of specs said that it was CS69s. It might be that too for all I know but it might also be a custom wound, as it now says, based on a CS69 or whatever. I don’t think it sounded like a CS69 but then again, the alder body and the height of the pickup might have made it sound different to what I’m used to. Still, CS69 is my favourite in the middle position. – Bjorn]

  29. Hey Bjorn,

    thanks for a good review. I have my DG Strat lying in the closet in California))), one of my friends bought it for me. It’s winter time here in Moscow so I was afraid of getting an axe right now.
    I’m expecting that the guitar will be a true masterpiece(mine was produced in a very beginning of this release) but I was also a bit sceptical about it. But I’m a collector and a huge fan of DG so it was a must for me)))
    Sorry I did not read all posts and answers so here they are:

    Two guestions:
    1. According to what you’ve said – the neck is rather fat etc – is that true?
    2. SSL-5 – is it really that hot or is it a tapped version?

    The nitro finish is ok, I got it, it must be sticky)))

    Rock on!

    All the best,


    [I may have expressed my self a bit clumsy. The neck is not fat or thick. Compared to a V-neck, which I have on mine, it’s thinner but somehow I felt that it didn’t fit that well in my palm or hand. I get a better grip around the V than this C. It’s a matter of taste but I’ve never liked C necks and the sticky nitro finish made it even harder for me to play. But again, it’s about personal preferences.
    The guitar has the “normal” SSL5. It has a slightly higher output than the CS69 and a much fuller tone. – Bjorn]

  30. The neck was stock on the guitar. I love that neck to death. It has me written all over it. I have seen 57 necks out on EBAY.

    When I got my guitar the neck was tacky, but not as tacky as the Gilmour. On the 57 both the neck and body have the nitro finish. But for some strange reason on the Gilmour that I played, they really layed it on, it actually made my hand tired after a while of playing it. I solved the problem on mine with a little 000 steel wool, and that did the trick. I can send pics if you like:)

  31. I built my…DG tribute strat a few months before the release of the DG strat.
    I bought a 57 reissue, replaced the pups with CS Fat 50’s in the neck, CS 69’s middle and an SSL-5 in the bridge. The switch is installed. Everyting is shielded with a 3 ply black pickguard that I used a sharpie to hide the ice cream sandwich design of the original pickguard. I changed the trem, but changed it back to the original Fender. I did get the Callaham arm, and needed to fine tune it to my liking. I took a little off and re-threaded the arm just a tad.

    I also put in a bone nut, which is key for all of my guitars. Instead of the aged, or screaming white knobs and pup covers I chose parchment, which looks great.

    I played the hell out of it, and love it like a teddy bear.

    I then had the opportunity to play a relic at Guitar Center.
    Then compared it to mine, which I had with me. After a couple of hours believe it or not I made my conclusions.

    Besides the neck, which I did not like, I felt the guitar was identical to mine, with subtle differences, but I was glad to have mine back in my hands.

    Don’t get me wrong, the DG Strat is a sweet guitar, and the boys at Fender did a great job, it is beautiful. But I had more fun building mine, putting it together, making changes than dropping 3k on one that was already packaged. A guy did come in and buy the relic after I was done. Maybe I helped sell it.

    My next project is the 57 Candy Apple with EMGs.

    [That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Cheers! – Bjorn]

  32. Great review Bjorn!

    Hereby a short review of my try out on a windy sunday in januari. I’d played on the NOS from Daniel San.
    Next to the fact that it was injoyable it was also a useful experience.
    I’m planning to buy the DG strat but wanted to try it first. The best way to compare the DG strat with my own strat is a try out on my own equipment.
    I have an 88 USA strat plus with cs 54 pickups
    My conclusions are:
    A thin neck which makes the DG strat light and easy playable.
    Short tremolo straight to the body so you can only bend down. That’s Daniels preference, I prefer a floating one but that’s a matter of taste.
    But the most important thing is the sound.
    It has much more output than my strat. Normally I’ll use the TD to boost my BYOC beaver on the second numb solo. That was not necessary now.
    When you play clean it’s like you are using a bit of compression.
    The best example indeed is Take a breath.
    With the TD you’ll have that creamy punchy straight in your face Gilmoursound. For me that was the greatest difference with my own strat. I think that, that’s the combination of the good material and construction with the pick ups.

    I’m convinced and shall buy the DG strat. I’ll go for the relic version. I’d played on a relic 57 strat in our local store and that was awesome. Next to that I’m a bit careless and a scratch more or less on the relic is no problem ;-)

    BTW I will not sell my own strat because that’s my own one for several years now. A relic RV Strat. Maybe I will put some DG 20 pick ups in it at the time to have a different tone than the DG strat.

    [Thanks for your input! – Bjorn]

  33. Well, Bjorn, that DOES explain the Tubescreamer on your main board now, I was confused why that was there at first…

    The current pickups in my Strat are, honestly, I have no idea what brand they are. They certainly SOUND Strat-like, but I was never able to find any sort of identification mark on them, aside from the resistance written out in some sort of silvery pen. can’t complain about the sound, though I’d enjoy finding out just what brand they are.

    I was considering putting one of these in my Strat, sorta simulating the control system David has on his Red Strats. Likely the “Clapton Mid Boost” units. Frankly, at that price, it’s hard to say no.

    And I tend to be a person that favors a lot of mids in the first place, so that’s beneficial, heh…

  34. hey bjorn,

    coming in a bit late here, thanks for a terrific review! share most of your views regarding the guitar, it pretty much reflects my first impression also. myself, I got my NOS early december, and i was hooked from the first moment.

    I was surprised about the neck, too, at first, but only for a second really, cause once you pick up the guitar and put it on your shoulders you get the instant feeling this all makes terribly lots of sense. it’s the most complete strat I ever owned or even played. the balance between neck and body is simply perfect.

    regarding the neck: the C shape is great to play. it seems very light. it feels easy to play, in the sense that it’ great to handle. I have to say I didn’t so far experience the issue with the nitro finish. yes, the neck get’s sticky when playing, but to a similar extent so do all necks on my guitars, since I tend to sweat quite a bit when playing, so for me wiping the neck every few songs is mandatory anyway for all my guitars.

    pickups are awesome, but you’re right about the middle pu, it’s cool, but the cs69’s middle pu kicks in quite a bit more. I agree on the quack position with the extra switch, it’s spot on for “another brick in the wall (part2)”. david denied the extensive use of the switch in one of the more recent interviews, but I sort of believe he was intetionally misleading here a bit. I believe the switch in that particular position was used quite a bit, my guess would be breathe on the last tour, the blue, maybe even on an island, just a guess really, the position just sounds so familiar.

    the ssl-5, my goodness, how great is that pu. when I first plugged in the guitar I stomped on my bk tube drive and smashed out the intro chords to take a breath. hahaha ,) I thought i was going nuts, it was sounding so great, and most of all, accurate.

    tremolo arm, yes short, very short, another surprise at first, but then when I played it, it felt totally natural after a while, I will give a 5 1/4” arm a try though to see what it’s like.

    another suprise was the slightly raised bridge, I thought the position was totally even, mine at least came slightly raised, it is perfectly setup in regard to the neck and string height though, impeccable, so I reckon it’s all accurate.

    haven’t done any mods as of yet, and I do not intend to. (I have taken off the back plate though). I like to keep it in david’s setup, I find it great as it is, and or but, different to my other strats, which is a good thing, cause it implies a different use.

    on a sidenote, of all the goodies coming with the guitar, I do cherish the evidence cable, best cable I ever played, that simple.

    the guitar will not be spared, I am playing it regularly, in fact I will play the hell out of it, it will acquire it’s own wear and tear marks over time. the reason I got the guitar was to play it and not hang it on the wall, what a terrible waste this would be. it ultimately is david’s guitar, but to play it does not necessarily let you sound like him. anybody who expects or reckons that, you are misled here, and you would indeed waste your money on that particular instument then. I feel the guitar can inspire, it so makes you want to play it. I will certianly get my own sounds out of it, but it will always be obvious where it is coming from, where it is rooted. and that’s just alright me thinks.

    I do play it a lot, yet there’s days where it’s staying in its stand, it just keep staring at it at times, and sometimes I even think I hear it mumbling or whispering hahaha ;)….

    great, great instrument, worth the money without any doubt, I am happy, happy, happy I got me one, it was a bit of a stretch financially (no this guitar is not cheap, but why should it be?) but all worth the effort.


    [Thanks for your review Bernhard! – Bjorn]

  35. Bjorn, the word on the Harmony-Central forums have been nearly universally positive about the Classic Vibe series. Apparently better than most of the MIM Fender output, or at least equal to the higher-end ones. The pickups in the 50s model is definitely what he’ll want to go for, the one in the 60s apparently tend to be hotter, a bit more SRV-ish than, say, Buddy Holly-ish.

    Now, Bjorn, here’s a question for you. I really don’t have much desire to buy two separate Strats for each of David’s primary periods (Black and Red), but I got it in my head while reading this to attempt to make a Strat to “bridge the gap”, and get as close as possible to both ends of the spectrum. Do you think this would be possible, really? Say, as an example, my current setup are indeed low-output single coils, about 5k or so, varying on the position of course. I know of places to get mid-boost circuits and all, which seem to be a pretty major aspect of David’s PULSE tone….this sort of thing, fusing both aspects in an attempt to get a hybrid. think it could be done?

    And, on the subject of PULSE, I’m watching it for the first time this weekend. I still think RTN is better overall, but PULSE is still rather nice.

    [It’s definitely possible to have one guitar that (more or less) overs it all and I will also stress that the amp is equally important. A clean powerful tube tone will get you far and be a versatile basis for all kinds of sounds. I think that vintage style pickups (like CS69 or similar) is the best choice. They’ll cover David’s 70’s and present tones and with a few extra pedals you can get convincing PULSE tones as well. The EMGs are, in my opinion, only good for 80’s and 90’s tones and doesn’t do justice to David’s classic tones. David has, since Animals, been using Big Muffs for his leads so that would be the obvious choice but I think that choosing the right overdrives will help define the different eras. A transparent, glassy OD (Colorsound Power Boost, Boss BD-2) for the 70’s tones, Tube Screamer for the 80’s and 90’s tones (you need a lot of mid range and you might also want an additional EQ here as well) and a BK Tube Driver for the present tones. What I do to get my PULSE tones is that I roll off the TS tone all the way to exaggerate the warmth and to get as much mid range as possible and then boost everything with the bright Tube Driver. – Bjorn]

  36. Hi Bjorn!

    I like your site very much. I’m a David fan and this site has helped me a lot improving myself to catch both Gilmour sound and my own.

    I’d love to try a DG guitar, but stores in my country (México) don’t have any… :(

    Anyway, I’m customizing an axe, so it can be seen and sounds? like David’s. I’m considering an Squier Classic Vibe 50s. What do you think?

    Thank you for been helping me all this time with your site!

    Regards from México!

    PS: David’s strat comes with his brown leather strap replica?

    [I haven’t tried the Classic Vibe 50s so I can’t tell. Some of the Squire models are OK and you can also improve them by replacing pickups, bridge etc. Anyway, you should always look out for a couple of things when you buy a new guitar. Here’s a quote from the Buyer’s Gear Guide:

    When you’re shopping for a new guitar you should always keep some basics in mind. Be sure to always check for gaps between the neck and body. The most horrible examples show wide gaps and sometimes even stains of running glue. Make sure than the bridge is correctly angled. If it’s on skew it will scratch the body and you’ll loose tone and sustain. Look also for general signs of a poor finish and that the frets are fitted correctly. Maple necks should not show wood stains (dark brown irregular lines) although this is often common on MIMs and cheaper guitars. A good maple neck should have barely visible straight lines lying as close to each other as possible. Rosewood necks should look dense and moist (without actually being moist of course).

    Check out the Buyer’s Gear Guide budget section too for more tips on affordable guitars. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  37. Hi, thank you for your review!
    I have Kinman Hank Marvin PUs. they sound good but there is something that I dont like. I cant understand. I love the bridge and neck pickups but I decide to replace the mid pick up with ssl-1 or ssl-5. I want it for gilmour solos. What do you think?

    Thank you!

    [Personally I prefer CS69 in neck and middle for that typical Pompeii tone. – Bjorn]

  38. Great article Bjorn! I was lucky enough to get a NOS a few months back. I do feel Fender could have come down on the price a bit but I look at it this way: You are buying the guitar that Dave has (although it’s not the exact one an specs, but it’s very close), the guys at Fender Custom Shop handbuilt this baby (and they did a fantastic job!), it comes with some cool stuff (which you can buy separately), the case is breathtaking, I happen to like the C-shape neck, the p-ups blow my mind, and the fret job is amazing! These are just some of the things I love about this guitar. Now, to the people who feel it is overpriced: If you had the means, I’m sure you would get it (this is not a cut!) or if it was priced a little bit lower; and I feel too many people bash it because it is too expensive. This is nothing compared to some of the customs Gibson put out (need I remind you that the Jimmy Page Black Beauty went for over 6 grand). I gues all I am asking is that I wish people wouldn’t dislike it or ignore just because of the price. It is a beautiful guitar and I hope that anyone who wants one will someday be able to get one. Well that’s my two cents worth.

    [I agree. Although I must say that the NOS should be a little cheaper to reach a wider customer range I don’t think one should dismiss the guitar based on the price. These things cost whether you like it or not. If you do have the money it’s a question of whether you like the guitar or not. – Bjorn]

  39. Wow guy!! I wondered your review….tks a lot.
    I sincerely found it honest and reliable.
    A problem: it just made me have more sure that I definetely gotta get a guitar like this…

  40. thanks for the answer Bjorn but you didn’t answer about the picks… thx!

    [Oh sorry! He’s mostly using teardrops heavy gauge (Gibson and Fender mostly) on the electrics and Herco Heavy 354 normal size on acoustics. – Bjorn]

  41. Jan H.,

    Some of the Duncan rail-pickups that are hum-canceling are nice. Rails are also nice if you bend a lot, because you get a wider magnetic range with the rails. I like the Vintage Rails for neck and middle, and a hotter pickup for the bridge. The STK-S2 isn’t a bad bridge pickup (a little bright). I haven’t tried them, but the Hot Rails seem to get rave reviews; I would try them, probably over the STK-S2. .

  42. I really like the Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups. In the bridge position it does not get as close to DG as, say the SSL-1 or SSL-5, but it’s not bad. In the neck position its dead on. With the bride and middle on it sounds very close to DG’s rhythm sound.

  43. Hi All,

    Once again i find my self returning to Gilmourish for all things – Strat…

    Allthough the SSL-5 sounds interesting i am wondering what your experience with noiseless/canceling pickups are?
    I am using Dimarzio Virtual Vintage® ’54 Pro’s for bridge/neck.
    But my quest for the “perfect” pickup is still ongoing, so have you guys tried any and do you have any recommendations?


  44. Hello Bjorn! My N.O.S. it’s arrived! I’ve ordered from Tomassone Shop in July… well seven months ago…i’ve tried it only few minutes and my first impressions are follow: The instrument give too much emotions only look it and opening the case for first time! It contains many gadgets, Ghs Strings set, a Taylor’s book, a Cd and Dvd set, Evidence Cable, Pick, etc but this is what we know for many times. In my opinion is not easy to have an immediate feeling with the signature because the finish of the neck that cause a rubber effect and the tremolo arm very short! The sound is transparent ad full of power Dave’s like, long sustain and perfect frets…
    Finally i’m very happy for this guitar and the sound that give.

    [Congratulations Luca! Glad you liked it! If you find the arm too short you can order one that’s slightly longer at Callaham Vintage Guitars. See Strat Parts and get the 5 1/4″ arm. – Bjorn]

  45. Thank you very much for a very interesting and honest review Bjorn! :)

    I only wish I could have the opportunity to try one of those babys out.. let alone buy one :P

    But anyway thanks again for another great article from this wonderful website :)

    [Thanks Mark! – Bjorn]

  46. Hi Bjorn – great review. We’ve talked before, but I thought I’d throw my few cents on here for the world to see.

    When I pulled my Gilmour strat out of the shipping box the first time, I was worried right away by the neck – it is quite small. I am used to the V neck on my Clapton strat, and the huge neck on my R4 Les Paul – so the quite little vintage sized neck on the Gilmour has been an adjustment. That being said, it gets very comfy and very quick up above the 9th fret… And playing Floyd tunes you do spend some time up there!

    The neck and bridge pickups are both spectacular, and in the right setup sound exactly right. The middle is nothing to write home about, but it’s not really a big deal. The overall sound of this guitar is fantastic – I never believed it would make a big difference to have a Custom Shop strat, but my god – it sounds just right. It really was night and day.

    Anyway, it’s not for everyone I guess. Many people can’t afford it (I have to say, it was a stretch!). Others prefer to build their own (which I did, and was quite happy with). I just figured that, as the Gilmour in a Floyd tribute act, it was the right thing to do to buy the Gilmour strat. It does exactly the right job for me, so I guess that’s what matters, right? =)

    [Thanks for the input! Of course, it’s what you think that’s important. Buying a guitar is very personal and subjective. – Bjorn]

  47. hmm, the tele’s were used, one for Animals and the other just for Run like Hell, since Animals is not a very popular album ( that’s mine with the Wall) and selling a model used in one song wouldn’t be a good idea for Fender, I dont think they will… and the red strat is a basic 57 reissue that you can find everywhere with EMG pick ups and a short trem arm, and since it’s not used by David anymore which means no publicity for the model, Fender won’t do it either, and why buying a custom shop version which would cost a lot, when for 2000$ ( even less probably) you can have the very same guitar…

    btw: Bjorn, I was wondering if David was using a noisegate? and I saw that MXR re edited the 1976 Dynacomp, do you think it’s very different from the “new” one? finally what kind of picks does he use(d) ? thx!

    [He had one of those old MXR Noise Gate/Line Driver stompboxes in the Animals/Wall stage board and on the Momentary/Delicate tour in 1987-90 he used Rocktron HUSH II rack modules. As far as I know he didn’t use noise gates in 1994 or 2006. In ’94 he had the EMG pickups and the 2006 rig was customized down to the last screw by Pete Cornish to prevent noise.
    I haven’t tried the new Dynacomp but the old one is warmer than the block model. – Bjorn]

  48. Bjorn, I’m with you, I’d much rather build my own DG Strat, so I’m do that as my Senior Project for school, I also have a suggestion for you next YouTube videos, I think you should do Run Like Hell, and the live solo from Cymbaline. Thanks, William the youngest Floyd, and DG fan.

    [Thanks for the suggestions! – Bjorn]

  49. Yeah, a 1974-77 version would be pretty kick ass! Although, the 77 would need the DiMarzio pickup. It would be nice to see one with the All Black look and totally vintage pickups like the DSOTM and WYWH Black Strat. Also, a Red Strat would be a logical addition.

    Shit, they can just make a small series: Guitars of Gilmour. A Tele, White Strat, Black Strats (w/options), and a Red Strat. I think we’re on to something here.

    Really, David is one of those truly iconic Strat players like Clapton, Stevie, Hendrix, and a lot more so than Beck, Mayer, & Johnson. Gilmour, no we, deserve more Gilmour guitars!

  50. “Well, mine is an ordinary Japanese model modified to death with a numerous fret jobs and all sorts of trail and errors.”

    The irony of this comment is that minus being Japanese that’s what David’s guitar is! As awesome as it would be to have his guitar, having what you have is more awesome – something that is your creation and tweaked to your own vision of perfection.

    [Well, I can only speak for my self but I’ve found a lot of pleasure (and frustration) in customizing my own Strat. I’m a Gilmour fan so it was natural for me to be inspired by his guitar but I have always chosen things I like. It’s like assembling a pedal board. Some of David’s pedals are amazing and some aren’t. – Bjorn]

  51. Great objective review Bjorn!!

    The Cs69’s neck pickup seems to have more bass than the Fat50’s? and the treble side? did you notice any change in there? I have a Fat50’s in the neck and the treble is killing my ears!! is so transparent very 50’s yes..but not for my setup I guess, I need more bass and a little less of treble..


    [It’s always difficult to compare pickups because you would need to compare them on the same guitar. I have CS69s on both my Strats now but they sound quite different on the two. That has to do with the wood and material use, the quality, building specs etc. It also depends on the rig. Pickups can sound awesome on one amp and horrible on another. The Fat50 neck certainly didn’t sound thin or bright on David’s Strat but it may not work that well on a different guitar. The CS69 has more bass AND top compared to the Fat50, which has a bit more mids. – Bjorn]

  52. I too love the SSL-5. It’s the warmest, fattest, hottest bridge strat pickup I’ve tried yet that still sounds like a single coil. Mine’s never going anywhere. :)

  53. Bjorn, first off I just want to say that I love the site. Its been instrumental in helping me pick the right gear for my setup.

    In regards to your review, I thought it laid out everything about the guitar very well. I got the chance to play the relic through an ’87 re-issue of the ’59 Bassman head with a Marshall 1960A cab. All in all i wasnt really pleased with the guitar. I did love the feel of the neck as well as the SSL-5(although I prefer the SSL-1 myself).

    In the end, it just wasnt “me” and I prefer my ax with my setup. Anyone that thinks they are going to sound like the artist the guitar is modeled after is only fooling themselves. Everyone has their own unique tone.

    Cheers for a great website!

    [Thanks for your kind words Anthony! – Bjorn]

  54. Thank you very much for the interesting review, Bjorn.
    I am assembling my own DG Strat and I already bought a 57RI baseball bat (LOL) and a 68RI black body… all CiJ.
    I have two questions for you:
    1) I found (in the net) an official Fender project for the DG Strat wiring wich states that the toggle switch is ON/OFF/ON, that shoud be a 3 positions. Can you confirm that?
    2) Is the middle p/u a reverse wound?
    If you are interested in looking at this light pdf wiring project I can send it to you by e-mail.
    Thank you and sorry for my English.

    [1. No. The switch has two positions. On and off. 2. I really don’t know. Maybe someone can clarify this…? – Bjorn]

  55. Just to leave my personal thinking. I got one 57 vintage with CS54 pick ups and NOS Version. I like the NOS version much more in sounding and playing comfort.

    Cheerrs to every one..

  56. Thanks for the Review Bjorn.

    As players and fans we are very lucky that we have so many options for emulating our heroes. The amount of customisation stores and boutique dealers out there make pretty much any artist guitar possible.

    As I have always said, artist sig guitars are designed for the artist with their favourite spec. If that spec doesn’t suit your playing style its best to steer clear, your touch is exactly that your touch, no one elses is quite the same.

    Look at it like this if you build a Strat to your own specs and keep practicing, perhaps one day Fender will come knocking on your door to do a sig model of your specs!! You can only dream!!

    [My point exactly. I’m a bit surprised that some people would buy these signatures – be it Gilmour’s or any other – blinded by the fact that it’s a signature and therefore “it has to be awesome”. My opinion is that either you get one and use it or get one for the purpose of collecting and hanging it on a wall. If you buy the guitar and feel disapointed then you can only blame your self. I think one should consider the DG Strat like any other guitar and if you don’t like the features then don’t buy it. Playing guitar is all about inspiration and having fun and there’s nothing that kills that inspiration like a guitar that doesn’t feel right. Anyway… – Bjorn]

  57. and I must add that there’s to versions of the SSL-5, the ” reversed wired” and a normal version take a look at thomann.com Gary ( and BJorn if you’re intersted lol)

  58. Hi Bjorn,

    Nice to read the objective review on the DG Strat :-)

    I’m very happy with mine. It just sounds Gilmour all the way, especially the bridge pickup, like you said.
    I had some major problems adjusting to it though. I was used to my EJ Strat, which has a much thicker and wider neck. 12” radius, soft V shape against the 7.25” radius, thin-Shouldered C Shape of the DG Strat. I even began thinking of putting on another neck…lol. But I thought I’d give it more time.
    After a couple of weeks I started to really get comfortable with it and now I play better and faster on this guitar than ever before on a Strat.

    I do play it every day and gig with it. I play in a blues band, where it fits in very nice tone-wise. All the guys love the sound of it…ghehehe ;-) I guess, I’ll be using this guitar for a long time.



    [It’s never fair to review a guitar from just playing it once. My first impression is mixed but I’m sure that with some time I would have enjoyed it even more. – Bjorn]

  59. to respond to a comment, I had it in my hands, and the guitar is shielded with copper only in the controls area, and the wires are not ” shielded” ( dont know the porper english word, these are simple wires like on standard strat), but I must say the relic’s neck is pretty smooth, the neck finish is not didn’t seem sticky on the relic I tried, but I have a Mexican 50’s with a sticky neck, so maybe I’m abit biased, and again I tried the relic not the NOS. and I think the tremolo is not too short if you just keep it with the pinky and ring finger while you pick a string … and finally I think the neck is not to big, but I have big hands and long fingers so I think it’s matter of taste :D

  60. Nice review you’ve done here! You did confirm my suspicions of not getting that Gilmour tone with the NOS. You’ll only get that tone with HIS eqipment and style of fretting an axe. Ive been trying for years to get that perfect balanced tone and I stll dont quite have it. As youve done Ive modified my black “72 to the max and looks like the famous black strat and have an ssl-1 in shipment due to arrive any day now. With that being installed it will end my quest for the tone.

    [What I meant was that the guitar sounds very much like David’s but it won’t make your playing sound more like him. I was kinda trying to be funny :) The neck and bridge pickup is very nice and of course with the right pedals and amp you’ll get that On An Island tone. – Bjorn]

  61. Hey Riis, you said something about having an SSL-5 waiting at home, are you changing yours out from the CS69?

    [I don’t know yet. I’m planning on installing the SSL5 this weekend but I need to try before I decide to keep it. I recogn that it will sound slightly different on my guitar. I’ll keep you posted. – Bjorn]

  62. Hi Bjorn,

    Just a question regarding the pickups of the DG Strat:
    Is the middle pick up ‘reverse wound and reverse polarity’ for hum cancelling in position 2 and 4?


    [Hm… I don’t remember. Can anyone shed some light on this? – Bjorn]

  63. I still find it odd that Fender went with the maple neck. I know David prefers maple necks, but it most be for looks or the subtle tone difference.

    In Phil’s book, he said David swapped the original neck (Jun. 72) for the rosewood neck on his ’63 Strat, because he preferred the profile better. That is part of the reason I tried the ’62 Hot Rod neck, it was both rosewood and the early 60’s “C” shape. I really like the contour of the neck, makes playing between the 12th and 17th frets a lot easier. Also, it doesn’t squish my fingers together between frets 3 and 10 like my ‘V’ necks does when I play bar chords. I like my ‘V’ neck on my guitar I use for drop D tuning.

    Anyway, from Dark Side of the Moon up to and including Animals, David used the rosewood neck; he also recorded tracks on The Wall with the rosewood neck back on the ’63 sunburst Strat. I’m sure David had a say in using the maple neck the CS version has, but for the “classic” era Gilmour tones, you really need that warm rosewood tone. But I guess he didn’t have the SSL-5 (modded SSL-1) until 1979, so it has to be a Wall, Final Cut, and post-Waters’ Floyd replica, which is still great.

    Throwing in my two cents, when I think true, vintage Gilmour tone, I instantly think of Dark Side and Wish You Were Here. And again, I love the ‘All Black Strat’.

    [I understand why they did the current version with all the “free” promo from the last two years etc. They have a strong moment now and I don’t think a mid 70’s version would have gotten the same attention. Anyway, I would love to see a 1974-78 version of teh guitar too. Although I personally prefer maple I love the look and tone of the All Black! – Bjorn]

  64. Thomas Adams of MIRAGE

    Hey Bjorn, I have a couple of comments. First, new nitro necks do have a stickiness until they have “cured”. After that they feel so much more substantial to me over the cheap polyester necks. Also, according to the Black Strat book, Dave has a Fender ’57 V neck that he put on his Black Strat after getting used to his Red ’57 reissue necks. So I’m a bit confused about the neck being so thick “Like a baseball bat”? Also , before the David Gilmour Stratocaster news even broke from Fender, I was looking at buying a SSL-1 for my bridge pickup and found out through looking at a lot of Seymour’s SSL line that the SSL-5 is, or at least it used to be a left handed version of a SSL-1. So that’s also a bit bizarre! Anyway, I’m glad you were able to finally try one out, and I guess the lesson is that covet what you love at home. Maybe not your neighbor’s Black Strat. Enjoy yours! Peace, Thomas Adams from MIRAGE

    [David’s original neck is a C. The V stands for vintage. A bit confusing… I don’t know, it just felt too big. I’m used to V’s, which most people regards as way harder to play but I didn’t feel comfortable with the this neck. – Bjorn]

  65. Hi, Bjorn

    That’s exactly how I felt about the neck… it was WAY to gunky and made the DG difficult to play…

    It took me all of about five minutes to decide this guitar was NOT for me… I’m not saying it’s bad… It looked cool, and felt cool, but it lagged in playability…

    I’ll stick with my signature strat!

  66. Nice to know you’ve tried one. If you are ever in the UK you are more than welcome to come and have a play with my relic version.
    Re the SSL-5, don’t forget that they are the opposite phase to Fender pickups, i.e. the white is the earth and the black is the hot if you combine them with Fender pickup’s.

    All the best,


    [Cheers Gary! – Bjorn]

  67. Hello Bjorn! I was just asking my self the other day if you had ever tried the Gilmour strat or if you were going to. I like how you explained everything really well and to me it sounds like a good guitar, but I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again, that guitar is great but it will never fit you as good or play as good as the guitar you have been playing for about 8 years. Its just a known fact, well for me it is. This is off the subject but I remember talking to you about where to get a pickguard just like Davids. Well I contacted a custom acrylics shop and they told me they could make an all black pickguard in any size or color as long as you sent them one to trace it with! I am really excited about getting mine and I will tell you more about it when I get it. Keep up the good work and God bless!


    [Cheers Brad! Keep me posted! – Bjorn]

  68. Hey, do you think Andre would let you borrow his Black Strat, so you can tear it apart and look at how they wired up the Fender pickups with the SSL-5? Haha, I know the answer already. Damn!

    [I sure wouldn’t have let anyone borrow my guitar even less if it was a DG Strat! – Bjorn]

  69. Hi, Great review. I have this guitar for test when I was buying my Fender weeks ago. I was trying to make some comparison beetween Gilmour Strat (Relic – great deal!), Fender 57 Vintage Reissue strat with 7,25 neck, Fender Hot Rod 57 Vintage Reissue with 9,25 neck.

    I have choosed the last one. Fender 57 Hot rod Candy Apple (upgraded with EMG’s now)

    I it so hard for me to review Gilmour Signature. It is great but I have some negative thoughts to buy a relic copy – the same as David have. Sound from this guitar is great. Pickups have really nice warm..David sound… This Relic is well made copy.

    Now, I am playing on my Fender 57 with EMG’s. I am very happy that I have choosen this guitar. The 9,25 neck is much comfortable for me than 7,25.

    If I will be rich in the future – I will buy Gilmour Signature to hang it on the wall and play Castellorizon for my friends for a couple of times…

  70. Oh yeah, how was the “hum”? Was it any quieter than a stock Strat? I shielded the hell out of mine, so I am wondering what Fender did with this one.

    [I didn’t get a realistic impression of any noise problems because we had some problems with interference so it was incredibly noisy. I also didn’t know the rig well enough to tell if there was any hum or not. – Bjorn]

  71. Bjorn, glad you liked the SSL-5. I truly believe it’s the best single coil bridge pickup for a Strat, whether you want David’s tones or not.

    I know what you mean about the neck. I have several Strats, but when I built my Black Strat, I wanted as close as I could get to Fender’s version of David’s. I bought the Hot Rod ’57 V neck, because I like the ‘V’ shape my Clapton had and I liked the look of the aged (darkened) tint. I truly hate pale maple necks that look almost white, rather than blonde.

    Like you, I felt it was “sticky”. My Clapton ‘V’ neck had the same radius, but a different finish, I much preferred the finish of the Clapton. The worst thing about the nitro finish being sticky is that after hours of playing, your dead skin and sweat gum up the neck and you really have to scrub it off… and I mean scrub!

    I kept my maple ’57 ‘V’ neck and put it on another Strat I have. For my Black Strat, I ended up going with a rosewood neck. I just fell in love with the pictures of the All Black Strat in Phil’s book. I also wanted a little richer tone, and the rosewood delivered exactly what I had hoped for.

    I bought the Hot Rod ’62 neck. I have a Hot Rod alder ’57 body, and it mounted up perfectly. This neck has the “C” shape, but it is “thicker than stock”, according to Fender. I like it. Plus, this neck has the 9.5″ radius I prefer, not the 7.25″ like David’s. This neck also has the nitro finish, but is a little faster than my previous ’57 neck. This neck is a little more broke in, so I am sure that is the reasoning behind this.

    TIP: Sometimes it’s nice to use a little baby powder on your neck, if it’s sticky. Do you know what baby powder is? In Norway, you may call it something else. Billiard players use it on cue sticks too, for the same reason. After your neck gets some wear and tear, you can use it less often or not at all.

    I would recommend to anyone wanting to build a replica, try to use Fender’s Hot Rod series parts. They are what Fender calls “half-America Standard and half-Fender Custom Shop.” You can find good deals on these parts from the Stratosphere on eBay. I have both a ’57 ‘V’ neck and a ’62 ‘thick C’, and both play better than any Fender neck I’ve tried, except for the Clapton ‘V’ neck and the “C” neck used on the 1960 Custom Shop Strat. I live a mile from a popular Fender dealer (Sweetwater Sound), and have a friend who works in the receiving department, so I often get to try a lot of the new guitars.

    Like you, I prefer the look of the aged white on my Black Strat. I use a modified S-1 switch for my bridge/neck switch, and S-1 switches only come in aged white and black, so it was a nice bonus. Not to mention, my Duncan Antiquity pickups are aged as well. I don’t like push/pull pots, because you usually turn them a bit when pulling them up, or pushing them down, so the S-1 is a perfect solution, and you don’t have to mod your pickguard at all for it.

    TIP: Anyone wanting to “age” white plastic, here a few tips that work wonders. 1.) Rub brown shoe polish on your parts and wipe them clean; this will stain the plastic slightly and leave a nice vintage look. 2.) Boil your plastic parts (mindful not to melt/distort them) in tea. Sounds weird, but this is what Seymour Duncan does to his personal pickups. Since my parts were all aged, and the SSL-5 cover isn’t, you can do one of these or buy some aged plastic parts. I used shoe polish on mine, and it looks beautiful.

    Well, I’m glad you loved it and thanks for sharing. I’m still waiting for Sweetwater to get one in. They had a few and they flew off the shelf before I got to test one. But really, I love my Black Beauty! It’s balanced. Looks like a $3,000 guitar, and more importantly, plays and sounds like one.

    Thanks again for the review of David’s pickups, I was curious to hear what you had to say about them.

    [Thanks for all your tips Randall! Yes, we have baby powder here in Norway too :) Cheers! – Bjorn]

  72. thanks for the review man! I still think the best option is to mod your own guitar… but I bet is a nice guitar to own.


  73. An excellent and honest review! Sorry about the past when I have gotten annoyed about the interest spent on such an overpriced item while waiting for something awesome like Focus On SOYCD. Reading this was different. I love this site as it has a certain “spirit” to learning how to play such timeless and beautiful music. I am ordering a SSL-5 soon.

    Off the subject: do you have any idea what fuzz/distortion Robby Krieger used in the Doors? Would an Analog NKT Sun Face (Geranium of course) cover him and the Beatles well like you said it would cover early Pink Floyd and Hendrix? There isn’t a good website for them like this is for David Gilmour. Thanks,

    [I’ve seen reports that he sometimes would just plug his guitar SG and/or Les Paul into the mixing desk and they would crank the signal to get a fuzz tone. It’s most likely however that he used a Maestro fuzz as this was pretty much the only fuzz pedal available at the time. The Fuzz Face was introduced in 1968, a year after The Doors first albums. A NKT275 fuzz would do the job I guess. Krieger often used Fender amps, which is very clean but on a Marshall or some of the more “gainy” amps you could use a treble booster to crank the amp even further. I’ve also managed to get pretty convincing Doors tones with the Colorsound Power Boost and my SG. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  74. good review bjorn. i like my nos dg strat a whole lot for much the same reasons you do , but was a little disappointed when looking under the hood to see no shielding and none of the routing dg has on his. however a beautiful guitar and definately a “keeper”. keep up the great work bjorn!

    [I didn’t get to see under the plate but you confirm my suspicions that the routing and shielding is pretty standard. – Bjorn]

  75. The Gilmour signature strat looks awesome… that is why I have the ad from Fender posted in my office. What isn’t awesome is the price. I recently built my own black strat… found an early 80’s Japanese body, a new reissue V neck with a flatter radius and jumbo frets, CS ’69 pickups, a 1 ply black pickguard from Warmoth, Kluson tuners, and then brought it into a tech to have it wired and set up. Total cost was under $600 US and it plays and feels absolutely amazing. If you have all the money in the world, buy the signature… I admit I would too, but for a fraction of the price you can get on Ebay, buy everything used and naturally reliced and have an amazing guitar.

    [I think the question one should ask is “Is this the guitar for me?”. It really doesn’t matter if you can afford it or not if you don’t like it. Of course, you could hang it on the wall but that would be a shame wouldn’t it? Then again, who says you can’t mod this guitar too… – Bjorn]

  76. Bjorn! Thanks for such an honest review! I too believe that its overpriced and you’d be better off with a ’57 reissue (simply because I have had so much fun modifying my guitar). You mentioned the push/pull pot to combine neck and bridge pups. I remember reading about that on your site and was recently looking for it but couldn’t find it. If it would not be too much of an inconvenience, could you point me in the right direction to some info on that pot? I would greatly appreciate it, Thanks Bjorn!

    [I think it was a EP 0296-000 from Allparts. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  77. yep, of course I wish I had this guitar, but it’s obvious that this is David’s guitar and that it won’t suit to somebody else as good as it does for him… plus the original one, and the relic, was so tortured through the years, especially with the addition then removal of the Kahler tremolo system, that I think that the aged wood is not worth the amputation, then filling of a body piece…

    this guitar is special, but I think it’s more a collector than a guitar some would buy to play it daily and at gigs, rather buy a 57 reissue updated and shielded…

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