Dark Side of the Moon 1972-75

Read more: settings and setups

Dark Side of the Moon was largely written and developed on tour throughout 1972. The period stretches from the premiere of the suite Eclipse in January 1972 to the release of the album in March 1973 and the following tour ending in July 1975.

Dark Side of the Moon marks a transition for Pink Floyd, catapulting the band into arenas that demanded a much bigger stage production. It also marks a change in David Gilmour’s playing and tone. From being the guy who replaced Syd Barrett to establishing himself as a truly unique and innovative guitarist.

David got his first pedalboard in early 1973. By summer 1974, all of his amps and cabinets were replaced by new and he got several new guitars. While many of the songs on Dark Side of the Moon feature Hendrix style fuzz sounds, by 1974-75 and with the new material that eventually would make up Wish You Were Here and Animals, David would go back to his roots and develop a more blues oriented sound.

This guide will focus on the Dark Side of the Moon album and following 1973-75 tour. See Obscured By Clouds for a detailed guide to David Gilmour’s pre-album release stage setup and Pulse for 1994 live performances.

Effects recording sessions

Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (BC108)
Colorsound Power Boost
Univox Uni-Vibe
Binson Echorec II
Kepex processor (tremolo, Money recording session)
EMS Synthi Hi-Fli guitar effect processor

David did not have a pedalboard for the recording sessions. All pedals were used as stand alone units. Either alone or hooked up in chain for different sounds.

There is very little footage from the Dark Side of the Moon recording sessions but these images from the 1972 tour (left) and Obscured by Clouds recording sessions (right), provides evidence of his setup at the time.
(left) Colorsound Power Boost, Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (silicon transitor) and Binson Echorec on/off switch.
(right) Uni-Vibe with foot controller, Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (silicon transistor), DeArmond volume pedal, Vox wah wah. A Colorsound Power Boost is also present on images from the Obscured by Clouds sessions.

David would use a Fuzz Face for the solos on Time and Money and possibly for smaller leads and fills here and there. It’s not documented how he recorded overdrive sounds for the album. David could have used a Colorsound Power Boost, as he did on Obscured by Clouds, or simply cranked his amps. Input compression and pre-amps on the mixing console would also add to the character of the tone although engineer Alan Parsons claim they didn’t use additional effects.

There are no records on if or how the Hi-Fli processor was used during the recording sessions. Some sources indicates that David might have used an auto wah or filter effect for Any Colour You Like but it’s more likely that is a UniVibe.

Pedalboard and additional effects 1973-75 live performances

Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (BC108)
Vox wah wah (1973)
Cry Baby wah wah (1974-75)
Colorsound Power Boost
Univox Uni-Vibe (with foot controller)
MXR Phase 90 (1974-75)
DeArmond volume pedal

Additional units for lap steel guitar 1974-75

Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (BC108)
Volume pedal

Additional units on custom rack

Binson Echorec II
Binson Echorec PE 603
EMS Synthi Hi-Fli guitar effect processor (1973)
Conn Strobo Tuners (1974-75)
EMS Synthi A (performing On the Run)

David Gilmour’s 1973-75 pedalboard is said to have been designed by David and backline technician Chris Adamson. There is very little information available but judging by images alone, the board appear to have been constructed similar to the later Pete Cornish boards, with the circuits of each pedal simply built into the board, with custom controls and on/off switches mounted on top of the board.

(left) David Gilmour’s lap steel setup from june 1974 to July 1975, with a volume pedal (unknown brand) and Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (silicon transistor). It’s likely that this was hooked up to the Binson Echorec as well.
(right) A rare close-up of David Gilmour’s Dark Side of the Moon pedalboard sometime in 1973. Notice the three sweep pedals – UniVibe foot controller, DeArmond volume pedal and Vox wah wah – and the custom on/off switches.
David Gilmour’s Dark Side of the Moon stage setup at Earl’s Court, London, UK, May 1973. This would be the setup, apart from the HiFli processor, up until July 1975.
1. Binson Echorec II, 2. Binson Echorec PE603, 3. 4 Hiwatt DR103 heads, 4. EMS Hi-Fli effects processor with pedals, 5. pedalboard, 6. EMS Synthi A (used by David during On the Run).

The board saw some changes and upgrades along the tour

– The Vox wah wah was replaced by a Cry Baby in 1974
– Both Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun and Echoes was performed in 1973, which indicates that the Vox wah wah had a custom switch for reversing the input/outputs for the seagull screams on Echoes. This may also answer why he changed the Vox for the Cry Baby in 1974 as they continued to play Echoes but not Set the Controls.
– A second Uni-Vibe is seen laying beside the board during the 1974-75 leg of the tour. Either replacing the original or he had two.
– An MXR Phase 90 was connected via send/returns laying beside the board from June 1974 to July 1975. Some images from the 1975 North American tour also indicates that he had a MXR Dyna Comp although this might just be the Phase 90.

The Hi-Fli processor was featured in David’s rig during the brief US tour in March 1973 and most notably at the charity gigs at Earl’s Court, London, UK, in May 1973. There are no sources indicating if or how it was used.

Guitars and amps recording sessions

Fender Stratocaster The Black Strat
– 1969 black alder body with a white pickguard, 1963 rosewood neck, stock Fender pickups and an additional mini switch allowing multiple pickup combinations.
Fender 1000 twin neck pedal steel
– Breathe and Great Gig in the Sky recording sessions with an open G chord tuning (D G D G B E)
Bill Lewis custom guitar
– 1970 mahogany body with custom humbuckers and a 24 frets ebony neck. The guitar was used to record the first and third guitar solo on Money. The guitar might have been used on Us & Them, Brain Damage and Eclipse as well.

Hiwatt DR103 All Purpose 100W heads
– with Mullard 4xEL34 power tubes and 4xECC83 pre-amp tubes
Fender Twin Reverb silverface 100W
– 4x6L6, 2x12AT7 and 3x12AX7 tubes
Maestro Rover rotating speaker
Leslie 147 rotating speaker cabinet
WEM Super Starfinder 200 cabinets
– with 4×12 Fane Crescendo speakers

David Gilmour’s guitars for the Dark Side of the Moon recording sessions.
(left) The Bill Lewis Custom was used on the first and third solos on Money and possibly other songs.
(right) David Gilmour pictured in France June 1974 playing the Black Strat, with the Fender 1000 pedal steel behind him that was used to record the slide parts on Breathe and The Great Gig in the Sky. Spot the pedalboard in the front and David’s old WEM speaker cabinets loaded with Fane Crescendo metal dust cap speakers.

Amp setup recording sessions

Alan Parsons was the chief engineer on the sessions at Abbey Road studios and responsible for micing David Gilmour’s guitar cabinet. In an interview with Premier Guitar (2012), Alan reveals that they used Neumann U87 (or U86) condenser microphones on the guitar cabs. The microphone was placed one foot or a foot and a half away from the cabinet.

Alan Parsons also talks about how David would record with a Fender Twin reverb and that it was so loud that everyone had to leave the studio. Other sources, including David, indicate that he would use Hiwatt amps for the sessions.

David would split the signal from his guitar or effects into his main amps, either Fender or Hiwatt, with a rotating speaker cabinet. It is reported that both a Maestro Rover and Leslie 147 was used for the sessions. These were mixed lower than the amps, adding a subtle modulation to the guitar sound.

Guitars and amps 1973-75 live performances

Fender Stratocaster The Black Strat
– 1969 black alder body with a white pickguard and a 1963 rosewood neck. Original 1969 Fender pickups until June 1973 when replaced with Fender 1971 pickups. Fitted with an additional Gibson PAF humbucker between January-June 1973 and a black pickguard in June 1974.
Fender Stratocaster
– 1971 model with black alder body, white pickguard, maple neck with a large bullet truss rod headstock (Earl’s Court May 1973).
Fender Telecaster Custom
– 1959 model with three colour sunburst alder body, rosewood neck and a Gibson PAF neck humbucker. Used for You’ve Gotta Be Crazy with regular tuning in 1974 and tuned down one step (D G C F A D) in 1975.
Fender 1000 twin neck pedal steel
– Main slide guitar in June 1974 with open G tuning (D G D G B E) for Great Gig in the Sky and Shine On You Crazy Diamond.
Jedson lap steel (blonde)
– Used winter 1974 and spring 1975, open G tuning (D G D G B E) for Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Standing behind Gilmour.
Jedson lap steel (red)
– Used winter 1974 and spring 1975, open G tuning (D G D G B E) for Great Gig in the Sky. Standing behind Richard Wright’s keyboards so that Gilmour could play hammond during the drum section of the song.

The two Jedson lap steels David Gilmour got summer 1974. The red was used for Great Gig in the Sky and was positioned behind Richard Wright’s keyboards so that David could play both slides and Hammond (during the drum part). The blonde Jedson was placed just behind David in front of his WEM cabinets and used for an early version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond 6-9.
David Gilmour pictured in 1974 with the 1959 Fender Telecaster Custom. This guitar was not used for any of the Dark Side of the Moon material but You Gotta Be Crazy, which was a new song Pink Floyd played between June 1974 and July 1975. The song ended up as Dogs on Animals (1977).

4 Hiwatt DR103 All Purpose 100W heads
– with Mullard 4xEL34 power tubes and 4xECC83 pre-amp tubes. Two main heads and one spare. In 1973 there was also a fourth head that powered David’s front stage monitors.
Alembic F-2B tube preamp
– Added summer 1974, Leslie preamp.
Leslie 147 speaker cabinet
4 WEM Super Starfinder 200 cabinets
– with 4×12 Fane Crescendo speakers
2 Hiwatt SE-4123 cabinets
– with 4×12 Fane Crescendo speakers (Radio City Music Hall, NY, USA, 17 March 1973)

New amps, speaker cabinets and guitars

During a short break in June 1974, the band would upgrade their stage show and gear. Newly hired technician Phil Taylor bought new Hiwatt DR103 heads and WEM speaker cabinets for Gilmour. These are still his main amps and cabinets.

Taylor also bought the two Jedson lap steel guitars. David did all slide parts on his Stratocaster in 1973 and early 1974. The Fender 1000 pedal steel he used on the album, was briefly used during the French dates in early June 1974 but the Jedsons was probably considered much more practical.

Acknowledgements and credits
Dark Side of the Moon (album 1973), Rainbow Theatre London UK (live recording February 1972), Wembley Stadium (live recording November 1974), Echoes in the Gardens (live recording Boston USA June 1975), Guitarist Magazine (January 1995), Guitar World Magazine (1993), Premier Guitar (2012), In the Flesh by Povey/Russell, The Black Strat – A History of David Gilmour’s black Fender Stratocaster by Phil Taylor. Thanks to Grace Hudecek for help with research.