David Gilmour’s guitar collection includes several sought after, highly priced items. In an interview with Guitarist in 1986, David mentions that his first collectable was a Gibson TV, which he bought during Pink Floyd’s visit to the States in October 1970. The jewel however is the Fender Stratocaster with the #0001 serial number.
Although stamped with the #0001 serial number, it’s not the first ever-made Stratocaster. The unusual colour and the gold hardware indicate that it might be a showpiece made for a special occasion or for an employee.
The neck is signed TG 6.54, referring to Taddeo Gomez June 1954 and the body has a handwritten signature Mary 9.28.54, referring to Mary (this could very well be Mary Lemus, a Fender factory employee. Mary began work at Fender in 1954 as an assembler, eventually becoming a final assembly supervisor – thank you Mike Rego) September 28. 1954.
According to Guitarist journalist David Mead, who examined the guitar for an article in 1995, the ash body is indeed white although it might appear to be aged Olympic White, pale green or even blue-ish on some pictures. The guitar features an anodized gold 8 hole 1-ply pickguard, custom gold plated tremolo system and output jack and Kluson Deluxe tuners. The pickups appear to be original 1954 Fenders with a 3-way pickup switch (the 5-way switch didn’t surface until the mid 70s).
David explained to Guitarist in 1986 how he got his hands on the guitar: Eventually Phil (Taylor, David’s long-time guitar technician) wanted to borrow some money to buy a house, so I blackmailed him! I said the only way I’d lend him the money to buy the house, was if he sold me the white Strat. This must have been sometime around 1976-77. Apparently, the guitar had originally belonged to Leo Fender who gave (or sold) it to Seymour Duncan. Duncan later sold it to Phil in the mid 70s for $900.
The guitar made its first appearance on the live promo clips filmed for David’s first solo album in 1978. It’s is not documented whether it was used for the album or not. Later, he would use it during the The Wall sessions, including that famous rhythm guitar on Another Brick in the Wall (part 2), which was recorded by plugging the #0001 straight into the mixing console.
David also used the guitar on the recording of Paul McCartney’s Back to the Egg album and the song So Glad to See You Here. The track was also filmed in 1979 at Abbey Road Studios, featuring McCartney’s all-star Rockestra, with David playing the #0001 Strat.
In 1986, David recorded the solo for Bryan Ferry’s Is Your Love Strong Enough and the video for the single feature David playing the #0001 during a unforgetable scene filled with smoke and beaming lights.
In 1991 David, using the #0001 Strat, and former Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff Baxter, did an impromptu jam recorded and filmed at Abbey Road Studios.
For the celebration of the Stratocaster’s 50th anniversary in 2004, an impressive line up of guitar greats shared the stage at London’s Wembley Arena. David Gilmour performed three songs with the “house band”, including Coming Back to Life and Marooned (this was the second time Marooned was performed, the first being in Oslo, Norway in 1994 on the Division Bell tour). Both songs featuring the #0001 Stratocaster, which obviously was only fitting for the event. The third song, Sorrow, was performed with David’s then favoured guitar, the 1983 ’57 CAR reissue Strat with the EMG pickups. The show was later released on DVD.
The alternate theory about the guitar’s origins
There was some discussion about the #0001 Strat’s origins in 2004 on the Seymour Duncan forum that seemed to stir up some controversy. According to Seymour Duncan, there were two guitars with the #0001 serial number and David’s guitar is a “frankenstein” consisting of several different parts.
Apparently, in 1976 a guy named Richard Green wanted Duncan to repair his 1957 Strat. Duncan shipped the body to Charvel but it was too worn and full of scratches and it was replaced by a random, similar body and sprayed see-through root beer. The neck went to repairman Phil Kubicki, who refinished it and Duncan fitted the neck to the new body and returned it to Richard Green. The guitar had a #0001 serial number on the neckplate.
Later, Seymour got the original body at Charvel’s, slapped on a random 1957 neck that he’d bought from Phil Kubicki, wounded new 1960s replica pickups and sold it to Phil Taylor. This guitar also had a #0001 serial number on the neckplate.
So to sum it up, according to Seymour Duncan, David’s #0001 Stratocaster has a 1957 light mint green ash body and a 1957 neck, from to two separate guitars, and the pickups are custom 60s Duncans. Seymour also insists that he actually didn’t sell it to Taylor but to Alan Rogan (Pete Towsend’s long time guitar tech), who then sold it to Phil. The neck could have been a 1954 but Seymour remembers that it had a 57 neck with cigarette burns just above the nut, which David’s indeed has.
Whether or not this is the true story of David’s guitar or not is not for me to decide. There are very few sources and although Seymour Duncan might have a good memory, there are some holes in his theory, not least because David Meads, as mentioned above, examination of the guitar in 1995 reveals strong evidence of it being a genuine 1954 model. Phil Taylor also seems to deny the theory insisting on that Seymour is confusing the “frankenstein” with another guitar.
One can also raise the question, why did Seymour only want $900 for it when he sold it to Taylor if it indeed was the #0001 Strat? Was it a symbolical price between friends or the fact that the vintage guitars phenomenon wasn’t an issue at the time? If one look at it the other way, baring in mind that Seymour knew it was a fake then why did he sell it for $900, which in those days was a bit too much for a seemingly ordinary guitar made up from different bits and pieces?
Nevertheless, David’s #0001 is a unique guitar in it self and while many collectors keep their items behind glass or in storage, David use the Strat frequently. The guitar was last seen for a photo session by Ross Halfin in 2006.
– Guitarist, 1995
– Guitarist, 1986
– The Black Strat – A History of David Gilmour’s black Fender Stratocaster by Phil Taylor
– Seymour Duncan User Group Forum
– The Strat Pack, Live in Concert DVD 2004
– Live promo clips filmed for David Gilmour 1978
– Comfortably Numb – A History of the Wall by Vernon Fitch and Richard Mahon
– Thanks to Evan Skopp, Seymour Duncan VP Marketing & OEM Sales