David Gilmour arrived at Pink Floyd almost by chance but it didn't take him long to transform his guitar sound into one of the pillars of the band's sound, becoming the best soloist in a group full of great musicians. From Guitars Exchange we want to celebrate this unique guitarist through his eight most iconic guitars during his time in one of the greatest bands of all time.
60's Fender Telecaster
On March 6, 1967, his 21st birthday, David Gilmour received a Fender Telecaster as a gift, the first really good guitar he owned. Before the end of that year, Gilmour had already used it in one of the most famous bands of that time, Pink Floyd. Four days after his 21st birthday Pink Floyd, the band in which his friend Syd Barrett played, released Arnold Layne, which would soon become a hit. Barrett also played a Telecaster and had become the leader of the nascent English psychedelic scene. Events moved fast and when in May 1967 Gilmour dropped by the Abbey Road studios where Pink Floyd were finishing recording The Piper at The Gates Of Dawn, Barrett didn't even recognize him; it was the first warning sign. In December of that year Nick Mason asked him to join the band, at first it was to cover for a Barrett whose erratic behavior caused him to stop playing during gigs, but when it became clear that Barrett had lost all interest and contact with reality, Gilmour became his friend's replacement at the end of January 1968. With the Telecaster he recorded his parts of A Saucerful Of Secrets and gave his first band concerts, which was still based on Syd's repertoire, as can be seen in the video below in which, in February 1967, a few days after Barrett's final departure, the band plays Astronomy Domine, Flaming, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun and Let There Be More Light on French television. On that show Gilmour sings Barrett's parts and plays his white Telecaster, a guitar that had not yet completed a year in his possession and would not be with him much longer, as he lost it after an airline error before the end of the year.
Some songs in which it appears: Let There Be More Light, A Saucerful of Secrets.
60's Fender Stratocaster
The first Stratocaster of Gilmour's career was a gift from his bandmates in 1968. It was an early to mid-'60s Strat in white. It was Gilmour's lead guitar on the More and Ummagumma albums, presumably the lead guitar on his first major songwriting contribution to the band, The Narrow Way, as well as appearing on some of More's best songs like Green Is The Color or Ibiza Bar, where Hendrix's influence can be seen. It does not appear in more records because it was stolen in 1970, a fact that would lead to the acquisition of...
Some songs in which it appears: The Narrow Way, Ibiza Bar, Green Is The Color
1969 Fender Stratocaster ‘Black Strat’
The most important and iconic guitar of his career, Gilmour bought it at the legendary Manny's store in New York in May 1970, in the middle of a Pink Floyd tour. He bought it because his Stratocaster had just been stolen and he needed another one, but soon it would become the most important guitar in the band, the protagonist of the guitarist's best moments in Pink Floyd, like his solos in Comfortably Numb, Time, Shine On You Crazy Diamond or on Fat Old Sun; one of the first times he used it in the studio. It was first played on the recording of Atom Heart Mother and appeared on all the band's classic albums. After having it on loan at a Hard Rock Café for much of the 80's and 90's Gilmour reclaimed it and used it again at their acclaimed 2005 reunion during Live 8, where he once again shone on the solo of Comfortably Numb, especially the solo that closes the song. This provided some of the band's most touching moments, like Nick Mason taking off his headphones to hear it in all its glory or Waters and Wright making the same gesture with their heads at 21’ 43” in the video below.
Gilmour is well aware of the importance of this guitar for the band, and did not use it again after the recording of the last album with Waters, The Final Cut, in 1983. At that ‘last meeting’, in which we can say that the guitar was the fifth protagonist, we could say that if there is a guitar that has defined the sound of Pink Floyd it has been this one. It is understandable that in 2019, when the guitarist put on sale most of his guitars, it was the one that raised the most money, selling for almost four million dollars, being at the time the most expensive guitar in history (a record that was recently surpassed by the Martin D-18E that Kurt Cobain used in MTV Unplugged, which was sold last year for six million dollars).
Some of the songs on which it appears: Comfortably Numb, Time, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Echoes (rhythm part), Fat Old Sun, Hey You
Bill Lewis with 24 frets
Another of the most legendary guitars of his career was made by luthier Bill Lewis. Gilmour got it in October 1970 and fell in love with its sound and its 24 frets, which allowed him to reach higher notes than on a conventional Stratocaster. He soon put it to good use when he used it for the lead solo on Echoes, along with a Fuzz Face. This was the song with which Pink Floyd found their definitive sound, and in which both the Black Strat and the Bill Lewis can be heard.Perhaps the most memorable moment of this guitar is the explosive solo of Money, where Gilmour puts to good use the two extra frets, and takes full advantage of one of his secret weapons. Gilmour's fondness for this guitar is clear as it was one of the few guitars he kept and didn't release for sale in 2019.Some songs it appears on: Echoes, Money
Martin D-35 acoustic
Maybe the Black Strat is more iconic, but Gilmour has stated that his favorite guitar is this one, the Martin D-35 with which he played the mythical solo of Wish You Were Here, although that song, and its well-known riff was composed with another model, a Martin D12-28 12-string that he had bought in 1974. But the D-35 was the guitar he always had at hand and with which he composed most of his songs. The curious thing about it is that it came to him in the most fortuitous of ways. The guitarist had gone again to Manny’s, in New York, to get a new acoustic but while he was walking down the street another musician approached him and offered him this D-35. Gilmour took it out of its case, tried it and fell in love with its sound, and it became his main guitar, the one with which he developed all his ideas. In spite of everything Gilmour sold it in 2019, taking $1,095,000 for it, beating Clapton's '39 Martin 000-42 Martin record for a Martin (a record that Cobain's guitar would also beat).
A song in which it appears: Wish You Were Here
1959 Fender Custom Telecaster
In 1974 Gilmour and Waters composed the monumental You've Got To Be Crazy and performed it live, with Gilmour briefly exchanging his Strat for a Telecaster, in this case a '59 Custom on which he experienced several of his best moments as a guitarist. So much so that when the song became Dogs, the only Animals song in which the guitarist participated as a composer, Gilmour used it again with similar results. The guitar would also reappear in the live performances of the album and may also have been used in another of the songs on the album Sheep, although that may have been his Esquire '55…
Some songs in which it appears: Dogs, Sheep
1955 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop
Few guitarists are so closely related to a brand, in this case Fender, and a model, in this case the Stratocaster, as David Gilmour, but that doesn't mean that he didn't also check out the competition, in this case Gibson, and its most mythical guitar, the Les Paul. Among all the Les Pauls that Gilmour has owned, the most interesting is the 1955 Goldtop that he used in the recording of The Wall, mainly to record what is possibly the best known song in the band's career, Another Brick In The Wall, mainly the well-known solo of its second part, which is one of the most remembered of his career.Gilmour would not forget the guitar and used it again in a couple of songs from A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Round and Around and Poles Apart, as well as on A Great Day For Freedom from The Division Bell.
Some songs in which it appears: Another Brick In The Wall, Round and Around, Poles Apart, A Great Day For Freedom
Fender Stratocaster (number 1)
Of course, to close this look at David Gilmour's most legendary guitars we can't but finish with another of his beloved Stratocaster models, and not just any Stratocaster, but the one with serial number ‘one’, going back to Leo Fender himself. Despite the number, it cannot be said that it was the first Stratocaster ever made, as there had been prototypes before, even so it is an incredible collector's item and it is wonderful that it came into Gilmour's hands and that he got to use it on a Pink Floyd record, as in The Wall, where it appears in the funky rhythm part of Another Brick In The Wall. Gilmour did not however keep it, as it was another of the guitars that ended up auctioned in 2019, selling for a "modest" 1,815,000 dollars.