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Gilmour’s Gear- The Effects

February 24, 2012

The Effects of David Gilmour

 

Alright y’all!  You’ve been asking and patiently waiting so this week we’re going to have a look at the effects pedals used by David Gilmour.  This is a long and extensive topic so we’re going to keep it simple and focus on the more well-known and most-used of his effects.  If he used a certain effect once, on one song in one studio session, it may not be mentioned here.  However, there are plenty of resources on the intrawebz that will be able to tell you some of the more obscure effects in his arsenal.  So let’s get started and see the final piece of the puzzle in Gilmour’s legendary tone.

 

Fuzz Pedals

 

We all know David loves his fuzz pedals.  Heck, who can blame him?  We all love fuzz pedals and he is one of the primary reasons why!  In 1968 he had a pretty basic setup; Vox wah, Binson Echorec, and a Fuzz Face.  This originally was the NKT 275 germanium model until early 1971 when he switched to the BC108 silicon version.  The germanium tones can be heard on “Corporal Clegg”, “Let There be More Light”, and “Nile Song”.  The silicon version had more gain and a brighter tone and became his main fuzz until the mid 70’s when he switched to the Big Muff and Pete Cornish P1.  Because the silicon Fuzz Face was more difficult to control with his volume knob, the switch to this model led David to incorporate a DeArmond volume pedal into his rig.  Check this out:


David’s Fuzz Face settings:
fuzz 100% and volume 70-100%
- David would roll down the guitar volume to adjust the gain for a milder fuzz/overdrive on rhythm parts. Between 1971-1975 he also used a Colorsound Power Boost with the silicon Fuzz Face to add even more gain and sustain.


The silicon transistor Fuzz Face is recognized by it’s bright, edgy fuzz with rich sustain, while the germanium transistor Fuzz Face is slightly muddier, warmer and closer to an overdrive.

-www.gilmourish.com


Somewhere around 1974-1976, David switched over to using a USA made “Rams Head” Big Muff.  Originally given to David was from Phil Taylor and this is purportedly the main one used in the studio.  A second one was purchased by Phil for David’s touring rig but due to the inconsistent builds of Big Muffs at the time, the #2 didn’t sound the same.  In comes Pete Cornish.  He modified #2, matching component values to sound like #1 at David’s request.  Along with this modification, Pete also added a buffer to make it compatible with the routing system on David’s custom pedal board.  This #2 Muff has seen use in tours from 1977-2006 and could possibly still be on his board today.

Rams Head Big Muff

Occasionally integrated into David’s touring rigs were Pete Cornish custom fuzz pedals as well.  These were referred to by many names such as the Cornish Fuzz, and PC Fuzz but most people will recognize them by the name of the commercial version (released in 2006) called the P1.  Around 1974-75 he was sent seven of Gilmour’s Big Muffs and asked to select the one he thought would be the best to reproduce with improvements.  In 1976, Pete built one of the first “boutique” fuzz pedals into Gilmour’s custom pedal board.  This was one of these reproductions with power supply decoupling, input/output buffers, reduced PCB size, and the best available components.  It’s unclear how much this was actually used during the 1977 tour but it was removed from the pedal board later that year and replaced with a Big Muff.  It made a resurgence on David’s pedal board in 2006 for the On an IslandI concerts.  An improved version of the PC Fuzz was the Precision Fuzz and this replaced David’s #2 Big Muff during the 1989 Momentary Lapse of Reason tour and again in 1994 for the Division Bell tour. 

 

Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress

 

Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress
In winter 1976-77, David was seen using an Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress pedal for their Animals tour that year.  That same year, the Electric Mistress was built into David’s Pete Cornish board (we’ll get to it, I promise!) replacing his Uni-Vibe.  Used on David’s first solo album in 1978, the Electric Mistress probably got the most recognition from Gilmour fans for its use on The Wall album and tour as well as The Final Cut.  In 1994, the Electric Mistress was built into a custom rack unit by Phil Taylor alongside two Boss CE-2 chorus pedals. 

 

Delays

 

  
Probably the most notable effect and probably the most defining tone of Gilmour’s is the Binson Echorec.  Originally used by David when he started with Pink Floyd to continue using the same setup as Syd Barrett, the Echorec 2 led David on to new heights and allowed him to develop what would become one of the most signature tones in rock history.  David continued to use the Echorec 2 from 1968 to the 1977 Animals tour when it was replaced with MXR digital units.  The Binson Echorecs were just too delicate to handle the rigors of touring but while he used them, they helped define the “Gilmour” tone.  The MXR digital delays used were a very close approximation of the dirty analog tone David liked.  From here he has been known to use TC Electronic 2290 Digital Delay units in his rack setup.  I didn’t find much information on the timeline of his delay uses and equipment but these were the units that he most used throughout his career from the information I’ve gathered.

 

Pete Cornish Pedal boards

 


Ok, here it is.  There seems to be a lot of fascination with David’s custom designed pedal boards and for good reason.  Pete Cornish is a genius with effects and pedal boards.  When Pink Floyd was returning to the studio in 1976 to record Animals David needed a new pedal board to handle his increasing amount of effects.  This also required minimal signal loss, a clean cable setup, and no dying batteries.  Enter Pete Cornish.  This first version of David’s custom board featured the following (in signal chain order):

• Pete Cornish Tone pedal
• Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (BC109)
• Pete Cornish Custom Fuzz
MXR Phase 100
• Univox Uni-Vibe
Cry Baby wah wah
MXR Dynacomp
• (send/return for additional effects)
• Pete Cornish volume pedal
• (send/return for delays, a Binson II was used during recording)
• MXR Noise Gate/Line Driver

It had two inputs for guitars with an on/off input selector.  The signal was then split and sent to a Conn strobe tuner and master bypass and three outputs for amplifiers.


Once the Animals recording sessions ended, there were some minor changes done to the board before the tour.  The “Version 2” setup was this (in signal chain order):

• Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (BC109)
• Pete Cornish Custom Fuzz
MXR Phase 100
• Univox Uni-Vibe
• Colorsound Power Boost
Cry Baby wah wah
MXR Dynacomp
• (send/return for EH Big Muff and EH Electric Mistress)
• Pete Cornish Tone pedal
• Pete Cornish volume pedal
• (send/return for delays, Binson II/Morley EVO-1/MXR DDL)
• MXR Noise Gate/Line Driver

In October 1977, after the Animals tour, the board underwent some extensive modifications.  A Big Muff and Electric Mistress were used throughout the tour connected to send/return jacks and after the tour, they were built into the board replacing the Cornish Fuzz and Uni-Vibe respectively.  The MXR Phase 100 was replaced by a Phase 90 and Electro-Harmonix Small Stone with a small toggle that allowed David to switch between them.  Also, the Colorsound Power Boost was replaced (according to Cornish) with a Cornish ST-2 Treble and Bass booster at this time.

For the recording of The Wall David used a new Cornish board that was slightly smaller containing the following (in signal chain order):

• Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (BC109, modified with a tone circuit)
• Electro Harmonix Big Muff (“Ram’s Head”)
• Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress
• MXR Dynacomp
• MXR Phase 90
• Pete Cornish (ST-2) Treble and Bass Booster
• Pete Cornish custom vibrato pedal
• Pete Cornish custom volume pedal

Additionally an MXR Digital Delay System was used.

This smaller board was also incorporated into the tour for The Wall due to the severe complexity of the live show.  This was probably used for songs performed in front of the wall while the larger pedalboard was still there containing the following (in signal chain order):

• Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (BC109)
• Electro Harmonix Big Muff (1973 “Ram’s Head”)
• MXR Phase 90
• Electro Harmonix Small Stone
• Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress
• Pete Cornish (ST-2) Treble and Bass Boost
• Cry Baby wah wah
• MXR Dynacomp
• (send/return for additional effects, Boss CE-2)
• Pete Cornish Tone pedal
• Pete Cornish volume pedal
• (send/return for delays, MXR DDL)
• MXR Noise Gate/Line Driver

This new board incorporated some unique switching features for master bypass or delay bypass as well as a master volume knob and assignment for the master volume knob.  This Cornish board has still been seen with David throughout the years but further modifications are unkown.


So there you have it.  Some of the “mojo” behind one of the most defining rock tones in history.  A lot of this is common knowledge (at least for us Gilmour fans!) and there’s definitely more to it but this should give a solid outline of the gear that David has used throughout the years to attain his legendary sound.  Alas, this also brings the series on David Gilmour’s tone to a conclusion.  Hope you enjoyed it!  We’ll catch you next time, in The Corner!

 

Comments

  1. Anthony says:

    I find the signal chain quite interesting in that it places the Fuzz first…I thought it was a no-no to put fuzz before any filters (i.e. wah and electric mistress). Any thoughts on how that affected the tone?

    posted on March 14, 2012 at 6:26 am
  2. RON LIPE says:

    I FIND THAT OVERDRIVING MY FLANGERS ,,WAH,,PHASERS,ECT SOUND MUCH BETTER ..IT HITS THEM HOT ..AND MAKES THEM HONK….WANT CLEAN JUST TURN THE OVERDRIVE OFF ..TUREBYPASS SWITCHS HELP..I HAVE TRYED WAH BEFORE HEAT AND THATS NOT BAD EITHER..

    posted on March 16, 2012 at 9:02 am
  3. Stefaun Crichton says:

    I have played since 1965. Worked at Sunn Music during the 70’s. I really enjoy fine tuning all of my equipment, making speaker cabinets, using only the very best instrument and speaker cords (Analysis Plus Studio series) , etc. The best sound for me is to use compressors, preamps, overdrives, etc. in series, and to use to time delay type effects in parallel. The time delay effects, if there is more than one, will be run in parallel with each other. For me, this gives the cleanest, most distinct sound, and tone over all. Try it!!!
     
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    posted on March 19, 2012 at 3:01 am
  4. Spy says:

    Nice article but lacking quite a bit of info. For example concerning his delays: “I didn’t find much information on the timeline of his delay uses and equipment but these were the units that he most used throughout his career from the information I’ve gathered”. There is plenty of info about his use of Boss DD2, Cornish’s TES, the T-Rex Replica etc., not just on the Gilmourish site but elsewhere as well.

    posted on April 4, 2012 at 3:28 am
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