5 Pedals or Less: How to Sound Like Dave Gilmour
Back at it again, the hunt for tone never ends. Speaking from personal experience, furthering my understanding of tone has simultaneously been one of the most rewarding and frustrating experiences of my life. On the one hand, finally cracking one of my favourite guitar player’s sounds and learning all of their secrets is an exhilarating feeling. But staying up till 3am trying to work out which exact chorus pedal SRV used on David Bowie’s ‘Lets Dance’ only to find out its an extremely rare rack unit that would cost me more money than I’ve ever earned to acquire, blows.
But what can you do? Its not like finding that out has put me off the idea of maybe one day taking out some insane loan to buy one so I can play that solo through it once and go “Well, that wasn’t worth it” so there’s no point getting upset about it. I love tone; you love tone, that’s why we’re here. Forever sharing and reading about our collective theories on how we can get one-step closer to kind of sounding like our heroes, it’s what gets me out of bed on a morning.
The Beginner’s Guide to David Gilmour: Tone, Gear, Effects – Guitar
Sound Like Dave Gilmour
Today, we’re going to be looking at a man who needs no introduction: Dave Gilmour.
What? I said he needed no introduction. If you really need to learn about who he is and what he has contributed to music, then climb out from under that giant rock you’ve been living under and go buy Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and listen to them and realize what you’ve been missing out on your whole life. If that still doesn’t give you enough info about his guitar playing, then go watch the live at Pompeii concert, its on YouTube and has been for ages. I’m here to help you guys but I’m not going to spoon feed
you. Go on, go listen to those albums and come back to me, ill wait.
You’re back? Great, lets get started.
Dan’s Pick No.1: Pro-Co RAT (£79)
David Gilmour, or Dave to his friends, has had a constant development of tone over the four decades he’s been knocking around making classic album after classic album. Every aspect of his tone can change on different albums, even on different tracks of the same album! And none of those aspects are trickier than his drive sound. The average user would assume that you’d buy a fuzz, and that’s fair enough. He his a well-known fuzz user, especially the Big Muff range by EHX. However, this series is supposed to help you sound like him in fewer than five pedals, and I don’t think there is any single fuzz that would cover all of his drive sounds, and we don’t want to waste our options on multiple fuzzes. However, there is a big argument for the Pro-co RAT being the ideal drive for Dave’s sound. You gun this pedal, you get creamy sweet fuzz like leads and sustain, very Comfortably Numb, very Echoes. But then, if you dial it back,
you can get some classic overdrive sounds. Which is often overlooked when trying to sound like Dave. Think about Shine On You Crazy Diamond, that’s not a big drive sound, it’s a classic blues sound that has some bite when you dig in, and fuzz can’t really do that very well. I’m not saying this drive will suit everyone, it polarizes users because it takes some learning to get it sounding nice, and there’s argument that a fuzz (specifically the new EHX triangle mini range) would get you closer to Dave’s classic sound quicker and easier. But personally I think over time you’d get more enjoyment out of the RAT. Its also a great rock pedal in general, so bonus!
Dan’s Pick No.2: MXR Univibe (£130)
Again, modulation was a tricky one to decide on. No one loves modulation pedals more than me, but if you’ve only got five pedals then you kind of have to condense your modulation down into one pedal. Especially considering we’ve not looked at delays, or any of the other space like sound scape options that you need for Dave’s sound. I’ve chosen the Univibe for one reason, and I’ve said this before, I don’t really know what it is. Is it a phaser? Is it chorus? We’ll never know. But Dave used both of those kinds of pedals and
this univibe does a really great job of giving you both sides of the coin, and then a free third side of this weird coin I’ve just made up that does univibe.
Also, lets be honest, everyone who’s trying to sound like Dave is going to want to play the Shine On You Crazy Diamond riff a hundred times over. And this pedal seems to get me the closest whilst still offering other tones for different sides of Dave’s playing. It’s also the best type of modulation pedal for psychedelic soloing, because it adds guitar tone without getting in the way. There are other options for this pedal I’ll admit that, but personally I think you’d be happier with this.
Dan’s Pick No.3/4: TC Electronic Flashback 2 (£98)/ EHX Memory Toy (£84)
When deciding on Dave’s delay, or Davelay as no one calls it. We had to consider a couple of things. You need a delay that offers you classic analogue sounds and can also do cool feedback stuff, but you also need some lush sounding delays with chorus and a digital edge. Sadly, there isn’t a pedal like that in existence to my knowledge. And if there is, neither
you nor I could afford it. However, for a total of £174, which we can all agree is pretty cheap in the modern delay market, you can buy two delays that not only fill those desired needs, but also offer a lot more. With the Memory Toy, it’s just a simple version of the classic memory man at a great price, and will do all the cool feedback stuff you’d ever need. But throw in the Flashback two, and suddenly you’ve got anywhere from super modern digital delay, to classic 2290 chorus-y delay, and even some old school tape sounding ones too! Also stacking delays is a classic Gilmour move, or Gilmove (I’ll stop with these puns now) and there genuinely isn’t a better way to kill three hours than by stacking two different delays and seeing what happens. If you wanna save money here, just get the Flashback. It won’t do analogue sounds as well but it offers more options and functionality, especially with the tone print functions. But if you’re a legend you’ll get both.
Dan’s Pick No.5: Ernie Ball Vp-Jr Volume Pedal (£88)
Volume pedals are a tricky one to sell to someone if they’ve never owned one before. They fall into the category of the not fun but necessary pedals, like buying a power supply. Its essential to your pedal-board, but no one is thrilled when it arrives in the post. Thing is, to create classic Floyd-esque soundscapes, you’re going to need a volume pedal. There’s gonna be some people out there who will say “Hey man, just use your volume pot for swells its exactly the same” and it isn’t. It’s harder, and restricting. Using a volume pedal will not only give your better swells and more control, it also frees up your hands so you can do more as you’re swelling. The Ernie Ball volume pedal series is basically the industry standard these days; you see them on basically every board on every rig rundown, so why go against the grain. I know that’s not a very Pink Floyd approach but hey, welcome to the machine. If you want to improve the quality of your tone you can buy the one up from this one that includes a 250k pot, which improves your signal passing through it, somehow. But for all you bedroom warriors I doubt you’ll need to worry about that.
By Dan Tredgold