David Gilmour’s sound is very distinctive and much sought after by guitarists so is it possible to get somewhere near that sound for less than the typical price of a solid state guitar amplifier? Well I think it is possible. Nowadays the market is flooded with many Chinese copies of sought-after pedals and amp simulations and with these a convincing Gilmour like sound is possible for less than £200.
David Gilmour is known for using many effects to get his sound and much of this will no doubt be high end professional gear but it definitely is possible to get somewhere near to his more typical sounds with some of the Chinese gear. I am thinking along the lines of another brick in the wall and shine on you crazy diamond as being a distinctive and typical Gilmour signature sound. So rather than going out and purchasing a Hiwatt amp and cabinet and a vast arsenal of guitar fx pedals and instead looking for the cheaper alternatives before you have to remortgage your house and then annoy everyone in your neighbourhood by deafening them all, first consider what are you alternatives.
A distortion pedal isn’t something that you would necessarily associate with David Gilmour is it? His sound is pretty smooth and clear almost clean you would believe. Also it does not particularly sound like he is cranking that Amp. From what I know of Hiwatt Amps they aren’t particularly well known for high gain. Instead I would be inclined to think that they are crisp and clear. So a distortion pedal sounds a bit out of place. However I suspect a rat. We’ll in fact a Pro-Co Rat in fact. Presumably running at about 30 to 40% of its gain. With the Filter control just past half way point at 5 or 10 past. Volume not past 12 o clock. However the Rat doesn’t travel alone without a companion it must be accompanied at all times by a Compression pedal like a MXR red thing. This is the way to keep the Rat sweet and stop it running off and ruining everything. The Compression Pedal must come first in the chain. The sound has plenty of sustain so don’t be afraid to crank that up. The Rat runs next in the chain after the Compression.
After this first part of the chain you have the Amp. The ‘Hiwatt’. Here I am pretty much banking on the fact that it is not a highly distorted amp in fact pretty clean. Because of the distortion pedal it would make sense to run it into the clean channel of an amp anyway. I don’t know if the particular ‘Hiwatt’ that he uses is a 2 or more channel amp but I’m guessing that this is basically what he is after.
After the amp comes the detailing and refinement of the sound. This is achieved with delay and reverb. I get the impression that David Gilmour favours a tape delay or possibly a tube delay. I suspect that he is using a delay time in the region of a dotted semi quaver to a single quaver. This is actually quite a fast delay time. Most Pink Floyd songs are not that fast between 96-110 bpm I suspect. So a delay time of approx 250 m/s is about right. If you are setting less precisely by tap tempo convert this to beats per minute by setting a metronome @ approx 240 bpm and try a tap that into your fx unit. I don’t believe that it is a dotted eighth (dotted quaver) as I first suspected. That just didn’t sound right. Give this quite a high mix and about 40-50% feedback. The idea I believe is not to hear repeated echoes but more to thicken & sustain the sound. However in many other Pink Floyd songs David Gilmour uses multi-head tape echoes to get more of the repeating echo sounds.
Nearly there now. Last part is the reverb. I choose a Plate Reverb but I would expect that David Gilmour has a great deal more choice and detail. However for me a Plate sounds about right. I have also got good results with Church & Hall reverbs as well. Here it sounds like Gilmour is using a lot of reverb and a very big reverb but in my opinion it is actually not that much. It is the delay that gives that impression and the reverb itself is actually quite moderate.
So this chain of fx and amps I believe gets a close proximity to the Gilmour sound on tracks like Brick in the Wall & Shine on you crazy diamond. Now lets see how we can get that sound for less than £200.