I've received many many e-mails about what settings David Gilmour uses. The answer to this is simply, I don't really know! In fact, it is difficult to say which setting he may use from song to song. Yes effects can be heard and I can tell you what he may be using from song to song, but how to get the settings down is as simple as getting the effects used and playing around with them until they sound good to you. I can offer advice to those that want it, because I've played most of the effects that he's used, but cannot offer definitive proof that my settings are his settings. There are several problems that everyone should know about when searching the net for settings used by David Gilmour:
A) All those pictures out there of David Gilmour's tours have the settings knobs shown, but you can not go by that and insist it is bible. You must remember this, Those settings are used for a stadium show, set to produce for a huge arena, not your 8 x 10 bedroom, and not your 100 x 100 bar. They will (and do) sound drastically different on your rig than they will with his rig.
B) Most if not all of David Gilmour's effects are modified by Pete Cornish. What exactly does this mean? Well, his Big Muff settings knobs may produce different effects at different levels than yours will using the Big Muff. Quite simply put, It is a Big Muff, but doesn't respond the same way when the knobs are tweaked.
C) "Hey your Big Muff sounds nothing like mine does" - One thing I've learned through the years is that there really is no solidarity amongst the stomp box effects. I may find a great setting for my EH Mistress that works for me and sounds great, but when you try my settings it sounds really really bad on your rig.."WHY?" you ask...Simple, you don't have the same effects or rig that I do, temperature differences where I play and where you play may affect the effect (:)) etc etc..There could be a whole slew of reasons why, even our playing styles may alter the way the effect sounds. I go back to play with the effect and build the tones that you want to hear!
Now can you get a David Gilmour tone using other effects? The answer is yes you can. Check out www.gilmourish.com. This is an excellent site with sound clips that show that using other effects, you can in fact get the tones the David Gilmour gets without spending a small fortune to obtain, however, If you want that sound or THE sound, you really need to get the effects that David Gilmour is using.
Now you want to get that tone or that sound that you hear on the record! Impossible I say! Here is why, you want to get the sounds of David Gilmour, then to get a TRUE representation of that you need to listen to the live recordings from various shows and find one that you like and build off of that. On the records, there is so much being done, studio compressions, EQing, reverbs, etc that it would be impossible to duplicate all of this at home, plus many times even DG forgets what is being done in studio to recreate it completely. Case in point, Comfortably Numb he is using a Big Muff, EH Mistress Flanger(Live), a rotating speaker (in studio) and delay Both in studio and Live. Can you hear the Rotating Speaker (Leslie Cab) in the first solo of the song...Its there, but mixed down. Here is what I recommend you do to start you on your way. Now keep in mind that this is my opinion derived from spending a lot of money, and doing a lot of research into the "Tone from Heaven". There is certainly quite a few things that I intend to do, but this info should help you get started.
First and foremost you need a guitar you are happy with. While David Gilmour may use a Candy Apple red 1984 '57 reissue Strat, you may not be happy with the way that guitar plays. Don't be a snob and say well the American Strats are sooooo much better than the Mexican or Japanese Strats. This simply isn't true for everyone. In Fact, I have an American 77 Strat, a 50's Mexican Strat, and a 60's Japanese Strat all Fenders, and to be honest, the Japanese and Mexican Strats play and sound a little better than the American. I did change the electronics on both guitars, but the action and tones from these guitars are phenomenal. Find a guitar you are happy with and go with it. Your base sound (Clean sound) should be pleasing to you BEFORE you add your effects. This is what it means to plug directly into the amp.
Next find an amp suitable to your surroundings. Yes while David Gilmour may use Hiwatt DR103's for his live Pink Floyd sound, this may not be appropriate for your 8 x 10' bedroom. In Fact you will probably blow out all your windows and knock your self through a wall if you crank that baby up in your 8 x 10 bedroom. A 50 watt amp would be more suitable for this. That's why I went with a Hiwatt DR504. It is a 50 watt amp built the same as a DR103 but only has 2 power tubes instead of 4. Still on the amp, you want a good very clean amp when playing DG's stuff. He builds his signal tone around a base clean tone. Plus for all you other Cornish aficionados out there, PC effects are built to be used with a good hi-end CLEAN amplifier. They are built to do the work for the amp, and not built to color an amps overdrive or distortion. You don't need a Hiwatt to duplicate the tones, He also uses Fender Twin Amps and Fender Bassman Amps.
So you now have info on the guitar and the amp. Play around with this tone and get the eq settings to where they sound good to you. There is your base tone to start with and to build all your other tones around. Once this is accomplished then add in your effects to your chain one at a time. Play with the settings until you are comfortable with the way they sound, remembering to adjust the volume of the effect to level the signal. You want to keep the volume the same as if your guitar was plugged directly into your amp. Then keep adding your effects into the chain until all are done. Your chain should go something like this...
Tone controls (Wah etc)-->Compressions-->Distortions (Overdrive, Fuzz, Distortion) High gained distortions to low gained distortions-->Modulation effects (Flange, Chorus etc)-->Delay (Echos)-->EQ-->any signal boosting etc-->to amp
I want to impress upon everyone that you should get your own base settings for these effects and manipulate the tone and gain controls after this. Play to what you like to hear, find yourself and then pursue...
Ok so you want some settings?
Well keeping in mind that these are good sounds for me and my rig, I make these suggestions to you on your quest for the Tone From Heaven:
Dyna Comp: Sustain 11:00 Volume should be set according to your
rig and how loudly you want to play...
Boss CS-2: Sustain 12:00, Attack 12:30 Volume same as above
Keep in mind that David Gilmour uses his Compressors to balance out the strings IE thinner strings to Heavier strings.
P-2: Sustain 12:00, Tone between 10:00 and 2:00 depending on
Big Muff : Sustain 12:00 - 2:00, Tone 2:00 to full on depending on song
Chandler Tube Driver: Sustain: 12:00, Hi 12:00, Low 3:00
SS-2: Sustain 11:00, Tone 1:00
EH Mistress: (Now here is a tricky one because in my research no
two Mistresses sound the same so these settings may not work for you but they
are a good starting point) Rate 10:00, Range 10:00, Color 10:00 This is what
most find closest. I like Rate 8:30, Range 1:00, Color 11:00
CE-2 Chorus: Speed 11:00, Depth 1:00
Echo/Delay: Feedback to the beat of the song if it is 4/4 then set feedback for 4 beats then decay, Delay well do you want a short delay or a long delay play with it until it sounds right to your ears, Times Generally 380ms is where its at, jump between 310 and 380ms for most Floyd/DG songs
"Angry young man, silky smooth gentleman"
I'm sure you've heard by now that its all in his fingers, Well it is! There are a lot of "effects" you hear that are done using his fingers. His vibrato, his bending, his harmonics truly set him apart from other players. Plus his feel. He isn't the most technical of players, but he does have a penchant for putting the right notes in at the right times. He is a beautifully simplistic yet emotional player. What you should do is examine David Gilmour's style and tones from album to album. He is constantly refining his style and tone, so pick an album or era to duplicate and go from there.
His early years (young man) he uses treble and bass boosts (Pete Cornish ST-2 and Colorsound) and a Fuzz Face for his primary distortions or dirt pedals. This is pretty much up to and including Wish You Were Here. Animals we see the introduction of the Big Muff which replaces the Fuzz Face as his distortion of choice and we also see a more refined tone. His tones are edgy and full of treble. Leslies and Univibes were also used, as well as MXR Phase 90's
From the Wall to A Momentary Lapse of Reason we see a warmer side to David Gilmour. The use of The Big Muff takes prominence on the Wall Album. Here his warmth in his tone comes through. It is also of importance to note that this is when he really started adding the Alembic F2-B pre-amp to his rig.
A Momentary Lapse of Reason, is a bit of an enigma in the tonal chart of David Gilmour, because that album was made to say that Pink Floyd is still here...So there is a lot of power in it, and there is a lack of warmth in most tracks. This is primarily because of his use of a Steinberger guitar instead of his Strats.
Then we have the Division Bell (Silky Smooth Gentleman). Here we see a very warm side of David Gilmour's playing with his use of the Chandler Tube Driver and the PC SS-2 pedals. His ability to blend distortions to get that tone is amazing.
His Solo Shows David used the CTD, the Pete Cornish G-2 and for the On an Island shows and recording he used the Pete Cornish P-1.
Through out the years he adds modulations to give character to his tone. In the early days we see the MXR Phase 90, the Univibe and the Wah pedals used up to and including Wish You Were Here. Animals saw the introduction of another trademark Gilmour effect, the EH Electric Mistress plus the Phase 90. This tone became the Gilmour tone Muff and Mistress for the last two Floyd albums with Roger Waters, The Wall and the Final Cut.
Another point to make note is it is not a good idea to have the P-2, Muff and G-2 on together; similarly with the SS-2 and CTD. However David Gilmour likes to have the first inline high gain pedal (G-2 or Muff) "EQ'ed" by the second lower gain pedal so they will virtually always be on as a set: Muff/SS-2, Muff/ CTD, G-2/CTD, G-2/SS-2.
Also of note is his penchant for the Leslie Cabinets, which were later refined using an Alembic F2B as a preamp ( having an extra tube installed to cut some of the bass) and a Doppola Cabinet was made for his system to recreate the old Leslie Cabs.
For MLOR, Gilmour adds Chorus, usually only on the left channel for his tone.