And, What I Learned
Welcome to this month’s Trade Secret. And my goal is to sound like David Gilmour using only the plugins available in Logic Pro and my Dean Zelinsky Tagliare S-style guitar.
There are a few reasons why I chose this topic:
It’s the 50th Anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” and I’ve engaged in a #TBT ritual for the past few months. For many on social media, Throwback Thursday is a day to share an old photo and show off some bad haircuts and clothing styles from yesteryear. But, for me, I revisit an old recording from my youth. So, I grab a coffee and listen to a recording that influenced my development as a guitarist.
Although I pay a Spotify subscription, I use it for the family plan and band playlists for songs to learn. For my #TBT listening, I prefer Apple Music and its “Lossless” audio technology. Yes, I hear the difference and enjoy sipping Java while I sit in my favorite chair and listen to an album from beginning to end.
There’s something about listening to the recording in its entirety and in the song order that it was intended. During these sessions, I revisited Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, which inspired me to recreate the David Gilmour tone using only Logic plugins.
As a result of this exercise, I learned that Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin got me into guitar-based music. Van Halen and Randy Rhoads woke up the guitar monster in me. And Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Larry Carlton, and Robben Ford made me take guitar seriously. And although the previously mentioned players inspired my approach to playing, other players influenced my tone.
I created a playlist of my favorite guitar tones, and, to my surprise, none of the previously-mentioned players were on that list. My all-purpose gigging tone (more on this below) is based on David Lindley, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, John Mayer, Rick Vito, and many others.
I’ve discovered that there are three categories of players that I like. And my favorites fall into two out of the three:
- I love what they play
- I love how they play
- I love how they sound
And this affects what I work on as a player. My notes are essential, and how I play them is more important. But how I sound is crucial.
The David Gilmour Tone
Arguably one of the most recognizable guitarists. His thoughtfully-sculpted tone only equals Gilmour’s carefully-crafted solos. His musical phrases are statements of rock-and-roll rebellion delivered with a powerful conviction that he commands your attention.
Clean, class-A Hiwatt amplifiers drive David’s tone. All of the distortion comes from pedals like the Big Muff fuzz pedal. These pedals can be a little hard to tame. David added a compressor before the fuzz to smooth things out, which was the trickiest bit for me to get right. Gilmour’s pedalboard was designed by Pete Cornish from the UK. Cornish also designed pedalboards for Jimmy Page.
I first attempted to recreate the Gilmour sound using my Headrush and got close. So, I decided to try this exercise using only Logic plugins. My goal was to get in the ballpark with everyday gear, and I gave myself a one-hour time limit—this can be a black hole that steals the entire day.
Below I’ll explain the signal chain and share my settings. Also, I used my Dean Zelinsky Tagliare S-Style guitar.
My settings got me in the ballpark, and I’d tweak from here. My next step is finding an appropriate speaker sim, using studio-style plug-ins for the compressor and modulation effects. But I figured you guys would prefer to hear the real results before trying studio tricks.
Give this a try with your gear, and let me know how it goes.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive gear breakdown, check out Gustavo Pereira’s David Gilmour Bio and Gear Comprehensive List article.
Gilmour’s signature tone is immediately recognizable, as is his note selection and execution.
My Goal Is to Capture the Essence of the David Gilmour Sound
Although I aim to get as close to replicating the Gilmour sound using average plugins available in the Logic Pro suite, there are a few variables that we need to keep in mind. For one, I don’t have the Gilmour hands, fingers, melodic sense, execution, etc.
There are also the virtual plugins I’ll be using that were not developed to simulate the actual gear that David used exactly but come close. Nonetheless, I was surprised by the result. So, let’s look at each guitar and the signal chain I used for this exercise.
The Lead Guitar Sound
- Signal Chain: Compressor >> Fuzz >> Amp >> Delay >> Reverb
- Compressor: Sustain -25 dB; Level 0.0 dB; Attack (Slow)
- Fuzz: Fuzz 29.2; Level +2.5 dB; Tone 0.50
- Amp: Transparent Preamp with Black Panel 4 x 10 Cabinet and SM57 Mic Sim
- Gain, Bass, Mids, and Treble at Noon; Reverb (Off); Effects (Off); Presence at 3 o’clock; Master 4-5 o’clock
- Delay: Time 1/16; Repeats 93%; Mix 25%; Tone Cut (Off); Sync (On)
- Reverb: Time (Medium); Tone 0; Style (Vintage); Mix 25%
Rhythm Guitar 1 (Leslie Sound)
- Signal Chain: Compressor >> Amp >> Roto Phase >> Reverb
- Roto Phase: Used the Eighth-Note Roto Preset; Rate 1/8; Sync (On): Intensity 52; Modern
Rhythm Guitar 2 (Delay)
- Signal Chain: Compressor >> Amp >> Delay >> Reverb
- Delay: Time 1/8d; Repeats 30%; Mix 33.5%; Tone Cut (Off); Sync (On)
Rhythm Guitar 3 (Phase)
- Signal Chain: Compressor >> Amp >> Phase Tripper >> Reverb
- Phase: Used the Warm Phase Preset; Rate 0.47 Hz; Depth 41%; Feedback 17%; Sync (Off)
What did I learn?
I never used Fuzz because I didn’t know how to tame it. So, I needed to set the Compressor and Fuzz together to get the best sound.
I also rarely use modulation effects for clean rhythm sounds. And Gilmour creates different textures for his clean tones depending on the mood that he’s trying to create. This certainly gave me a new perspective for coming up with rhythm parts. And I’m not only talking about the actual rhythm part played. I’m also talking about the sound that you produce.
My Biggest Takeaway
My notes are important, and how I play them is more important. But how I sound is crucial.
Save your money on something other than the next shiny new pedal. Learn how to tweak your gear.
Thanks for reading.
- How to Clean Up a Distorted Voiceover - May 30, 2023
- Sound Like David Gilmour Using Only Logic Plugins - April 23, 2023
- The Marshall Amp Story and My Favorite Marshalls - April 18, 2023