How to Sound Like Pink Floyd

Before we begin this guide, we need to note that it's almost impossible to sound like some of the famous guitar legends. Even if you would theoretically have all the same exact gear as they do, that still won't be enough for you to have their tone. After all, something is in their technique and the way they play.

While this is all true, there are still some of the ways that will help you get close to the desired tone. With an abundance of pedals, guitars, and amps these days, there are even some budget cost-friendly options that will be able to help you with what you need.

In this particular article, we will be focusing on Pink Floyd and the almighty David Gilmour. While a whole lot of guitar players relied on fast shredding, Gilmour kept to his own style of saying more with fewer notes. Of course, a huge part of his tone was all the gear he used. Let us check out some of the ways how you can replicate his tone.

Guitars with single coils

The first obvious thing that you'll need to be thinking of are the single-coil pickups. Over the years, Gilmour almost exclusively used Fender Stratocasters. One of the rare occasions he played something else was for the solo in "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2" where he used a Gibson Les Paul with P90 pickups.

Some Telecasters might do the trick, but the best option here is the triple single-coil configuration. If you really want to get it right, you can get some of the Fender Custom Shop singles, or even the EMG DG20 David Gilmour signature active pickups. It's important to have enough of that high-end sparkle in your tone without making it sound too thin. There's supposed to be at least a tad of the mid and low-end spectrum to it.


Over the years, Gilmour became known for using the old Fender tube amps. Of course, there were some other brands in his arsenal, including Mesa Boogie Mark I or some of the Hiwatt models. What's important here is to have something that will replicate those old American-style tube amps, preferably something with 6L6 tubes in it. At the same time, he was no stranger to amps with EL34s. Of course, we could dedicate a whole article on a buying guide for Gilmour-style amps. If you're on a budget, Fender still has some decent and affordable lower wattage amps that will help you get that tone.

Distortion and overdrive

It would be a very long discussion explaining what distortion pedals are the best ones for Pink Floyd tone. There was some versatility to Gilmour's distorted tone over the years. While we have the obvious use of overdrives, he also became known for using some high gain pedals, like the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi. The less-known and kind of unexpected piece is the rare 1980s pedal by Boss called MZ-2 Metalizer.

For those smoother creamy tones, something like Boss BD-2 or Ibanez Tube Screamer (or any of its cheaper copies) will come in handy. For higher gain tones, you can go with the Big Muff. And although it might sound unconventional, some heavy metal-oriented pedals might be of help in getting his high gain tones.


A great part of his tone were also compressor pedals. The one he's known for is the old Boss CS-2 which worked so well in "thickening" his single-coil tones. While this particular model is no longer in production, maybe you can get the Boss CS-3 if you're having a hard time finding the CS-2.


In Gilmour's music, you can hear all sorts of modulation effects. The most famous pedal he used was the legendary Univox Uni-Vibe, known for creating different modulations such as phaser, chorus, or vibrato. While this one is extremely rare to find and might be worth a fortune, you can try and get some of the classic Boss chorus pedals like the CE-2. Of course, Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress as it will also work great with overdriven and distorted tones.


Last, but not least, we have the obligatory inclusion of the delay effect. Ever since he joined Pink Floyd, Gilmour implemented and messed around with delays. Of course, in the old times, there were only tape-based delays to choose from. While these would be highly impractical and expensive these days, a solid analog delay might help you get that slightly "swirly" and "warm" vibe of tape echoes.

The stuff he did throughout the '80s and '90s was a bit different and could be replicated with a standard digital delay. If we were to ask those who studied Gilmour's Pink Floyd tone thoroughly, MXR Carbon Copy is a great solution for analog tones while the TC Electronics Flashback is a great digital option.

Older Post
Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Close (esc)

Get Our Free eBook!

Do you love dirt as much as we do? Learn the rich history behind all the overdrive and distortion pedals you know and love. Download our free ebook, The History of Guitar Distortion.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now