Gilmour’s Guitars at Christie’s

I’ve spent more time studying David Gilmour’s playing than any other guitarist’s. So I couldn’t miss a chance to see his instruments up close and managed to book an 11am viewing on Friday, June 14th, 2019. It was surreal being within inches of these instruments, seeing the battle scars up close. I brought my gig bag just in case the opportunity to make off with one presented itself, but no dice!

Just kidding…?

The Black Strat
I can’t add much to what’s already been said about the role of this guitar in rock history. But it was illuminating to have several of Gilmour’s own Fender Custom Shop replicas in the same room as The One. The Custom Shop clearly went to great trouble to duplicate the wear and mods, but much like fingerprints, the differences although minor were clear up close.

Another thought I had was that the Black Strat has been through many changes over the years — for example, with a DiMarzio FS-1 bridge pickup for The Wall and with a 22-fret Charvel neck for The Final Cut — and that the current incarnation has really only been used for Gilmour’s recent solo work.

The Martin 12-String
Wish You Were Here, Welcome To The Machine, Paranoid Eyes, wow.

The Martin 6-String
Wish You Were Here, Dogs, Mother, wow.

The Gold Leaf Strat
No special musical significance to this one, just a really cool example of Fender Custom Shop work that looks like an historical artifact.

The Red Strat
In some ways this struck me as more historically significant than The Black Strat given that it has remained essentially unchanged since the ’80s. I loved the detail of the green oxidation of the undercoat in the dings and how the guitar has clearly been played but not absurdly tortured.

The Flametop Charvel
Of all of the guitars in the auction, this is the one I had the most interest in seeing and for which I had a secret but hopeless wish to bid on (the very first bid far exceeded my budget). Gilmour played this guitar for what IMHO is his best-ever version of Comfortably Numb, during the Colombian Volcano Appeal concert at the Royal Albert Hall on February 9, 1986.

The Steinberger GL 3T
I’ve always loved Ned Steinberger’s innovative approach to stringed instrument design and have an NS Design WAV 5 electric violin and a Steinberger Spirit GT-PRO Deluxe in my collection. I didn’t realize until I read the Christie’s catalog that Gilmour used this guitar for Sorrow. Badass.

The Fender Bass VI
Run Like Hell, cool.

The 0001 Strat
IMHO one of the most beautiful Strats ever. It obviously had an influence on my prototype B-Way Mercury Head. There’s been some internet debate over what the original finish color was (Desert Sand, Olympic White, some kind of light blue or green). FWIW, it definitely had a very faint greenish tint to it in person.

The Gold Top
Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2, wow.

The High-Strung Ovation
Hey You, Comfortably Numb, Pigs On The Wing, wow.

The Cream Jedson