Gilmour, Guitars & Gear

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Phil Taylor: Unstrung Hero


In this column, I'll be examining Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's gear and playing techniques from a musician's point of view. Please feel free to e-mail me with questions and ideas for future articles if you feel you have an idea that readers of Spare Bricks might find of interest. Past articles are now posted here.

The casual Pink Floyd fan has probably noticed Phil Taylor's name, as he is mentioned on nearly every Pink Floyd release since he was hired by road manager Peter Watts in 1974. To fans of David Gilmour's guitar playing, Taylor is an unsung hero. It is Taylor who is recognized as Gilmour's chief guitar technician and considered one of the highest authorities on the entity that is the Gilmour sound, second only to Gilmour himself.

His role is perhaps best defined in the liner notes for A Momentary Lapse of Reason, where he is credited as the "General technical and musical equipment supervisor".

Phil Taylor is David Gilmour's guitar technician and right-hand man.

In the recording studio and on tour, Taylor is responsible for setting up Gilmour's equipment. When Taylor hands the guitar to Gilmour, before a show or studio session, Gilmour knows that all of his effects and amplifiers have been set to his specifications.

Taylor was originally hired as the back-line chief. While touring, he commands a crew of six technicians who are responsible for each musical instrument on stage. As Pink Floyd's touring band expanded to include additional musicians, Taylor was in charge of two guitar setups, two drums setups, bass, and equipment for two keyboard players.

He has also worked as a band photographer, and is credited in the book from the Shine On box set. His photographs include a rare picture of Gilmour in the studio during the Wish You Were Here sessions. Pink Floyd have never been known for allowing photographers in the studio as they work on albums. In this case, Taylor was an exception.

Taylor's jobs include playing through the guitars, amplifiers and effects in Gilmour's collection to make certain that they are in working order should Gilmour want to play any piece of equipment. He is also the in charge of running the Astoria, Gilmour's houseboat recording studio. Recordings of Gilmour playing guitar and experimenting with the mix on the Classic Albums: Dark Side of the Moon DVD were videotaped at the Astoria.

Among many jobs between recording sessions, Taylor purchases new guitar equipment, which allows Gilmour to experiment with the latest technological developments. An excellent example of this would be the Digitech Whammy II pedal, which raises a note an octave when the pedal is pressed. This pedal is one of many pedals and other equipment Taylor most likely presented to Gilmour before sessions for 1994's The Division Bell. Gilmour was inspired to write "Marooned" based the pedal's high-pitch capabilities, and also used the effect in "Wearing the Inside Out."

Taylor is also an innovator in equipment design. It was Taylor (along with Gilmour and Pete Cornish) who created Gilmour's rotating "Doppola" speakers that were used during the 1994 tour.

Richard Mahon is a staff writer for Spare Bricks. His book about Pink Floyd-The Wall, co-authored with Vernon Fitch, will be published by Genesis Publications later this year.