How to Sound Like Pink Floyd: Amp Settings Guide


Pink Floyd are one of the most popular rock bands of all time with countless records which are still hugely popular even decades after their release. Many guitarists try and simulate David Gilmour’s iconic tone using carefully tweaked amp settings but it can be hard to know where to start. In this article, I’ll take you through the basic amp settings to sound more like Pink Floyd, go through some example settings for specific songs and then finish up with some advice to help fix common problems.

Quick Guide to Pink Floyd Amp Settings

To sound like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, start with the following amp settings:

  • Gain: 3-4
  • Bass: 5-6
  • Mids: 6-7
  • Treble: 4-5

Remember that these settings should just be used as a starting point. It is impossible to achieve the exact same tone as a player without using the same equipment. With that said, the rest of the article is designed to guide you towards the closest possible match that can be achieved with your guitar and amplifier.

The Basics

Before we jump into some specific songs, let’s go through the basic controls and explain where is a good place to start. They of course will vary from song to song and depending on what equipment you’re using which we will address a bit later on.

In general, you’ll want low-mid levels of gain, a boosted mid-range, and a bit more bass than treble. If you’re using single coil pickups, you’ll need to compensate by boosting the mids and bass on your amp more and cutting the treble, whereas if you’re using humbuckers then you’ll need more treble and less bass and mids.

Gain

The amount of gain you’ll need really does depend on the song and what type of amp you’re using. If you’re using a tube amp, you’ll need to crank it so it is mildly overdriven but not distorted. If you’re using a solid state amplifier, you’ll want to start at around 4-5 for songs like Another Brick in the Wall, slightly lower for songs like Money and as low as 2 for songs like Shine On You Crazy Diamond. You may also want to use a pedal instead for your gain as David Gilmour often used a fuzz pedal (more on this later).

EQ/ Tone (Bass, Mids, Treble)

Some amplifiers have a single tone/EQ control whereas others have individual bass, mids and treble controls which allow you to shape the tone a bit more freely.

The bass control adjusts how much low-end the tone will have. The more bass there is, the more “boomy” and looser the tone will be. The bass control normally sounds best around midway so start at about 5 and adjust from here. If it sounds a bit too loose and muffled, lower it and if it sounds thin then increase it.

The mids control is very important and affects how full the tone is. For most songs you’ll want to start with this on moderate-high so start at around 7 and work from here. If it’s interfering too much with the vocals then lower it and if it sounds empty then increase it.

The treble control adjusts the high-end frequencies and affects how bright, crisp and clear the tone is. The setting you should use really depends on what pickups you’re using and your amp itself. A good place to start is on around 4-5 and adjust from here. If it’s too harsh then you can decrease it, or you can increase it to give your tone more definition.

If your amp just has a single EQ/ tone control then have it in a balanced position (midway) and adjust from here. Decreasing it will favour the bass and increasing it will favour the treble.

Check out my in-depth guide to amp settings if your amplifier has additional controls that you’d like to learn how to use effectively.

Make sure you also check out the brand-specific amp controls guide which is relevant to you, to get the most from your rig:

Effects

Using a fuzz pedal is a good idea if you want to sound more like Gilmour, as he often used this instead of a distorted amplifiers. Delay and reverb are useful to give the tone more depth and are essential in a lot of solos if you want the closest match possible. Chorus, phaser, octave and wah are also very useful for a lot of songs so if you already have them in your collection then make sure they’re plugged in!

Now we’ve been through the basic controls and settings on your amplifier, let’s take a look at some of Pink Floyd’s most popular songs. These are not the exact settings used by Gilmour, but can be used as a starting point to get you closer to the tone. It’s likely that you’ll need to make some tweaks, so the next section of the article will address common problems and how to solve them.

Another Brick in The Wall, Pt.2 Amp Settings

  • Gain: 5 (or 2-3 for some sections)
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 5

Comfortably Numb Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 7

Money Amp Settings

  • Gain: 4
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 5

Time Amp Settings

  • Gain: 4
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 6

Learning to Fly Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 5

A phaser pedal is essential here

Fearless Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 5

Hey You Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 6

Shine On You Crazy Diamond Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 6

Breathe Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 6

In The Flesh Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 5

I’ve also made an article with example amp settings for over 40 popular guitar songs here to help you sound more like your favourite players.

Common Issues

At this point you should have a good starting point and understand of the amp settings needed to sound as close as possible to David Gilmour, however it might still not sound quite right. The exact settings needed will depend on all sorts of factors including your amp, guitar, effects pedals, and of course the song.

Here are some common issues you might be experiencing and which settings are best to tweak to fix the issue. Make sure you only adjust one control at a time so you can pinpoint the issue.

Keep in mind that some Pink Floyd songs such as Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Learning To Fly will not sound right without some modulation pedals no matter how much you adjust your amp setting.

Muddy Tone

  • Decrease the bass
  • Increase the treble
  • Decrease the gain

Thin Tone

  • Increase the mids
  • Add some reverb
  • Increase the bass
  • Increase the gain

Harsh Tone

  • Decrease the treble
  • Increase the bass

Lack of Sustain

  • Use a compressor pedal
  • Increase the gain
  • Increase the bass

Frequently Asked Questions

What amps did Pink Floyd use?

David Gilmour of Pink Floyd is well known for using Hiwatt and Fender amplifiers such as the Fender Twin Reverb.

What guitars did David Gilmour use?

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour usually played a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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