Squier Stratocaster (except for the electronics)

I bought this guitar from a pawn shop with the intention of placing the "guts" from my red Strat inside.  I planned to then use the red Strat as my David Gilmour clone.  However, when I bought the EMG DG20 set-up, I found that the creme guitar was better made (and therefore more "deserving") than the red Strat.  The neck had a heavy gloss coating which made it very comfortable to play.  Also, in a surprising coincidence, the pickups on the Gilmour signature are a creme color which almost exactly matches the color of the Strat body.  (It's an odd set-up if you think about it.  A sparkly pickguard with creme pickups, but white control knobs?  When has Gilmour ever played that on stage?  Curiously, the standard SA pickups are otherwise available only in white or black.)

Anyway, the DG20 by EMG is a replacement of the entire harness (pickups, selector, volume, and tone pots) with the DG20 by EMG.  This is a system, but I will elucidate the individual components as separate modifications since you can, in fact, buy each of these separately.

Modification: EMG SA pickups
Control: Standard 5-way pickup selector.

Function: These work like normal single coil pickups, but they are somewhat "darker" (aka "warmer") in tone than any Strat pickup I have ever heard.  However, this is modulated by other elements in the system.  These pickups are made from some sort of magnetic ceramic (presumably much like Lace Sensor pickups found in many Fender signature Strats) instead of alnico (aluminum-nickel-copper) magnets found in typical guitar pickups.  Perhaps as a consequence of that, there is no annoying 60 cycle (Hz) hum when single pickups are selected.  This is really amazing.

Modification: EXG Expander (active)
Control: Middle tone knob.

Function: This boosts your signal in the midrange (I am not sure of the exact frequency; maybe around 5 or 6 kHZ?) to give it that great lead quality that sounds like a signing voice.  This is perhaps most responsible for Gilmour's signature tone.  I have found it quite wonderful and simply leave it turned all the way up all the time.

The photo at right is of a pair of new EXG and SPC circuits (I can't remember which is which) that I added to the red Strat when I upgraded it (see "Update" below).

Modification: SPC Mid-range boost (active)
Control: Rear tone knob.

Function: Boosts high and low frequencies.  I think of this more as a brightness control.  I do not hear any difference whatsoever in the low frequencies; and I am playing through relatively large speakers (Fender Ultimate Chorus Amp).  Around 1 or 2 on the dial the signal has a nice bright edge to it.  Up near 10 it sounds almost like a phase switch has been thrown (really cuts through anyone/anything you are playing with at the time).  I used to think this control was too extreme, but I have since learned to adjust it with a mind toward a particular sound instead of just cranking it to see what I get.  (Most people go through a similar phase when they get any effect, I'm sure.)

Non-electronic Modifications
New tuners -  I swapped the tuning machines from the red Strat to this one.  The keys on the red guitar were more "vintage" in appearance (picture Clapton's "Blackie"), so I thought they worked better in achieving that classic look.  Since then I purchased a new, higher quality set of Klusons for the red one.

Update: This guitar currently resides in Paris, France.  I sold it on eBay and then refit the red Strat with the same EMG electronics DG20, only in all white like Dave has rather than this creme/sparkle design.

More about Dave's guitar
Being a big Pink Floyd fan, I picked up some other info about David Gilmour's main Stratocaster over the years.

Dave plays a '50s re-issue Strat by Fender.  Aside from the electronics which are all the EMG bits outlined above (i.e., three SA pickups and the EXG and SPC pre-amps), the rest is pretty much standard.  As stand-out feature of that model is the heavily-glossed neck, which is something I especially liked about this creme model.  It is much smoother and therefore allows your bends to glide as though across ice.

Aside from the electronics, the main difference from the stock version is that Dave cuts his whammy bar down by an inch or two.  This is actually a pretty good idea as it gives you more control of the vibrato.  By having a shorter bar, it makes it harder to move, so the vibrato requires more conscious effort.  If I was more into this technique, maybe I would get out a hacksaw as well, but I tend to do finger vibrato and use the bar mainly for dive bombs.

Copyright Alexplorer.