David Gilmour's 2001 Meltdown Effects Board
DAVID GILMOUR’S ALL TUBE EFFECTS SYSTEM Mk.1
By Pete and Lynda Cornish
We were asked to design a new effects system for David Gilmour’s solo shows and guest appearances with bands other than Pink Floyd. His request was that the sound be exactly the same as when he plugged straight into his tube amps (Fender Tweed originals or re-issues and Hi-Watt 50W Combos etc.) We decided to eliminate the loading influence of a large chain of effects by incorporating unity gain tube pre-amps, with identical characteristics to his amp input stage, as the guitar input stage and also as isolators between effects. We designed and built a stereo tube line driver that could send the effects signals over long cables to the amps without loss of signal or change of tone. After extensive tests David decided on the following list of effects to be incorporated:
Boss CS-2; Pete Cornish G-2 Fuzz; EH Big Muff; Pete Cornish Soft Sustain-2; Chandler Tube Driver; Pete Cornish Tape Echo Simulator; Pete Cornish Custom Stereo Chorus using a modified Boss CE-2.
The inclusion of a custom designed and built tube pre-amp between one effect and the next ensured that each effect performed as if it were connected directly to the amplifier and completely eliminated the interaction and cross loading affects of multiple effects set-ups that are usually used without inter-effect isolation.
To eliminate the possibility of feedback or microphonic problems when the system is used on a stage with loud bass and drums we designed a tube suspension method that would allow the tubes to be mechanically isolated from the main case of the board. A total of ten tubes were required and we used miniature double triodes, all operating in Class A to provide the isolation pre-amps and the line drivers.
We decided on providing four isolated, floating outputs (two per stereo channel) so that David’s preferred amp setup of two Hi-Watt 50W Combo on the floor with two Fender Bassman re-issues placed on top of the Hi-watts could be used without introducing any ground loop hums. The resulting sound of this combination was very full as the Hi-Watts provided the solid low frequency foundation and the Fenders the smooth upper harmonics.
For small venues or for just a single song as a guest David uses a single Fender Tweed Twin or Tweed Deluxe Amp. The All Tube Effects System can be used in mono mode as well as stereo so it is fully flexible for any type of show.
After the All Tube Effects System had been in use for three years we were asked to provide a new facility. David wished to play "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" as a solo feature at Robert Wyatt’s Meltdown show at London’s Royal Festival Hall. The first section of this song was originally acoustic guitar played over a sustained synthesiser pad and David had the idea of using a very long delay to provide an accompaniment to his acoustic guitar solo. We added a special level corrected balanced output from the All Tube Effects System to provide a +4dBm signal for the long delay (Roland SDE 3000) fed through a volume pedal. The repeats of the long (1500mS) delay were fed to a Fender Stereo PA amplifier so that David could play the solo section over the sustained chord that he had previously sent to the long delay. We set the repeats to provide about 20 seconds of the sustained chord and we also fitted D.I. outputs for the acoustic guitar and the long delay so that the main PA could receive the signal without the possibility of feedback from open mics on the stage.
Also of note:
it is not a
good idea to have the Muff and G-2 on together; similarly with the SS-2 and CTD,
so Pete Cornish made it impossible to have them on at the same time.
However, David Gilmour likes to have the first inline high gain pedal
(G-2 or Muff) "EQ'ed" by the second lower gain pedal so they will virtually always be on as a set: Muff/SS-2, Muff/ CTD, G-2/CTD, G-2/SS-2
The show was recorded, filmed and was released as a DVD "David Gilmour at Robert Wyatt’s Meltdown". The board can also be heard on the StratPack DVD, and Live 8.
**On February 26, 2004, Pete Cornish modified this board to remove the Boss CS-2 and replace it with a Demeter Compulator Compressor.
**On September 18,2004, this board was modified by Pete Cornish with a Whammy send/return so the Digitech IPS33B could be added for pitch shifting.
See my On an Island Page for David Gilmour's new All Tube Effects Board details!