In October 1983 David Gilmour commissioned British luthier Roger Giffin to build a copy of an esoterically shaped electric guitar he had on loan from musician Andy Roberts (aka Brad Breath), who had replaced Snowy White as a guitarist for the 1981 Dortmund and London shows on Pink Floyd’s The Wall Tour. Roberts had recently acquired the guitar from John Pearse, who had worked as a designer for Martin in the 1970s. In researching the guitar, Roberts discovered that the instrument had been designed by John Huber at the C.F. Martin workshops in the early 1970s as a travel guitar for his personal use and that, on proving successful, he had subsequently made a handful of others for associates at Martin.
Having written and recorded the song Cruise for his 1984 solo album About Face on Andy Roberts’ Martin, Gilmour had subsequently decided that a copy would be required for the upcoming solo tour. Gilmour appeared on stage with the custom Giffin copy for performances of Cruise throughout his About Face Tour from 31st March to 16th July 1984. Asked about the guitar in a 1985 interview with John Stix, Gilmour explained It’s an exact copy of a Martin prototype from the early ’60s. A friend of mine has the original guitar. He lent it to me but he wouldn’t sell it, so I had it copied exactly.
At Gilmour’s request, The Who’s Pete Townshend had contributed lyrics to a couple of tracks on About Face. Townshend had come up with three sets of lyrics to three Gilmour compositions, two of which Gilmour used on the album and the third, which Gilmour had composed on the Martin, became the song White City Fighting on Townshend’s 1985 solo album White City: A Novel. Gilmour guested on the final track with this custom Giffin copy.
When asked about this guitar by Andy Roberts in recent years, Gilmour replied I still have my replica version and strum it often. It’s strange that it feels so unlike any other guitar when it’s basically like any other guitar with a capo on the 3rd fret. Gilmour has since acquired the original Martin R&D guitar, on which this copy is based.