After purchasing a Fender 1000 pedal steel guitar during the US leg of Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother World Tour, David Gilmour first used an electric steel for the recording of One Of These Days for the band’s 1971 album Meddle. The pedal steel was then used extensively during recording of Breathe and The Great Gig In The Sky for the band’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon and became a defining element of the Pink Floyd sound. Gilmour told us: I always loved both the slide guitar - all varieties - and the pedal steel guitar. And after I got that rather bulky cumbersome thing, which you obviously couldn’t put a strap on and tie around your waist, I think I never really quite got used to the idea of doing the steel on a normal, regular guitar. So I put all my concentration in that sphere onto a lap or a pedal steel guitar which I then used on all sorts of things whenever I got the opportunity really.
When guitar technician Phil Taylor first began working with Pink Floyd in 1974, one of his first jobs was to source two lap steel guitars for the band’s 1974 British Winter Tour, as there would be different tunings required for performances of The Great Gig In The Sky and One Of These Days, the latter originally planned as an alternative encore before the band decided on Echoes. In a May 2006 interview with Alan Di Perna for Guitarist magazine, Gilmour recalled: When I started doing pedal steel and lap steel at shows, the first track I can remember using it on consistently was One Of These Days, where it's tuned to an open E minor chord. And then when we got to The Dark Side of the Moon and we were doing The Great Gig In The Sky, I created a different tuning for that because it's hard to know exactly what is the best tuning on slide. Open tunings are by definition quite restricting. So I found a tuning which is kind of an open G6… And that's the tuning I tend to use quite a bit, the one I originally laid down for The Great Gig In The Sky. By that time, I needed to have two steel guitars on stage.
Unable to source Fender lap steels in the UK at such short notice, Taylor purchased two Jedson lap steels - one in cream and one in red finish - at Ivor Arbiter’s Sound City on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue that September. Gilmour told Di Perna I got a red one and a yellow one and eventually I put Fender pickups in them. That's what I used for a long time: one tuned to the open E minor and one tuned to open G6. The inferior electronics were also replaced with new control plates by luthier Roger Giffin. In the end, the red Jedson was used for The Great Gig In The Sky and this guitar, the cream Jedson, was used for performances of the as yet unreleased nine part composition Shine On You Crazy Diamond, tuned to an open G major 6th as follows: G, B, D, G, B, E. Part VI featured a three minute lap steel solo, with Gilmour playing each section an octave higher than the last. The Syd Barrett tribute would eventually bookend the 1975 Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here. Photographers Jill Furmanovsky and Robert Ellis both captured Gilmour playing the cream Jedson during the course of the tour.
Gilmour next used the cream Jedson on stage for performances of The Great Gig In The Sky on Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour, after it was added to the set list on 2nd March 1988. Pink Floyd’s first tour since the departure of Roger Waters, the A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour included a landmark performance on Venice’s Grand Canal and closed on 18th July 1989 as the highest-grossing tour of the 1980s. The band’s series of shows at New York’s Nassau Coliseum were recorded for the 1988 live album Delicate Sound of Thunder. The cream Jedson next appeared at Knebworth on 30th June 1990, when Pink Floyd played The Great Gig In The Sky as part of a short set for a historic charity concert in aid of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre. The band topped a bill of legendary Silver Clef Award Winners including Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Elton John, Genesis, Robert Plant (with guest Jimmy Page) and Status Quo. From October 1994, the cream Jedson was employed on Pink Floyd’s Division Bell Tour for performances of The Great Gig In The Sky until it was replaced at the Nashville show on 8th May 1994 with a Fender Deluxe 6 lap steel which had been purchased at Gruhn’s Guitars the day before. Thereafter the cream Jedson was retained as a spare.
During the mid 1980s Gilmour utilized the guitar for a very different purpose when he found himself locked in his guitar room late one night. The door handle broke, Gilmour recalled, and I was trapped in there. This is long before there were mobile phones - there was no way of getting out, so I took the leg off that guitar and… had to hack my way through the door to get out. The evidence is still there on the leg of that Jedson. Although the leg was subsequently straightened out, it remains dented and slightly warped to tell the tale.