DAVID GILMOUR’S PRIMARY STUDIO 12-STRING ACOUSTIC, USED TO WRITE AND RECORD WISH YOU WERE HERE
Purchased from a friend in 1974, this guitar has served as David Gilmour’s chief 12-string studio acoustic for over forty years. Gilmour told us: It wasn’t my first 12-string. I had a 12-string when I was a teenager and some of those instruments, you know, what happened to them is murky. I didn’t have the funds to just buy another one, so they would often just be sold in order to buy something else, but I did have a 12-string. I always loved the 12-string, I used to listen to Lead Belly a lot, who was a great 12-string player, and there was another guy called Erik Darling who played a 12-string and I learnt some of his stuff. He was an American folk singing guy and he had an album that I was very, very fond of back in those days. He then joined, or formed, a little trio called the Rooftop Singers and had a big hit called Walk Right In, featuring a 12-string. So I always wanted to get another 12-string and I knew a guy who had a Martin 12-string and he wanted to get rid of it. I liked it, I bought it. It gave me Wish You Were Here, which was very generous of it.
Playing around with his new guitar at London’s Abbey Road Studios during the making of Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here between January and July 1975, Gilmour hit upon the notes that would become the enduring title track to the album. When asked by Paul Rappaport in September 2011 how he made the music for Wish You Were Here, Gilmour explained: I had recently bought a Martin 12 string from someone I knew and I was strumming it in the control room at No.3 at Abbey Road and that just started coming out, that riff …I started mildly obsessing with this riff that was slowly developing and, again, people’s ears – Roger’s [Waters] ears – pricked up. Reflecting on the final recording, Gilmour continued …every time I listen to the actual original recording I think God I should have really done that a little bit better, but the idea was that it was like a guitar playing on the radio and someone in their room at home …listening to it and joining in, so the other guitar was kind of supposed to be a kid at home joining in with the guitar he’s listening to on the radio, and therefore it wasn’t supposed to be too slick… and it wasn’t. Contributing to a collage of sound built up with the use of synthesizers, the Martin 12-string was also heavily featured on the album’s second track Welcome To The Machine, a scathing Roger Waters composition reflecting the band's disillusionment with the record industry. After his opening strums, Gilmour continues to accompany himself on the 12-string as he comes in with high pitched lead vocals, introducing an ascending acoustic riff in the instrumental section.
The guitar next made an appearance on the band’s 1979 narrative concept album The Wall, recorded at Super Bear Studios in the South of France from April-July 1979 and Producer’s Workshop in Los Angeles from September to November 1979. Displaying his musical range, Gilmour played no less than five different types of guitar on Hey You, the opening song of the third act. Along with his Martin 12-string and Ovation hi-strung (lot 17), he also recorded fretless bass, six-string acoustic and electric lead and rhythm guitar parts. Gilmour next played the D12-28 on the melancholy Waters composition Paranoid Eyes for the band’s 1983 anti-war concept album The Final Cut, which would be the last Pink Floyd record to feature Roger Waters. It is almost certain that the Martin 12-string was employed during recording of the subsequent Gilmour-led Pink Floyd albums A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994) although there are no specific records to confirm its use.
More recently, the 12-string appeared in Guitarist magazine, February 2015, photographed at Gilmour’s East Sussex studio for a feature on the instruments, amps and effects that the Pink Floyd legend used to summon up the rich soundscapes of “The Endless River.” Gilmour had used the Martin 12-string to record the track It’s What We Do for the last Pink Floyd album. Released in November 2014 as a tribute to keyboardist Richard Wright, who had passed away in 2008, the predominantly instrumental album The Endless River debuted at number one in the UK, France, Germany, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, and Canada.