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Want to play guitar like David Gilmour? These two exercises will get you started

David Gilmour
(Image credit: Ian Dickson/Redferns)

Guitar lesson: You’ll need a few tricks to play with G-force. First, the minor pentatonic scale. Gilmour phrases many solos around this essential scale, especially if he’s playing freely or improvising. Second, you need to think melodically. David Gilmour often breaks free from the confines of ‘guitaristic’ pentatonic shapes and plays more tunefully.

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Why the minor pentatonic is THE essential scale for leads and solos

Try playing along the length of a string or using a slide; pentatonics aren’t off the table, but you’ll sound more Gilmour-ish if you can play inside and out. Finally, Gilmour's lyrical style is augmented by smooth, accurate string bends and favouring hammer-ons, pull-off s and slides over too much picking.

Gilmour has explored the tonal offerings of his Stratocasters over the years. The neck pickup of the Strat sounds great for blues orientated lead work especially with a compressor. Flip to a the bridge pickup for brighter sounding soaring solos. 

1. Clean pentatonics 

These are the kinds of clean lines you’ll hear on songs like …Brick In The Wall (though the solo was recorded with a p90-loaded Gibson Les paul) and Shine On… – both largely pentatonic and with lyrical string bends delivered with the neck pickup. 

The ‘up down up’ string bend in bar 2 below is a common Gilmour phrase – just be careful not to overuse it!

Click on top right of tab to enlarge it 

(Image credit: Future)

2. Simple melodic lines 

Simple phrases and long, sustained notes are typical Gilmour traits in songs like comfortably numb and Hey You – if you can sing a lick back to yourself after you play it, you’re on the right track! 

Our lick poses its own challenges though. String bends must be accurate to wring the best out of them and vibrato needs to be evenly timed.

Click on top right of tab to enlarge it 

(Image credit: Future)

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