More than half a century after joining Pink Floyd, David Gilmour will auction about 120 of the iconic guitars he played with both the band and his solo releases. "Everything has to go," he laughs. "It's the spring sale."
The instruments that will be on the auction block at Christie's New York headquarters in June include many of his signature instruments. He sells Black Strat – a guitar he played on "Money", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Comfortably Numb" and probably other songs that it has collected a legacy worthy of its own book – as well as its Stratocaster with serial number 0001
"These guitars have been very good to me," he tells Rolling Stone on a phone call from his home in England. "They are my friends. They've given me lots of music. I just think it's time they went out and served someone else. I've had my time with them, and of course the money they want to raise , make a tremendous amount of good in the world, and that is my intention. "
Auction proceeds will benefit Gilmour's charitable foundation, which he has been driving for decades. "The money will come to the greater need for famine relief, homelessness and the crowding out of people all over the world," says Gilmour, adding that charities are both global and non-centric. "We need to work in the best way, and the best balance to do that is doing so well on this planet as it can."
In addition to helping the less fortunate than him, Gilmour sees the sale as a matter of cleaning house. In fact, he has planned to sell piles of his collection since at least around 1987 An Immediate Due Date but has not reached it. "I didn't want to be too old and get a whole piece of guitars that sat without doing anything," he says. "And honestly, many of them are guitars, I just don't have the time to play often enough. They will please other people."
What gave the idea to sell these guitars? Were you just looking around a room and you thought "There are too many of them"?
This is something that has fought me for quite some time. I started a process before, and I've cut out a few times. This time it will happen. I am both sad to lose some of the instruments and relieved to have this thing handled and that it will do something good. If I need a particular guitar, I go out and buy another. They are the tools of my trade. They have given me music, but in the end they are the tools I use.
You sell about 120 guitars. What percentage of your collection is that?
To be honest, I don't know. There are a few remaining. There are some that I want to hang on, either because they have been duplicated or because they are the ones I cannot physically share with. So I guess I'll probably keep 20 guitars.
I take it, you're not superstitious about having "the right guitar" for a particular song?
Guitars are special in what they give you, but I am not too sentimental about the qualities that some people believe will be dazzled in a particular instrument themselves. The guitars I play on a lot tend to be the closest ones.
Let's talk about Black Strat. It must be hard to say goodbye to.
You know something? For me, I can get rid of it. It's going to bring many people to look at this sale and it's going to do that job. It's a nice guitar. It has been virtually all the Pink Floyd albums through the seventies. It is on Announce Dark Side of the Moon Wish you were here Animals Wall . I did my "Comfortably Numb" solo on it. The notes to the beginning of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" fell out of it one day. It's on so many things, but Fender has made replicas the ones they sell, and I have two or three of them perfect. One of them may be my future guitar or even horror of horror, maybe I'll even change the color.
What is the story of Black Street?
It's a 1969 Strat that I bought at Manny on 48th Street in New York in 1970. I've made dozens of changes to it. I've changed my throat a couple of times. I've drilled holes in it and made all sorts of strange things to it. But the color is the only thing I have never changed. It was always black.
When you changed it so much, when did you get the sound of what you wanted?
I change it, so I change it back. I added a small switch in it so I could get a pickup configuration that you can't get on a normal strat, which is the neck and bridge pickup together. It's something you can do on a two-pickup guitar. It has some kind of signature sound from a Fender Jazzmaster or a Jaguar.
What songs or solos can you hear the pickup configuration on?
You know something? That Jazzmaster sounds was something I always wanted and wanted, but I don't think I've ever used it for anything. It experimented and tried things out. It did what I wanted it to do: It achieved this different sound, and I used it in the end.
What did you do more with the guitar?
At one point I drilled a big hole out of it and put an XLR socket in it, for some reasonable reason, which I then relieved and refilled. All these little changes. I shortened the tremolo arm on it because it fits the way I wanted to play a little better. I've used it as a work table really to try all sorts of different things over the years.
You retired the Black Street for part of the 80's and 90's when you donated it to the Hard Rock Cafe. Why did you do that?
I bought one or two other guitars from Fender. I went to their warehouse here in England and tried out 20 Stratocasters, and I think I bought four to keep me covered with everything I needed. I think about the time of Live 8 in 2005, I thought I would go back to Black Strat for a little while and I got it back from the wall at Hard Rock Cafe somewhere. I had lent it to them for a long time. I started using it again. I used it on my latest solo albums.
What did you attract Stratocasters in the first place?
My boyhood dreamed of having a Stratocaster like Hank Marvin in the Shadows. It was the guitar I always wanted. Lots of other players came together who did nothing but submit to it. Hendrix was not bad on a Strat. It was my dream guitar. When I could afford one, I got one. My first Fender was a Telecaster, which my parents bought me for my 21st birthday.
Do you still have one?
No, I sent it to America in around 1970, maybe & # 39; 68, I can't quite remember but TWA sent it and lost it. I have never seen it again. It's among the lost and stolen guitars in my life, of which there are few. Not too many.
You sell your "Number One" Strat, with the serial number 0001. You bought one from your guitar technology in the mid-seventies?
That's right. He bought it, and so he armed him out of it. It must go. It is a really beautiful instrument. I used it to play the rhythm guitar on "Another Brick on the Wall", but I don't think I used it that often. It always felt a bit more delicate than other guitars, and I didn't want to be turned off with my way on the road, so it's never been on a trip.
It sounds almost too expensive to play.
I don't think any of them are too precious to play. I play it a lot and I have it at home most of the time. It's also on a track called "Mihalis" on my first solo album. There is a tribute to Hank [Marvin] moment on the track that I used that guitar for.
You played a "55 Gibson Les Paul at Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2." Are you selling the one?
Yes. 39; 78, because I wanted a delicious Les Paul but with P-90 pickups; I like them more than I care about humbuckers. On The Wall we plugged it through the desk directly – not through An amplifier – so it is a direct injected sound right on the tape under the solo.When we decided to need a little bit of meat formation, we played it back through the studio and through an amplifier and remixed it to add some weight and edge to it
You sell Martin D-35, which you used on Wish You Were Here . it is one you never wanted to do with.
Yes, taking it on the road in the modern age where drums and bass and everything hammer away would have a real habit time to reinforce it. You have to have electronics built into it and I really wouldn't tear it down. It's such a good guitar that it would really be bad karma to stumble upon it so you could take it on the road. I would never do that.
When did you get it?
I bought it in New York in 70 of a guy on the street outside of Mannys to be able to do "Grantchester Meadows" at the shooting we did that week. I can't remember why I needed another guitar – I don't know if you were lost – but we needed it because it is a quiet acoustic song with nothing in the way of drums or anything.  You also sell the guitar, you wrote "Wish You Were Here"?
I wrote it on a 12-string Martin. I bought it from one of my friends in about & # 39; 72 or & # 39; I think. It's also in sales. I wrote "Wish You Were Here" one day in the Number Three Studios control room on Abbey Road. The riff dragged himself out of that guitar and it was "Wish You Were Here." Nor did it go the way. At around 75 or 76, we got ovations that had built in electronics that were very good live. They did not feed too badly. One of the ovations, the one that I confine to a self-invented high-string tuning, became the guitar on which I wrote "Comfortable Numb". One also goes into sales. I think it has been played virtually every live version of "Comfortably Numb."
Are you in the sale of 1955 Fender Esquire on the front page of About Face That you have called "The Workmate"?
Workmate does not go. I'm afraid I couldn't do it.
Is Workmate your go-to guitar these days?
When I am in the living room, Workmate is the one I will often choose up or a black Strat [replica]. I have one or two of my own newer Fender issue Black Strats, which are excellent, and I am happy when they jump into my fingers. Sometimes I can't even tell if I play the first original or the other.
But I'm much more common on acoustic guitar when I'm in my home. I can have a few acoustics sitting around, but the electric I usually do not play in the house. I have a really good nylon string guitar that I play a little and my daughter plays. I have a really good guitar that my wife bought for me, built by Me & Ro in America [a Me&Ro Ebony Anniversary Guitar]. It's a very nice guitar.
Do you want to be anything but guitars in the auction, like your Big Muff foot pedals?
I don't think there is a Big Muff in there. But maybe there are a few amps.
What does your family think of you cleaning all these instruments?
I think they, like me, are very happy that they will do well. The proceeds from this sale will do very well in the world, and we will be able to do something positive in this rather negative world we live in.
Guitars here will benefit your foundation. When and why did you start it?
I think it goes back to the seventies, maybe in the 80's; It evolved out of someone else I had before. I'm not sure. I have been very lucky in life. I have been very successful artistically and economically. I have felt many many years ago that I should do something to do a little good with my happiness. This will be another big boost to what our options are.
How much money do you hope to raise?
You know something? I haven't given it another thought. I don't have a clue. I am sure there will be people who are looking at what to sell, and they will make some guesses on sums. But I'm not going to be that person.
Are you worried that people will see you sell all these instruments and think you retire?
I'm not retiring or planning things at the moment. I'm sure I'll be going to something one of those days, but it's a big commitment.
Have you written new music?
I write all the time, that is, I made a small sentence in my head or on the guitar or piano and write them on my phone and log them all later. And then I think, "I'll listen to them one day and see if something appeals to me." This is where the process starts next time.
When do you know it's time to make a new album?
It doesn't really seem like that to me. I'm just starting to go into my little study room and play with these things. Sometimes I will build a drum slot on machines and start turning these little demos into something a little bigger, and then they go through two or three levels to build them up until they start to sound like a song. When I have enough things that have started to sound like songs, I make a decision about when or how to make an album. It's like pushing a snowboard down a hill: It gradually gathers momentum.
What kind of music have you had lately? very difficult to talk about the writing process and how I record and use small extracts. Sometimes I hear a piece of music as it plays on radio or on television, and I record 10 seconds of it, just for a small thing and rhythm or something attracts me. I will go back to that little moment to say, "What was this that attracted me and what can I … not steal, but greet or extract a feeling of it." Most of [the ideas] are things that strum on acoustic guitar or plunked on a piano. Ninety percent of them, I do not understand why I grounded them and recorded them, but I have hundreds of them. I find something good in there.
It sounds like you are too curious about music to retire.
Retirement is not a hard and fast thing for me in my life. I really don't have to retire. I don't have to say these words. I do not have to indicate that there is retirement or something similar. If I retire, it will be a quiet, unnoticed process at some point. But I'm not currently.
Don't you look at this auction at all as closing a chapter on Pink Floyd or the past?
I don't. I don't think I do. Of course, I will be sad to lose some of these instruments, but I will also be relieved to lose weight by having all these instruments and not knowing what will happen to them or where they are going. I want them to move on. I've been their custodian for a number of years, and now it's another's turn to have them and use them to create with them.