David Gilmour’s 1984 Fender Stratocaster 57V (Candy Apple Red)
David Gilmour acquired this guitar in early 1984 when he visited Fender’s warehouse in Enfield UK, with a goal to try out as many guitars as possible, and find a few best ones. According to David, at that time, he chose the best two to use on the About Face tour, but according to the information posted on the recent auction of this guitar, he took quite a lot more than that from the warehouse.
You would think that these days with the sort of quality control they have that they’d be consistent, but they’re very inconsistent. I played through a lot of guitars and picked the best two. And the best two are great!David Gilmour – International Musician, August 1984
The two best ones that David referred to in the quote above didn’t include this Candy Apple Strat, because according to the recent auction – this Strat was acquired with the second batch of guitars. The first batch David picked up in January 1984, and among these were the cream 57V Strat, a fiesta red 62V Strat, and a black Elite Stratocaster modified with a Kahler tremolo – all of which he used on the tour.
Everything I used on this tour was brand new. I used a Vintage Series Strat on stage. I didn’t want to take the old ones on the road. They get damaged and stolen too regularly. I tried out between thirty and forty guitars and picked a couple of good ones, as they do vary enormously. The red Strat is out of the box. The black one has the bottom string tuned down to D and uses a Kahler tremolo system.David Gilmour – Guitar for the Practicing Musician, 1985
This candy apple red Strat with a maple fretboard, or Red #1 as David would later name it, was first seen on the promo photos for the album About Face, probably taken sometime around February 1984. The first time David used the guitar live was at the Live Aid concert on July 13, 1985, during which his sunburst Strat malfunctioned, and David picked up the red Strat instead.
This guitar represented a line of products which was Fender’s first take on the “Reissue” concept. During the 70s, the reputation of the company suffered, and they realized that most of the buyers were looking to buy vintage guitars, made before Fender got acquired by CBS. So, Fender decided to start recreating those guitars, and basically, they went to the old ways of making guitars.
David’s candy apple red Strat was a recreation of a 1957 Fender Stratocaster, featuring a nitrocellulose finish, maple neck with a maple headstock, and three standard single-coil pickups.
The EMG Pickups
When David appeared with the guitar at the Live Aid concert, it had already been modified with a custom set of pickups. These were the EMG SA pickups with SPC/EXG tone controls, which were fitted to the guitar with the intention to get rid of the hum and noise produced by standard single-coil pickups.
Our guitar technicians were constantly struggling to stop buzzes and when you use effect pedals, they tend to amplify all the bad noises. Through the 70s, the battle to not have loud hums and buzzes coming out of your amps was constant, it was a nightmare, and these pickups made by EMG in this guitar prevented that.
They also have tonal circuitry which can boost the thickness of the guitar’s sound. When you’re playing solos the high notes can sometimes get a bit thin on a regular Strat and this guitar had a solution for that and it became my go to guitar for quite a while. This guitar has served me very well.David GIlmour – 1984 Stratocaster 57V – Lot Essay, Christie’s
This guitar was one of David’s main guitars, surpassed in the frequency of use only by his Black Strat. In the early years, it was used alongside David’s cream 57V Strat for live gigs and was the main guitar during the A Momentary Lapse of Reason studio sessions.
By 1988 however, the red 57V Stratocaster became David’s main guitar for live gigs as well, and it could be seen on various gigs from around that period, most notably on Live in Venice 1989, and at the Nassau Coliseum – which was later released as a live album dubbed “Delicate Sound of Thunder”.
From that point, David continued using this Strat as his main guitar, all the way until he received his Black Strat back from the Hard Rock Cafe, to whom David loaned it in 1985, and received back in 1997.
Overall, the guitar was used for hundreds of performances, and on two album releases, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994). For a full breakdown of all the major performances visit David GIlmour – 1984 Stratocaster 57V – Lot Essay, Christie’s.
This guitar was auctioned by David alongside many of his guitars in 2019, in aid of the climate change charity called ClientEarth. The red Strat ended up selling for $615,000 to an unknown buyer.
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