David Gilmour’s 1986 Gibson J-200 Celebrity 9/90
David got this guitar from Gibson in 1986 after trying another J-200 Celebrity model that belonged to a Dire Strato bassist John Illsley. David was recording something with Dire Straits at the AIR Studios in September 1986, he saw a J-200 Celebrity model laying around, tried it out, and fell in love. Shortly after, he contacted Gibson and asked whether they had any left. Luckily for David, they did.
I was in AIR Studios and that guitar was lying around. I tried it and liked it. I contacted Gibson and asked if they had any left, …they were looking in their storeroom and they found one that had somehow never reached its destination. And they let me have itDavid Gilmour, Guitar World, May 2006
The Gibson J-200 Celebrity was produced in a limited run of just 90 instruments to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Gibson Company in 1985. It had rosewood back and sides as opposed to maple on traditional J-200s, an ebony fingerboard, a mahogany neck, a mustache bridge with vintage inlays, and vintage deluxe Allison tuners.
David used this guitar extensively on Pink Floyd’s 1994 album The Division Bell. The guitar was used on the songs “Take It Back”, “Keep Talking”, “Lost For Words”, and “Poles Apart”.
On a Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar that is processed through a Zoom effects box, then directly injected into the board.That’ s a pretty bizarre configuration.
Well, I guess I experiment more than I think I do. I had a Zoom in my control room one day and I was mucking about with something. Suddenly, I thought I should stick the E-bow on the strings and see what would happen. It sounded great, so we started writing a little duet for the E-bowed acoustic guitar and a keyboard. We never finished the piece, but [keyboardist] Jon Carin decided to sample the E-bowed guitar part. We kept the sample and ended up using it as a loop on “Take It Back,” and again on “Keep Talking.”David Gilmour Discusses Guitars, Blues and ‘The Division Bell’ in 1994 Guitar World Interview
On “Poles Apart” specifically David used a different tuning – he tuned the guitar to DADGAD. Because of this, when playing the song live during the tour, he used a different J-200 Celebrity for that song. This second J-200 was the same guitar that David tried out in the AIR Studios in 1986, which John Illsley agreed to sell to David sometime in 1994.
I thought it was something new that I had invented. One day, I was on holiday in Greece and I had an acoustic guitar with me. I just decided to tune the bottom string down to D and continued to experiment until I arrived at that tuning. Then I mucked around a bit and “Poles Apart” fell out of it a few minutes later.David Gilmour Discusses Guitars, Blues and ‘The Division Bell’ in 1994 Guitar World Interview
So altogether David had two nearly identical J-200 Celebrity guitars. One was 9 of 90 made – his first one was, and the second one was 42 of 90. Both guitars were later sold through Christie’s in 2019. Interestingly, Christie’s has the 9/90 listed as a 1986 model and the 42/90 as a 1985 – which of course doesn’t make much sense given the assumption the 9 was made before the 42.
The guitars were also almost identical visually, but the 9/90 had a flat fretboard end, while the 42/90 had sort of a curly bracket-shaped end. This could indicate that the 9/90 was perhaps some sort of an early model, and maybe that was the reason that Gibson did not sell it to anyone.
As far as live usage, most notably David used the guitar in the live concert video Pulse, and at the Live 8 concert in 2005.
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