In the second guitar solo of Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd, Gilmour has some nice effects at 4:31 (the beginning of the second solo), also at 5:21.

It is kind of a hollow sound. Can someone tell me how Gilmour achieved this? I have tried to follow guitarists’ hand patterns in YouTube videos that cover the solo, but haven’t found a lot of covers with that effect. Is it a special apparatus installed in Gilmour’s Strat? Or is it a technique? Or a kind of pedal? I am a beginner in guitar, so please excuse my ignorance if this is an extremely basic thing.

  • 2
    Welcome! Please take a look at the topics that are covered here. I’m voting to close this question because questions about identifying equipment or techniques are not covered (though feel free to discuss it in the chat room!). Oct 20, 2022 at 13:18
  • @AndyBonner - it's right there in the first line of What topics can I ask about here? "Practise or performance technique".
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 20, 2022 at 16:31
  • Hi @Tetsujin, but it’s there in the fourth bullet point of what not to ask…that’s why I didn’t argue Andy’s close-vote Oct 20, 2022 at 16:41
  • Hmmm… someone needs to raise that in Meta - how can something be specifically on topic yet at the same time specifically off topic??
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 20, 2022 at 16:43
  • @Tetsujin It definitely has (probably other threads too). Personally I'm on the side that would prefer to see this be covered, but I was giving "the company line." It's one of those things that comes down to relative importance of helping future users in addition to the current one (even in that case, this present question seems pretty worthwhile). Anyway, maybe it's fortunate that you already got a good answer in! Oct 20, 2022 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


You mean the 'squeak' on the very first note? That's a picked harmonic.
You do it by touching the string with your thumb behind the pick, at the same time as you pick the note. The pitch you generate is controlled by how far back or forwards between neck & bridge your hand is placed, and 'how much thumb' you give it. You can do it even on an unplugged guitar, but playing it through a high-gain amp structure will emphasise it, because of the compression.
It takes practise to be able to control it, but eventually you will be able to do it at will.

The rest of the 'hollowness' is Gilmour's style & the native sound of his Strat.
It's typical of keeping your picking hand fairly well forwards towards the neck as you're playing, & front pickup is best for it - however [& it's not too obvious in that particular solo, as he's using a higher-gain amp than he did in his earlier work] but the guitar itself contributes a lot to that particular sound.
I used to own a '64 Strat that could make that sound. I now own a '57 Squier Strat copy… which can't.

After comments - this is a great example of Gilmour's 'hollow' sound; from what appears to be a live version, nothing like the original album track - Wish You Were Here, right from the start of the video.

but it's very much "raw Gilmour". You can also hear how the 'hollow' disappears when he switches to the middle [I think*] pickup at 3:20.

[*I think it's middle, because if that's the back pickup it's the sweetest one ever mounted on a Strat ;))

  • 1
    Thank you! Will surely be learning this technique. Oct 20, 2022 at 10:04
  • If you want to hear the 'hollowness' in all its glory, try the version of Wish You Were Here on this youtube vid - youtube.com/watch?v=uchUg0AKcAU - it's not the original album track, I assume it's live, but it's very much "raw Gilmore" You can also hear how the hollow disappears when he switches to the middle [I think*] pickup at 3:20. [*I think it's middle, because if that's the back pickup it's the sweetest one ever mounted on a Strat ;))
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 20, 2022 at 10:19
  • No, I didn’t mean “the hollow you refer to ” when I said “hollow”. I actually meant the starting squeal but didn’t have the word for it. So “picked harmonics” answers my question. Thanks again for the video. Oct 20, 2022 at 14:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.