Playing with former Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters for quite a while now, David Kilminster is well-known for his use of Telecaster guitars. According to Dave, it’s simply a much more comfortable option overall, compared to Stratocaster and Les Paul-style guitars.
“There’s something about it [that] feels very comfortable,” explained Kilminster in a recent interview with Now Spinning Magazine with Phil Aston (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs). “When I’m stood up with a guitar around my neck, it feels very comfortable.”
“Les Paul is very heavy,” he continued. “A Strat feels like it’s pulling to the left. I just don’t know why — it could be physics — or was it pulling to the right?”
Be it left or right, to Kilminster, Telecaster is the way to go. In fact, he admits that he doesn’t even own a Stratocaster:
“I don’t even have a Strat, but I think maybe because the strap button is on the top horn, the bottom kind of moves that way. So Strats have never felt comfortable to me.”
Whatever may be the case, Dave added that the Telecaster body shape is just something that suits him more and feels right in his hands:
“Telecasters just naturally fit my body. This is as simple as that really is — it feels comfortable.”
On the other hand, Dave isn’t your average Tele player. As you may already know, the model has been associated with country music many times in the past. While he has absolutely nothing against country music, Kilminster admits that he tried changing things around with his T-style guitars, giving them all a different twist.
“But I’ve tried to update them or to automate them,” he continued, “because normally, if you think about Telecaster players, you’re talking about Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan.”
“So, as much as I love country — and I do play in that style just to have fun — I wanted to be able to get all the other styles as well. So this is why I went through a custom model.”
If you look at most of Dave’s guitars, they’re more than just the usual Teles with a pair of single-coil pickups. He’s been rocking custom-made Suhr guitars for a long time now. However, in more recent years, we can see him playing something new.
“The ones I have at the moment are called Paoletti,” Dave explained. “It’s an Italian company.”
Although it might feel odd to some, these guitars come with a completely unconventional pickup layout for a T-style model:
“So they have three pickups instead of the normal two. They have tremolos, so you can do the Jeff Beck stuff as well.”
On top of that, Dave reveals that there are more frets involved in the equation as well:
“24 frets instead of the standard 21 or 22 frets — 24 frets just make sense to me as well because it’s two octaves.”
Finally, Dave concluded that these are all-around incredible instruments, covering visual, functional, and sonic aspects:
“And I think they look amazing. They feel comfortable. They sound great.”
“It’s something I designed with my wife during the lockdown, actually,” he also added. “And they very kindly came along and agreed to build these machines for me, so I really couldn’t be happier with everything I’m using right now.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Kilminster also discussed his technique and how, ultimately, it simply serves its purpose of reproducing music that he hears in his head. Of course, Dave is a technically proficient guitar player. However, with his music, it’s all about technique
“For me, technique has just been a way of playing the music that’s in my head,” he pointed out. “Which, as I mentioned before, is not necessarily guitar-oriented or would even fit comfortably on a guitar.”
“So I’ve worked so hard on different techniques to just be able to play notes, play music, things that saxophonists would play, or pianists would play, of course. I mean, it is exciting, and I still love practicing, I still love playing.”
In another recent interview, Kilminster also recalled how he got the gig with Roger Waters despite not initially knowing who he was and having a “complete disaster” of an audition.
“So obviously, [I] went for the audition,” he recalled. “Performed terribly. I mean, it was just hideous. I thought I was prepared. And I clearly wasn’t prepared. Because I didn’t know even about the history of the music. I mean, they said they wanted someone to play and sing like David Gilmour.”
“So we’re just about to play ‘Money’ and I’m feeling quite confident because I’ve worked out all three guitar parts. So I went to Roger and said, ‘Which part do you want me to do?’ I could do the reggae thing or just follow the bass line or do the thing with the tremolo.”
“And he said, ‘I don’t mind. Are you alright on the lyrics?’ I’m like, ‘I’m supposed to sing this?’ Okay. So the first time I sung it, Roger Waters was [next to me], I’ve got the lyrics on a little stand, and I’m playing the reggae thing and trying to sing this thing. Which isn’t difficult, but it’s something that is kind of nice if you go through it a couple of times. [Laughs] Just to get your head around it. So that was a bit of a disaster.”
“Then I realized, as I’m playing ‘Money,’ I had two guitars with me, two electrics, one had 21 frets, one had 22. You need 22 to play ‘Money’ for the high bends. And I had the wrong guitar. And so halfway through I’m like ‘I’m really sorry, can we stop?’ [Laughs] ‘Because I can’t play on this guitar.'”
“And then we did ‘Wish You Were Here,’ and the acoustic wasn’t working. And it was just a whole… It was a nightmare. Really — a complete disaster. I just felt like such an idiot. I was kicking myself.”
Nonetheless, despite these issues, he still got the gig.
“They liked me. I think… I’ve heard from someone that was their tour promoter. He said, ‘You did this one solo, you just went for it and the whole room kind of went, ‘Whoa!” And I had no idea. I was just in my own private hell. But apparently, that’s what they loved. It might have been ‘Comfortably Numb,’ I have no idea.”