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100 Greatest Guitar Solos: No. 4 "Comfortably Numb" (David Gilmour)

(Image credit: Neil Lupin/Getty Images)

How do you reason with two guys who once went to court over the artistic ownership of a big rubber pig?

That was Bob Ezrin’s mission when he agreed to co-produce Pink Floyd’s The Wall with guitarist David Gilmour and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters.

The legendary tensions between the two feuding Floyds came to a head during sessions for The Wall in 1979—which was why Ezrin was called in. “My job was to mediate between two dominant personalities,” recalls Ezrin. However, the producer turned out to be no mere referee, but contributed plenty ideas of his own.

“I fought for the introduction of the orchestra on that record,” Ezrin says. “This became a big issue on ‘Comfortably Numb,’ which Dave saw as a more bare-bones track. Roger sided with me. So the song became a true collaboration—it’s David’s music, Roger’s lyric and my orchestral chart.”

Gilmour’s classic guitar solo was cut using a combination of the guitarist’s Hiwatt amps and Yamaha rotating speaker cabinets, Ezrin recalls. But with Gilmour, he adds, equipment is secondary to touch: “You can give him a ukulele and he’ll make it sound like a Stradivarius.”

Which doesn’t mean Gilmour didn’t fiddle around in the studio when he laid down the song’s unforgettable lead guitar part.

“I banged out five or six solos,” Gilmour says. “From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen back to each solo and make a chart, noting which bits are good. Then, by following the chart, I create one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’”

COMFORTABLY NUMB | David Gilmour Live in Gdansk

COMFORTABLY NUMB | Guitar Solo by Tina S. (Includes Tab)

COMFORTABLY NUMB | Acoustic Arrangement by Thomas Leeb

COMFORTABLY NUMB | Guitar Solos by Richie Faulkner (pre-Judas Priest)

COMFORTABLY NUMB | Guitar Solo by Emily Hastings

COMFORTABLY NUMB | Pink Floyd's 1979 Studio Version

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