YouTube star Sophie Lloyd shared an incredible shred-heavy reimagining of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb earlier this year. Here she tells us how she went about tackling the ultimate feel solo and what she learned from listening in detail...
“I recently covered Comfortably Numb and have to say learning all of the parts was really interesting. David Gilmour is definitely more of a minimalist and I’m all about adding as much shit as you possibly can! So I had to take a different approach and look at how he was playing and what kind of notes he was choosing.
“For my version, we used the Archetype: Nolly Neural DSP plug-in going into Logic, which really works for big lead tones because it has nice overdrives, reverbs and delays. It doesn’t have phasers or anything else, it’s just the basic pedals which keeps everything simple.
“David’s guitar sound is incredibly sweet – it’s clean-ish but with a bit of crunch, just on the edge of breaking up. I love that sound because it kinda emulates the notes he’s playing, because they are sweet but with a little bit of dirt here and there. For my cover, I kept close to my own sound, which has some raised mids and scooping out some of the lower frequencies.
“The first solo in Comfortably Numb is the happy one, going over the major chords. That’s why there’s such a contrast between the two leads – the short major one early on is what makes the longer minor solo at the end feel even more epic. The different moods help separate them really nicely.
“The minor solo being in the key of B is a big help. The only thing better would have been A minor pentatonic – that’s always the dream for us rock guitarists! In this solo, David repeats a lot of similar minor pentatonic runs, quite often staying in that first position box and maybe venturing out to the second. But he does so much in that small amount of space!
“A lot of his runs have the same notes, but the timings are always changing ever so slightly, which I find really interesting. He’s really good at making the same notes feel different each time.
“I don’t want to use the word simple, because it isn’t simple, but he does minimalism really well. There’s no crazy tapping, he’s happy to sit in that first minor pentatonic position and make it sound amazing. And you could listen to him play in that box for hours...
“But when he does break away from pentatonics, he carefully selects certain modal notes to make them feel subtle. He never over-uses those notes, so that’s what makes them stand out a bit more when he does play them.
“He’s very careful with certain intervals – you’ll mainly hear pentatonics but when he throws in that minor sixth or something like a ninth, it feels so memorable. And every guitarist out there has pretty much nicked those ninth bends into the minor third!
“I find it’s the precision of those bends that always blows me away. The guitar is like an extension of him, like it’s part of his body. I really had to pay attention to that while working on the cover, listening to that element of his phrasing. I’m used to a wide rock vibrato and it’s taken ages to get there, so it was interesting to take a step back from that and go for slower bends that feel really soulful. And I don’t think there’s a better word for it – his bends have so much soul!”