Potent Pairings: The Sounds of David Bowie

Pedals Used in this Video

Fulltone OCD V3

Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret V2

Skreddy Rust Rod Fuzz

MXR Phase 90

Greyscale Devices Reverb Deluxe

EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run

Boss DD-6 Digital Delay

Dunlop 535Q Multi-Wah

Diamond CPR-1 Compressor


Disclaimer: Our Potent Pairing series aims to get you in the ballpark of the sounds on your favorite recordings using affordable, accessible pedals. The pedals featured are not the exact pieces of gear used on the recordings.

David Bowie

When the world lost David Bowie in January, it lost one of its great cultural icons and innovators. Bowie's status as a trailblazer in the realms of art, fashion and music is unquestionable. His ability to innovate and adapt were just as present in his recording techniques and tones as anywhere else.

While certainly a capable player, composer and arranger, it was Bowie's collaborations with others that defined the flavor and sonic content of his landmark records.

We've posted previously about Bowie's studio work. His collaborations with the likes of Tony Visconti and Brian Eno rank as some of the most important recording tandems in rock history.

Like his wardrobes, personas and genre choices, Bowie shifted through many guitar milieus over the decades.

His early work was dominated by the Les Paul-wielding Mick Ronson - the obvious go-to when you think "Bowie Guitarist" - but later releases would see fruitful partnerships with Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Carlos Alomar and Reeves Gabrels, to name just a handful. He even brought in a young, Texas-bred slinger named Stevie Ray Vaughan for work on the single "Let's Dance."

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Through it all, Bowie guided the collaborations and compositions with an emphasis on texture and feel, and how each guitar track fit into the broader soundscape of the song.

When you hear a hit like "Heroes" or "Fame" or "Rebel, Rebel," you think less about how to play the guitar part, and more about how it sounds. You marvel at how it fits into the jigsaw puzzle of the master.

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