Syd Barrett, "Piper at the Gates Of Dawn," and the Jext Telez Buzz Tone

Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Ninety–nine out of 100 times that you hear a guitarist say, “I want to sound like Pink Floyd,” they’re talking about David Gilmour — and rightly so. The sultry slowhand bends of a Strat feeding a Hiwatt with a Rams Head Big Muff is the stuff of legend. And with so much A+ material to mine and learn from, the guitar work of Syd Barrett may seem like an afterthought.

But there are two Floyds for me, and as reverent as I am for all things Gilmourish, I’m equally so for Syd’s contributions to psychedelic guitar and songwriting.

When talking about Syd Barrett’s tone, what we’re really talking about is his guitar work on Floyd’s landmark 1967 debut, Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Sure, later solo releases like Madcap Laughs and early Floyd singles like “See Emily Play” are infectiously catchy and sound great, but it’s Piper that is the Syd sound. It’s a fantastically fiery album.

Syd’s Rig

Syd Barrett’s guitar rig was a simple but unique collection, even for the time. His main Piper guitar was a white 1962 Fender Esquire dubbed the “Mirrored Telecaster.”

He got this Esquire in 1965, covered it in a reflective melinex film, and glued on circular metal discs — presumably to reflect the psychedelic projections at the acid–fueled shows. The single bridge pickup was also moved slightly closer to the strings.

Syd Barrett’s 1962 Fender Esquire

Other notable guitars were a 1960 Danelectro 3021 DC (yes, the same as the one Jimmy Page used), a couple backup ‘60s Telecasters, and a white Stratocaster.

For the amp, the Piper sessions were largely done on a Selmer Truvoice Treble n’ Bass. This was a 50W head made in England from 1963–1965 that Barrett paired with a 2x12.

For our video demo, we chose local Chicago builder Balthazar, who makes high–end circuits based on the Selmer. Others report a Watkins Dominator at those sessions as well — another ridiculously cool amp from the UK you should try before you die.

The effects choices Syd made in the studio with what was available helped etch more than a few pieces into the stone tablets of rock ‘n’ roll history. Most famously, the Binson Echorec — that Barrett’s buddy David Gilmour ended up adopting as well — became a key component to the sound of the album with its bubbly but dark delay driven by a multi–head disc. And lucky for us tonehounds, there are more than a few Binson clones out there.

But one effect pedal that Syd Barrett used extensively on those sessions, the Selmer Buzz Tone, is rarely mentioned — certainly not as much as Gilmour’s Ram’s Head Big Muff. Not too many Buzz Tone clones have appeared on the market since the original launch, but our friends at Jext Telez just recently offered their take on this rare fuzz circuit.

The Buzz Tone by Jext Telez

Personally, I’m a big fan of this brand and their ethos for creating and recreating rare pedals that delivered iconic tones. That’s not unique, of course, being that most pedal brands are chasing the past in some way, shape, or form.

But Jext Telez continues to deliver pedals that not only sound killer, but also educate us all on lesser–known gear history. Items like the White Pedal showcasing George Harrison’s tone, or this Buzz Tone aimed at shining a light on Syd Barrett (the “other Pink Floyd guitarist” by most people’s definition).

The Buzz Tone is a rich pedal that reacts well to the dynamics of your playing. It’s pretty amp–like, and I’d label it more toward British voicing with top–end clarity and tons of fizzy goodness.

Jext Telez Buzz Tone: The Piper At The Gates of Dawn Pedal | Reverb Demo

When dialing back the fuzz to more of an overdrive–type tone, I don’t hear any big bumps or dips in the mid–range that some overdrives are known for, so I’d consider this to be more flat with the EQ options driven by the amp you’re using.

Finding the right amp shouldn’t be a challenge, but depending your application, I could see if some players would want a tone knob.

I love the three–way voltage switch. Having the 6v and 9v options, though, renders the 3v option pretty much null for me. Not that the 3v sounds particularly bad, but I dug the additional headroom and lack of sag.

All in all, I continue to be impressed with this brand, and this pedal is something that anyone who loves a good dirt pedal or mild fuzz pedal should explore. There are even multiple variations with rare transistor sets for you to pick from with more on the way.

And while you’re at it, drop a needle on Piper at the Gates of Dawn if it’s been awhile. It’s a burner.


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