December 12, 2023

Gaining the Edge

Yeah right!

The reality is that the Edge redefined rock/pop guitar sounds in a way that was highly distinctive, innovative and non-traditional way that originally fell like machine gun fire randomly across the cannon of guitar – blues, funk,  rock,  punk, new wave etcetera – that his sounds have now become mainstream and replicated to various degrees by many modern guitarists is testament to his vast impact on guitar focused pop music.

When U2 released “The unforgettable Fire”  in 1984 the rest of the guitar world was listening to high tech, super fast shred metal and the Edge’s playing marks a triumph of melody, emotion and timing over a much more narcissistic focus upon technique and posturising – that it may have effloresced from a (perceived) lack of  ‘ability’  is almost definitely punk in ethos. A refreshing and unique approach and certainly no lack of insight, innovation or ability here!

It’s far more healthy to consider his guitar as a modern reiteration of some of Gilmour era Pink Floyd guitar (for example those four great notes that D.G. repeats on Shine on you Crazy Diamond) so, in a certain emotional sense could be considered anchored in the blues but with the old tradition & technique stripped away to leave the emotion echoing through a delay pedal combined with a position in the middle of the mix.

In this sense his playing is only about sound per se and a respect for the song dynamic: egoless, intense and always valid.

That there is a lack of traditional guitar motif and phrasing in the form of bends, rakes, legato &cetera means that really it’s a triumph of sonics over everything else. The Edges skeletal arpeggios have always been much more emotionally resonant.

Again being an individual is far more relevant then becoming a clone or slavishly devoting oneself to becoming a carbon copy of another – after all photocopies always appear a little bit rough and ragged about the edges.

Certainly Muse, Radiohead and Coldplay owe a debt of gratitude to the Edge.

“I’ve found so many guitar parts from using the echo – it’s limitless. The biggest difference between me and other players is that I don’t use effects to color my parts. I create guitar parts using effects. They’re a crucial element of what I do so I don’t consider them a crutch… They’re a part of the art.”

– Edge, ‘Total Guitar’, 2005

is the magic number!

If you are interested in re-creating the awesome sound of the Edge you will probably need two, yes that`s right, two delay pedals, and, if you have managed to beg, borrow or steal them then here are a couple of articles dealing with the pedal set up:



Here are two great songs, Electrical Storm and Gone by U2 featuring…the Edge!


Jake Edwards

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