1. U2’s The Edge – David Evans
A few years back, pundits pronounced the demise of rock `n’ roll’s instrumental talisman, claiming that the Goliath had been slain by the digital slingshots of samplers and sequencers. Among the evidence cited for this musical revolution: U2.
On the quartet’s 1990s albums (“Achtung Baby,” “Zooropa,” “Pop”) this quintessential `80s rock foursome _ whose sound is instantly recognizable in guitarist The Edge’s chiming riffs _ went techno. U2 exchanged amp feedback for synthesizer doodles, floor toms for drum machines, leather jackets for nylon street wear.
Instead of the mystical desert of “Joshua Tree,” the Irish band sang about, well, “Miami,” as one track on “Pop” was called. Problem was, “Pop” bombed. The irony-laced album sold poorly, compared to the group’s usual multiplatinum level. The megahyped “Pop Mart” tour, announced in the unlikely environs of a New York K mart, similarly stumbled under the pretenses of its awkward high-low concept. The shows drew tepid reviews from the usually devout press and nearly bankrupted the group.
So U2 went back to the fret board. The group’s latest album, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” marks a return to rock `n’ roll basics.
As a guitar player, The Edge is recognized as having a trademark sound typified by a low-key playing style, a chiming, shimmering sound (thanks in part to the signature sound of classic VOX AC-30s) that is achieved with extensive use of delay effects, reverb, and a focus on texture and melody. To achieve an “Edge-like” sound, the feedback delay is set to a dotted eighth note (3/16 of a measure), and the feedback gain is adjusted until a note played repeats two or three times.
The Edge’s guitar technique has been shaped by many different influences. His first guitar was an old acoustic guitar, with which his brother Dik Evans and he experimented. He said in 1982 of this early experimentation, “I suppose the first link in the chain was a visit to the local jumble sale where I purchased a guitar for a pound. That was my first instrument. It was an acoustic guitar and me and my elder brother Dik both played it, plonking away, all very rudimentary stuff, open chords and all that.”
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Thanks for checking out our blog, “A Taste of Irish Music Featuring a List of Irish Guitarists”. This article was first published on grasshopperjames.com and reprinted here with permission.