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10 Stompboxes That Changed the World

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10 Stompboxes That Changed the World


A rusted-but-rocking original Deluxe Memory Man. Photo courtesy of JHS Pedals

8. The Edge's Electro-Harmonix Memory Man Deluxe

Knowing when not to play is probably the instinct that saved the Edge a lot of headaches in the early days of U2, because it opened him up to the possibilities of using manipulated sound to further his ideas. Lucky for us, he was polishing his deceptively simple guitar technique during a time—the late ’70s and early ’80s—when new and exotic effects pedals were flooding the market. The Electro-Harmonix Memory Man Deluxe was one of these. It improved on the Memory Man (originally released in ’76) by adding level and chorus-vibrato to the existing delay, feedback, and blend controls, which made for a box that could churn out alien tone bends and echo washed delays seemingly without limit.

“I got this echo unit and I brought it back to rehearsal,” Edge recalls in It Might Get Loud. “I just got totally into listening to the return echo, filling in notes that I’m not playing, like two guitar players rather than one—the exact same thing, but just a little bit off to one side. I could see ways to use it that had never been used. Suddenly everything changed.” The changes came fast and furious. You can hear the Memory Man prominently on “A Day Without Me,” the lead single from U2’s Boy, and for the next decade the Edge honed a richly layered and mutable sound that guitarists young and old are still trying to duplicate.

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