Explore the techniques used by U2’s sonic architect.
• Learn how to imply chord progressions with dyads.
• Create jangly, melodic rhythm guitar parts.
• Develop a better sense of time by using a dotted eighth-note delay.
When it comes to unique and innovative voices on the guitar, The Edge from the Irish rock band U2, is surely near the top of the list. Edge’s guitar parts are perfectly crafted, full of hooks, and offer an incredible amount of melody. He’s also a master of creatively using effects in order to best serve the song. Often he’ll start off with a very basic idea, but then add lush delays, modulation, and envelope effects to craft U2’s signature sonic soundscapes. In the recent documentary, It Might Get Loud, Jimmy Page describes Edge as a “sonic architect,” which perfectly sums up Edge’s approach to composition.
For this lesson, we’ll focus on U2’s classic era and borrow from such tunes as “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).” The delay plays a large role in the sound and performance of the lesson track. I set my delay to a dotted-eighth note at a tempo of 120 bpm.
Using this delay setting, the result sounds like a string of 16th-notes, even though you’re only playing eighth-notes. But for the effect to work, it’s vital that you stay totally in time. When setting up the delay, get a good balance between the dry and wet signals so that both are at the same volume level. To prevent the sound from getting cluttered and messy, use little or no feedback.
Most modern delay units let you set the tempo and note value, but if your device doesn’t, simply use your ear. Play a staccato eighth-note rhythm and adjust the delay time until you get the desired 16th-note repeat. To ensure you’re perfectly in time, use either the track or a metronome as your guide.
The Edge isn’t the only guitarist to use this trick. Listen to David Gilmour, Albert Lee, Eddie Van Halen, and Nuno Bettencourt for more delay inspiration.
The intro starts off with a tight eighth-note rhythm similar to “I Still Haven’t Found.” Try using some palm muting to cut off the sustaining notes. Remember to pay attention to your timing or the sixteenth-notes won’t come through.
In measure five, the verse progression kicks in. The chord-based melodic line sketches G–Bm–G, although the rhythm guitar is playing power chords. The figures that follow the power chords have a jangly vibe with a repetitive theme that adds to the hook—something that The Edge is known for. Make sure your picking hand is accurate and you don’t strike unwanted strings.
The final two measures of the verse moves from a jangly strumming feel to a tight eighth-note figure against the delay. This figure is based around an A major chord, but implies A5 and Asus4. Pay attention to keeping perfect time during this section and play it with some light palm muting.
The chorus features an Em–G–D progression with a jangly strumming pattern that follows the underlying backing chords, but with more texture and color. Notice the syncopation created by rhythmic mutes that have been added to generate a tighter feel compared to the verse. Over the D chord, leave the 1st string open to ring throughout. This contrasts nicely with the previous two measures.
The Em returns before resolving to a held G5 chord. Before returning to the chorus again, play a series of harmonics at the 7th fret to build up tension. Thanks to the chiming harmonics and delay, this has a really cool U2 sound.
The next section, which has a slight “Sunday Bloody Sunday” feel to it, outlines an Em–D–A progression. Once again, we encounter a chord figure that uses a series of two-note chords—or dyads—that follow the underlying power chords. Finally, end with a 16th-note pattern in the upper register over a D major chord.
The Edge uses a variety of different guitars, including Fender Strats and Teles, Gibson Les Pauls, Explorers, Rickenbackers, and occasionally Line 6 guitars. His main amp is usually a vintage Vox AC30, but his immense live rig also includes Marshall and Fender. As far as effects, he uses entirely too many to accurately list here, and he controls them all with a custom switching system.
I recorded this month’s track using Steinberg’s Cubasis for iPad with an Alesis iO Dock audio interface. Positive Grid’s JamUp Pro supplied the guitar and bass tones, while the drums came from Drum Loops HD. I used a 5-string Music Man StingRay bass, and a Music Man Axis Super Sport for all the guitar parts. In JamUp, I dialed up a model of a Vox AC30 with some delay after the amp. In front of the amp, I added a MXR Dyna Comp-style compressor. For the crunch tones, I used a Hiwatt-style amp with a MXR Micro Amp model for extra drive.
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.