How to Sound Like U2's The Edge

Not many guitar players over the past decades have had such a unique tone as David Howell Evans. Widely known after his nickname "The Edge," David pretty much defined the sound and style of the legendary Irish-based group U2. Although Bono might be the most famous musician from the group, it's Edge who defined their sound. And, interestingly enough, he managed to do it with a very simple approach. There is no flashy speed runs all across the fretboard or any other tricks that guitar fanatics might love. It's just a very straightforward rock playing.

However, despite its simplicity, the band's exact tone is hard to replicate. But aside from the band's amazing rhythm section, featuring Larry Mullen Jr. on drums and Adam Clayton on the bass guitar, it's Edge who's rather difficult to figure out. As weird as it might seem, it all mostly comes down to his gear, how he organizes stuff in his signal chain, as well as his settings. This is why we decided to look more into the matter and find out, how anyone can sound like Edge. We'll also try and explain a few tricks on how you can do this without spending a fortune.


As you may already know, Edge is famous for his use of Gibson Explorer. Although mostly associated with hard rock and metal music, the guitar gives him that much-needed edge in his tone (pun intended) before going into other components of his rig. Aside from Explorers, you'll find Fender Strats, Gibson SGs, Fender Telecasters, as well as a few interesting Gretsch hollow-body guitars. Of course, there's also the Epiphone Casino, Fender Jaguar, and even the somewhat odd Gibson ES-335.

Knowing that these guitars can get quite pricy, you can try a few other alternatives. For that classic Gibson tone, you can go with an Epiphone Explorer, or even Epiphone Les Paul Standard. However, in our opinion, you can always go with a Telecaster and get that sharp and "twangy" tone in going. A simple Squier Tele will do the trick. For the perfect budget variant, we'd go with any guitar that has humbucker-single-single formation and a coil-split feature. This way, you'll cover all the necessary territories and have both single-coil and humbucker tones.


But what the Edge's is most famous for is his use of delay pedals. For this purpose, he uses analog delays, which give his tone a very unique vibe. However, for this purpose, you can use even a cheaper analog delay, like MXR's Carbon Copy. At the same time, many digital delays today have a few features that will "muffle" the tone and even make it sound like tape-based effects. But if you want more variety in there and some of the "unconventional" delays presets and features, then you can go with a device like Boss DD-500.

Another important component that can get your tone closer to his is a clean boost pedal. MXR M133 Micro Amp is a nice cheap example, but you can also do some boosting with compressor pedals as well since that's another essential element to his tone. He's very fond of the good old Boss CS-2, but you can go with the company's current model, the CS-3. Of course, MXR Dyna Compressor is another good example, and even Edge used it here and there.

There's also a bunch of unusual modulation and other pedals in there. For instance, he's a fan of Lovetone pedals, the Meatball envelope filter, and Doppelganger oscillator phaser and vibrato effect. Of course, his signal chain was quite flexible, and a lot of stuff went in and out of it.

And for distortion, he's always had a wide palette of pedals, anything from smooth overdrives and up to very harsh-sounding fuzz pedals. Boss' Turbo Overdrive OD-2 and Ibanez's Tube Screamer are just some of the examples, but you can also find the classic Big Muff Pi and even the rare Univox Super-Fuzz. Aside from the Super-Fuzz, these other distortion pedals are fairly easy to come by these days and are not that expensive. The only problem here is that you'll have to do a lot of listening and tweaking to capture his "shade" of distortion.


As far as the amps go, he's mostly been into old Vox and Fender stuff. One of the rare exceptions is the legendary Roland Jazz Chorus, the JC-120 model, which is widely considered to be the best solid-state amp of all time. However, all of these are pretty expensive, especially if you're looking for the old models from the 1960s. A simple Vox tube amp can do the trick, like the AC15 or the AC30. However, you can easily go with a smaller version of Roland's Jazz Chorus, like the JC-40 or even the JC-22 model.

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