100 Greatest Guitarists

38

The Edge

the edge
Paul Bergen/Redferns

A lot had already been said about the guitar by the time the Edge picked it up. His secret is that he taught himself to play – that's why he's so unique. He's got such an innovative mind: Every U2 album that I've been involved with had a new sound from the Edge. There's not a lot of strumming in his playing; he's very much a servant to the melody. He focuses on the interplay between his guitar and Bono's vocals. The Edge is a scientist, and a poet by night; he's always got a little rig at home. He'll take home a Larry Mullen drumbeat, then come back into the studio the next morning and say, "Bono, I have one for you" – and present "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," with a simple jank-a-jank Dublin/Bo Diddley riff that spearheads the entire direction of the song. He's dedicated to note-taking. He and his guitar tech, Dallas Schoo, document every detail of his sound – what pedals, what pickup he used – anything that he thinks he might use. There's a breakdown about two-thirds of the way through "Mysterious Ways," before the song goes into symphonics, that, for me, is up there with the greatest James Brown guitar parts or one of the greatest horn lines played by Tower of Power. It's not really a riff – it's a moment. It brings me to tears whenever I hear it.

Key Tracks: "I Will Follow," "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "The Fly"

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