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Living On The Edge – Top 7 U2 Guitar Licks

Kent Shores  /  Lessons / Jan 28

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With a song catalogue spanning more than four decades, it’s hard to deny that U2 have had a massive impact on popular music. And with 22 Grammys to their name, I’d say they know a thing or two about writing great songs. While there are many mysterious moving parts that make up a great song, The Edge’s guitar playing has always been a standout piece of the puzzle. So in this lesson, Kent is here to teach you how to play 7 of The Edge’s most iconic guitar licks.

Getting The Edge’s Guitar Tone

Delay: The effect most closely associated with The Edge is delay. He’s used all kinds of delay units but favored the vintage Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man and the Korg SDD 3000. You don’t need these exact delays to nail his sound and if you’re looking for a good delay pedal that won’t break the bank, here are a few good options:

MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay
Buy Now: Sweetwater

TC Electric Flashback 2 Mini Delay
Buy Now: Sweetwater

Guitar & Amp: The guitar and amp don’t matter too much. The Edge used all kinds of guitars over the years and while he mostly used Vox AC30 amplifiers, he did use a few American amps as well. 

Techniques: The key to getting his “chimey” tone is holding a nylon pick so that the grippy part makes contact with the string. He also liked to play notes repeatedly to get the delay to start cycling on itself. 

The Riffs

Vertigo
The first riff we’ll look at in this lesson isn’t too challenging for new players and makes use of power chords and sliding. You can turn the mix on your delay pedal down for this riff since it’s less prominent here than in his other parts.

Where The Streets Have No Name
This is a prime example of a riff where the delay is really important. The picking pattern is quite simple as you play through the arpeggios so it allows the delayed notes to come through and create their own rhythm. Palm-muting this lick can help the delay to stand out even more.

Sunday Bloody Sunday
In the original recording of this song, The Edge has his guitar tuned down a half-step. But for the sake of making it simple, we’ll be learning the riff in standard tuning. While it’s not as prominent as in the last U2 lick we learned, the signature delay sound is still present. Try turning the “mix” knob down a little bit until it sits into the riff just right. 

Pride (In The Name Of Love)
The riff from this song starts off by using some natural harmonics. To play these, just barely touch the strings over top of the correct frets. If you do it correctly, they should ring out quite clearly. From there, the riff goes into some melodic triads that aren’t too hard to get the hang of. Using the constant strumming technique is key to getting this one to sound right.

Beautiful Day
Here’s another riff that just uses power chords. The thing that makes this riff interesting is the strumming pattern. The easiest way to understand it is to listen to it. Head to 12:23 in the video to hear it. 1

I Will Follow
To play this lick you’ll be using the open high E string to accompany a melody played on the B string. The picking pattern never changes as it rotates between the two slightly varying sections.

The Fly
This song isn’t quite as well-known as the others but the riff The Edge played here is worth taking a look at. To start, we’ll focus on learning the simple melody being played on the low E and A strings. Once you get the hang of it, you can add in all the muted strums to complete the riff. Be sure to let the extra harmonics and notes ring out!

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