Guitarists Archives

u2 Elevation Guitar Tone

U2′s 2000 record “All that you can’t leave behind” was heralded as a return to form for the band having seemingly abandoned the experimentation on the previous record PoP in favor of some of the more classic U2 textures.

The album saw the return of The Edge’s classic delay driven chiming sound – audible on many of the tracks including their opening single the grammy award winning “Beautiful Day”.

However the record was not without new sounds and the third track “Elevation” features an iconic intro that sounds equally at home live or on the radio. Since it’s release it’s become a crowd favorite on the road.

For the track Edge uses a cherry Gibson SG. Whilst this isn’t a guitar that features that much with U2 – on “Elevation” Edge is able to get some classic overdriven tones from the humbucker pickups and the guitar provides the hard edge that the track requires. The track featrues prominent use of distortion and features some classic tones and chopping rhythm.

The actual construction of the song isn’t overtly complicated but a clever mix of guitar effects and structure adds the subtle nuances that The Edge is renowned for – there are notably four distinct sections of the track – the intro – verse/chorus, middle eight and solo.

In an interview in Guitar Player magazine Edge said of the distortion “it was a Gibson SG through an old Fuzz pedal of Daniel’s (Daniel Lanois u2 producer) into the Bassman”

The intro is created using a Kay Fuzztone pedal which acts a little like a distorted wah wah pedal by rocking on the pedal Edge generates the pulsing driven sound. The Kay Fuzztones are not manufactured anymore but old models can be picked up via Ebay or the sound can be approximated by using a multi effects unit with an expression pedal (link the distortion to the expression pedal).

The main rhythm is colored by a Line 6 DM4 Distortion Modeler (http://line6.com/news/general/122) or similar. The middle eight features a cleanish tone but with tremelo adding that pulse to the arpeggio. This adds a nice contrast to the harshness of the verse. The solo features a heavily strummed rhythm on the low E and A strings – not really a solo as such rather more of an extension to the verse/chorus structure.

The Edge’s isn’t always known for his heavy sounds but as Elevation shows there is more to Edge than just delay, Elevation features a range of sounds a great intro all wrapped up into a modern pop song.

Jonny Buckland – Guitar player with Coldplay

bucklandSince the release of Parachutes in 2000 Coldplay have gone onto become one of the world’s biggest bands selling millions of records and embarking on hugely successful world tours. Jonny Buckland the bands guitarist is at the center of the bands alternative rock sound.

Drawing comparisons to U2’s The Edge, Buckland style is not typical – there is sparse use of chord playing and no space for the usual rock solo – the guitar sound is often treated with effects creating a sonic landscape on which the songs are built. Effects such as Delay, Tremolo and reverb help to create atmospheric textures which add layers to Coldplays compositions. Coldplay’s songs have evolved with each album and by examining the guitar part in some of these tracks we’re offered an interesting insight into Buckland’s style and technique.

On “Shiver” taken from Parachutes album Buckland (on a Fender Jaguar) uses a melodic arpeggio to open and a bruising driven low end riff to build into the chorus. This style is typical of Buckland and there is an interesting take on the usual call and response technique through the use of Arpeggios. The brusing riff is evocative of Hendrix and while the song is quite simple in structure the guitar part creates something that’s wholly more interesting.

On “In my place” (the first single from the follow album “A Rush of blood to the head” the video of which has Buckland on a Gibson 335) features an arpeggio riff played over a changing chord sequence. The sound used here features a delay effect on the arpeggio and a warm slightly driven sound for chord work. The track features extensive use of space and it’s more a case of listen to what he doesn’t play rather than what he does – “In my place” is a fine example of restrained playing – a guitarist who knows when to play and when not to.

On “Speed of Sound” from X&Y – Coldplay’s sparse arrangement are again evident but this time round there is more sonic texture – Bucklands guitar sweeps in and out of the mix (sounding as though a volume pedal is used to give a string like effect) – Riffs treated with delay play in and out of the vocal melody – X&Y features some of Buckland’s best use of the guitar to create texture. X & Y more than any record has drawn comparisons with U2 and Buckland has no doubt drawn inspiration from them but has been able to put his own spin on it.

Coldplay’s sound has evolved with each release from the Parachutes album – aside from a few tracks Parachutes was noticeable for it’s use of acoustic guitars with lots of open strings – the compositions have evolved and on the recent album X and Y the tracks appear far more complex with intricate arrangements and use of synth and piano parts. This is apparent in the opening track from X&Y “Square one” – complex arrangements – intricate guitar parts – but without letting either draw the listener away from the emotional crux of the song.

Buckland has a variety of gear that is seen both live and in promo videos – Buckland seems to have an affection for Fender guitars and is often seen sporting Thinline Telecasters and Fender Jaguars. He’s also been seen with Fender Jazzmasters and the occasional foray away from Fender with Gibson 335’s and Rickenbackers. Amps wise Buckland again favours Fender – using various for recording (a look at their studio also sees some Orange and Marshall amps but we’re not sure if these are Bucklands)– he’s used Fender ‘Hotrod’ DeVille Combos live. He tends to use Boss Guitar effects although lately he can be seen using a custom pedal board – in the studio – there is more variety including vintage sounds and taped echo effects.

As a guitarist first and foremost Buckland is part of a band – the guitar parts do not stand out from the rest of the music – there is no flying fretwork or virtuoso displays – the parts are carefully composed and measured and the song is the centerpiece – as such you could call Jonny Buckland part of the new breed of guitar hero – one that will keep fans entertained for years to come.

U2′s The Edge Shimmer Effects

U2′s Guitarist “The Edge” is often well known for using a seemingly vast array of guitar effects. In particular his sound is often enhanced through the use of delay or echo. Another common sound that he uses is known as the Shimmer effect.

The Shimmer effect is reminiscent of an orchestra or strings and can be heard in songs such as “With or Without You”, “4th of July”. U2 often use the effect live and it can be heard during the opening introduction to the song “City of Blinding Lights”.

The sound originally developed during the recording of The Unforgettable Fire album and was created by The Edge and the albums producer (Brian Eno).

The effect was created by splitting the signal at the beginning so that you still hear the normal guitar sound, the other part of the signal is then heavily treated (in the studio via an AMS 1580S) with a harmonizer/delay then a heavy reverb.

The Harmonizer/Delay works by treating each note by harmonizing the delay an octave higher than the original note, the next delay is two octaves higher, next is three, etc. It then gets a heavy dose of plate reverb. This sound appears to constantly shift which creates the “swell”-like effect.

There are only a handful of units that can produce this sound. The AMS unit is one, U2 are also known to use the Eventide Eclipse. The new Line 6 Verbzilla also produces a similar effect by using the “Octo” reverb.

What does tell us? Well, with a bit of imagination, experimentation and some technical know-how you can create some really interesting sonic landscapes with the guitar which can alter the dynamic of your music and make your band sound bigger than it actually is!.

Article Links

For more information on U2′s the Edge check out Close to U2′s the Edge Blog

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Andy Summers – Guitarist with The Police

At the NAMM show in Annaheim 2007, Fender announced that they will be releasing a Andy Summers Telecaster – cloned from his long standing favourite ’63 Tele – the replica will include the usual nicks and dings, and technically be a close match including the likes of the built in active circuitry (overdrive) and other innovations that Summers used. Many fans would say about time too.

Without a doubt The Police are one of the worlds most loved and respected bands, founded on a relatively short period of time, cut on five cracking studio albums including the Synchronicity record released in 1983. Their sound was a mix of reggae, punk and pop and to this today their style and sound are instantly recognizable, with inconic tracks including the likes of “Every Breath you Take” and “Walking on the moon”. Summers textured guitar was at the heart of what made The Police sound.

For a band of such critical acclaim and commercial popularity it is somewhat of a surprise that Andy Summers isn’t that well known (after all it was Sting who after the Police made the biggest name for himself). For guitarists, Summers is held in high regard – his intelligent lines and complex use of chords elevating him into much acclaim.

Summers style is due in part to a love of Jazz and this is reflected in his choice of extended chords (including add9 and augmented chords) – There is also evidence of blues influence within his playing. This culminates in a unique sound that is as distinctive now as it was in their heyday.

Despite being a threesome, the Police’s sound was quite large – Summers was partly responsible for this with his choice of guitar tone and playing style. These days bands such as U2 and Coldplay utilize guitar effects to create texture, but Summers was a true innovator in this area in his days with the Police. Common effects included Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress Flanger, Echoplex Delay, Compressor and various filters.

His use of effects was to enhance the tracks and add texture and rather than to just embellish Summers is quoted saying “You have to be judicious and musical in your use of them (effects). If you play everything with flanger, it’s going to get really old fast. You have to continually change it and use the straight guitar sound as well- which I do- so that when you use the effect, it’s an effect. And then it goes off. “

Andy was predominantly associated with the Telecaster in particular a 1963 model guitar that was previously owned by Eric Clapton (Andy Summers resouce page) however like many guitarists he wasn’t’ limited to one instrument and played a variety of guitars during both recording and live situations – these included several Gibsons, and others.

Since The Police disbanded Summers has had somewhat of eclectic output – including recordings with Robert Fripp, Victor Biglione and various soundtrack contributions – however he will be forever associated as guitarist with The Police. There have been many rumours over the years about tours, reformations it wasn’t until Police were inducted into the rock and roll Hall of Fame in 2003 that the three played together again.

In 2007 The Police will reform for the Grammy’s where it will take us after that we’ll have to wait and see.