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!.

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


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