Rewind to 1984. Picture a rock scene held in the icy grip of teased hair, tapping and tendonitis. Then imagine the impact of U2’s The Unforgettable Fire.
With pivotal tracks Pride (In The Name Of Love) and Bad, this fourth album was the moment Edge ditched the primal punk to unveil that sound: a delay-drenched cascade that sounded like God tipping diamonds over a waterfall. Live, you’d even tolerate Bono’s messianic bluster, just to hear the ear-gasm of Where The Streets Have No Name.
Three decades later, Edge’s signature use of delay has its detractors - witness Bill Bailey’s ‘Catastrophic technical failure at a U2 gig’ routine, which suggests the guitarist would be sunk without it. It’s funny, but it’s not true.
Beyond the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man favoured by Edge to create that futuristic slapback, the U2 man achieved a gloriously human tone with his preferred rig of a 60s Vox AC30 and a ’76 Gibson Explorer.
And to anyone who says he can’t play - hear the stunning emotive solo of The Fly, the neck-tingling outro of All I Want Is You or the spring-heeled riff that drives Out Of Control.
Back in 2003, Bono noted that “Edge is the guitarist of his generation.” It kills us to agree with him - but he might well have a point. Here are two rigs - one budget, one blowout - that will get you in The Edge's arena...
Squier Vintage Modified '70s Stratocaster
BUDGET: With a black-on-black finish and three Duncan Designed SC-101 single coils, this Squier is your cut-price ticket to an 80s Edge vibe.
Vox VT80+ Valvetronix
BUDGET: It’s not quite loud enough to fill Wembley, but this punchy combo is giggable for small venues, and has a valve in the preamp.
BUDGET: This compact multi-effects unit has flexible delay options - plus myriad effects to recreate Zooropa’s more exotic moments.
Maine New England Beanie Hat
BUDGET: Get the essential Edge look with this beanie hat from Debenhams.
Total spend on budget rig: £628.50 / $643 (approx. based on web prices)
Fender American Standard Stratocaster
BLOWOUT: With a maple fretboard and trio of Custom Shop Fat ‘50s single coils, Fender’s American Strat is worthy of the Irishman himself.
BLOWOUT: Forget the auction house - this faithful AC30 reissue gives you affordable Edge-style sparkle.
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
BLOWOUT: Analogue delay has a different flavour to the digital variety - and this unit was The Edge’s choice in the golden era.
Jaxon Hats Cowboy Hat
BLOWOUT: Recreate Edge’s Rattle And Hum-era cowboy-vibed wardrobe with this rather fetching titfer.