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The Late Movies: Geeking Out on "The Edge's" Guitar Rig

Today in 1961, Dave Evans (known as "The Edge" of U2) was born. In the 51 years since, The Edge has become known for his layered, echoing guitar lines. He famously developed an ultra-complex guitar rig, involving a massive pedal board, a series of rack-mounted effects processors, a stunning array of pedals, and a series of vintage amps. While this mega-tech approach seems fairly common now, its complexity was decidedly over-the-top when U2 debuted. Wikipedia discusses The Edge's signature riff for "Where the Streets Have No Name," which depends extensively on delay...but also was inspired by the crappiness of The Edge's original guitar -- half the strings didn't sound any good, so he didn't use them. Read:

On 1987's The Joshua Tree, The Edge often contributes just a few simple lead lines given depth and richness by an ever-present delay. For example, the introduction to "Where the Streets Have No Name" is simply a repeated six-note arpeggio, broadened by a modulated delay effect. The Edge has said that he views musical notes as "expensive", in that he prefers to play as few notes as possible. He said in 1982 of his style:

"I like a nice ringing sound on guitar, and most of my chords I find two strings and make them ring the same note, so it's almost like a 12-string sound. So for E I might play a B, E, E and B and make it ring. It works very well with the Gibson Explorer. It's funny because the bass end of the Explorer was so awful that I used to stay away from the low strings, and a lot of the chords I played were very trebly, on the first four, or even three strings. I discovered that through using this one area of the fretboard I was developing a very stylized way of doing something that someone else would play in a normal way."

Now as a birthday tribute, let's geek out on The Edge's guitar rig.

The Edge Talks Guitars, Part 1

In this interview, The Edge demonstrates his first electric guitar, discusses it extensively, and plays a few demo riffs.

The Edge Talks Guitars, Part 2

And now the riffage. Behold the "Infinite Guitar" (shades of Spinal Tap here) and note the utterly insane series of effects in his pedal board. This also helps explain how many of the synth effects on U2 records aren't from keyboards (though he does play piano/keyboards on various songs).

An interesting note: many of The Edge's tour guitars are from the 60s and even 50s; hardly any are new. I would have expected him to have the newest/latest instruments, but that's not the case at all. The instruments and the amps are generally vintage; everything in the middle is what's modern.

The Edge Talks Guitars, Part 3

How the delay pedals work with rhythm. He explains "Where the Streets Have No Name" (referenced above and shown below in a live performance).

"With Or Without You" Recording

Watch how he constructs the ringing riff from a simple D chord plus some minimalist high notes and tons of delay. "There's something incredibly satisfying at the end of that tune, just going for...the non-dramatic guitar part." Agreed.

Testing the Guitar Rig

The Edge noodles through various signature guitar riffs. Note at one point how his pedal board shows the name of the song -- he has the thing configured to the point where the configuration of the board is so specific that each song requires a named setting.

The Edge's Guitar Tech Soundchecks

Prior to a U2 live show, guitar tech Dallas Schoo ensures the guitar and amp configuration is correct. The person shooting the video is onstage, and the sound you hear is from onstage monitors -- not the main speakers for the audience.

A Tour of the Gear

An extremely specific look at the details of that pedal board and such, plus a look at where Dallas works during a show.

"Hallelujah"/"Where the Streets Have No Name"

Live in Pittsburgh, 2011. After the intro, the riffage begins. At various points you can see what The Edge is doing, which doesn't look like much -- it's a minimalist approach in terms of notes played, but combined with effects it turns into something awesome. It's also impressive that he sings harmony while playing many of these lines. Around 6:30 you can clearly see the six notes constructing the key riff.

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Everything You Need to Know About Record Store Day
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The unlikely resurgence of vinyl as an alternative to digital music formats is made up of more than just a small subculture of purists. Today, more than 1400 independent record stores deal in both vintage and current releases. Those store owners and community supporters created Record Store Day in 2007 as a way of celebrating the grassroots movement that’s allowed a once-dying medium to thrive.

To commemorate this year’s Record Store Day on Saturday, April 21, a number of stores (a searchable list can be found here) will be offering promotional items, live music, signings, and more. While events vary widely by store, a number of artists will be issuing exclusive LPs that will be distributed around the country.

For Grateful Dead fans, a live recording of a February 27, 1969 show at Fillmore West in San Francisco will be released and limited to 6700 copies; Arcade Fire’s 2003 EP album will see a vinyl release for the first time, limited to 3000 copies; "Roxanne," the Police single celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, will see a 7-inch single release with the original jacket art.

The day also promises to be a big one for David Bowie fans. A special white vinyl version of 1977’s Bowie Now will be on shelves, along with Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78), a previously-unreleased, three-record set. Jimmy Page, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, and dozens of other artists will also be contributing releases.

No store is likely to carry everything you might want, so before making the stop, it might be best to call ahead and then plan on getting there early. If you’re one of the unlucky vinyl supporters without a brick and mortar store nearby, you can check out Discogs.com, which will be selling the special releases online.

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Jim Henson's Labyrinth Is Being Adapted Into a Stage Musical
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Henson Company

More than 30 years after its cinematic debut, Labyrinth could be hitting the stage. In an interview with Forbes, Jim Henson's son and Henson Company CEO Brian Henson shared plans to transform the cult classic into a live musical.

While the new musical would be missing David Bowie in his starring role as Jareth the Goblin King, it would hopefully feature the soundtrack Bowie helped write. Brian Henson says there isn't a set timeline for the project yet, but the stage adaptation of the original film is already in the works.

As for a location, Henson told Forbes he envisions it running, "Not necessarily [on] Broadway, it could be for London's West End, but it will be a stage show, a big theatrical version. It’s very exciting."

Labyrinth premiered in 1986 to measly box office earnings and tepid reviews, but Jim Henson's fairytale has since grown into a phenomenon beloved by nostalgic '80s kids and younger generations alike. In the same Forbes interview, Brian Henson also confirmed the 2017 news that a long-anticipated Labyrinth sequel is apparently in development. Though he couldn't give any specifics, Henson confirmed that, "we are still excited about it but the process moves very slowly and very carefully. We're still excited about the idea of a sequel, we are working on something, but nothing that's close enough to say it's about to be in pre-production or anything like that."

While fans eagerly await those projects to come out, they can get their fix when the film returns to theaters across the U.S. on April 29, May 1, and May 2. Don't forget to wear your best Labyrinth swag to the event.

[h/t Forbes]

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