One of the coolest and simplest guitar tricks you can do on an electric guitar features a tempo synced dotted eighth note delay and a little bit of overdrive. The Edge from U2 has made this sound his own over many years. He often gets maligned for `hiding behind his effects` or praised with god like worship for his `genius`. Whichever camp you fall into, you can`t deny the sounds and textures he creates from his guitar are often pretty stunning.
Every now and then, I like to slap on a dotted 8th note delay and conjure up some of The Edge`s ideas in my own music as it sounds great and works well going into or out of a big 7 string or detuned riff. To play guitar like The Edge you will need a delay pedal of some sort. (More on what we do with it later).
The key to using this one minute guitar trick in your own arrangements and songs is to make the rest of the song very unlike U2, otherwise you may get called out for being a rip-off, but that may be what you are after. Anyway, used sparingly this sounds awesome. Don`t let the complicated sounding phrase tempo synced dotted eighth note delay put you off. All will be explained.
For these recordings, I used the digital delay built into my RP1000 as it allows me to program the delay using a tap tempo, and then turn the dial to dotted eighth notes to trigger this sound. The hardest part of playing a riff like this is getting the delay perfectly synced with the tempo of the riff. If the tempo isn`t quite right the effect doesn`t work. You`ll know it works when you hear it.
Play guitar like The Edge
If you don`t have a digital delay, you can use a delay plugin in a DAW (such as Reaper which is probably the easiest way) or even an analogue delay (which is trickier). Have a listen below to how the riff sounds below.
Below is riff solo you can hear it in isolation.
This is how the riff sounds without the delay. It sounds pretty comical without it! That`s the point of this `One Minute Guitar Trick` – to show you how a simple delay pedal with the correct settings can create sounds that are impossible to play without it.
If you are not using a tap tempo the delay settings you need to fit this riff should be set to:
- Time – 344ms.
- Level 70-80%
- Repeats – short 2-3
Those are by far the main settings. If your delay has other effects such as modulation or a second delay turn them off for now, and make sure the basic sound is down before you add them back.
Have a listen to this below. This is what the delay from the riff sounds like when I just hit a short sharp stab on an A minor chord (5th position). Are your settings close?
This speed of delay will only work for this riff or a riff at this same tempo (131 bpm). If you want to work out the correct delay speed for one of your own ideas, check out this delay time calculator here. Just enter the tempo for the song, and in the drop down menu, select, 1/8. – make sure you select the eighth note with the dot at the end as a straight eighth note won`t work.
Here is the tab:
Tips for playing the riff
- Try it without the delay first if you struggle
- Palm mute throughout but only lightly – you are aiming to take out the higher frequencies and tighten the sound up.
- Add a bit of overdrive, not too much. Go with what sounds good with your ears.
- Make sure you `lock in` with the delay
- Pick using all downstrokes if it is easier. Just keep the attack even and reasonably hard throughout.
Many guitarists want to know how play guitar like The Edge. Here`s your very brief introduction into doing so. There is plenty more that The Edge plays on guitar, but the dotted eighth note delay is the core of his sound.
Have fun with this riff and use these ideas in your own playing if you enjoy how it sounds. There is so much more you can do. Be inspired by The Edge and make your guitar playing unique just like he has done with his.
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