The Edge

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The Edge
The Edge

David Howell Evan, better known as The Edge, is a musician and best known as guitarist. He is the lead guitarist and backing vocalist from U2. His rhythmic playing style and his usage of a lot of echo and delay has given him his distinctive sound.



The Edge was born in Welsh as David Howell Evans. His parents were Garvin and Gwenda Evans. At the age of one, he and his family moved to Malahide in County Dublin where he went to St Andrew’s National School. Edge received piano and guitar lessons and performed with his brother Dick before they both replied on an advertisement posted by Larry Muller Jr. about him searching band members. The band was formed, and after severals names, the band was called U2. Dick stepped out, just before the name change. In 1980 The Edge and the other members released their first album Boy.

In 1982, The Edge almost left U2 for religious reasons, but he other band members persuaded him not to leave. In this time he, Bono and Mullen Jr. became involved with the Shalom Tigers, which was a Christian group. Shortly after this, The Edge wrote a guitar piece that would later become Sunday bloody Sunday. On 12 July 1983, The Edge marries his secondary school girlfriend Aislinn O’Sullivan. They both had three daughters: Hollie, Arran and Blue Angel. The two separated in 1990, but in Ireland divorcing wasn’t yet legally possible. Five years later, this became possible, and in 1996 they got divorced.

During the Zoo TV Tour, The Edge met Morleigh Steinberg. She was a professional dancer and choreographer and worked with the band. The couple started dating in 1993 and had a daughter, Sian, and a son, Levi. Steinberg and Edge were married on 22 June 2002.

On the age of twenty, The Edge’s hair started thinning, and as a result, he now wears caps and hats on most of his performances. He used to have very long hair, but even on his wedding he had a wore a toque.

It’s not totally clear where his nickname comes from, but the U2 members have given several clues. Bono has said that The Edge likes to walk to the edge of a building, because he’s not afraid of heights and even that he had insane love “for walking on the edges of very high walls, bridges, org buildings.” In the book U2 by U2 it states that the name comes from his facial features. He has very sharp nose and face profile. This is also confirmed by himself. As a reply to why he has that nickname, he answered: “It’s the nose.”

Guitar playing

The Edge has his very recognisable sound which he achieves with his VOX AC-30s and the usage of other effects. For the The Edge sound, the digital delay is set to a dotted eight note, so an eight note plus half an eight note. This gives 2\16 + 1\16 = 3\16 note. He also adjusts his feedback until he gets around two or three repeats.

In U2’s 1987 album The Joshua Tree, a lot of the recognizable U2 sound comes forward. Songs like With or Without You and Where Streets Have No Name are with the bands most loved work. In the time this was recorded, the shred-metal was very popular.
The Edge
The Edge
The Edge didn’t even come close to shred-metal with his more simplistic contribution. The Edge always plays with the “less is more” thought, which means that he prefers a melodic line with only four notes, above a speed shred style line. Also he says that he likes his guitar to sound almost like a 12-string sound. When he plays a chord he likes to find two strings and make them ring the same note. Par example, for an E chord he could play B, E, E and B and let it ring. He says that he got that trebly and fresh chord playing due to his Gibson Explorer. The Explorer had a very bad bass sound, so he used to play on the highest three or four strings. This is why he plays such trebly chords. He also says that he found that that was his style and he stuck to it.

His technique learning process was a varied one, so he also learned to play a lot of techniques. He started out with an old acoustic guitar, where he and his brother Dick experimented on. He bought his first instrument in a local jumble sale where he purchased it for a pound. He and his brothers played basic stuff on it with open chords par example.

In some musical parts, his music was very heavily based upon effects. In Achtung Baby he started using his echo a lot and he kept using it from there on. He has also been or is a great influence on modern popular rock bands like Muse and Radiohead.

Vocals and other instruments

The Edge is not only capable of playing guitar, but he also plays piano, chorus, keyboard and he can sing as well. In the live album Under a Blood Red Sky and Live At Red Rocks, he does a lot of backing vocals to support Bono. In Sunday Bloody Sunday, he sings the chorus and Bono then harmonizes it on the final Sunday. Also in Bullet in the Blue Sky this can be heard. In a lot of songs, Bono sings something and then The Edge repeats it as backing vocal. He also uses a lot of falsetto singing in his backing vocals. In some songs and some occasions, he also sings the lead vocal. His voice matches with Bono’s voice when they start singing. In Sunday Bloody Sunday, a lot of people don’t even know Bono only does the second harmonized “Sunday” in the chorus.

In couple of songs, The Edge plays the piano or keyboards and he plays the organ in “Please”. In the live version of New Year’s Day, he plays both guitar and piano, but he switches in between. Although he is the lead guitarist, he has also played the bass guitar. For the song 40 The Edge and Clayton switched instruments on the live versions and on the studio versions.

The Explorer
The Explorer


Gibson Explorer
Fender Stratocaster
Gibson Les Paul Custom (he donated his cream version to Music Rising)
Gibson Les Paul Goldtop
Gibson Les Paul Standard
Music Rising Gibson Les Paul
Gibson SG
Fender Telecaster
Fender Jaguar
Rickenbacker 330/12
Gretsch Country Gentleman
Gretsch White Falcon
Line 6 Variax 700 Acoustic
Epiphone Casino
Epiphone Sheraton
Epiphone Standard Music Rising
Gibson J-200
Fernandes Decade
Fernandes Native Pro
Fernandes Retrorocket Elite
Gibson ES-175
Gibson ES-330
Gibson ES-335
Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe
Gibson Byrdland
Washburn/Taylor Acoustics

The explorer is his signature guitar, and also the one he is seen with most.

Other Gear


Vox AC30- his 1964 AC30 has been used to record every single U2 album and has been used for every single concert. He has said in interviews that he owns over thirty AC30's.
Fender Deluxe Tweed
Fender Blues Jr
Roland JC120

Pedals and rack

Floor board:
Digitech WH-1
Dunlop Wah
Volume Control
Skrydstrup SC-1

Rack: Lexicon PCM
Even Tide Ultra-Harmonizer
TC 2290 Dynamic Delay
Line6 Pod
Pro, Korg SDD 3000
Korg A3
Line 6 CUSTOM Distortion Pro
Rockton DVC Volume Controller
Line6 DM4 Rackmounted Distortion Modeler (Custom Made)

EHX Big Muff
Ibanez Tube Screamer
Durham Sex Drive
Lovetone Doppelganger
Lovetone Meatball
Skrydstrup Bufferooster
Sobbat Drive Breaker
3 Boss ME-20 multiple effect floor stations