Looking at The Edge’s Guitar-Pick Sound
David Evans, who is better known by his stage name, “The Edge,” is the primary composer and guitarist for the band U2, which owes much of its sound and success to him. A master of using effects, The Edge has no interest in trying to match chops with blues/rock virtuosos. Instead, his aim is to craft unique and interesting guitar parts that serve his band’s innovative style of music.
Most listeners quickly pick up on how his use of delay and reverb add depth and dimension, but his pick-type preference and how it produces his chimey guitar sound is often overlooked.
The Edge uses a very specific make and model of pick. It’s a blue, German-made Herdim standard nylon guitar pick. This pick has raised dimples at one end to aid your grip. Instead of holding the pick in a conventional manner, The Edge turns it upside down and grates the dimpled side of the pick against the strings as he plucks. Together with the clean tones of a Vox AC30 and use of effects, the Herdim pick completes The Edge’s signature sound. Listen to “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Bad (Live)” for good examples.
If you’ve never tried playing with a Herdim pick upside down, order one now and hear for yourself how much of a difference it makes. If you’ve been searching for the U2 sound, you’ll be delighted!
Stevie Ray Vaughan also played with the round edge of the pick, though he favored a regular, smooth-sided Fender medium. No doubt his upside-down grip affected his attack and tone. Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny uses Fender’s thin picks, holding them backward with the round edge pointing toward the strings. He also bends the edge a little between his thumb and two fingers to make the pick more rigid.
Not only can you try different pick weights, materials, shapes, and sizes, but you can also experiment with your grip and rubbing parts of the pick against the strings during a pickstroke.