Watch The Edge Demonstrate How the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man Helped Define the Sound of an Era
As U2’s echo-laden ‘The Joshua Tree’ album turns 35 this week, we take a look at the guitarist’s most important delay pedal.
Many guitarists have experienced a revelation with the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man (opens in new tab). Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien called it his “god pedal” while U2’s The Edge famously said, “suddenly, everything changed.”
A musical legend itself, the Deluxe Memory Man was designed by electronics engineer Howard Davis after he joined the New York City-based Electro-Harmonix company in 1976.
“The first commercial product I worked on was an improved version of the Memory Man called the Deluxe Memory Man,” Davis told this writer. “It was very successful and Electro-Harmonix had a problem keeping up with demand… It seems to be recognized as a standard of analog delay pedals.”
Evolving from the original three-knob Memory Man, the Deluxe Memory Man sports enhanced features including tape echo-style modulation and a Level control in addition to Blend, Feedback and Delay knobs.
Used to outstanding effect by The Edge, the Deluxe Memory Man became a signature sound that not only delivered gorgeous tone but also served as an essential compositional tool.
Heard on U2 classics since the band’s 1980 debut album Boy, the young guitarist assimilated the pedal’s instant live samples into deceptively simple licks and riffs to create his trademark rhythmic textures.
“We were cutting some of our early demos when we got our first Memory Man echo unit,” The Edge told Joe Bosso back in 2008. “Within minutes, I was drawn not only to the textural qualities of the echo but also the rhythmic possibilities that it suggested.”
In this clip from Davis Guggenheim’s excellent It Might Get Loud, The Edge explains how the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man played a crucial part in the development of his electric guitar sound in the early days.
Ultimately, the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man helped define the sound U2.
Purchase It Might Get Loud here (opens in new tab).
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab), Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.
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