U2 - Atomic: Edge

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The Edge and his 1976 Gibson Explorer [Ltd. Ed.]
Spain // 2000


The 1976 Gibson Explorer The Edge bought new as a teenager was the first guitar he played in U2, and, for me, it is synonymous with the unique sound of its owner. The guitar has remained relatively stock. Gold Schaller tuning machines have been added, and the frets of the 16 radius rosewood neck have been replaced about three times with low and wide Dunlop 6130 fretwire. As the frets wear, they are leveled, rounded and polished to add some life between fret jobs.

The neck is quite straight, woth only .005 relief. String height at the 12th fret is 6/64 on the treble side and 7/64 on the bass side. An interesting point about the nut height (measured as the distance from the bottom of the unfretted string to the top of the first fret) is that the treble strings are very low avout .005 above the first fret - but the A string rises up to .030 and the low E to .040. Dallas Schoo, The Edges long-time guitar tech, says the guitarist hits those bass strings quite hard, and they discovered the Explorer sounds best with the strings that high.

The Explorers pickups are kept lower that what I normally see 5/32 below the strings for the neck pickup, and 6/32 for the bridge pickup. The lower height means the pickups capture less bass, deliver less output and also produce a little air around the sound. In addition, The Edge has the tailpiece screwed down to the body possibly to gain as much sustain as possible from the guitar.

Schoo strings up the guitar with Ernie Balls (gauged .010-.046), and winds about two and a half turns of string around each of the post. He uses a mixture of hobby wheel lube and graphite to keep the strings from sticking to the bone nut.

By: Gary Brawer (Guitar Player / Mar2002 / Page #25)