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Old 12-21-2004, 09:00 AM   #1
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How much does Bono play guitar?

I was just curious, does anyone know how much guitar (or if any) does Bono play on the recordings of the albums? There's a lot of photos from AB and POP that show him with a guitar, but I don't know what (if anything) that he's playing. Everyone knows he's not much of a guitar player, but there are a lot of songs that I notice (particularly the acoustic guitars) that the strumming of the guitar chords are not what I would consider to be normal rythym patterns, making me think Bono may have actually been playing. Any thoughts?
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Old 12-21-2004, 09:27 AM   #2
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Oh Bono plays on the records and during the concerts. You can never tell what he's played on the albums, and his guitar in concert is usually pretty low in the mix...but he does play.
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Old 12-21-2004, 09:33 AM   #3
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I think he probably plays more than people give him credit for, but I guess there's no way of knowing.

I also think the notion that "everyone knows he's not much of a guitar player" is a myth also. Maybe this was true back in 1987 or so when he joked about being a bad player and Edge giving him lessons, but not true anymore---I mean he's been playing guitar now for over 20 years! I honestly doubt he's a bad player. Compared to Edge or other great guitarists, sure he's sub par. However, in the book "Until the End of the World," Flannigan wrote something along the lines that way back in 1994 when U2 had a recording session, "bono was coming up with impressive edge-style riffs." Also, in a lot of boot DVD's from ZooTV throught he Elevation Tour, you can clearly hear Bono playing and it's impressive. Anyway, my point is that I think fans greatly exaggerate the "bono is crap at guitar" stories.
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Old 12-21-2004, 11:02 AM   #4
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he's not that great on guitar though
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Old 12-21-2004, 11:12 AM   #5
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He probably doesn't play nearly enough as he'd like.

I believe he has said in the past "I am very bad on guitar and I want to play guitar very badly" or something like that.
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Old 12-21-2004, 11:13 AM   #6
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Bono can play guitar and does have an impact in the final outcome of songs guitar-wise. The classic example is from the R&H video outtakes during We Almost Made It This Time. As they're singing, Bono tells The Edge to play the chord sequence a certain way. The Edge tries a couple times, both times being corrected by Bono.

The Edge then gets exasperated and tells Bono, "you play it, you show me how that could work." Bono goes, "let me show you." Bono then starts to sing and play the chord sequence he just described to The Edge. After two bars, The Edge goes, "oh, I see. You're right."

It's a great moment. The Edge also gives Bono credit for some of the guitar work on SYCMIOYO.
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Old 12-21-2004, 11:17 AM   #7
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The "crap" guitar playing comments made by Bono was years ago. I am sure that he has come a long way since. It isn't like the old days where he holds the guitar for the entire WOWY video and never plays a note.
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Old 12-21-2004, 11:22 AM   #8
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My observation on Bono is that his timing is challenged. You can see that his strumming is off-beat a lot of the time. He does an okay job in Kite, but then again, Kite is a really easy song to play.

I have also noticed that Bono has timing challenges for live performances as well. I used to think that he was singing the songs differently for a reason. Now, I think that he just loses his sense of timing. This is especially evident in Vertigo. In the live performancs (TOTP, Brooklyn, SNL) of Vertigo, Bono screws up the timing in the second verse. The part ,"girl with crimson nails, has Jesus around her neck, swaying to the music, swaying to the music" , is off-beat. Edge has to bring him back "on-beat" for the "oh,oh,oh,oh,oh" part.

So, in summary, I think Bono is probably very proficient in the guitar. His only problem is his lack of timing. I doubt very much that he plays any guitar in the studio.
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by boosterjuice

So, in summary, I think Bono is probably very proficient in the guitar. His only problem is his lack of timing. I doubt very much that he plays any guitar in the studio.
I disagree there also. I don't think Vertigo is a good indicator in judging his timing. Why? It's a new song; it hasn't been played that many times live. Another great reason--just because Bono sings differently doesn't mean that he's got no timing...I'm in a band and make my own songs and it just happens. You can get tongue tied, be out of breath, or any number of reasons. In Bono's case, I wouldn't doubt if he gets out of breath and changes his timing during the songs; after a few years off from touring, he's probably not used to singing live shows quite yet.

Also, for "timing"...as a lead singer his first priority is to belt out the song like it should be sung. If that means that some times he quits strumming for a few seconds, that's the best thing to do. When you have to try to hit that high not with force, it's easier to just put everything you have into it, which usually means to quit focusing on playing rythym guitar. On a side not, if Bono had bad timing, he simply *would not* be the type of performer he is. He'd never be able to keep singing around the heart, down the b-stage ramp or whatever...they only thing that keeps his timing through that is a little clicking noise through his earpiece.

I know strait off that it's wrong about Bono not playing any guitar in the studio. In the Salome tapes you can clearly hear Bono playing guitar most of the time. In interviews...ect, Eno or whoever has always said that the way U2 gets most of their stuff is for all 4 to go into a room and jam together.
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by ImOuttaControl


I disagree there also. I don't think Vertigo is a good indicator in judging his timing. Why? It's a new song; it hasn't been played that many times live. Another great reason--just because Bono sings differently doesn't mean that he's got no timing...I'm in a band and make my own songs and it just happens. You can get tongue tied, be out of breath, or any number of reasons. In Bono's case, I wouldn't doubt if he gets out of breath and changes his timing during the songs; after a few years off from touring, he's probably not used to singing live shows quite yet.

Also, for "timing"...as a lead singer his first priority is to belt out the song like it should be sung. If that means that some times he quits strumming for a few seconds, that's the best thing to do. When you have to try to hit that high not with force, it's easier to just put everything you have into it, which usually means to quit focusing on playing rythym guitar. On a side not, if Bono had bad timing, he simply *would not* be the type of performer he is. He'd never be able to keep singing around the heart, down the b-stage ramp or whatever...they only thing that keeps his timing through that is a little clicking noise through his earpiece.

I know strait off that it's wrong about Bono not playing any guitar in the studio. In the Salome tapes you can clearly hear Bono playing guitar most of the time. In interviews...ect, Eno or whoever has always said that the way U2 gets most of their stuff is for all 4 to go into a room and jam together.
I'm not saying Bono is a bad singer/performer. I think he is a great. But I still believe that he has timing issues. I was pointing out Vertigo merely as an example. There are many other instances where his vocal timing is different from what they are on the album. I used to think that he did this on purpose. But now, I'm convinced that he loses timing in certain verses and the band has to "bring him back" to the correct tempo.
I also play in a band and have recording a lot in studios. Trust me, Bono is very familiar with Vertigo. He probably had hundreds of takes of the song in the studio. Him screwing up the second verse has nothing to do with him not knowing the song. It has everything to do with lack of timing. I'm not saying that Bono has no timing at all. I'm saying that he gets mixed up a bit sometimes.
You are right about when he plays guitar, his first priority is to sing and worry about the strumming later. But the thing is, a lot of guitar players can sing/strum without any problem. This is because they have exceptional timing. Bono doesn't. That is why his guitar playing isn't the best and it is also why he sings songs differently live.
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by HelloAngel
He probably doesn't play nearly enough as he'd like.

I believe he has said in the past "I am very bad on guitar and I want to play guitar very badly" or something like that.
I remember this quote ... it was a joke on his part. He said that he always wanted to play the guitar very badly, and now he does indeed play the guitar very badly.
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:29 PM   #12
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One of Bono's heroes is Frank Sinatra, who also could be said to have "lost his timing" on the songs he sang. But instead, it's called "phrasing", and is one of the defining features of one of the greatest singers/performers ever.

I'm sure Bono's drawing some inspiration from Frank, whether it's noticeably successful or not.
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:36 PM   #13
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I saw an interview along time ago & Adam & Larry were asked about Bono's guitar playing--They kind of looked at each other and laughed--Adam said Bono doesn't play guitar--he wears guitar.
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:38 PM   #14
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Didn't Bono come up with the "One" riff? He also plays the lead on "Staring at the Sun" on the Pop, Mexico City concert. Even though Bono doesn't play much he at least looks good w/ a guitar. Many and I mean many lead singers looking stupid playing the lead guitar. Look at Mick Jagger.
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Old 12-21-2004, 01:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by zoopop
Didn't Bono come up with the "One" riff? He also plays the lead on "Staring at the Sun" on the Pop, Mexico City concert. Even though Bono doesn't play much he at least looks good w/ a guitar. Many and I mean many lead singers looking stupid playing the lead guitar. Look at Mick Jagger.
Edge came up with the "One" riff. I'm not sure about him playing lead on "SATS", I doubt it.

But you are right. The main thing is that Bono looks good wearing the guitar. That is all that matters.
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Old 12-21-2004, 01:13 PM   #16
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I know that Bono is playing With or without you, because last solo is played by two guitars. 'bout other songs, i don't know
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Old 12-21-2004, 01:36 PM   #17
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I would say Bono probably plays more guitar than we know.
Live, it's turned down in the mix, as I think he doesn't want it to be noticeable and is shy about it.
In the studio, I bet he plays often.
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Old 12-21-2004, 03:01 PM   #18
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U2girl you are so right. I don't know if he's too shy about his playing live, but his guitar is just "dressing" for the most part during the songs.

In the studio, as controlled as it is, I'm sure he plays a lot more guitar than he is given credit for. I remember on the Classic Albums - The Joshua Tree, Daniel Lanois gave Bono credit for a guitar part I always assumed that the Edge played, so he probably plays a lot more guitar than we know.
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Old 12-21-2004, 03:10 PM   #19
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Going back to my original post, I do think its Bono that plays on some albums parts (the acoustic on SATS album version comes to mind) because of the strange timing of the strumming patterns; the same types of patterns that I've seen when he plays live. Has anyone else noticed this? I also don't think these parts are from Edge, because I haven't noticed any off beat strumming when I've seen him playing live or from concert footage. The off beat "style" so to say seems to be Bono.
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Old 12-21-2004, 03:30 PM   #20
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In HTDAAB he only sings, you can see it in the credits of the album (BONO - VOCALS; EDGE - GUITARS)

He plays in only one song, i think...
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