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Recreating U2's Bad Synth intro

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Hey all, not sure if this is the correct forum or not for this, but I'm a guitar player trying to build a keyboard track for a cover of U2's Bad from Wide Awake in America - here's a snippet if you aren't familiar:




So, I am really bad with trying to decipher what type of patch he's using - sounds like a marimba for the attack with a bell ring. Also, since it's U2, I'd imagine there's delay there, but I'm having a heck of a time getting it to not sound robotic...


Can anyone help out? I've attached what I have so far (Logic 9), but, um, you can tell I'm a guitar player... ;-)



U2 - Bad.logic.zip

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Either I'm going insane (always a distinct possibility), or the mp3 example is several seconds of silence (?)


Here's my quick attempt based on the Live Aid version on YouTube - Logic Express 8 (on a borrowed laptop at the moment, L9's at home so I can't check out the .logic project), stock plugs only, factory presets only*, faders at zero, no other processing. Tempo's probably way too fast, though. I was torn between using the "Mallet" or "Space Pluck" preset on the EFM1, maybe layering both would have been better. I went with EFM1 in the spirit of 1985, which was smack in the middle of the DX7's heyday, and Brian Eno was and is known for favoring the DX7 (not that he had anything to do with the live backing tracks necessarily).


Arpeggio track: EFM1 "Space Pluck" preset -> Tape Delay "Long Slap Delay" preset


Pad track: ES-E "Mood Strings" preset


*I think I may have moved the "groove" slider on the Tape Delay (with tempo sync on) to 51-something percent, so it's not exactly in time. To keep it from sounding overly robotic, use a delay that's almost, but not exactly, in time with the music, and has a delay-time modulation setting like Tape Delay.





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Chris, your take was good, but it's missing the airiness of the U2 loop. Their stuff (especially the guitar with delays) is so hard to cop, that I'm not surprised this is so difficult as well...


Here's a thought - if I were to use Melodyne's new sw, I bet I could go in and grab the first 1/4 of that loop, repeat it and then move the suspended 4th up for the 2nd half - what do you think?

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Argh, you're right - that example sounds totally different than the more muffled-sounding YouTube clip from LiveAid I listened to.


I'd pretty much just try going through different presets in EFM-1, EXS-24, and Sculpture (and Native Instruments FM8 if you have it) until you find something "close" as a starting point, and then start adjusting it. I'm having a hard time finding something with enough "mallet-y" attack that also has those high harmonics, but it does sound like a very typical 1985 sound (almost reminds me of something that would be in the theme music of a TV newscast or science show), and it may even be a factory preset from something like a DX7, DW8000, or the like.


If I'm reading the interface right, the EFM-1 isn't as complex (fewer operators) as even a DX7, so you might need to use something like Native Instruments FM8 (which I believe may actually be able to load original DX7 presets, if memory serves) to approximate the sound. I seem to only be able to get the high chimey-ness, or the mallet-y attack, but not both simultaneously, twiddling around with EFM-1.


Or, if that's not a fun excercise the way I seem to think it is - this sounds like a great opportunity to take the first bit before the pad synth comes in, and try out that new-fangled "audio track to EXS-24 instrument" feature in Logic Pro 9! :D

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Ah, here we go...DX7 it is.


Guitar Player magazine, 1985...




The Edge's Onstage Equipment


The Edge plugs his Washburn Festival amplified acoustic into a Vox AC-30 combo amp with no effects. His Gibson Explorer and Fenders -- a Stratrocaster and a Telecaster -- run into a Boss SCC-700 Effects Center. This is connected to the Vox AC-30 most of the time, although for certain songs such as "Homecoming" and "Unforgettable Fire," some of the effects go through a Mesa/Boogie MK-IIC amp. The Boogie is also sometimes employed for stereo effects in the PA. (A second Mesa/Boogie is for Bono's guitar.) For most numbers, Edge's guitar effects consist of a Korg SDD-3000 digital delay, an MXR Pitch Transposer and reverb.


At left is a Yamaha CP-70B electric piano with an Oberheim OB-8 keyboard synthesizer on top. The OB-8 is linked via MIDI to a Yamaha DX7 keyboard synthesizer. To the right of the DX7 is an Oberheim DSX sequencer and an Oberheim DX digital drum computer. Next to the DSX and DX is a Roland JC-120 amp (the piano is usually played through an Electro-Harmonix Memory Man echo, which is plugged into the JC-120). The DX is used for a click track for Larry Mullen Jr., and to sync the DSX (the sequencer used on "Unforgettable Fire" and "Bad") to the DX7.


Edge's effects rack contains the following: 2 Korg SDD-3000 digital delays 2 Electro-Harmonix Memory Man echo units 1 Yamaha R1000 Digital Reverb 1 Yamaha D1500 MIDI Digital Delay 1 MXR Pitch Transposer 1 Roland Boss SCC-700 effects center


A custom footswitch board is employed for selecting programs and bypassing the Korg digital delays.

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Well, I've gotten it pretty close - I modified the midi loop to add the repeating G# (I would imagine he used a delay to get that, but this just seemed easier) and thanks to Chris's article above, I changed the instruments to Plucked Bell (EFM1) and Brass Section (ES2) with some flanger and it's close enough for government work for me - what do you think?



Bad - LPF.logic.zip

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Sounding really (faraway, so) close!


It might get even closer (than the real thing? :roll: ) if you turn down the "decay" and/or "release" sliders a smidge on EFM-1 so the arpeggio notes decay a little faster.


Still, close enough for rock 'n roll as-is, I think. Not "Bad". Sounds "Like a Song"! :roll:


Thanks, I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your server. 8)

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  • 8 months later...
I would love to hear the final product. I would actually love to get a copy if possible. If you are a U2 fan, I'd be more than happy to provide some of the other synth tracks I have recorded in exchange. Thanks!!!
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  • 3 months later...

I love it! Finally something I can assist with.


This was a trick I used all the time way back in the 80's - the Delay line is set to a 1/8- triplet delay. When you arpeggiate any chord with straight 1/8th notes, the triplet delay adds gobs of interest and variation to the track.


I posted a re-do of your version. I didn't do the slight change in bar 5 but you get the idea. Notice that the "note density" of my version is like 1/4 of what you did.


Edge did this on guitar constantly.



p.s. - I didn't notice until after I posted that this is an ancient thread :oops:

Bad - LPF - delay.logic.zip

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  • 1 year later...

I'm new to the site and am in the beginning stages of recreating the synth sounds of certain U2 songs like bad. I know this is an old post thread, but have you perfected some of the songs? If so, are you willing to help me?


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