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Andy Summers' rig (The Police years)

Posted on 16/05/2015 by ozzy in Summers-ish

At the very beginning of the birth of The Police, Andy Summers' rig was rather sparse. To Guitar Player magazine he revealed: “I had simple tools: a Telecaster, a Fender Twin, and maybe an MXR Phase 90. The next thing I got was a chorus, and that, along with the Echoplex, became very characteristic of the Police sound. I probably got up to four pedals taped to the floor before I could afford a custom Pete Cornish pedalboard with a MuTron, a couple of fuzz boxes, an envelope filter, chorus units, and phasers, all of which I’d combine with the Echoplex.”

Andy Summers, The Police

Times have changed though, and so has Andy's equipment: "Onstage I've been using the same set-up for about the last three years," he explained to Musician magazine in 1984, "which is two reworked, souped-up Marshall 100-watt tops, two 4x12 cabinets, (I'm not sure what the speakers are because my faithful roadie changes them all the time). I use them at about half-volume, with not a lot of presence. I also record occasionally with a Bolt amp. I also have a Peter Cornish custom-made pedalboard which contains an MXR Phase 90, an MXR Analog Delay, a Mutron III envelope follower, a fuzz, an Electro-Harmonix flanger and a Dyna-Comp compressor. I carry two Echoplexes on tour, both of which are about fifteen years old. I combine the analog delay and the Echoplex to get some double rhythm effects. The board has a master effects on and off button, so you can pre-program effects together without having any effects on, then just hit one button and have them all come on together."


Marshall JMP 1959 Super Lead, 1992 Super Bass

During the Police years, Andy Summers played two 100-Watt Marshall heads, acquired in the late '70s, with two 4x12 Marshall speaker cabinets. Those amps either could be the Marshall JMP 1959 Super Lead, or 1992 Super Bass. It's hard to tell which of them exactly as they both look the same. The Marshall Super Bass was initially designed for bass players, but many guitarists decided to use them too. They had slightly less gain and were smoother sounding than their Lead counter-parts.

Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Along with the Marshalls, Andy also used a Roland Bolt and Roland JC-120 solid-state amps.

"I like to use two Roland JC-120s, because they’re real clean and hard. They suit guitar synthesizers almost more than the regular." (Guitar Player magazine, 1986)


The main guitar of Andy Summers' then, was his old battered, heavily modified Fender 61' Telecaster Custom that he purchased from his student in Los Angeles. The Telecaster was closely followed with the red Fender 61' Stratocaster that seems to be his main guitar today.

The other Andy's guitars include several models of Hamer that he endorsed in the De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da music video, Aria Pro (Next to You, live at the Old Grey Whistle Test) , Guitarman 12-string (Synchronicity I, Synchronicity concert video), Gibson 335 and Les Paul (both Ghost in the Machine album), Roland G-303 guitar, used to control his Roland guitar synth (Don't Stand So Close To Me), and many other guitars. Perhaps too many to mention.


In 1978, Andy acquired a Pete Cornish custom build pedal board. It contained an MXR Dyna Comp, MXR Distortion+, MXR Phase 90, MXR Analog Delay, EHX Electric Mistress, and Mu-Tron.

 Andy Summers (The Police) pedal board

MXR Dyna Comp script logo MXR Dyna Comp

Type: Compressor

Songs: Deathwish, Bring on the Night, Message in the Bottle, Walking on the Moon

MXR Phase 90 script logo MXR Phase 90

Type: Phaser

Songs: Hole in My Life.

Andy's prominent modulation effect on Outlandos d'Amour: "sort of scotch-taped to the floor". Also used by Sting on his bass (live recordings of Shadows in the Rain, Bring on the Night).

EHX Electric Mistress EHX Electric Mistress

Type: Flanger

Songs: Walking on the Moon, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, Driven to Tears, When the World is Running Down... to name a few.

Althought often mistaken for chorus, the Electric Mistress flanger(!) has always been an essential part of the Police sound.

When Andy used the "real" chorus, he seemingly used a unit built-in the Roland JC-120 solid-state amplifier. (This circuit was later "repacked" into a single pedal, known as a Boss CE-1.)

Another chorus effect Andy Summers acquired was the Boss CE-3: Released in October 1982, Andy had used it soon after, on the Synchronicity concert in Atlanta. Since the CE-3 was just sitting on his pedal board, meaning it wasn't built-in, it can be assumed that he was just trying it out.

Musitronic Mu-Tron 3 envelope follower Musitronics Mu-Tron III

Type: Envelope follower

Songs: Hungry for You, Flexible Strategies, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

A touch-controlled funky-sounding effect, easily mistaken for normal wah-wah.

MXR Distortion+ script logo MXR Distortion+, EHX Big Muff

Type: Fuzz / Distortion / Overdrive

Songs: Fall Out, Next to You, Truth Hits Everybody

In fact, I didn't find any verifiable proof that Andy Summers used any of those. So this is purely based on my, and other people's hearing. Hence subjective. That said, the MXR should have been identified correctly though: "I have an MXR Phase 90, Electro-Harmonix flanger, MXR fuzz, an analog delay, a Mu-tron III, and a compressor." (Guitar Player magazine, 1982)

MXR Analog Delay MXR Analog Delay + Maestro Echoplex, Roland Space Echo

Type: Delay

Songs: Reggatta de Blanc, Deathwish, Can't Stand Loosing You, Tea in the Sahara ...and many more

Delay has always been instrumental for Andy's tones. In Can't Stand Losing You he got a double rhythm effect by using of two Echoplexes. Tea in the Sahara was all done with a Stratocaster and an Echoplex. For a certain period of time, he also used a Roland Space Echo.

Roland GR-300 guitar synthesizer Roland GR-300, GR-100

Type: Guitar synthesizer

Songs: Don't Stand so Close to Me, Secret Journey, Darkness, Oh My God, I Burn for You, Once Upon a Daydream

By the Regatta de Blanc, Andy acquired a Roland GR-500 guitar synthesizer. The band was working so hard on the road, that he haven’t had a chance to get acquainted with it. Later on, he used Roland GR-300 for a couple of songs, such as Don’t Stand So Close to Me, on Zenyatta Mondatta, as well as for material from the Ghost in the Machine album.

Andy usually used the Echoplex and flanger in conjunction with the synthesizer. To achieve the same effect, which is in the middle of Don’t Stand so Close to Me, he used a "Duet" switch, which adds an extra interval - typicaly the 5th - to any note that's being played. Additionaly, he has being opening and closing the foot-controled filter of the synth, to get the setup working as intended.

In his Police Reunion Tour rig, he replaced his old Roland synth with the Eventide Harmoniser.

Source: Guitar Player magazine,,

The article continues in... Andy Summers' rig on BUDGET (The Police years), part II

Andy Summers - Guitarman 12-string guitar Andy Summers - Aria Pro guitar Andy Summers and Sting with their Hamer guitars

Andy Summers - advert of Roland GR-300 guitar synth and G-303 guitar Andy Summers - advert of Hamer Phantom guitar Andy Summers - advert of Hamer guitar

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