Andy Summers – Guitarist with The Police
At the NAMM show in Annaheim 2007, Fender announced that they will be releasing a Andy Summers Telecaster – cloned from his long standing favourite ’63 Tele – the replica will include the usual nicks and dings, and technically be a close match including the likes of the built in active circuitry (overdrive) and other innovations that Summers used. Many fans would say about time too.
Without a doubt The Police are one of the worlds most loved and respected bands, founded on a relatively short period of time, cut on five cracking studio albums including the Synchronicity record released in 1983. Their sound was a mix of reggae, punk and pop and to this today their style and sound are instantly recognizable, with inconic tracks including the likes of “Every Breath you Take” and “Walking on the moon”. Summers textured guitar was at the heart of what made The Police sound.
For a band of such critical acclaim and commercial popularity it is somewhat of a surprise that Andy Summers isn’t that well known (after all it was Sting who after the Police made the biggest name for himself). For guitarists, Summers is held in high regard – his intelligent lines and complex use of chords elevating him into much acclaim.
Summers style is due in part to a love of Jazz and this is reflected in his choice of extended chords (including add9 and augmented chords) – There is also evidence of blues influence within his playing. This culminates in a unique sound that is as distinctive now as it was in their heyday.
Despite being a threesome, the Police’s sound was quite large – Summers was partly responsible for this with his choice of guitar tone and playing style. These days bands such as U2 and Coldplay utilize guitar effects to create texture, but Summers was a true innovator in this area in his days with the Police. Common effects included Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress Flanger, Echoplex Delay, Compressor and various filters.
His use of effects was to enhance the tracks and add texture and rather than to just embellish Summers is quoted saying “You have to be judicious and musical in your use of them (effects). If you play everything with flanger, it’s going to get really old fast. You have to continually change it and use the straight guitar sound as well- which I do- so that when you use the effect, it’s an effect. And then it goes off. “
Andy was predominantly associated with the Telecaster in particular a 1963 model guitar that was previously owned by Eric Clapton (Andy Summers resouce page) however like many guitarists he wasn’t’ limited to one instrument and played a variety of guitars during both recording and live situations – these included several Gibsons, and others.
Since The Police disbanded Summers has had somewhat of eclectic output – including recordings with Robert Fripp, Victor Biglione and various soundtrack contributions – however he will be forever associated as guitarist with The Police. There have been many rumours over the years about tours, reformations it wasn’t until Police were inducted into the rock and roll Hall of Fame in 2003 that the three played together again.
In 2007 The Police will reform for the Grammy’s where it will take us after that we’ll have to wait and see.
Filed under: Guitarists
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