Potent Pairings: How to Sound Like Andy Summers of The Police

Disclaimer: Our Potent Pairing series aims to get you in the ballpark of the sounds on your favorite recordings using affordable, accessible pedals. The pedals featured are not the exact pieces of gear used on the recordings.

In 1977, guitarist Andy Summers joined a young band sprouting from London's punk scene called The Police—a band that quickly rose to international success with hits like "Roxanne," "Message in a Bottle," and "Don't Stand So Close to Me" and albums like Reggatta de Blanc, Zenyatta Mondatta, and Synchronicity.

In fact, though not given a songwriting credit, Summers was responsible for writing the riff for "Every Breath You Take" and recording it with his '61 Fender Strat in one take. That song remained at number one for eight weeks, earned The Police the '83 Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal, and Sting the Grammy for Song of the Year.

Summers himself won the Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammy Award twice during his time with The Police, once in '79 for "Reggatta de Blanc" (which Copeland and Sting co-authored) and the following year for "Behind My Camel."

Summers was known for playing vintage '60s Fenders and vintage late-'50s Gibsons, usually through a Marshall stack or Roland Jazz Chorus combo. In the video above, Joe uses a Fender Custom Shop American Custom Telecaster and a complementary Fender Standard Jazz Bass for the accompaniment parts. For his amp, Joe is using a Magnatone Panoramic Stereo.

Pedal-wise, the MXR Dyna Comp and Wampler Plexi Drive were useful in approximating Summers' tone for a lot of these tunes, and other classics like the Boss CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus, MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay, and Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Electric Mistress all made appearances as well.

Check out the full video above to watch Joe recreate tones from songs like "Can't Stand Losing You," "Walking On the Moon," "Message in a Bottle," and more. Keep scrolling to see how exactly each pedal is set up and dialed in, and click on any of the graphics below for more info on each pedal.

"Walking on the Moon"
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"Hole in My Life"
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"Message in a Bottle"
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"Every Breath You Take"
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"Driven to Tears"
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"Don't Stand So Close to Me"
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"Can't Stand Losing You"
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