A well-used, late-’70s Electric Mistress. Photo courtesy of Alfi e’s Musical Instruments, Brighton, UK
7. Andy Summers' Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress Flanger
One thing Andy Summers picked up during his brief stint in 1968 with prog-rock progenitors the Soft Machine came, ironically, not from the band itself, but the act they were touring with—the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Put simply, Summers was “enthralled,” and although he never cites Hendrix as a direct influence, there’s a definite sense of the shamanistic that permeates the Brit guitarist’s work with the Police.
Summers onstage in 1982. Photo by Neil Zlozower
It started with a Maestro Echoplex EP-3 he acquired in late ’78, just as the band’s Outlandos d’Amour was leaking onto the airwaves, and evolved into a deep fascination with a wide range of phasers, flangers, and guitar synthesizers. The Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress is probably the most recognizable of anything in the Summers arsenal. Incorporated into a pedalboard custom-designed by effects legend Pete Cornish, the unit gives “Walking on the Moon” its otherworldy textural quality, and is one of the stars of the band’s third album, Zenyattà Mondatta, particularly on “Driven to Tears” and the upbeat hit “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.”