By the beginning of the 1980's, Roland had virtually taken the lead in the manufacture of guitar synths. The Roland GR-300 Guitar Synthesizer was specifically designed to work with a guitar as it's controller. In fact, Roland synths were made to only work with Roland guitars. Around 1982, Roland made four different synth guitars: The G-202, G-303, G-505, and the G-808. They were all standard guitars fitted with standard pickups that could be played through normal amps, but they also had a special "hex" pickup for use with the synth. The natural sound of the guitar could before be mixed or blended with the sound of the synth. Because the hex pickup had a separate channel for each string, and because the synth had string-selector switches, only the strings that were switched on would have a synth sound. So, you could have had a bass sound on the bottom two strings and a standard guitar tone on the top four.
In the Police days, Andy was always seen around studio experimenting with the G-303 model, which he felt most comfortable with.
A 1986 photo by Paul Natkin shows Andy experimenting on a Roland G-707 with the then-revolutionary GR-700 system, which according to Andy had the best tracking of any guitar synth at the time. (Right Photo by Michael Tamborrino)
(For more information on Roland Guitar Synths, check out the "Effects" Page.)
By Greg Danielak - 2000