Andy Summers was just out of college in Southern California in the early 1970s when one of his guitar students offered to sell him a beat-up 1961 Fender Telecaster® that had obviously been modified by a previous owner.
Summers had already had some modest music business success in the late ’60s Britain. Lately though, he’d stuck mainly to his classical guitar studies, and hadn’t played an electric in quite a while. Strangely, however, something about this particular Telecaster grabbed him. As he put it himself in his 2006 memoir, One Train Later:
When I start to play it, something stirs within me … it shakes me … I find that I can’t stop playing it; this guitar sparks something in me and I have to have it.
Summers bought the guitar for $200, and you and the whole world know the rest. Back in London a few years later, he joined a noisy so-called punk outfit called the Police that rose to become the biggest band in the world, thanks in no small part to the deftly innovative and influential sounds Summers conjured from that beat-up Telecaster.
Hit after hit was recorded and performed on it—“Roxanne,” “So Lonely,” “Walking On the Moon,” the breathtaking “Message In a Bottle,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” “Synchronicity II” and “King of Pain.”
Tonight in between spraying coats on my archtop project, I started my next guitar project (and probably the last for a while). I am making myself a copy, as close as I can of Andy’ Summers’ telecaster.
I dont have any alder on hand so I am using poplar for my body. I first laminated a 3 piece body blank (just because I had a few pieces I wanted to use up, and since the finish will be a 3 colour opaque burst I dont care about the grain appearance) and rough cut it out on the band saw.
Then, I planed it to 1 3/4″ thickness and put it through my thickness sander to clean up the faces. Then after retracing the outline, I sanded the edges on my edge sander and drum sander.
(if you want to see rough wood, being jointed and planed check out my other build threads.. this one will be step by step from here on but I did the blank while I forgot my camera at home).
The Fender Custom Shop recreated Andy Summers original 1961 Fender Telecaster as part of their tribute series. Andy’s original featured a Gibson PAF humbucker in the neck position. The Fender Custom Shop version features a “Custom Shop 1969 Tele pickup” and a “Fender Humbucker” pick. All other details of the guitar were reproduced in this reissue, included a brass bridge and all of the wear marks on the guitar’s body. Fender also included phase switch for the pickups, allowing the player to put the guitar out of phase. All of these customizations came from Andy’s original.
Andy Summers purchased his original from a student back in the early 1970’s for about $200. The Fender Custom Shop made only 250 of these guitars and they’re priced at about $10,500 new.
In stock! The ’62 Telecaster Custom was first popularized by Andy Summers of The Police. It was Fender’s first Telecaster model which combined a 3 ply pickguard, spiral saddle bridge, cream binding and rosewood fretboard. In a word: Gorgeous! This is a regularly stocked guitar as it is very popular!
Let me simply call it Tele, for the sake of consistency. To me Tele is a log compared to Strat. In fact, Telecaster is physically heavier and so is the sound, but could be still bright enough thanks to the pair of single-coils, which at first were the only choice and remains one of the possible pickup settings nowadays. Otherwise Telecaster is available with much more pickup configurations, including humbucking pickups. It actually depends on series which pickup setting you will be able to get the guitar with. American Standard series Telecaster, for instance, is available traditionally with two single-coils and additionally even with three of them.
You should know that Telecaster is one of the first solid body electric guitars ever made and the very first electric guitar that has actually gained interest and success in terms of sale. The fact that it is still being serially produced these days (after more than 60 years) with just a little of change tells us much about its popularity, therefore about its quality. Yes, you may link these two things. However, there still has been no explanation given, what’s this all for, how can the guitar of such a simple shape be worthy of all those nice words and facts. Here it goes. Another nice word that describes it even better: universality. With its ability to produce either a warm, mellow, soft or a sharp, bright and cutting tone Telecaster is more than worthy of it, at least as for those few mortals: Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, Albert Lee, Andy Summers, Albert Collins, James Burton, Frank Black. These are only few guitarists, who played or are still playing strictly Telecaster. Otherwise it’s been played by lots of other guitarists, even by Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend.
Sixty years ago, in the summer of 1950, a small Californian business was preparing to introduce the world to a new musical invention. The Fender Electrical Instrument Company was based in Santa Ana, 30 miles south of Los Angeles, and it had already come up with the Esquire, an electric guitar that broke with convention by being built from a solid piece of wood. Now, 41-year-old Leo Fender had radically improved on the original to produce the Broadcaster – which, after a spurt of legal hoo-hah, was renamed the Telecaster, and sold to the world.
The original guitar was a 61’ Telecaster Custom, and was heavily modified when it was purchased by Andy from a guitar student in Los Angeles.
Review: So here goes…Immediately when you look at the guitar it has the look and patina of a vintage guitar. The relic work is pretty heavy but I think they got the color just right. The body is a very resonant Alder with a light to medium light weight.
Fender couldn’t be more proud and excited to unveil a very special 250-instrument Limited Edition run of the Fender Custom Shop Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster ® tuners. It’s a note-perfect replica of the 1961 Tele® that Summers used to help propel the Police to untold heights of worldwide pop superstardom.
Featuring the ferocious humbucking neck pickup and single coil bridge pickup mounted in the body rather than in the broken brass (not chrome) bridge plate; a control plate-mounted mini-toggle phase switch; body-mounted preamp on/off mini-toggle switch (the Custom Shop has recreated the Police-era preamp); the rear-mounted overdrive unit controlled by a third knob below the two traditional Telecaster volume and tone controls; “soft” brass bridge pieces and Schaller® tuners.
The prototype, built by Fender Custom Shop Master Builder Dennis Galuszka over the course of a year, is currently in use with Andy now. The guitar features the same “eccentric” modifications that the original had when Summers first bought it, most of which were unchanged throughout the nonstop work and excitement of the Police years.
Summers played number one of the 250 replicas when the Police once again electrified the music world by reuniting on Feb. 11, 2007, to open the 49th annual Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Even more exciting, Summers will play the replica during the momentous 2007 30th anniversary worldwide Police reunion tour, one of the most hoped for and eagerly awaited events in pop music history. It promises to be a thrilling musical event featuring one of rock’s most innovative guitarists playing a spot on replica of one of rock’s most distinctive guitars.
Hit after hit was recorded and performed on it – “Roxanne,” “So Lonely,” “Walking On the Moon,” the breathtaking “Message In a Bottle,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” “Synchronicity II” and “King of Pain.” Every nick, scratch, dent and wear mark on Andy’s guitar has been painstakingly recreated on this amazing tribute Telecaster. For Police fans, collectors, and ’80s tribute bands, you just can’t get much better than the Andy Summers tribute guitar.
Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster Electric Guitar Features:
The guitar has a mini-toggle switch just below the bridge that activates the pre-amp that is installed in the rear cavity of the Tele. It uses a 9v battery and adds a nice instant db boost when activated. The third knob on the guitar is gain, and it has A LOT of gain to this pre-amp. Several people think that it’s the same pre-amp as the Eric Clapton Stratocaster, or the EMG active system, but I have learned it is based on neither. About the closest thing I can equate it to is a MXR Micro-Amp preamp. It does definitely change the tone when activated, but can come in handy for solos for sure. The gain knob is gets almost into “fuzz” gain when dimed out….so it probably wont get much use on “10”.