Andy Summers played his battered 1961 Telecaster when the Police ruled rock in the early 1980s, and returned to it (or is it the 2007 Fender Custom Shop tribute model?) when the trio reconvened in the mid-2000s for a highly successful reunion tour.
It’s been quite a wait, but she’s finally here. I’d like to introduce everybody to “SUMMER”! It required an insane amount of research and detail, but was absolutely worth it for a huge Police fan like myself. This has totally been a labor of love, and I’d like to thank everyone on the forums here for the vital information, esp. Mr. Morrisson for his expertise on this matter. Also, a huge thanks to Jim McNealon for helping with routing, wiring, and stoke! Plus his partner Aaron for the use and skill in the machine shop.
Plain and simple, this is the body of a Squier Classic Vibe Custom, with all the upgrades that Andy’s Tribute Tele has, plus a Nashville Tele Neck. This all rang in at about $1,000, so you could say I saved considerably on that $10,000! No, I am not relic’ing this, but rather putting my own scars on it. Sounds great on non-Police songs as well! Without further adieu, here it is:
The Fender Thinline was first introduced in 1969 and remained in production through 1979. A remarkable new version from the Fender Custom Shop shows off the traditional styling, but they have added some new modern features.
With its medium-sized C shape neck, 9 1/2′ radius and Dunlop 6105 frets, this Thinline plays as delightful as anything you can put in your hands. These F hole Teles are really one of the most versatile sounding electric guitars out there. From that warm full front pickup to that classic back pickup edge, this Canary Yellow beauty with pearloid pickguard should fill all your needs.
We hinted about it back in October, but now it’s official: Fender has announced its Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster, a replica of Summers’ heavily-modified ’61 Tele, which he apparently bought in the ’70s for a staggering $200 😉
The guitar will be produced in a limited run of just 250 instruments, the first of which is expected to be played by Summers when the Police reunite for next week’s Grammy Awards (Feb 11.)
The Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster will feature the same mods as the original, including a “ferocious” humbucker at the neck, a body-mounted bridge pickup, a mini-toggle phase switch, pre-amp with mini-toggle on/off switch, rear-mounted overdrive unit (with controller knob below the standard volume & tone controls,) soft bridge pieces (brass,) and a set of Schaller tuners.
The guitar will also sport an alder body, maple neck, and meticulously recreated nicks, dings, and scratches to match Summers’ incredibly lived-in instrument.
The photos above show a comparison of the original Telecaster (right, from Andy Summers’ website,) and the new Fender Andy Summers Tribute Tele (left, photo by Takashi Sato.) There’s no telling what the price will be like on this baby, but at just 250 units I think we can assume it will be safely out of range for mere mortals and starving artists.
Luke at Rebel Relic in Amsterdam is now our sole dealer in the Netherlands, and is using Tonerider pickups exclusively on his line of Telecaster and Stratocaster relics!
“I find the Pure Vintage set to be very versatile and generally sweet sounding at low and high volume – From slightly innocent white chocolate sweet to, sinful dark chocolate. They have a very flexible palette to work off of. My favorite thing about the TRT1’s is that it can jump from light to fright and you can still hear that it’s from the same guitar with the same underlying sweetness to the tone.”
I don’t really see the problem with these collectors guitars – after all no serious player is going to buy one and use it as a gigging guitar (well maybe). Something like this is eventualy just going to adorn the wall of a rich but true fan. Is it objectionable to buy gold and platinum disks from a band you love? Signed photos? Why (if you are an exec of a merchant bank) not a mock up of their guitar?
Of course, if it were me, and I played in a Police covers band, I would get a CV 60s Squier, put a humbucker in it and give my 3 year old son free reign with a chisel to do the relicing.
I would like to especially thank Dr. Buenning Lars at Schaller for his help. He pointed out the location of the tuners in the catalog and, even though I ended up getting a used set elsewhere, he shipped me free of charge (overseas, mind you) a set of Schaller screws to fit my used tuners, when they showed up from Eddie Vegas without enough screws. INCREDIBLY nice.
3) Marc Rutters made the custom control plate with extra hole drilled for the phase shifting switch. Fast, easy service, and a nice quality plate.
4) Terrapin Guitars made the mint green pickguard and the custom rear plate to cover the boost circuit. I traced the shape of the rear plate from a scale size blow-up of Andy’s guitar and sent John the tracing. There was one goof…he made the control plate mint green as well. But he was quick with sending a black one when I pointed out his error. Mistakes happen, and he made it right fast.
5) Axetremecreations made the custom stamped neck plate, with Andy’s actual serial number on it.
6) I chose to get the pickups from Seymour Duncan. I considered having some of the smaller boutique pickup guys make me custom pups based on vintage specs for the Tele bridge pickup and a Gibson PAF. But the more I thought about it, Seymour Duncan did the ones for the Tribute model that Fender made, and adjusted their specs based on Andy’s review. So I don’t think I could have gotten closer to the real deal any other way. Called the Custom Shop at Seymour Duncan, and talked with MJ who wound them to the specs of the Tribute model. They were a little slow getting it done, but that really was no big deal.
7) Armadillo Guitar was the source for the brass bridge plate. Nice hardware, and that is pretty much your main source for one of these, so was a no-brainer. First thing I ordered.
8) The preamp boost is a standard Fender Eric Clapton mid boost. I purchased it on e-Bay. The whole thing was wired according to the available wiring diagram for the Tribute guitar. I considered other options, even writing John Tillman to pick his brain on what kind of custom preamp people might have been installing back then. Ultimately I decided that no one knows. Andy’s boost failed and was removed before Fender made the Tribute model, so no one knows what that circuit was. Their Tribute model has the EC Midboost (with minor tolerance differences on a few components), and I just decided to not over think a problem that cannot be solved.
9) Knobs I bought on e-Bay. Considered trying to get true 60’s knobs, but way too expensive. I agonized over what looked best. Looked at Police live DVD’s I had in slow-mo to see what these things looked like…barrel, domed…I went with vintage Tele barrel knobs, purchased on e-Bay.
Its’ hole spacing is vintage spec, but it’s longer by necessity than a vintage style bridge in order to accomodate that saddle design. The length of the slot in those stock saddles for the strings to pass through isn’t ideally suited to the string hole placement. I substituted the longer 24mm saddles from an MIM Standard. The Gotoh 24mm length saddles would also be a better fit than those stock short saddles.
I can barely contain my excitement! It was supposed to be delivered by FedEx on Monday, but it came this morning!
As many of you know, I’ve been on a mission since October of last year to get this project finished. It was quite a journey, since I wanted it done exactly like Fender’s version, but without the relicing. Finding some of these parts was quite difficult. No one wanted to fabricate the body since the rear routing work would be extensive, but I was lucky enough to find Guitar Mill and they did all of the work for me in that area.
Musikraft made the neck and it plays like a dream. Anyhow, without further adieu, here are some pics:
I’d like to thank:
– My wife, Kimmy, for understanding my guitar obsession and supporting me through the whole process.
– Michael at Armadillo Guitars for the brass bridge and saddles
– Torsten for providing detailed images of the actual preamp
– Mario, Gavin, and Tim at Guitar Mill for the custom body
– Fender for the wiring diagram
– MJ and Seymour Duncan for the pickups wired to Andy’s specs
– Rob Super at The Guitar & Electronics Repair Center for wiring and assembling this beast together.
– Bill Callaham at Callaham Guitars for the custom neck plate
– Scott at Musikraft Guitars for the custom neck
– Darren Riley for the Eric Clapton preamp
– Paula at RS Guitarworks for the superpots
– Terrapin Guitars for the custom mint green pickguard