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.”
Now, in 2007, 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 as part of the Fender Custom Shop’s legendary Tribute Series. 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.
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:
Ferocious humbucking neck pickup.
Bridge pickup mounted in the body rather than in the broken brass (not chrome) bridge plate.
Control plate-mounted mini-toggle phase switch.
Body-mounted preamp on/off mini-toggle switch (the original preamp “died,” Galuszka said; the Custom Shop has recreated the Police-era preamp).
Rear-mounted overdrive unit controlled by a third knob below the two traditional Telecaster volume and tone controls.
“Soft” brass bridge pieces.
The Fender Custom Shop Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster.
Photo by Takashi Sato