“I think it’s one of the greatest designs of the 20th century. It has never been bettered – partly because it fits the human body so well. With something like a Gibson Les Paul, it’s a very heavy chunk of wood. I always had a problem holding it, especially standing up. But the weight of the Telecaster is just right. And its sound just cuts through everything. Everything I did in the Police was on a Telecaster.
“I actually ended up with a kind of hybrid model, with some added features. Before I joined the Police, I got it in LA: I was teaching guitar, and some kid came in wanting to sell it. It was pretty beaten up, and I got it off him for 200 bucks. I said, “This is a pretty great guitar – are you sure you want to sell it?” But that was the guitar that transformed my life: it brought me back into playing rock, I came back to England with it, and you know the rest of the story. I would never, ever get rid of it: it’s like a great talisman.
“In 2007, Fender made 250 clones of my guitar. They took the original to pieces, and photographed it, and made this map of where all the scratches and cracks are. It’s like my guitar had babies. I’ve got six of them. They cost $15,000 each [laughs].”