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Andy Summers on his iconic Police Telecaster: "It would be $1m if anyone wants to buy it"

Andy Summers
(Image credit: Solomon N’Jie/Getty Images)

It's pretty safe to say Andy Summers is a musician who isn't short on capital. Indeed, in a new interview with the Telegraph around the theme of finances he reveals just how much he made from the Police's reunion tour (spoiler: a lot) but the guitarist also mused on his most iconic instrument; the highly modified 1963 Fender Telecaster. Including what it would take for him to part with it.

When asked what the best thing he's ever bought was, Summer replied: "My Fender Telecaster I went into The Police with. The guitar became iconic and was absolutely my guitar that was identified with me, a kind of hybrid ­Telecaster I bought off a kid in LA for 200 bucks.

"It would be $1m if anyone wants to buy it," added Summers, "but to sell it would be like giving away your soul."

We can't see him parting with it, but back when he bought his prized electric guitar, he was a far cry away from a millionaire. In his stint in Los Angeles as a college student before he returned to the UK and joined Sting and Stewart Copeland to form the Police, Summers was struggling on around $40 (£29) a month. 

"I was dodging about between different places in Los Angeles because I couldn’t pay the rent. And I thought “what am I doing here?”. I wasn’t hanging out smoking dope and p‑‑‑ing about. I was working hard, trying to get a degree and playing classical guitar 10 hours a day. And when that period came to an end I still didn’t have any money, so I woke up, came back to the UK and before long I was in The Police."

Fortunately he must have tucked some of his limited funds away away to buy the Tele. Back in 2018, Summers reflected on the guitar and its special mods in an interview with us. "It was a hybrid instrument I got while I was in college – somebody had already done all these different things to it - like adding a Gibson humbucker in the front, adding an overdrive switch, an out-of-phase switch… a lot of extra stuff," Summers explained. "But the guitar itself played beautifully and it had that incredible phase sound, which I used a lot.

“It wasn’t just any Telecaster, it was an exceptional one," Summers added. "Just one of those guitars that had the magic, with the incredible electric tone. Fender made it as a signature guitar for me in 2007.

“It was the one guitar I used for everything… I did start using a Strat later on, but this was the Telecaster that got used all the time, on all the records. It had everything I needed in one.” 

And I hate to say it – well no, I don’t hate to say it – I think I was the highest-paid guitarist in the world during that Reunion Tour

Elsewhere in the Telegraph interview, the guitarist is asked the most money he's ever made from a Police gig. And it turns out it was a whole tour that answers that question… "The 2007 Reunion Tour was a giant pay-off for all of us and quite incredible: the most money I’ve ever made," marvels Summers. "We sold out every stadium in the world.

"And I hate to say it – well no, I don’t hate to say it – I think I was the highest-paid guitarist in the world during that Reunion Tour. I got about $1m a night, and we did 150 nights. Someone’s got to do the job."

And in the highly unlikely event that money somehow dwindles, he's got the hits to fall back on – well one in particular. "It’s the song that’s had the most plays in American radio history," Summers says of Every Breathe You Take. "As for how much we’ve made from it, I think there’d be several zeros there, and it’s still going on. It never ends. There’s only about five bands that have done this: us; The Beatles; The Rolling Stones; maybe The Who, not certain; maybe Pink Floyd.

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Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.