Just Because a Guitar Is Old, It Doesn’t Mean It’s Better, Says Andy Summers

The Police guitarist Andy Summers reflected on the widely accepted take that vintage guitars are usually better than modern stuff. Appearing in an interview recently over at “The Jeremy White Show,” Summers pointed out that just because something is old or made in a certain decade doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s in any way superior to guitars made today.

“I have to believe – and this is my philosophy — they are getting made better than they used to,” said Summers after pointing out that guitars are “just tools” (via Music Radar).


This could feel like somewhat of a controversial take to some, especially since it’s coming from an old-school classic rock guitar player. Nonetheless, Andy is confident that nothing really beats the technological advancements and new practices that were perfected over the decades. He added:

“Just because it says 1958, yeah, it may have something because they tended to overwind the pickups. I actually like to think that all that knowledge, of all those years of guitar making, building guitar pickups, has gotten better, and the guys really know what they are doing. Some really interesting guitars are being made these days.”

Be that as it may, Summers still stands by his trusty 1963 Fender Telecaster. And most of his works were done using that fine instrument. The main reason for this is, as he claims, that it has certain features that he never really found in any other instrument so far.

Recalling more details about his favorite Telecaster, Summers said:

“This was a period when a lot of guys were ripping guitars apart, changing pickups, and rewiring. It became a very nerdy kind of thing and the little Telecaster was one of those where it had an in-built overdrive unit. It had a humbucker on the front by the neck, an incredible, I guess, overwound Fender pickup at the back.”

Andy Summers -The Police

“But it had a five-way switch, and I could get this incredible out-of-phase tone on the fourth position, and I have never found another guitar that was as good as that, that did it like that one did it.”

He also adds:

“It was sort of a magical guitar. Well, I’ve still got it. I’m not telling you where it is. [Laughs]”

Fender Custom Shop | Interview with Andy Summers | Fender

Summers also said that he often gets questions about this instrument, as well as direct offers to sell it. But this is something he absolutely doesn’t want to do:

“You know, people go, ‘You sell your Tele?’ No way, man. That’s like sawing off your own leg. Why would I do that? It’s the most important thing that ever happened to me.”

In another recent interview, Summers reflected on his career as a guitar player and how he managed to keep things fresh after so many years. As The Police legend explained, he never really got tired of it:

“I’ve never gotten tired of it. I enjoy it. I like playing guitars. I mean, I can’t even imagine life without it because it’s been part of me since I was a kid. Yeah, okay, life is terrible, but you’ve still got the guitar, so whatever.”

Andy Summers from The Police talks "Every Breath You Take", Punk, The Exorcist and Telecasters

“It’s sort of a central fact of your existence because you come back to it. I never got bored with it.”

On the other hand, Andy admits that there was a certain period where he felt like quitting his favorite instrument. He continued:

“Maybe, oddly, I say that — I’m just catching myself — I think right after The Police, I sort of went through a weird period — now I’m thinking about it — where I didn’t want to play it much anymore.”

ANDY SUMMERS 🇬🇧 "Tea in the Sahara"🏜️ (The Police👮)4K-2023@ Heights Theater, Houston TX Live🇨🇱

It’s not like he didn’t do anything during that time. But Summers wasn’t feeling super inspired back in those days:

“I would do shows, I made records, but I barely picked up the guitar. It was a sort of weird head trip that I went through.”

However, another guitar legend changed his mind. In 1990, he went on tour with jazz virtuoso Larry Coryell. And it was this particular tour that helped him get back on track:

“And then I went on tour with Larry Coryell — the two of us played together. Larry is a very enthusiastic person and actually, he was a catalyst — he brought me back to it. And I’ve, you know, played and toured with Larry, I started playing all the time again, and it’s never gone away again.”

ANDY SUMMERS🏆 🇬🇧 "Message in a Bottle" (The Police🚨)4K-@ The Heights Theater, Houston Texas Live🇨🇱

The two would come back together on a couple of more occasions during the late 2000s. Around this time The Police also did their one-off reunion tour and finally called it a day. As for Andy, he’s still active with his solo career.

Photo: S Pisharam (Andy Summers 2007)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.