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POP ART

Summers' is here

July 29, 2007|Randy Lewis

FOR Police fans observant enough to notice each scuff, scrape and scar of the battered brown 1961 Fender Telecaster that Andy Summers trots out at each concert on the trio's celebrated reunion tour, it's tantalizing to imagine every gig, every rehearsal, every musicianly quarrel it's been part of over the last three decades.

"Maybe you only get one real instrument in your life as a guitar player," Summers says of the guitar whose sounds in "Roxanne" were a key part of propelling the group to stardom. "For me, it is this 1961 Tele."

Yes and no.

Actually, the famously battered brown guitar that fans see Summers grab each night for certain songs is a fake. But one with a pedigree.

It's a copy made by Fender's Custom Shop in Corona, one of 250 replicas of the actual Telecaster he bought for $200 off one of his guitar students pre-Police. It's part of a series Fender's custom division has created in recent years, allowing well-heeled fans to own doppelgangers of Stevie Ray Vaughan's signature 1962 Stratocaster and Eric Clapton's legendary "Blackie" Strat. Suffice it to say that $200 wouldn't make a down payment on these, which range from $10,000 to $25,000 apiece.

The really fun part about the Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster is that after lending his instrument for copying, he field tested the prototype copy, which mirrors every technical and physical modification of the original -- an instrument that Summers says "seemed to be emblematic of our success and I always returned to it." After trying out the copy this year at a music industry convention, he liked it so much he chose to play it when the Police opened the Grammy Awards show in February and is continuing to use the impostor on tour.

-- Randy Lewis

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