“Guitars are getting made better than they used to”: Andy Summers says vintage guitars aren’t necessarily superior

The Police guitarist speaks out against the overhyping of vintage gear in a new interview.

The Police guitarist Andy Summers

Image: HECTOR MATA / Getty Images

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Andy Summers has argued that vintage guitars aren’t necessarily better than new ones and that at the end of the day, all gear is “just tools”.

Appearing on a recent episode of The Jeremy White Show, the Police guitarist says that the age of a guitar does not determine its quality or superiority, especially given the way technology has been improving over the decades.

“I have to believe – and this is my philosophy – they are getting made better than they used to,” Summers explains [via Music Radar]. “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.”

That said, the musician admits to having one particular vintage guitar – his 1963 Fender Telecaster – that he’d never sell, saying doing so would be “like sawing off your own leg”.

“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,” Summers says.

“It had a humbucker on the front by the neck, an incredible, I guess, overwound Fender pickup at the back. 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.”

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

He adds: “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.”

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