Fender Custom Shop Terry Kath Telecaster pays tribute to the late Chicago guitarist

Fender has honoured late Chicago guitarist, Terry Kath with the release of a Custom Shop Limited Edition Terry Kath Telecaster. The signature model is based on Kath’s 1966 Telecaster which Fender says “truly embodied the notion of ‘custom’ long before the Fender Custom Shop was founded.” and was so beloved by the guitarist that he was known to book the guitar its own seat on flights rather than risk damaging it in transit.

Heavily-adorned with Pignose stickers and a whole lot of gaffa tape on the rear of the body, Kath’s original Telecaster underwent a lot of modifications including a retro-fitted neck humbucker, Stratocaster bridge (with sawn-off Tele plate and modern saddles), a triple-set tuner replacement, reverse-control plate, 'wing' string trees and more.  

As we’re used to from the Fender Custom shop, every last detail has been meticulously recreated down to scratch-by-scratch-level in a painstaking process undertaken by Custom Shop Master Builder Dennis Galuszka.

As well as the visuals and ageing, the spec sheet includes a heavy relic ‘52 Tele ash body, finished in Aged Vintage White lacquer; chrome and nickel hardware; a custom ‘67 Tele maple neck with 21 frets and a 7.25” fretboard radius; a synchronized Strat® guitar tremolo with a sawn-off Tele® guitar bridge plate.

The vision of recreating Kath’s guitar came about after his daughter, Michelle completed work on a documentary about her father. “When we were making the documentary about my dad (Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience), we didn’t know where the guitar was, so the film almost became a hunt for this Telecaster guitar." Michelle tells Fender. 

"We finally found it at my grandpa’s house; he labelled all of the guitar cases and this one said “Terry’s Favourite.” Finding this guitar meant everything to me, because it feels like I have a piece of him with me that’s so iconic.”

Mike lewis, Vice President of Product Development for the Fender Custom Shop, says, “Terry Kath is one of the most incredible guitar players that ever lived. His iconic playing style paved the way for many guitar players and has inspired other legends through the years.

“When his daughter, Michelle, told us they wanted to entrust the Fender Custom Shop to recreate Kath’s famed, fan favourite Telecaster® guitar from Chicago, we were honoured. 

Terry Kath

(Image credit: David Redfern (courtesy of Fender))

"Fan’s had been making their own versions of this guitar for years, but this time master builder Dennis Galuszka replicated every single detail - from the synchronized Strat guitar tremolo with sawed-off Tele bridge plate to other custom elements of the body adorned with stickers and other personalised touches.” 

“When I was growing up, riding around in my mom’s Pinto with the radio on, I definitely knew Chicago.” adds Dennis Galuszka. “It wasn’t until later in life, as my appreciation for music became sharper, that I first learned about Terry Kath through guitar friends. From that point on, I was able to hear the music with fresh ears. Who knew one of the all-time greatest guitar players created the soundtrack of my childhood!” 

The Fender Custom Shop Terry Kath Telecaster is limited to just 50 pieces worldwide, and is priced at $20,000/  £17,999/€20,999. 

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.