Fender’s latest Chicago Music Exchange-exclusive Telecasters have a secret finish that reveals itself the older the guitars get

Fender Chicago Special Telecaster
(Image credit: Chicago Music Exchange/Twitter)

Fender and Chicago Music Exchange have teamed up for another range of exclusive electric guitars, which looks to be the pair’s most unique collection to date.

Dubbed the Custom Chop “Chicago Special” Telecaster series, each 1968-inspired single-cut features a hidden Paisley or Flower artwork that reveals itself as the extra-thin nitrocellulose lacquer gradually and naturally wears away over time – or, as is demonstrated in the CME video below, if the top coat is viciously attacked with sandpaper.

The notion of hidden finishes isn’t anything that radical when it comes to Fender, though it might be the first time such intricate artwork has been contained underneath regular colorways on a factory model.

More conventional examples of double-layered Fenders include custom “hidden bursts”, which, historically, were sometimes Sunburst six-strings refinished with colors that were considered more popular in the late ‘60s, such as Fiesta Red.

A particularly notable case study of a so-called hidden burst includes David Gilmour’s 1969 Black Strat, which was Black finished over Sunburst.

The Chicago Special series takes that practice to the next level, though, deliberately offering a host of classic solid and contemporary pastel colorways that accommodate either Pink Paisley or Blue Flower graphics.

As it turns out, the whole range was inspired by a poorly refinished '68/'69 Telecaster that was brought into CME by a customer. Not long after, Brad Paisley – who has his own paisley pickguard-equipped signature Tele – purchased the guitar, and ultimately discovered a hidden paisley artwork underneath the black top coat.

In keeping with the late ‘60s vibe and staying true to historical Fender finishes, the intriguing Teles arrive in Faded Surf Green, Aged Daphne Blue, Aged Olympic White, Faded Shell Pink, Aged Lake Placid Blue and Aged Black, all of which hide Pink Paisley artwork.

A further Aged Black model is the only one in the range that has been equipped with a secret Blue Flower finish.

Aside from the alluring aesthetics, the Teles are standard ‘68-style models. Each guitar boasts a two-piece alder body, rift sawn maple neck and rift sawn maple fingerboard, the latter of which features 21 frets and a 7.25” radius.

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As for electronics, the Chicago Special models feature wide diameter Alnico 3 bridge and Alnico 5 neck single-coils, which have been combined with thinner 43-gauge enamel wire in an effort to provide hot, juicy tones and high output, punchy clarity.

Specifically, the pickups were purposefully designed for the Chicago Special range, and were produced in collaboration with Fender Custom Shop Vice President of Product Development, Mike Lewis.

Elsewhere, the ‘67 Tele bridge assembly and modern Tele Greasebucket control layout – comprising a three-way switch and master volume and tone parameters – are joined by a three-ply parchment pickguard and period-correct plastics.

Each unique axe is available now for $4,720.

To find out more, head over to Chicago Music Exchange.

Fender Chicago Special Telecaster

Fender Chicago Special Telecaster in Olympic White (with its top coat intact) (Image credit: Fender)

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.