Rig Report

The Guitars of Keith Urban

When Keith Urban came to town, Rebecca Dirks jumped at the chance to check out the creative and unconventional guitar rig of one of country music's biggest stars.

  • By Rebecca Dirks @tonereport
  • January 09, 2014


There's no denying that Keith is most comfortable on a Tele, but since his sound is as influenced by John Mellencamp and Mark Knopfler as it is by Waylon Jennings, Urban doesn't limit himself to the Telecaster. He is partial to single-coils, which complement his aggressive playing style, and tends to prefer DiMarzio Injectors or P-90s, playing almost exclusively on the bridge pickup in all of his guitars. Outside of those general guidelines, anything goes. Says Miller, "Nothing is sacred, we screw up everything…everything."


Keith's go-to T-style is actually a Danocaster relic, built by Dan Strain in Nashville. "It's that Tele sound you have in your head," says Miller. "Bright without being harsh." The guitar has a v-shaped neck and Voodoo Pickups and is used for all of the traditional, chicken-pickin' Tele material.

The "Camera Guitar" makes an appearance every show for "Somebody Like You." Originally a Fender Jim Root Tele, the guitar was rebuilt by Urban's go-to guitar guru, Nashville's Joe Glaser. It has a DiMarzio PAF-style humbucker in the bridge, and a pickguard added to cover the hole where the neck humbucker originally was. The neck is from a Clapton Strat, chosen for the larger headstock to clamp the camera on.

Glaser installed the HD camera wire in a channel down the neck to a 16-pin output jack at the end of the guitar, and the live video feed is displayed on the stage backdrop. Because of this additional wired connection, the Camera Guitar is the only electric on a wireless unit.

Other Teles in the lineup include Keith's first Cabronita, a black guitar that was his right-hand in 2010, and comes in and out of the lineup now. It has a stock TV Jones Filtertron and has had the neck sanded for speed. He also occasionally uses a white Cabronita that's stock other than an "unusually bright-sounding" vintage mini-humbucker in the bridge and a pine Telecaster with a rosewood fretboard that's tuned down a half-step and strung with 12s.

Keith's most striking Tele is the Yuri Shiskov-built Fender Custom Shop Mirror Guitar. It has a carved top overlaid with mirror pieces and a DiMarzio Chopper in the bridge, and had to be rebuilt after being damaged by the 2010 flooding in Nashville. "It looks bad ass and it actually sounds great—it's not just a show prop," Miller says.


The final Tele on tour is a new acquisition for Keith: an original 1951 Fender Nocaster. Miller says the guitar "sounds amazing," but is still being worked into the lineup and hasn't been used much lately.

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  1. dg


  2. Marvin

    Why this guy needs more than one guitar at all is a mystery. Keith Urban? Really?

  3. Lgreen

    Marvin.  Really?  You obviously haven’t heard him play nor attended his concerts.

  4. Floyd Newsome

    Received my 50pc acoustic electric yesterday. Disappointed in string to fret height especially as you get closer to the sound hole.

  5. vince

    The urban acoustic guitar my son got for Christmas looks awesome, but sounds terrible,  dead, and not good.  A big disappointment.

  6. Randolph Roeder

    I’d far rather read about The Guitars of Keith Levene

  7. Tommy B

    The guitar Keith played on the tribute to the Bee Gees, awesome wondering what it was. Great playing