Reliced guitars?

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Eggmann
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Reliced guitars?

Post by Eggmann » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:06 am

What's up with reliced guitars.

Most of the ones I've seen don't really look old. They look exactly like someone took a belt sander to perfectly good guitar. I would be embarrassed to be seen in public playing one of these. When I see one, it says to me that someone is maybe working ta little oo hard to be cool instead of working hard to be a good player.

I put a fair amount of effort into keeping my guitars in nice shape and avoiding damage.

Maybe I should start relicing amps and selling them for big bucks on ebay.

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Post by kslight » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:15 am

I feel like it's a fad. I would NOT buy a new "road worn" Fender...if I wanted a beat up old looking guitar I'd buy...an old beat up looking guitar. And it still wouldn't be as beat up looking as a fake relic. The vast majority of them just look entirely fake and distasteful to me...I always try to keep my guitars looking nice within reason, I would never put sandpaper to it to make it look like hell.


There is a IMHO tastefully done Schecter custom shop model that is done up to look like it's been in a grave for 100 years...that looks cool to me...but adding "belt rash" and other false "road wear" to a new guitar seems silly.

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Post by jgimbel » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:16 am

I agree with your assessment, it just looks too phony for me. I used to take extreme care to have my guitars in perfect shape, but a lot of them have accidentally gotten little dings or scratches, so I kind of stopped babying them. Granted I don't have any super expensive guitars, but there was actually a little paint chipping off my Tele, so I figure that's one that'll eventually get "reliced" looking. People say "just let it get like that yourself through years of playing, but one thing I've heard is that older guitars that really are old looking look so partially because their finishes weren't as durable (nitro finishes for example), and that modern guitars generally aren't going to look like that because of their crazy thick clear coats. I haven't had any guitars for decades so I can't say if that's totally true or not, but I do know that with the hours and hours I've spent on stage my strat is not at all having the finish rub off on the part of the guitar your right forearm rubs, which seems to be something common in older guitars with lesser finished. In that sense it kind of sucks that potentially even if you have your guitars for years, they're never going to get that nice distressed look. It's just a look, but it's always nice to look at something you've had for years, look at the shape it's in, and think "I've been through a lot with that thing". The paint just chips if anything, which looks a good bit shittier. In the end I only give a shit about how it sounds though. But that's also a reason I probably wouldn't buy a reliced guitar.

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:17 am

Agreed. Reliced guitars are the acid washed jeans of the music world.

You'll be glad to know that Fender is also selling a reliced tweed champ (for something like $1K). I'll pass. I can spill beer and put cigarette burns on my amp just as well as the Fender custom shop (and at a fraction of the price). I've been doing it for years.

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:22 am

jgimbel wrote: one thing I've heard is that older guitars that really are old looking look so partially because their finishes weren't as durable (nitro finishes for example), and that modern guitars generally aren't going to look like that because of their crazy thick clear coats.
Clear coats age differently but they do wear. i have a black, early 90's Gibson Chet Atkins Country Gent that I played the shit out of for years (and years and years). It's got dings and scratches all over and the clear coat has started to go cloudy where my right arm rests on the body. If it were a nitro finish I'm sure I'd be down to the wood by now.

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Post by jgimbel » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:31 am

Good to know junkshop! So maybe they'll wear somewhat similarly, just take much longer? I mean in a way this is such a stupid question ("I don't care about looks..but will my guitar look like that?"), I guess I just feel like decay is part of life that is somewhat rewarding - in a way you can see your years and experiences in the decay of what you own (with guitars being a beautiful example of that). I promise I'm not a crystal-loving hippie whatsoever, I just like when work has something to show for it!

One thing that's interesting about the relic strats is that they have a nitro finish. If they had a thick clear coat over the relic..ness..then it'd be like "here's a worn guitar, your own work will never change how it looks". But since it's got a nitro finish anyway, it's like it's more of just a headstart. I don't like that. While this guitar just has an imposter feel to it, I'd probably rather buy a guitar with a nitro finish on it (not reliced). That way it's not so much of a headstart, but just allowing your years to show quicker. Though that's really just a who-cares benefit of a nitro finish. As it should be, play music!

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Corey Y
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Post by Corey Y » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:38 am

I know there are people who would argue the point with me to the ends of the earth, but I just don't see the point in making a relic guitar. I know the idea is to make it look vintage and old, but I for one wouldn't want to drop big money on a vintage guitar that someone treated like shit and destroyed. If it's your guitar and you're the one who wore it out and you've come to love it and know it sounds great, that's cool. I can totally understand that. It seems like missing the entire point of what makes vintage guitars cool though, they're made well and they sound good. If I have a vintage guitar that's beat I love it despite being worn, not because of it. Some of my guitars I'm sure will eventually get pretty worn, because they're not museum pieces, but I'm not going to take a belt sander to them, yellow the plastic pieces and try to intentionally make their finish check.
As I said, I know there are people who disagree. Some people enjoy that aesthetic and you just can't argue taste, you like what you like.

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Post by OptimusRhyme » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:04 am

My favorite part of the Fender custom shop relics - the owner of the studio I work at bought one of the reliced Teles, which came with completely rusted out bridge saddles. They were absolutely unadjustable. Awesome.

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Post by DrummerMan » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:30 am

Corey Y wrote:I for one wouldn't want to drop big money on a vintage guitar that someone treated like shit and destroyed.
DISCLAIMER: I THINK RELIC'D GUITARS ARE CHEESY AND I HAVE NO INTEREST IN HAVING OR OWNING ONE.

That said, I think what initially enticed a lot of people to this fad was the idea that you could get something that LOOKS like it's been treated like shit, but in fact functions perfectly. That, of course, doesn't take something like OptimusRhyme's situation into account. I think the art of fucking up a finish without fucking up the internal parts takes more effort than just dropping the whole thing into some acid solution, and with the relic'd thing growing in popularity, it would follow suit that people looking to maximize their profits on people hoping to look cool would tend to go the easy route.

AGAIN, I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS TREND. JUST SAYING...



Also, just to be clear, as I understand it, most nitro guitars do have clear coats (nitro clear coats), it's just that many of the modern factory guitars use Poly as the clear coat, which doesn't wear the same at all. I pieced together my own tele a couple years ago and did a nitro job on a bare wood body. I'm not a slob with it, but I'm not particularly anal about keeping it in perfect shape either, and as a result, it's already got some decent dings and nicks in it, not even counting the edge places where I sanded through to the wood when I was doing it initially. And I agree that it's nice to look at something and have it kind of tell you a story of what it's been through, especially when that story is your own.

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Post by Eggmann » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:45 am

I think reliced guitars come from the same kind of mentality that buys into "vintage" styled audio gear that has a unnecessary tube jammed into the signal path just for the sake of having a tube.

Old is better. Old without having to wait for it to get old is even better. Old, right now, for cheap is best.

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Corey Y
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Post by Corey Y » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:38 pm

The starved plate tube design analogy really locks onto what I don't like about relic guitars. It just sort of screams "hey, this is like that thing you really want (superficially, but not really)". Like the people who take compact cars and do body kits to make them look like hotrods or sports cars. It kind of, sort of looks like something you want...but it doesn't do the same thing.

Your point is well taken DrummerMan. I know there are boutique guitar builders who make great instruments and then very carefully age and distress them to look old. So you still get a top quality instrument and nothing is really damaged, it just looks old. I just have zero interest in that aesthetic. So to me at best it's just unnecessary.

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Post by sound for sandwiches » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:43 pm

Corey Y wrote:I know the idea is to make it look vintage and old, but I for one wouldn't want to drop big money on a vintage guitar that someone treated like shit and destroyed. If it's your guitar and you're the one who wore it out and you've come to love it and know it sounds great, that's cool. I can totally understand that. It seems like missing the entire point of what makes vintage guitars cool though, they're made well and they sound good. If I have a vintage guitar that's beat I love it despite being worn, not because of it. Some of my guitars I'm sure will eventually get pretty worn, because they're not museum pieces, but I'm not going to take a belt sander to them, yellow the plastic pieces and try to intentionally make their finish check.
Totally with you. Just to add, I have often heard that if you are going to drop a mint on a '60s fender or whatever, that it actually makes some sense to look for one that has evidence of being played extensively. The logic being, Fender and every other company, then as now, made some duds along with the great guitars. If you have a vintage guitar that looks like it was never played, it was either in grandma's attic (unlikely) or else it never felt good in the hands of the musicians who owned it over the decades, so it didn't get much use.

I hate relic-ing too, partly because it usually looks laughable, and partly because of what I wrote above- I would like to think that aging comes from use, as a consumer of used guitars.

One note on finishes- there are some guitars out there (the LP junior comes to mind, as a friend owns one) whose factory finish is quite thin. I don't know if they are nitro, or what. My friend bought said LP maybe 3 or 4 years ago, and already has a big pick-scratched spot below the neck PU, a stripe on the upper bout, and most of the back of the neck, that are down to bare wood. It looks cool, mostly because I know that he personally inflicted all that wear on the guitar. It's his only guitar... I guess I will probably never be able to wear out an axe like that, because I can't seem to keep myself to fewer than 5 at a time.

-david

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Post by jgimbel » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:52 pm

By the way it makes me cry to go in the store and see two of those "road-worn" (sigh) Fenders with the same wear spots on them. Obviously this is how it's going to be since there are so many produced, but even when two guitars are played by one person for years they don't have the same exact wear. I don't mean this as "they should relic each differently", I mean it as "how can someone be comfortable with someone having the exact same wear spots as someone else, it just feels so unnatural. Imagine if two people in the same band bought the same model, that'd be so embarrassing. I don't like when you have things to hide like that.

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Post by KennyLusk » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:11 pm

junkshop wrote:I can spill beer and put cigarette burns on my amp just as well as the Fender custom shop (and at a fraction of the price). I've been doing it for years.
So true.

And I bet not one of those new/old amps or guitars has a genuine "bowl burn" on it either. :mrgreen:
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Post by JGriffin » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:20 pm

I've spent a lot of time lately on some guitar-refinishing message boards (because I just did my first refin job over the summer and had a lot to learn; still do) and there's a bunch of those relic guys there, talking about techniques to make a guitar authentically look like it's been played for 25 years. My technique is:

1) get a guitar.
2) play it for 25 years.

Anything else is an interesting exercise but ultimately I don't see the point.
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