Friday, February 20, 2009

Reliced guitars

For a few years now Fender Custom shop has been building relic guitars that are new but look like they were tossed around a stage for 50 years. It's pretty sweet and while it might be a total poser move, I'd rather have a fresh guitar that looks beat up than an a guitar that was ACTUALLY beat up for reliability reasons. I'd have a hard time believing an old guitar that looks like the one above didn't have it's neck cracked at some point. It'd be a diffrent story if I had worn it in myself, but I guess that's a different story. The only problem with the custom shop relics are the price tag. $3,500 for a strat is a little hard to swallow, especially when you can get an early 70s vintage start for about the same price.

To fix the price problem, fender started making some guitars that had "wear" painted right on. The quality was about as good as a T-shirt and you could spot the fake wear from the other side of guitar center.

The latest Fender creation is the "Road Worn" series that is still trying to find some cheaper ground while looking reliced. These guitars and assembled and road worn in Mexico and while they look much better than the screen printed previous versions, the quality isn't right. It's a MIM strat at 1.5x the price with OK but not great looking relics. I got to play one earlier this week and like a lot of reviews I saw, the frets were pretty sharp.

I like the look of relics and I'm keeping an out for a good blues Strat so I decided to check and see if any other companies are making relics that are better quality than the road worn but less expensive than the custom shop. Here's what I found:

Nash guitars - About half the price of a custom shop guitar ($1700). Available at a bunch of places inclusing They make start, tele, esquire, and P bass relics. Used to do custom order but not anymore apparently.

Rebel Relic - out of Amsterdam. About the same price (1400 Euro [$1775 by current exchange]). They do strat, tele, eqsuire and will do custom jobs too, including basses.

Ebay - I found a coulpe guys on ebay that take stock guitars and do some work to relic them. They actually do a pretty good job.

I also found sites selling reliced hardware.

I'm still saving up and buying the /13 when I'm to my goal, so it's all just looking for now! I wonder if relic guitars will be a fad like buying jeans with holes?? Hmmmmmm.


Anonymous said...

Some of the relic stuff, GVCG or Old World, is pretty cool. I like the necks that have been worked in. It's hard to tell what a good relic job is until you see it in person. I played with a guy who relic'd his guitar and the pictures online looked great. In person, it was kinda horrendous. I've seen some closet classic Fenders that looked fake - unrealistic cracking and checking compared to the real guitars I'd seen at Southworth Guitars.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about the cheap MIM road worn strats... when I can get an American Standard with all the bells and whistles for about the same. Heck, you can get handmade to-your-specifications guitar from a reputable Luthier that can be relic'ed and sweeet playing as well.
hmmmm.... and that ranges from $1200 to about $2500 for what I want-- still less than the main Fender Custom shop stuff.

Good piece!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried out of Nashville, TN???

Looks cool, but I haven't played one yet.

I can't wait to see what you find... I'm looking for one as well.

Karl said...

Huh. I've always been more into the 'relic it by playing it' mentality. There's just something about Page's Les Paul that's seen way better days, but that he still lugs around and gigs with.

But you make a really good point about not knowing what an actual relic has been through.

I'd still go for a 70's strat, like you said, or an independent builder over anything coming out of Fender or the 'bigs'. I'll check out the sites you listed...especially the Amsterdam one. I mean, just to be able to say, 'Ya, this is handmade in Amsterdam...' Mmmmm......self-imposed coolness ;) hehe

rhoy pamparo said...

i'd also lean more on the relic that i have "reliced" myself. although, if someone nice gave me one that is a true relic, i'd be more than happy to take it :)

Baggas said...

Personally I don't really get the attraction of the relic guitars. I don't really want my guitar to look beaten up, unless of course it genuinely is a classic model ... and even then I'd rather it be as pristine as possible. I guess if I'm paying money for a quality guitar I'd rather a new unblemished one... but each to his own.
I do think this probably is a bit of a jeans-like fad, as you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Mike... are you ok?? Where did you go :)

I'm sorry, we freaked when Karl was gone for a weekend, you've been gone over a month! :) Snowboarding, eh?