Relics: A Buyer's Guide

Oooooookkaayyy now...

Personally I'm not the biggest fan of relics. Mainly because my work is aimed at taking existing instruments and making them absolute weapons again, not creating a fresh instrument and making it ostensibly worse.

However I know there is a large group of players out there that dig the aesthetic. So let's talk about some of the differences between "tasteful" relicing and the dumpster fire, Jed fell over on his sander messes.


When considering the quality of a relic there are two major considerations to take into account.

1) Does the relic replicate wear with authenticity ?


2) Has the relicing process compromised the operation of the instrument ?

Let's look at some examples.

Dig if you will the patina of rust introduced to these Tele components. 
The bridge plate while not to my taste is fine, however this control plate is a different story.


Despite looking as though it's been vomited on by Linda Blair is not the issue. The patina has worked its way to the interior electronic cavity. Resulting in a faulty 3 way switch and a compromised set of potentiometers. The plate has deliberately been mounted improperly mounted leaving an open gap to the interior. Thus negating the shielding and allowing dirt to interfere with the electronic harness. 

This breaks with both considerations. This is not authentic wear, and it has negatively impacted operation.

Let us now view this neck "wear"...

While I consider open maple to be a less than optimum feel for a neck it does not adversely effect play. However, look at the placement of the sanding. True neck wear normally begins at the top of the neck around the area first position chords are played. This begins far lower than that and is not soft or faded out enough to be attributed to hand wear. Offensively sanded is a look, but not top shelf ageing, more like 10 bucks at Bunnings and a 6 pack. Which is a great name for a band, but an inexcusable inauthentic eyesore on an instrument retailing in the thousands.


Let us continue...

You should consider the guitar as a whole when viewing it. Be analytical about it. The point of relicing is to give a unified impression of age and wear to the instrument. 

Why are the metal plates at the body two very different levels of wear?

Why is the worst wear at the control plate that has minimal contact with the player?

Why are the tuning pegs so shiny and new compared the rest of the guitar?

Why is the pick guard warped like it's been cooked by a heat gun? Spoiler Alert: It has.

Why is the input jack deliberately mismatched?

Do these factors aid or detract?


Finally I'd like to close this piece by stating that in the end taste is personal.
The riff stick that has been the subject of this investigation belongs to a talented young player, and is farrrrrrrrrrr from the poorest example of relicing. After the operational issues and action had been sorted, this Tele sounded and played fantastic regardless of looks.

The sole purpose of this piece is to arm you, the reader, with knowledge. To utilise as you will when looking for that dream riff stick, to get the best bang for your buck. And don't suffer the dreaded buyers remorse when the guitar you've idolised doesn't quite measure up, on closer inspection.

And remember don't hesitate to come in should you require any further assistance. My door is always open to discuss options.

Till next time.  Stay safe, and riff hard legends!

Chris Re-Animator