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FDP Forum / Fender Custom Shop / What has happened to Relics?

Previous 20 Messages  

United Kingdom

Oct 31st, 2015 01:22 PM   Edit   Profile  

Coincidently it was exactly a year ago I posted originally and I've ended up here again. I put in for a CS Jag to my spec some months ago; my order email was corrupted and after a month of waiting I was told to reorder. I had to chase it up for Fender to inform me of this. That coupled with my anxiety over how the relicing would turn out- I cancelled. With a team build there seems to be a message of- you get what you're given with regards to relicing. I couldn't risk that with £3200.

My thoughts haven't changed too much about the degrading quality of relics. I wonder if it is a strategic move from Fender to move customers towards masterbuilds. Shopping in the market it seems to be as Peegoo said- find the good one among the dogs. I think there are likely some very talented relicers on the team build side, and some not (prob true for the masterbuild as well). Ordering blind is too risky.

One of the aspects of relicing that lets the side down is arm wear. True on a lot of MBs as well. Despite my ill feelings toward Fender and the process of ordering from the CS, I have put a deposit down on a '63 MB strat that just came into the shop. Took a couple of years from initial order and it was 90% the strat I would have spec'd. Same neck, p'ups, colour and NO ARM WEAR! The relic work doesn't look rushed and is not a heavy relic so looks pretty realistic. An absolutely shocking price, but I am a strat man after all, and why not have the best offered. A real 63 is unobtainable. It's a memorial guitar and will be with me for life. It was a hard decision as a lot of vintage guitars were open to me- but would I get as much play/satisfaction out of say a Jnr or Special vs a strat? My biggest guitar purchase Has to be my no. 1. The next best equivalent to an early 60s strat it had to be.

(This message was last edited by MrP22 at 03:27 PM, Oct 31st, 2015)

Contributing Member

Chain Smokin'

Gas Station Attendant
Oct 31st, 2015 10:18 PM   Edit   Profile  

Returning to the scene of the crime? :o)

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Nov 1st, 2015 12:15 AM   Edit   Profile  

Well, I'm a year late but...

I've never been into relicing, or quite understood the mentality behind wanting a reliced guitar, and
I agree with the OP that the OTT relic jobs are unrealistic and silly looking.

However, after thinking about it, if I *did* want to do my own relic job, and make it realistic, I would make a long sleeve shirt out of 400 wet & dry sandpaper and then play the guitar.
That way I could get the arm rub, belly rub spots just right.

I'd have to make gloves too, so the neck & fretboard would get the right treatment as well.

Maybe I could hire myself out to Fender!


United Kingdom

Nov 1st, 2015 04:09 AM   Edit   Profile  

The MB prices are a crime, that's for sure.

I understand the well versed and thread consuming anti-relic stance. People who hate relics sure do love to read relic posts. To me, perfect shiny guitars with pale necks and headstocks are unappealing. I worry about fingerprints, dings, what buttons I'm wearing, who breathes near the guitar; all of this takes away the enjoyment of playing and owning the guitar: relaxed mindset= therapeutic creativity. If relicing is done well, it is an art form I appreciate. The same artwork that has been present in the violin and antique worlds for centuries. Patina has always been appealing to the eye. A worn brass Zippo always looks better than a new shiny one.

Sandpaper incidentally is the pitfall of many a relic. Asides from an ultra fine grit to work off the the gloss, (before being buffed to create the more vintage accurate: looks shiny from one angle/matt from another- hard get right)- I believe it should not be part of the relicing process.

Guitar Fool
Contributing Member

Sunshine State

Just a pawn in someone else's game
Nov 1st, 2015 08:35 AM   Edit   Profile  

I've played a few relics....when done right, they can feel like an old pair of blue jeans that have been worn and faded by regular wear..

but getting the "look" right is the trick.

all that being said, I'd rather my guitars be reliced the old fashioned way

Contributing Member

Chicago, IL USA

Nov 1st, 2015 08:44 AM   Edit   Profile  

I own one relic Srat, but I didn't order it. It was just auditioned in store against other NOS Strats and won out by virtue of it's sound and playability. My personal yardstick is tone and playability with appearance a minor factor. And when I say this it also means color/finish.

That's just me though. I own exactly one Tele and one Strat for Fender six stringers.

Contributing Member


Nov 2nd, 2015 11:53 AM   Edit   Profile  

Wife at concert: "What kind of Strat is he playing?"

Husband: "A super relic"

Wife: "Well that looks hideous!"




A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.
Jan 23rd, 2016 07:40 AM   Edit   Profile  

After more than a decade's absence, I reactivated my membership to post a similar question, found this resurrected post, and am now glomming on. I own four relics, two Nicholas-era (2004 '60 strat and '08 Nocaster) and two recent Montgomerys ('52HB and '64 L-series, both 2014). The '04 and '08 are superlative, appearing and feeling as if they were lovingly owned and used originals. The fading and wear patterns are spot-on. The '14s reflect the mounting interest in heavy relics-- Both are at the extremely-worn end of the relic spectrum, yet the wear patterns were indeed inflicted by very knowledgeable builders-- They are absolutely and totally realistic. This from an oldster who remembers playing these things when they were used guitars that I could not find the few hundred dollars for-- and for you relic sceptics, herein lies the rub: I didn't get the relic thing back when I was just trying to buy a decent Fender to play, but now that I have time to reflect when I play, and play only for myself, I find these things to feel and sound precisely like the unobtainable used payers that I encountered in my youth.
I also own two recent Pure Vintages; indeed, these compare favorably to older NOS models from the custom shop, and as they reflect NOS Fender production, are prolly more appropriately built on the production line.
I'll have to get out more to learn what is happening on the CS front-- But pushing people to a Masterbuilt vs. Pure Vintage makes some degree of sense to me.

(This message was last edited by Morgenholz at 09:42 AM, Jan 23rd, 2016)

Contributing Member

Eat. Sleep. Guitar.

Jan 23rd, 2016 05:30 PM   Edit   Profile  

I have two TM relics; one is a very light relic surf green 1960 Strat. The fingerboard edge has a nice played feel about it, and the pickups are really throaty sounding. It was a gift from my hunny in 2004. A sweetie of a Strat and really magical too.

The other is a '63 Tele with a fatty neck and a light relic job; I found it on the used rack at a Mars Music store years ago, and I got a killer deal on it. It's got a

Lake Placid blue finish.



A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.
Jan 24th, 2016 10:19 AM   Edit   Profile  

Hey Peegoo, yeah, I remember reading the story of your fated ownership of the '60TM-- I am happy that it is still with you, and only wonder if the purchaser is as well...
The 2004-ish '60 relics are special, aren't they? Mine is my most recent purchase, but is quickly moving up the line. Looks and feels precisely as if I had bought it mint used and played it for the past thirty years.


United Kingdom

Feb 13th, 2016 09:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

I just don't think they have the time to put care into making them super-realistic. The guitars are pumped out in amazing quantities. There are still some great ones out there hiding among the freaks. It's a more difficult market to shop in if you want a good one.

I think both the CS workers and the public get so used to what relics look like, that looking authentically vintage gets lost in the years.

I've seen many posts here and in other places about previous relic-haters A/B comparing in store and walking away with the relic. I don't see any posts saying 'your guitar is so shiny and stupid, it's unrealistic to have a guitar that mint. You're such a poser with your polished guitar.'

To have a guitar that feels broken in, that you're not worried about dinging, but doesn't need a refret or other major work- if people don't 'get' that, they're not thinking very hard.



Mar 5th, 2016 02:03 PM   Edit   Profile  

NOS is still probably as far as I'd go. I like buying used guitars or breaking new ones in myself..the old fashioned way. A guitar tells a story by the dings and scratches...I want it to be a true one :)



A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.
Mar 12th, 2016 02:17 PM   Edit   Profile  

After spending the winter looking at everything in an unbiased way (well, with a strong bias toward 21st century vintage-spec Fenders...), I have refined my CS search patterns to relics, but for anything NOS I look at the new American Vintage line first-- The newer AVs seem lighter with better fretboard roll-in than most of the older CS NOS models. The relics just feel nicely dried-out and played-in.



Mar 13th, 2016 12:38 PM   Edit   Profile  

That's true NOS are very close to the AVs. I would also suggest looking at the Thin Skins that Wildwood Guitars offer. At one point they were they best kept secret because they were only slightly higher in price than an American Standard. They're back now and up in price, but great guitars if you want to relic your own.



A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.
Mar 18th, 2016 05:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

Having spent more time looking at relics this past quarter (my employer confirms my bonus with me in January and I receive it in March...) I can respond more precisely to the OP and the original question... There seems to be some kind of inflection point in early 2014 where standard Relics became much closer to what used to be heavy relics. The Relics I have bought that were built up to mid-2013 are like Closet Classics with scrapes, dings, and abrasions, and plenty of oxidation of the chrome parts. Beginning around April 2014, the Relics have much more chipping and paint removal, with heavily-sanded necks accompanying many of the customized pickup packages. No idea whether there is any correlation with Mike Eldred's departure. The newer Journeyman finish seems to recapitulate what a Relic was about five years ago. I find all of this interesting.


Long Island, NY, USA

Mar 26th, 2016 06:39 AM   Edit   Profile  

A lot of them look as if the owners intentionally went out of their way to beat the crap out of their guitars for the last 40-50 years or so.

(This message was last edited by GuitarGeorge at 08:39 AM, Mar 26th, 2016)


United Kingdom

Mar 27th, 2016 09:35 AM   Edit   Profile  

Yes they do. But why not replicate how a truly beaten up old guitar looks? When you look at most beaten old guitars the paint is heavily chipped, but the wood not deeply gouged. Fender and home 'relic-ers' often are too violent with their efforts. I've never seen an old guitar that looks sanded. The non-sanded-but-worn look can be replicated but it isn't. Probably due to time restraints. Wear in unnatural places- why? The worst culprit is neck wear- the sanded in the middle look with 2 straight lines- either made too dark or left too light. Worn necks will tend to have a 'V' shape where the wear ends, or the wear only affects patches of the neck. This is rarely duplicated.

The new one I've seen is on maple necks where the fingerboard wear is added in a perfect descending pattern. Unusual scales for sure.

My calculation is that there are less than 10% of relics that I would be happy to own- due to being overcooked in some way. Talking of which, isn't this the new thing in the guitar world now anyway- torrified/roasted/baked wood treatments.



Jul 7th, 2016 08:01 AM   Edit   Profile  

I think its the whole "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" thing. Fender does a good job of catering to what guitarist want. They have an extremely wide variety of possible conditions for your guitar, from brand new out of the box, to closet classic, all the way to heavy relic. What every your tastes are they are available. I know that I'm not a huge fan of the heavy relicing but if you look at how Rory Gallagher's guitar looks, some love that.

I was never a fan of relicing, until I found one I liked. It is lightly reliced and is a joy to play. Might not be everyone's taste but I love her.

(This message was last edited by StratHack at 10:09 AM, Jul 7th, 2016)



Jul 7th, 2016 08:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

Sorry rookie move - double post.

(This message was last edited by StratHack at 10:08 AM, Jul 7th, 2016)



Mar 13th, 2017 07:20 PM   Edit   Profile  

I watched several YouTube videos of the relic process. I just couldn't imagine doing that to a new guitar. I'd rather the relic be natural and self administered.

Previous 20 Messages  

FDP Forum / Fender Custom Shop / What has happened to Relics?

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