To many of us, the prospect of owning a genuine vintage guitar is little more than a pipe dream; not only are quality vintage guitars becoming harder to find, but the huge rise in popularity of the guitar over the last fifteen years has resulted in resale prices soaring beyond all belief. The days of unearthing a 'gem' at a garage/boot sale are sadly no more, and those fantastic bargains which could be snapped up via the likes of eBay are now a thing of the past. Indeed, there are now many eBay sellers who have taken to dismantling good quality guitars manufactured over the last 25 years or so and re-selling the parts - often for a greater combined sum than the guitar as a whole would be worth.

However, for those who still hanker after the 'holy grail' of a vintage guitar, there is one alternative - an historically accurate replica, or "relic". Fender's Custom Shop for example produces their "Time Machine" series of guitars, aged perfectly to show years of use and abuse, with a worn finish, dulled and rusted hardware, and aged parts, but - like all custom-made items - they come with a hefty price tag, again out of the reach of your average enthusiast. So - what is the answer? Well, for those on a budget who have the time, patience and enthusiasm (not to mention basic skills!), you can make your own 'relic'. Take it from me, it is a lot of fun, a great experience, and there is a huge amount of satisfaction to be gained when your 'project' is finished. It can be hard work, but when you get those admiring glances and compliments from your guitar buddies, it feels so rewarding.

There seems to be a lot of 'mystery' surrounding the techniques of relicing, and detailed information is hard to find. This is probably down to the fact that there are those who make their living out of producing 'relics', and they do not want to give up their 'trade secrets' lightly. Because of this lack of available information, I have decided to dedicate a section of my website to recording information, details and tips which I hope will be of use to those who have wanted to create their own 'relic', but who may not have had the confidence to do so. As this section is put together (it will be a 'labour of love', and will therefore be made up of several 'parts'), I would be only too pleased to receive any comments, tips, pictures and suggestions that you may wish to contribute.


The information in respect of 'relicing' is taken partly from my own experiences, and partly from items I have researched in books and via the internet. I am particularly grateful to the many members of the TDPRI (Telecaster Discussion Page) forum who have kindly offered so much useful information. I can't possibly mention them all by name, but guys - my heartfelt thanks to you all! Of course, as they say "a picture is worth a thousand words", and I have collected many pictures over the years, often from the internet, some of which I have used as examples of genuine aged vintage guitars or more modern 'reliced' instruments. Again, I cannot acknowledge the originators of these pictures by name, but if you see a picture here which is yours, please email me and I'll be pleased to give you credit here on the site. Similarly, if anybody sees a picture originating from them which they particularly object to being used here, email me and I will replace it with an alternative. All the information on here is freely given for the benefit of other guitar enthusiasts like myself, so I hope any of those of you claiming copyright or ownership of any text or printed matter will be magnanimous enough to let others share your words & pictures. Thank you!


The key thing to bear in mind before attempting to relic any guitar is that once you have completed the work, you will have done your best to make whatever you started with look like it has had 40 years or so of heavy use - as if it had seen action in countless hot, humid and smokey pubs and clubs, often handled casually and carelessly due to cramped conditions or - more likely - under the influence of varying quantities of nerve-settling alcohol. Those nicks and dings, each one of which would have told its own story of those unforgettable gigs, would have been accepted with a shrug of the shoulders at the time. However.... you are now about to DELIBERATELY abuse and damage a guitar in your attempt to accurately recreate what might have happened during its life. So before you begin, make sure that you are prepared to "write off" your relic 'victim' - it will probably have absolutely zero resale value as a 'relic' (not everybody wants a guitar that looks like it has been through a war) and it will therefore be a very 'personal' thing. Probably wise to source either (a.) a reasonable quality, but inexpensive "copy" of the guitar style you are trying to recreate, or (b.) a used version of such a "copy". Sometimes the 'used' option can be better as it may already show various signs of wear and tear courtesy of the previous owner(s).

Still sure you want to continue? Good! Then let's get started and move on to Part 2.......