So Brandon and I were checking out guitar videos and learned about Relicing guitars. Basically this is the act of taking a perfectly nice guitar and making it look, very used and worn in. Maybe even abused. Some of these guitars look really cool, like a replica of Stevie Ray’s Strat, or John Mayer’s guitar. Some are heavily reliced and some are lightly reliced. The funny thing about these videos is that at the bottom there are dozens of comments from people saying: Why the heck would you do that to a perfectly fine guitar?!” They will call names and harshly cast judgment and state their opinions.
This is funny to me because I personally don’t go online and find videos that I disagree with and comment on them. Personally I don’t get horseback riding. It smells bad, is not comfortable and costs a lot of money. But I don’t go to any horseback videos and make these comments.
Let me just spell out why I have reliced my two strats.
1. I don’t buy dark blue, starched and ironed Levi jeans. I buy faded jeans that are worked in and comfortable. I feel the same about guitars. I don’t know that I have felt a brand new guitar that feels totally natural and comfortable.
2. Poly finish is not comfortable. Go and grab a new Mexican Fender guitar. Flip it over and drag and push your finger up and down the neck. You will notice that while it is smooth, your finger will not fly up and down the neck. The finish slows your finger down. Now lick your finger and do the same. Notice that any moisture on your fingers or arm will cause your skin to almost stick to the finish. This is not a gliding and comfortable feeling. If you can find a neck that is just wood with nitro finish or worn wood, your fingers will glide with no resistance.
3. I am hyper sensitive to keeping things “nice.” Any time I have had a newer car, or a nice guitar, I am always uptight about other people possibly putting a ding in it. I have a newer Yamaha Aes620 that I love. The finish is beautiful, but there is a little ding in it. The ding drives me crazy. Other people playing it can make me feel like they are going to damage it. I don’t want to be an anal tyrant telling everyone to stay away from my nice things. When you relic a guitar, more dents and dings will add to the feeling. Other people mistreating it, while not cool, is not going to damage anything that can’t be undone.
4. Relicing a guitar makes it yours. Relicing a guitar adds character. In order to do it, you have to strip it down to nothing, you now know every piece of your guitar, you can clean them, or dirty them however you want them.
5. When you relic it, you don’t hurt the playability, you enhance it. You don’t hurt the sound. In fact, I have heard that the Poly finish actually limits sustain and lowers your overall tone. Based on my last relic job, I totally believe it.
6. I am not superficial. I think that flaws and scars add character. But what I am really trying to do is make it more playable and comfortable, those are my first goals. The look is only secondary. I imagine that the people who are so uptight about relicing believe that you are hurting a guitar or are somehow making it “less than” what it is. Little do they know that you are enhancing it.
7. A person who pays $2500 for a Custom Shop guitar is going to poop their pants anytime someone mishandles their perfect guitar. Any damage will make it less perfect. They paid someone else to design and create their guitar. I am able to say that I did it myself.
When I relic a guitar, I am not trying to fool anyone. I am not trying to make them think that I have played this guitar so much that I have destroyed it to this point. I am not trying to sell it claiming that it is Stevie Ray’s backup guitar.
I am thrilled to now have two guitars that are MINE. I made them into what they are. They are more comfortable and playable than any guitar in any store that I have tried out.