Advice for relic-ing a guitar

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by pwilson, May 14, 2006.


  1. pwilson

    pwilson Supporting Member

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    I'm about to relic a guitar. I have a general idea what to do, and have read the threads here on dulling the finish and aging hardware.

    I would welcome any advice, suggestions, or links to good websites, from people here. Anything I should know before I pick up the sandpaper...

    Thanks, Pete
     
  2. Strung Up

    Strung Up Member

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    Uhh . . . play it a lot?
     
  3. Thwap

    Thwap Member

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    Just leave it on a guitar stand, unattended.
     
  4. hw2nw

    hw2nw Member

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    I have not done it but I suggest going to a guitar shop with a selection of used ones, and note where dings/scratches/wearing is. Also just download lots of pics online, you'll find some guitars from the 50's and 60's that have been played to the bone. From all the pictures you should be able to get a decent idea of where guitars begin to wear most and after how long.
     
  5. gkelm

    gkelm Supporting Member

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    Saw the Fender custom shop guy do a guitar at the Dallas show. After hitting it here an there with a set of keys, he doused the guitar with naptha (lighter fluid) to break down any polishes and rubbed it down with scotchbrite type pads. He followed up with rubbing in some brown/amber analine dye. You can also hit it with blasts from a can of air...the cold should check (crack) the finish...will work better in nitro v. poly. hw2nw's ideas would be helpful...look at some nice relic jobs, and I'd say don't over-do it. All the best.
    Greg
     
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  6. clothwiring

    clothwiring Supporting Member

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    Do alot of research first so you don't make a guitar that looks silly.

    Here's a guitar I used to own that was "reliced" by someone else. It looked totally wrong, but the guitar played great. A good example of what NOT to do.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Ron4406

    Ron4406 Member

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    gkelm has a very good point. DONT OVER DO IT! Since I do Eddie VH replicas, thats the one thing I had to watch out for when I first started. I see other VH replicas and the just flat out over scuff, sand ,mark, ect. Its gotta look like its old and has been played, not dragged from a pickup truck.
    Research is the key. The net is your oyster.
    Also, methods. Use some imagination and lots of test areas. I went and got a 8 foot 2X8 and cut it up into blocks to try different paints and such.
    Lossa work, but fun.
     
  8. scottywompas

    scottywompas Member

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    I'll second the " play it " method of relicing. I'm sorry but I just don't get it. Do you want to have a guitar that so fits you and becomes a part of you that you play it all the time and it sees every gig or do you want people to think that that's what that guitar is. I'm not condoning anyone but it just seems un-natural.

    Scott:JAM
     
  9. gkelm

    gkelm Supporting Member

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    :horse Plenty of other threads on this...
     
  10. Brion

    Brion Supporting Member

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    If I wanted to relic one of my guitars I would fasten some sandpaper to the right arm of a long sleeved t-shirt in the area where it rubs the edge of the guitar (if you are right handed) and either play the guitar with that attached or simulate playing it. This would take some time, but would give a more accurate simulated playing wear. You could use scotchbrite to dull the glossyness of the finish elsewhere and add a few nicks and dings to the edges and front and back. I've given this some thought, but have never been able to bring myself to actually try it. I probably never will as I would prefer to just let time take it's course.
     
  11. pwilson

    pwilson Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions:
    - wrt "just play it/I just don't get it" comments - I am sympathetic to these arguments, but my interest was piqued by this interview with Bill Nash - http://www.kokomomusic.com/images/guitars/billnash_tonequest.html where he says wrt relicing guitars "the less lacquer you have on a guitar the better it sounds"
    - I'll post pics when I'm done, if the results are not too embarassing...

    Thanks again, Pete
     
  12. JamesO

    JamesO Member

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    I completely understand why some don't like relics. To me, as a builder, it is more of an exercise of scultpure and art than it is trying to make something look like something it's not. I hope that can be understood as well.

    Check out issues 38 and 39 of American Lutherie. Dan Erlewine has two articles on the topic in them. You can order them from the website if you google American Lutherie.
     
  13. Riscchip

    Riscchip Member

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    One thing not to do, in my opinion, is the hot / cold checking method. That produces a spider web / china vase cracking pattern that looks bogus. I'm far from an expert, but real checking usually seems to have a horizontal grain to it.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Chris Rice

    Chris Rice Member

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    Checking is so very different from instrument to instrument that it is difficult to make sweeping statements.

    My '57 Gibson L-48 has next to no checking.
    My '69 Gibson Hummingbird is spider-webbed like the "fake-looking" photo.
    Pictures of both:
    http://www.ricecustomguitars/com/instruments/gibsons.html


    Here's a hot/cold checking we did (froze the body and took it out in the 95 degree weather).
    [​IMG]

    And some relic'd necks:

    John Beland's Bendercaster:
    http://ricecustomguitars.com/instruments/bendercaster.html
    [​IMG]

    Not finished in these pics strat neck
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Riscchip

    Riscchip Member

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    Those look like some sweet guitars, Chris. Very cool stuff! That tele neck looks fantastic.

    I have a '67 335 that has no checking either. Seems like a few old guitars slip through the cracks when it comes to checking (no pun intended ;) ).

    I've never seen China vase checking on a real vintage guitar--they actually seem suprisingly consistent to me...longer lines that don't connect as much up and down. I don't doubt it happens, though.

    I'd love to have a look at your hummingbird, but the link seems bunked.

    Love the leather guard on that tele, too. Sweet.
     
  16. Chris Rice

    Chris Rice Member

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    Ahhh, I mis-typed it. That's OK, I apparently don't have any shots that show it.
    http://www.ricecustomguitars.com/instruments/gibsons.html

    The strat neck was practice for the tele. Tele was done last week, the strat the week before. Not my work, that's a Rich Rice secret hidden talent. It's great to work with someone as talented as him.

    I also had a pair of '65 Gibson Melody Makers that checked in (almost) straight lines.
    My dad had a '51 ES-175 that had a shattered finish. Wish I had pics of that (or the guitar!).

    The Blackguard Book is a great place for pics of checking. Amazing project and photography, a must-have if you're a tele-fan. John Beland wrote the forward, that tele neck is his.
     
  17. leofenderbender

    leofenderbender Supporting Member

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  18. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    Wow my girlfriend's step da has those same guitars, and an old Blackface Deluxe. Cool stuff. His hollowbody is beat, but the acoustic's in decent shape. Checking was more like riscchip describes.
     
  19. Mullet Kingdom

    Mullet Kingdom Senior Member

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    So what's the deal with weather checking? I was under the impression that it's caused by abrupt changes in temperature -- hot to cold and vise-versa. However, I've got a strat with a ntiro finish that's ten years old and I've yet to see any checking at all. Plenty of minor scratches, scuffs and dings -- but no cracks in the finish. Even deliberate attempts I've made to get the finish to check yielded no visible results. IE: leaving it in a cold car trunk for 12 + hours, bringing it into a warm motel room and and putting it right next to a hot radiator. Nada.

    After ten years of waiting for it to happen as a result of general use and abuse I'm getting a tad impatient. :jo
     

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