Turning My Strat INto a Relic...


Call me crazy, but I just love the look of a beat up guitar...

I have a 2005 Highway 1 stratocaster right now, and I was wondering if there were any conventional methods to turn it into a relic. I know some people sand paper the surface... grate it against the ground...


Been to a couple of Fenders Demonstations, by the Fender group on how to relic a guitar.

1) they start with a guitar that has a thin finish, its not necessary but its easier.

2) they use a couple of cans of Computer Cleaner Air, they turn the can upside down, and spray the body with a couple of cans, this should be done with gloves and eye protection, the propellant freezes and cranks the finish, they use two cans to really crack up the finish, first on before the neck is removed, and the second on after the neck has been darkened to crack it up the finish on the neck.

3) they remove the neck and hit it with a mixture of dyes, graphite, and naptha, naptha will cut the finish a bit so be carefull how much you use, the dye and graphite darken the wood, then they put the neck back on and hit it again with the upside can of Computer Cleaner Air to crack the finish, and to get spots they

4) they usually don't do much on a rosewood fretboard, its hard to show damage, and they just screw up the playablity. On a maple neck they use a dremel tool to make the gouges, IMO this never looks right on a relic and gives them away IMO, they really don't want to put in a lot, it screws up the playablity on a maple neck, and the gouges are unnatural, they tend to have a lot up high on the neck, get a picture of an old maple neck and reproduce it on your neck would be my recommendation if you want to do a maple neck, a rose wood neck does not a relic make IMO, they never look right, its the aged old played maple necks that I really get impressed by.

5) they use a bunch of keys to scratch up and dent the body, they use the dremel tool to wear it down more in the high wear spots on a guitar.

6) they use old looking parts and pickguards to look old.

I actually have a very early "relic" its a Jap strat with an old looking pick guard and pick up covers and knobs, and the neck is darkened, though its rose wood fretboard, and I have worked very hard to keep from scratching my baby.

amp boy

to me real relic guitars are more about the feel, than looks.
this should help.
also look at alot of vintage photos on the net...not modern relics....because some are great, and some are quite horrible.
So take your time and look for what you like, and then go after those aspects.
i've heard, and it makes sense to me......if you stain your hardware "corrode some" do it all at the same time, more consistansy to add to the overall look.
i am looking forward to doing a strat build someday, that i will relic for the feel of it. why ??
a few years ago i held a pre cbs jaguar..........wow....the feel of that neck worn an aged from time and play.....wow.
I'm a novice and it made me feel like i was better.
also made me smile, simply awesome.


I have a highway 1 which has a really thin coat...

haha, oh well. I guess I'll just relic it the old fashioned way. Get everyone I know to play it as often as it can be played...


Be careful nothing looks more lame than a badly done relic finish ,( just look at the SRV No1 from the Fender custom shop the extreme relicing of the finish on the body is pathetic ,looking cut off with a craft knife )


Silver Supporting Member
The Highway1 finish is nitro over poly - try the freezing trick in an inconspicuous area like under the pickguard first - it might not work at all. The trick to a nice relic job is to look at real ones, or Nash ones and find the wear points common to all relics and don't over do it.

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