NOT USED & ABUSED – THE STORY OF THE RELIC
I’m sure we’ve all done it, walked in a guitar shop and thought “wow I bet that great looking old Strat has seen some action over the years”. It’s only when the salesman replies with “oh no that’s a brand new one straight from the factory” we’re left double-taking in disbelief.
How could they do that to a brand new guitar?
Legend has it that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards requested that his latest batch of guitars for his upcoming tour “looked too new” and ordered Fender to “bash ’em up and then I’ll play ’em”. We should state that both Fender and Keith have since denied this story, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprising anecdote. Possibily another important contributor was Bob Dylan, when he approached master luthier/replicator Vince Cunetto with an old Tele, asking if a replacement neck could be made with the same look and vibe of the original. This sparked Cunetto to put together his own aged Strat, who presented it to head of the Custom Shop, John Page. “It hit me like a brick when I saw it,” Page explained in a recent interview, “I told Jay Black (Custom Shop Masterbuilder), ‘we’re going to make some of these and release them at NAMM.”
The huge interest this generated from dealers along with the growing demand for vintage guitars in recent years has meant that this unique aging process, now affectionately known as relic’ing, has been at the forefront of the Fender Custom Shop range since the mid-late 90s.
The varying levels of the aging process now include:
- Closet Classic – Featuring mild aging and lacquer checking. Common with original 50/60s guitars that have been very well looked after and kept under the bed (or in the Closet, hence the name) to preserve condition
- Relic – Moderate aging, often showing signs of playing and general wear and tear throughout.
- Heavy Relic – Perhaps the most popular process, given the full aging treatment of a very well used and abused workhorse axe. Often described as sounding and feeling the most accurate to the vintage guitars that Fender are aiming to re-create.
- Ultra Relic – Does what it says on the tin….used, abused and generally battered! The heaviest level of aging which will usually be little with very little of the original finish! Ultra Relic is the most rare of all the aging processes.
It’s not just dealers that can ‘spec up’ their dream guitar to sell in their shops, consumers (you guys!) can also ask the Fender Custom Shop to build pretty much anything you like. The first question on the order sheet is what aging process you would like on your guitar. The other option available is NOS, which means no aging – an untouched, shiny, pristine condition guitar. Whatever your personal preference, there is surely something for you.
Those first 2 models Fender introduced at NAMM all those years ago were a 51 Nocaster and a 56 Mary Kaye Strat, which have now been painstakingly recreated, 20 years later in the form of the 20th Anniversary Fender Custom Shop Nocaster Relic and a 20th Anniversary Fender Custom Shop Strat Relic.
Ingeniously “reliced” by the Custom Shop and limited to a run of 95 units worldwide of each guitar (a tribute to the year they were released – 9 of each in the UK), the Custom Shop 20th Anniversary Relic Stratocaster & Nocaster honors the evolution of relicing and the Custom Shop’s mastery of the art. The 1995 NAMM originals respected the Fender legacy — as a true workingman’s guitar that stands up to the tests of time and hard use. It’s more than “just an instrument,” it’s an extension of the player.
We’ve ordered both of these timeless classics here at Guitar Village and are now taking pre-orders. We’re not expecting these to hang around for long. Click the images above to view more on each Fender Custom Shop Relic model, or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to a member of our friendly sales team on 01252 726821 now to find out more.