OK, so here are a few various iterations of our Relic Tele as we play around with different types of faux aging. Since this is truly an experiment, and we have absolutely no experience applying wear & tear to guitars––other than the good old fashioned way––we are taking our time to find out what works and what doesn’t.
The pickguard and hardware are not attached, but have simply been placed on top of the body to give us a better look at what the finished product may look like. Neither the pickguard nor body are anywhere near finished, though the hardware is pretty much ready for prime time.
While the top photo will undoubtedly appeal to many of you (as it does me,) I have to admit that in person this iteration simply doesn’t look real… in the photo it looks great though.
The Baja Tele’s original Blonde poly finish is just way too bright, even after sanding, to look natural as it pokes through under the Oly White nitro. So while I like the general look of the exaggerated arm-wear, it really doesn’t hold up to an in-person inspection.
The contrast between the white and blonde is just way too extreme. On top of that, when we attempted to sand down the white finish a bit, in order to let some wood grain show through to better match our “inspirational” relic over at the Music Zoo, we found that sanding it down evenly across the body is harder than hell. Once again it just doesn’t look real.
Our second version (above,) while not as extreme, looks a helluva’ lot more authentic when you get close-up on it… now, we are far from being finished in our experimenting, but what we will probably end up with is kind of a hybrid between these two photos––something like the body on the bottom photo, but with a pickguard similar to that in the top photo, albeit with a lot less orange.
In this second iteration I’ve added a fair amount of grit and grime to the finish, because straight out of the bottle (and even after sanding,) that Olympic White Nitro is just way too bright and clean… it looks brand new.
However, I managed to very successfully imitate the grimy look of a few decades of sweaty man-handling (photo left,) by rubbing oil-based dark wood stain right into the finish (make sure you don’t get it on any bare wood!)
You have to rub it in with your fingers, gently sand some off, and then repeat until you’ve got just the right amount. If you do it carefully and strategically, it looks dead-on. The photo here is an extreme close-up.
I’ve also begun experimenting with dinging the finish and generally roughing this poor guitar up. It’s a heck of a lot of fun.
So far I’ve pounded on the guitar with screwdrivers (see two pockmarks in this photo,) rubbed dark stain into the gashes and cracks, sanded various areas with heavy grit sandpaper (60 GT,) and even knocked a few small sections into the cement.
Once again, it all takes some experimenting, and usually a soft touch––though every once in a while you really have to pound the crap out of it 😉
Compared to aging the hardware, this part is much, much more difficult, but also a lot more creatively fulfilling. However, if you ever decide to do this yourself, be prepared to take your time.
I’ve sanded and re-finished numerous sections of the body (too many times to count,) due to my own errors & experimentations, and while it’s all fun, when dealing with paint you have to wait a loooooong time in between sessions.
Sometimes I’m just about pulling my hair out waiting for the paint to dry so I can have more fun.
Next up: aging the pickguard, and a better look at our relic’d hardware.