500 Words with Adam P Hunt- In Defense Of Relic Guitars
Adam P Hunt is a freelance writer who has previously written for The Library Journal and Premier Guitar Magazine. We are so happy to have him join us here at Guitar Radio Show.com.
500 Words by Adam Hunt In Defense of Relic Guitars
Contrary to popular belief the whole “relic” guitar thing didn’t start off as a request by Keith Richards. The story has been repeated enough times that it’s taken on a life of it’s own but again, the story isn’t true.
The truth of the matter is that artificially aging an instrument predates Antonio Stradivari and was done for the same reason why people like a “lived in” looking guitar, it has mojo.
I’ve owned or have played many vintage guitars throughout the years but nearly every one of them had issues. Issued that ranged from miss matched parts, like my ’59 ES 125 some one unceremoniously replaced the P90 with a ’72 “Gibson” humbucker, to structural issues like the pre War Martin that was constantly needing to go under the knife every couple of months in order to keep it in working order.
Don’t get me wrong when the pre War was working it was magic but it was also a money sink.
It seems to me that people get hung up on the six “pres” when it comes to vintage guitars:
•Pre WWII CF Martins
•Pre CBS Fenders
•Pre 1964 Gretsches
•Pre Norlin Gibsons
•Pre factory PRS
•Pre Kaman Hamer
There are plenty of fine examples of vintage guitars out there… for a price. Just recently I swung over to Ghrun Guitars to see what an early Fender Esquire would set you back, $28,000.
According to CNN Money the average household income for 2013 was $56,000.
That ’52 Esquire isn’t looking so good now is it?
For a 1/10th of what the ’52 would set you back there’s plenty of people who make vintage replicas.
What I think gets up in the nose of vintage snobs is they fear that a modern reproduction will somehow affect the price of vintage originals. Historically that hasn’t proven to be the case so don’t loose any sleep over that particular issue.
The other criticism is that somehow a relic reproduction is cheating. If a relic guitar plays great, sounds great, and you don’t have to worry every moment you’re playing it because you are afraid you are diminishing its value, perhaps a relic may be viable alternative.
Sure, there are a good number of musicians who made vintage guitars the objet de desir they have become. The fact of the matter is many of them don’t tour with their vintage guitars and often times they have relic reproductions made just to use on stage.
Or, as in the case of Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck, they use modern guitars.
But even with a top dollar relic guitar it will never sound like a vintage original unless and until you play it through an all-original vintage amp with a vintage chord.
For me as a player the things I look for are playability, tone and reliability and if I can get those things through a relic guitar, awesome.