Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Companies Unclear On The Concept

Consider This.

It is a Fender Custom Shop 1963 Reissue Telecaster.

A Fender Custom Shop Relic 1963 Reissue Telecaster.

A Scratch-and-Dent Clearance Relic 1963 Reissue Telecaster.

Relic means beat up at the factory.

Scratch-and-Dent means beat up at the warehouse.

I wonder which scratches are which.

And, silly me, if I had an extra $3000, I'd consider it.


Sammy said...

Seriously, why buy an already beat up guitar when you can buy one and play it 'til it's beat up? Somehow it seems cheap and almost like "cheating" to pay three grand for a pre-distressed guitar. Why not buy a $800 Tele and then just take the screwdriver to it if you really want that "relic" look?

It's like the guy with the gear head garage and the restored Mustang (or whatever) that someone else restored.

Dave Jacoby said...

Thing is, we don't value beat-up cars. We do value beat-up jeans. There's even a used market. In my high schools (all four), wearing stiff dark new jeans marked you as kinda a doofus, so you wanted older-looking jeans. This lead to acid wash, stone wash, etc. But if you just took a razor blade across the knee, that was just as bad. What you wanted was the knee falling apart naturally. That was the look, between 1984 and 1988.

But if you screwed it up, you could get another pair. How much were a pair of 501s in 1986?

I have never bought someone else's "relic'd" jeans. I have always ruined my own. And I have never owned a guitar that costs more than $500. That guitar, non-scratched, wa a $6000 guitar they're getting rid of for $3000. There's a line. I'll put it at $2000. If you're buying a guitar for below the line, you're expecting to play it. Above that line, you're making an investment, and you're expecting it to appreciate. This wasn't an $800 Baja Tele to tear apart. (And I just saw a Baja Tele for $800 that sounded like Heaven!)

Some people want to look cool from the first time they put something on, and they'll pay for the privilege. I get the cheating thing, but really, what are they cheating at?

The car/guitar comparison would be better if people took their cars into West Coast Customs and got their trucks to look like
That just doesn't happen.

Stratocat said...

Dave: I don't know if you've run into the NOS twist already, but about a year ago I was on a big rant. Check here:


Patrick said...

To me, anyone who intentionally relics a guitar is a poser. If you didn't wear the finish off it yourself, by playing it, the wear has no meaning. Playing a worn guitar is supposed to mean that you and/or someone else have put enough mojo through the guitar that the hard edges have gotten soft, the finish has started to melt away, the frets are dented, and that's how you like it. Paying someone $umptythousand to beat it up with a random orbital sander so it looks like you did that is at best dishonest.
I can accept beating it up intentionally to make it an art project. I can't accept beating it up intentionally to make it look like it just naturally wore down that way.

Dave Jacoby said...

How is do you distinguish between buying an ancient instrument that's been played in honkytonks every night for 40 years and buying a new instrument that has been made to look like it's been played in honkytonks every night for 40 years? Either way, that butt-kicking is not from you.

Patrick said...

I have this vintage amplifier. I'm not sure exactly when it was made, but I know that it was made when Montgomery Ward sold musical instruments under the brand name Airline, and that it was made before things like transistors and printed circuits were affordable enough to sell at Ward's. It's gear with a past. I don't know what it's past is, but sometimes the corrosion between the tube and the socket starts rectifying for no apparent reason and it picks up nearby AM stations. Sometimes it buzzes like a bad hangover. Sometimes it sings like an angel with a bad hangover. Sometimes, if you leave it on for too long, it starts to belch buzzy static, as though the hangover has become too much for it, and it must disgorge the remnants of last night's revelries. A college roommate of mine was certain that it was a dark influence in his life, and asked my permission to perform a new-age cleansing ritual on it. (I refused him. He moved out before the end of the year.) It has more character than 12-year-old Balvenie Doublewood, and it didn't get that way because it spent time in the Ward's Relic Lab having corrosion carefully deposited by Ward's Relic technicians. It got that way because when the first identifiable species of Rock grew legs and crawled out of the primordial ooze of jazz, blues, pop, and who-knows-what-else into the garages of American teenagers, this is the sort of amplifier it landed on.
Character comes from perseverance in times of trial, not from a technician precisely burning the headstock with the same brand of cigarettes SRV used to stick in the strings.
Did I personally kick this amplifier's butt? No. I'm not old enough. I've fixed it when it breaks, I've played it out, I've beaten on it a bit myself, and when it finally becomes completely unusable, I'll see that it gets a decent burial. I don't play on the amp because it's 'vintage', I play on it because it's a bad-ass. I guess I don't really deserve the cred this amp affords, but damn do I appreciate it.
So, in a roundabout way we get back to the original question: What is the difference between used gear that someone else has beaten up and new gear that was beaten up to spec by a technician? Honesty. If someone says "Wow, what a great old amp" I don't have to say, "Well, actually it's only three years old, but it looks like it's 50. Isn't technology amazing?" I guess it doesn't have to matter, but to me it does. And apparently, it matters enough that I find the whole idea of intentionally wrecking up gear distasteful and I write post after post on the subject.

Dave Jacoby said...

This is perhaps getting to be a Postel issue, "Be liberal in what you accept but conservative in what you present". I don't want a relic guitar; mine get beaten up too quickly as it is. I'll get gear and try to keep it looking new until I fail enough times that it looks used. But I just can't bring myself to make judgments like that on someone or something because of that. I used to, but I no longer see the point.

Just think what kind of an amp that'd be if you cleansed the mojo out of it? It'd be fit for nothin' but Kitaro, and that ain't no life for no amp!