I have watched the "relic" guitar trend for several years now, but personally, I’m still not sold on spending thousands of dollars on a new guitar that looks like it has been beat up. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I have to admit they do have a certain appeal. And guitar builders certainly wouldn’t keep making “relics” if they didn’t sell. Plus if you really like the looks of old, well-worn guitars, or you want an exact replica of a famous guitar player’s road-weary guitar then “relics” are a good option. Old guitars often have issues, but a new “relic” guitar simply looks old, yet plays like new.
Personally, I would rather buy a pretty, shiny new guitar and play it for 30 years to make it look 30 years old. I actually have a couple of those and they are my favorites. I like the fact that the battle scars were created by actual use, not fabricated. The guitars have the scars and I have the stories to go along with them. Of course this method takes time. A lot of time. If you want that old look now, then you really have three choices: buy a new “relic” guitar, buy a new guitar and “relic” it yourself, or buy an old (used) guitar.
So here is some old guy advice. If you like the looks of a relic, get one. Especially if you are older and can afford one. But if you are a teenager now, try your best to buy a good quality guitar now and keep it no matter what. Guitars come in and out of fashion like clothes, but hang on to that guitar even if it becomes unpopular. Don’t trade it in or swap it for the latest trend. Les Pauls were hot in the 70‘s but not very popular in the 1980’s. Hot rodded shredder guitars were big in the 80’s but not as much now. Only country guys played Teles in the 70’s (with a few notable exceptions) but now they are popular in many styles of music. Whatever you buy, it will always be a guitar, and as it gets older it will get cooler. Trust me. And when you are 50, that old guitar may be like a cherished old friend.
Instead of buying a relic, why not make one over time?