The one important thing that relic guitar haters might be missing out on

 Fender Mike McCready Strat.
Credit: Future

One thing I was reminded of back when I reviewed the Mike McCready Strat last year is that the way relic guitars look probably isn't what primarily attracts a lot of players to them, yet it's the first thing detractors talk about.

The idea that the wear of a relic has been created artificially is a given, and for relicing's biggest critics the idea of playing a guitar that has been made in a factory to look somewhat beaten up is laughable. But as YouTuber Rhett Shull highlights in his latest video below, they're often missing the point. They could also be missing out.

Rhett's Custom Shop Blackguard Telecaster in the video is an extreme example; it's a heavy relic made in late 2023 that cost "well over $5,000". It looks like it's been played since the early '50s, mimicking a vintage Tele that would cost considerably more. But ageing for the sake of aesthetics is not what attracts Rhett most. It's the feel that creates.

Relic'd guitars often have thin and 'worn' nitrocellulose finishes and their necks even more so – they feel smooth and comfortable with rolled fingerboard edges to replicate years of handwear.  "They feel perfectly broken in," explains Rhett. "It's like your favourite pair of jeans that you've had for years and years that are just comfortable."

Fender Mike McCready Strat
Fender Mike McCready Strat

The Road Worn McCready Strat is a lot less than $5,000 and in addition to some of my favourite Strat pickups I've tried, it had that feel of a worn-in neck. And I loved it. Clearly others do too, and they don't even have to be relic guitar fans because Fender began offering Custom Shop-style rolled fingerboard edges on the Mexican Player Plus models a few years back. Smooth satin necks have also grown in popularity on contemporary models too.

You can even give your gloss-backed neck a smoother, worn finish with 0000 steel wire wool if you prefer the DIY route, and buff it back to gloss if you change your mind.

As Rhett points out, this is technically the "artificial ageing" of electric guitars but it's done purely for playability reasons. So relicing not necessarily a black-and-white issue, and as ever with guitars; if it feels good to you, that's what matters.

Check out Rhett Shull's full video above.