Relic doubts

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by ygrik, Apr 21, 2021.

  1. ygrik

    ygrik New Member!

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    Hey guys, nice to meet you all!

    So I've got a Squier bullet strat that I've wanted to experiment in relicing for quite a while, although I've faced a few questions in the process and was hoping, perhaps any of you encountered this and could help me clear some confusion out.

    I watched this video on relicing, it explained, that it's best to relic nitro guitars, and not so much with poly ones as they tend not to relic so well and may look ugly.

    This is the guitar that I own (Arctic White version) and it happens to be a Gloss Polyurethane finish.

    And this is the type of relic I'm seeking, nothing too fancy or heavy, just some of the paint shaved off in the corners with a blade.

    My question is, is this possible taking in the fact my guitar is done in the Gloss Polyurethane finish, or it shouldn't be any issues scraping off the paint like in the picture above?

    Another question, the guitar is kind of shiny, so if relicing is done for shaving off some of the paint, perhaps it would be a good idea to pass the guitar body through a thin sanding paper, if it would take some of the shine away? As if the corners are shaved to look like a relic, but the main left finish is still glossy and shiny, I imagine it would look more like nonsense than a relic? If that's an idea, perhaps you could recommend a grit of the sanding paper to use?

    And my final question, if the paint of the cornerns is shaved off, should the look pretty much remain that way, or would it be better to apply some kind of coating to the reliced areas to preserve that look?

    Thank you!
     
  2. Murphcaster

    Murphcaster Senior Stratmaster

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    You won't get the kind of relic-ing as shown in your example as you will with your guitar. Likely not even close. Personally I wouldn't do it but it's your guitar...do what makes you happy.
     
  3. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    The thick polyester finishes are like a thick layer of plastic. They are extremely hard to relic and almost impossible to make them look natural. If I didn't have several layers of spray paint over this one I would have never been able to make this one look half way decent.
    20210118_115209.jpg 20210118_115336.jpg
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  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    You can relic anyway you want. Any materials. Any finishes.

    Look up Fender Custom Shop Heavy Relic models on a simple google image search. They will give you the 'accepted patterns' of wear. Actual vintage guitars look quite a lot different, as unique as their stories are, but anything that deviates from the Fender CS HR models tends to draw a lot of ire.

    Go slow with the idea you may have. Perhaps some dings first, and progressively into the further sanding/etc over time. That way you don't overdo the modding. You could put dust on the guitar or on you, play your favorite song, and see where the marks happen.

    Now when you get the damage the way you want ... these are the features of relic guitars you cannot get from pictures and what makes them loved by the players who own them:

    -Sand/polish all jagged edges and paint chips so they are smooth.
    -800 grit sandpaper the whole guitar so it feels broken in and satin.
    -File off any sharp corners on metal parts that dig in. Especially burrs.
    -'roll the fretboard edge' and file any sharp fret ends
    -Full fret level, crown, polish so playability is high
    -Full nut setup
    -Put in MIA brands of pots, switch, and jack so it's durable and feels great
    -Leave stock tuners, pickups, and bridge, let it be what it is.

    If you have an SSS Strat then I'd wire it with an Armstrong Blender, to blend between SSS and HSH. But that's what I do with Strats. Keeps the classic Strat tones but supercharged under the hood.

    Goal is an easy to play guitar that feels great, sounds great, and you don't worry about. You can dig in and be a better player than you are now. That is what a relic guitar is all about. It's not about the looks. It's feel and performance.

    .
     
  5. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Gold Supporting Member

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    Making a relic finish look right is an art, which takes not only experience but also the right guitar finish to start with.

    Anything short of that will result in a disaster and a laughing stock target.
     
  6. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Gold Supporting Member

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    Actually it is all about the looks.
     
  7. Intune

    Intune Strat-O-Master

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    You doubts are correct. Yes you can relic anything. A polyurethane relic guitar will never ever look like the picture you provided. You’ll never get the transition from bare wood to paint correct.

    Debby downer here but it’s seriously the truth. I’ve ruined a nitro guitar but did learn a lot. The only thing you’ll learn from attempting to even dig into polyurethane is that it’s almost impossible and now you have a ruined guitar.

    That’s what I found out real quick. It’s definitely fun to fool around though and since the guitar is on the lower end why not.
     
  8. Seamus OReally

    Seamus OReally Mr. Serious Gold Supporting Member

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    Don’t do it. You’ll regret it.
     
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  9. ygrik

    ygrik New Member!

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    do you have any pictures of how it turned out for you?
     
  10. JDug

    JDug Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    I never tried to relic a guitar but yes, the poly is tough, it doesn’t seem to wear out, it just chips if you hit the guitar on something.

    I have a Matsumoko factory guitar, a Vantage Avenger that is Ash with a poly finish. It’s my first guitar, I played it to death for years, and the finish is like brand new, its 40 years old! ( 1981) Its never wearing out, thats how tough poly is, unless of course it gets banged into something, like my ‘05 Strat. Like brand new, except where it fell of the stand. Paint missing down to the wood, small chip.
     
  11. CigBurn

    CigBurn Total Hack

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    After having stripped any number of poly bodies to refinish, I heartily recommend finding an unfinished blank body and working up your relic finish on that instead. Sometimes the poly comes off easily in huge sheets and other times its darn near nuke proof and adds more work to the project than it's worth. That said, I love the look and feel of relics and equally heartily recommend you pursue your interest in doing one. Go slow, go in knowing you will likely have to re-do a few steps to get what you really want and plan ahead for how you'll execute each step of the process.

    Here's a couple pics of an Oly body I did from the ground up a few years ago. I think it was a GFS-XGP body but can't remember for sure. The guitar has moved on into some worthy hands now, but that's another story. I thought it came out quite nicely and seeing it makes me want to do another. :)

    The finish before the relicing really got started. Painted and aged but waiting for me to start the wear points..

    Wht S 2015 021.jpg

    The results.
    Image3.jpg
    Oly collage.jpg
     
  12. Intune

    Intune Strat-O-Master

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    I actually love it, I find it’s very satisfying. I’ve never attempted a poly finish just because I knew it’s impossible to get it to look right. Play it for 30 years, well with poly that doesn’t work.

    So I went on a hunt for nitro guitars that I could practice on because there’s actually no point to practice on poly. I found a cheap pawn shop AO 60’s tele. Nitro top with polyurethane sealer. I figured if I screwed up it was going to be refinished anyway. Well let’s just say I screwed up. You can’t get a nitro finish over poly to look correct either. It just turns into a mess.

    Next was my full nitro 54 Strat that I ruined but decided to leave it and not refinish it. I’ve toned it way back and just lightly relic or leave as is. I don’t own any polyurethane guitars and probably won’t ever. I want mine to age naturally now.

    Here’s some failed nitro over poly attempts then into full on refin in shoreline over sunburst by MJT
    A2F17C1E-31C4-48F7-BAAF-2C119A8E16D9.jpeg A68C29F6-A7B3-4928-AB04-91646BBC1A14.jpeg 53366CC7-68CD-433B-AE4D-25C5D3678714.jpeg Then my ruined 54 Strat. It’s a reminder of how easy a home relic job can go way to far F7D9EB1A-7AFB-42CE-8800-17F73B81E92B.jpeg 19169B42-9574-4C28-A644-B694DE46320D.jpeg 6F86E64A-D8EE-4310-93E8-D58CA9142B7A.jpeg 2A2675C0-33A4-4AE0-83B2-4240614E2E8D.jpeg F8A61D7D-2BCE-4082-8ED2-56C6C30D45C0.jpeg 3010C2D9-4E91-4BF6-8E18-DECA51D5E75B.jpeg
     
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  13. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Strat-Talker

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    Javin gave some good advice, but I disagree with him regarding sandpaper grit. 800 grit will still leave marks. You have to go to at least 2000 to get away from sandpaper scratch marks. And that's what I would use to knock the shine off the paint too. Amatuer relicers that go after their guitar with 150 grit sandpaper end up with a guitar that looks like someone had taken sandpaper to it.... doesn't look even remotely like real wear. 0000 steel wool works nice, but it is real nasty around electronics, so either tape everything off real good or completely remove your pickups and pots if you're going to use steel wool. Where the paint is worn off you will want to buff it out with polishing compound because real wear will leave a polished looking shine.

    Remember, subtle looks far more realistic than radical. I've worked on '50s and '60s strats and teles that have seen thousands of gigs that don't show the wear that the one in your picture has. I worked on an early '70s strat that actually had a hole worn into the pickguard from where the player rested his fingers, but other than the back of the neck, very little of the paint was worn off of the body anywhere. Guitars with real wear that look like SRV's #1 or Roy Gallager's are the exception, and most relics that are that extreme look completely fake.

    You can get the finish to "check" by warming it an hitting it with a heavy blast of Dust-Off, but poly doesn't check like nitro. Nitro will usually check in a fine horizontal (cross-grain) interlocking web-like pattern. Poly usually cracks with the grain, and since poly finishes are often thicker than nitro, it looks more like cracks than "checking."
     
  14. ygrik

    ygrik New Member!

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    Thank you all!

    It's an inexpensive guitar so I'll try it out, it's an experiment anyways. I won't go with the front right away, I guess I'll just use a 2000 grit sanding paper to penetrate up to the wood in a spot on the back side and once I reach the wood, I'll use a set like this to extend it to the sides from the sanded away spot. If it doesn't go well or I don't like the looks of it, I'll just stop there I guess, the worst that can happen is I'll have an ugly back side that no one sees anyways, and if it goes okay, I'll just repeat it on the other spots then :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
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  15. Intune

    Intune Strat-O-Master

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    Have fun with it! I’d start with a little more aggressive sand paper though. 2000 grit will just polish it, you’ll be 3 days trying to get to the wood.
     
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  16. ygrik

    ygrik New Member!

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    gotcha, thank you!

    what grit +- should I be looking at?
     
  17. Intune

    Intune Strat-O-Master

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    With poly you’re probably gonna realize real quick that you should have started with a grinder!! No but seriously 320 is what I’d start with. It will gum up real quick because the poly is basically plastic and you are heating up plastic by sanding.

    320 then you can possibly by the end of the day start to see the clear poly then the wood. Start picking and chipping away at that point. Any of the 320 scratches you can buff out by upping the grit. So 320 for you ruff stuff. Once you got the look you can start the clean up with 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500 and finally 2000.
     
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  18. CigBurn

    CigBurn Total Hack

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    The only thing I would add to this is if you can find autobody sandpaper its generally far more durable and lasts longer than the average stuff normally used for wood working.
     
  19. Intune

    Intune Strat-O-Master

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    Yes any 3M product you can find, it seems to last forever and usually is in the automotive section.
     
  20. archetype

    archetype Senior Stratmaster

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    Before you start, you might invest an hour of browsing Reverb, eBay, and Craigslist to see the results that other folks have gotten.

    There's no way to quantify it, but my guess is that in many cases the result of relicing is why those guitars are for sale.