Custom Shop Relics

May 7, 2014

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I‘ve just had to remove a scratch plate for a bit of tinkering with a customer’s Strat. A lovely white pearloid number with a Custom Shop logo to the rear.

What a mess. Warped and twisted, lifted at the edges. Jammed tight around the pickups, preventing any adjustment.

A piece of expensive four-ply junk.

Now it’s not rocket science. We’ve been making plywood and laminated materials for years. Veneering, tarting up wood to make it look like an expensive piece of solid kit. Often for good reason too.

Then came the Custom Shop wizards, or their suppliers, weaving their magic and price tags. Don’t they know that you cannot have an EVEN number of layers ?? There always needs to be an odd number. Veneeer something to the face and it is essential to stick a balancing layer on the back. 1.2.3. not 4.

Off you go and count the layers in your posh Eames foot stool. I’m just going to double check the kids Ikea toy box, don’t want the lid sticking, that would be a nightmare.

This warping is not to be confused with shrinkage and deformation of early palstics. That’s a different matter and chemistry. If you have one of those lovely mint’ish green Strat’ scratch plates don’t try and straighten it out or bother about wonky screws – just look after it and the guitar it’s wrapped around.

( If you need a repro’ one, drop me an email. Last original one on ebay was £840! )

I don’t understand the fascination with Custom Shop parts and specials, particularly relicing – speeding up the process. Fast forwarding to imitate 30 years or more of transportation, beer, brawling and nicotine. Many 70’s Fenders were sold without the luxury of a protective hard case. UK imports had original cases sold separately, at a relatively high cost.

Why buy in to this enormously expensive process ? The extra cost is understandable, it’s a big hands-on process. Surely it is far better to buy your mint condition dream guitar, nurture it, admire it and shed a tear at the first scratch. Howl at the first slipped strap and big dent.

Thus begins the slow decline to paintwork, whether on stage or under the bed. Fret wear, tarnished metal work and a bit of sweat and grime.

Why do we seek to accelerate this process ? Motorists don’t do it with their cars. “Oh yes I had the hugely expensive cracked rear bumper, that’s a one-off, some shopping trolley scrapes and the door mirror was wrenched off just at the right angle.. Well worth an extra £5k I’d say. Apparently I can get broken aircon for another £900”

Nobody takes a hammer to their piano.

Does an artificially aged guitar impart greater skill and experience ? Clearly not it just makes a bigger dent in your wallet.

Does the owner of a Custom Shop special lose sleep over that first genuine knock ? Does it devalue the guitar ?

Too many questions.

If you want to learn more about dents just imagine buying your lovely girl friend or wife some Relicing Cream.

“Eh pet there you go, slap a dollop of this on your fizzer, you’ll look knackered really quick…..” See how far that gets you.

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