Relic Guitars

Make some new 99 cent a set knobs look old and sell them for $20 a set on ebay… brilliant…

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That’s what I was sayin.

Case in point…
On yer late fifties Les Paul, the weakest part is the jack plate. They break across the screw holes. In the seventies people started replacing them with metal jackplates. But of course in the vintage market yer Paul gots to have the “correct” original jack plate.

The cream colored ones are easier to fake because Gibson used different thicknesses of plastic, kinda randomly so the “correct” thickness isn’t year-specific. Also, most had round corners but some were sharp cornered.
But the bevel IS year-specific. The top edge is always beveled at the corners but not always along the length. So there was a “lot” of them Gibson used with sharp eadges, maybe 50 plates, say, and maybe it was in the middle of 1958…and Gibson guys KNOW that. And another “lot” of them in the fall of 1960, etc.

So it’s complicated, but you can get a “correct” jack plate for yer 'burst Les Paul for 40-50 bucks even though it’ll probably be a fake.

The black ones though…they were laminated B/W/B and the top layer of black was real thick almost like 2 thicknesses. There has never been any plastics manufacturer so far who’s reproduced the base material correctly, so they cannot be faked. I dunno about now, but in the eighties those plates, legit ones, were bringing as much as 8 or 9 hundred bucks.

Back in the eighties one of my pals who has always been in the vintage guitar biz, was going to shows all over the country and one of the things he was buying was Gibson lap steels from the fifties. You couldn’t give them away at the time, and he was picking them up for $150-200. It turned out his interest in them was THEY USED THE EXACT SAME JACK PLATE.

So he would cannibalize the plate, maybe the tuners, whatever, and re-sell the instrument at another show down the road for what he paid for it, and the jack plate he’d sell to some Jap collector whose Paul he was working on, pure profit.

Nowadays though, everybody knows about the lap steel jack plate being identical so the price has dropped to maybe $250 and you cannot find a lap steel that hasn’t already been mined out for old parts.

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I think a big key in this relicing business for the real deal is cig smoke and ashes.

When I take this Aria apart next time, I’m going to put the pickguard in a plastic container and fill it with tobacco smoke until it discolors.

Here’s my telecaster, with real neck wear not faked, so I just filed off the edge of the fretboard on a fret of the Aria, it looked like it had just been filed off until I rubbed a little ash into it, then it started looking more like this…

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