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This refers to an electric guitar or bass that has been carefully manufactured, then distressed by hand to produce the effect of a true vintage guitar with decades of stage and studio wear and tear. According to urban legend (and in this case quite likely true), the relic guitar was created originally by Fender Musical Instruments for the Rolling Stones, who didn’t want to take true vintage guitars (that could be worth many thousands of dollars) on tour with them. Then again, they didn’t want to take to the stage with bright, shiny new instruments, either. So the idea came up to take brand new guitars and, by a variety of methods, make them look like they had been used heavily on tours and in the studio. Each “relic” guitar may be distressed in a number of ways. It may have a checked finish, scratches, gouges, nicks, chips and the odd cigarette burn here or there; metal parts would be worn in spots and tarnished in others. The end result is a guitar that looks for all the world like a priceless classic. Several other manufacturers have begun creating similar effects on their instruments, however the term “relic” was coined by Fender.

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