If you regularly play a new guitar, you’re going to get — what I call — “Dings and Dangs” and that means bumps, scratches and bruises that always and inevitably break your heart. Nobody appreciates new damage to a guitar — even cosmetic — because your baby is sullied and broken forever by everyday life.
For that reason of careful guitar ownership, I am fascinated by the “New Old Stock” movement in the guitar industry where brand new, beautiful, guitars are purposefully “aged” at the factory — beaten up, really — so they can be sold as “Road Worn” or “Vintage Original Spec” or “Murphy Aged” guitars when they’re actually just brand new replicas.
You pay a price for this “vintage” vibe — that isn’t actually vintage at all — my David Gilmour Black Strat, in pristine condition, was $800.00USD cheaper than the same guitar “vintage-ized” and beaten up as if David himself had played it for 30 years. I do not understand the premium on guitars that are purposefully destroyed and downgraded in functionality and playability. I wiped off the “vintage” finish on my Les Paul Vintage Original Spec.
Here’s how one online guitar website makes its sales pitch for the super-beat-up Telecaster you see modeled in this article — all for a $5,000.00USD price tag:
This particular guitar is based on the Vintage 1951 Nocaster / 1952 Telecaster, but built to modified early 50s Tele specs with a very special hand-distressed, Heavy Relic finish package to replicate decades of road worn wear and tear! It was also built with a Custom Shop Twisted Tele pickup in the neck position for more clarity- almost a Strat-like vibe in that position. The modern Tele wiring is also a more practical choice for tonal versatility.
The Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series Strats and Teles may look and feel like actual vintage guitars, but they play like a dream. Easier chording, faster leads and no fretting out when you go for the big bends thanks to the 1&11/16″ nut width, flatter 9.5″ fingerboard radius and 6105 fret wire. Adjustments are a breeze too! The Truss Rod is accessible from the headstock, so you no longer have to remove the neck for a tweak.
I understand the want for an “old guitar” — a true 1952 Telecaster can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, so getting one for five thousand dollars is “bargain” — except, of course, that the new guitar really isn’t an old guitar even though it looks like one.
Why do people want to pay so much for a new guitar that is beat up to make it look old? Is it to fool others into thinking they’re rich and that they can afford a classic guitar? Do these buyers think they’re getting the ancient mojo of a old wood guitar in a new materials bundle?
I realize these new, beat-up, guitars can create a sense of nostalgia and age — I just don’t think it makes sense to pay a lot of money for the guitar factory to pre-age your guitar by beating the sound out of it long before its virgin wood ever reaches your detrimental fingertips and unavoidable dings and incidental dangs.