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“Bash ‘em up a bit and I’ll play ‘em.” With those words, Keith Richards helped to inspire the Fender Relic collection of guitars and basses, period-accurate reissues of classic Fender axes that have been cosmetically “aged” to varying degrees to simulate years of playing and abuse, but still feel great and sound amazing. A number of major artists had previously commissioned the Fender Custom Shop to replicate prized guitars that were perhaps too valuable, beloved, or just plain worn out to take on the road, but when the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist needed a few spare axes for an upcoming tour, he thought the Custom Shop replicas he’d ordered looked too new. So bash ‘em up a bit they did, and the rest is history reborn. Fender eventually introduced Relic guitars and basses in 1995 as catalog items that everyday players could afford. Today, the Relic collection boasts a wide variety of faithful reproductions of classic vintage axes, with varying degrees of “aging,” or “relic-ing” applied to the bodies, necks and hardware, so they look like anything from a seldom-played beauty with just a touch of belt rash, to a battle-scarred warhorse with missing paint and rusted hardware, but with fresh electronics and finely dressed frets, for an authentic vintage playing experience at working musician prices. For instance, the Time Machine Series features tastefully “relic-ed” instruments that have been lovingly crafted using the same materials, building techniques and tooling used construct the originals whenever possible, available in three finish packages: N.O.S. (or New Old Stock), Closet Classic, and Relic. The N.O.S. models are pristine replicas of guitars of a certain era or specific year, with only slight aging of the plastic and a few other items, to produce vintage-looking axes in never-been-played condition, as if they’d been laying undiscovered for half a century in the dusty stock room of an out-of-the-way mom-and-pop music store. Closet Classics are meant to resemble barely-played dream guitars, strummed a few times and then stashed away in a closet or under the bed for years, with slight aging, like a few minor scuffs and lightly tarnished hardware. Relic guitars can be lightly or moderately aged, with a bit of belt rash and a few decent dings, while the Heavy Relic models look like they’ve been rode hard and hung up wet for years, with chips and scrapes in the finish, tarnished or rusted hardware, dirty fingerboards and paint worn down to the bare wood or even burned away! There are also signature Relic models for select major artists, featuring painstakingly precise reproductions of every scratch, ding, dent and even cigarette burn on the original, so whether you are in a cover band slavishly striving to copy every detail of your favorite performer, or you’re just a diehard fan who wants the look and vibe of your guitar hero’s weapon of choice, Fender’s got you covered. Ever wonder how it would feel to get your hands on an ultra-rare 1951 Nocaster, precursor to the Telecaster from the dawn of Fender’s golden age? How about a sweet, pre-CBS 1956 Stratocaster, or a more modern-feeling ’68 Strat with a hardtail bridge and jumbo headstock? Or how about one of the crazy new limited Cabronita Teles with T.V. Jones pickups? All the Relic guitars sport that great vintage vibe, with killer sound and a broken-in feel, so you can get right to retro rocking! Grab your Relic axe today!
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A Custom Shop beauty that replicates a battle scarred 68.
The axe that forged classic and new guitar sounds.
A one-of-kind Tele adaptation with a classy 3-tone sunburst chassis.