Modern Gretsch Guitars

relic RHH?


Got the idea to relic my RHH. Maybe like the EC tribute with a ding or two. Don't know exactly who or where to get it done or maybe its just my crazy idea.

Any of you know where to inquire?

I tried but they said they wont touch any guitar that's worth more than $1500 and they have had some bad luck trying to relic the Gretsch finish for some reason.


Wooo, that's a tough one .... it has to be done right - any way you look at it, it's pretty risky.


There was a member here ,or over on GT that did it to his RHH few years ago.

Sadly,i can't remember his user name.


Man, I'm in the wrong business. I may have just found the direction I'm going when I retire.


No---don't! Really!

Just don't!



I'd say do what you want to with it, assuming the second hand value isn't an issue. So if it's gonna stay yours and will never be sold, so what?


Maybe just pull the parts,Scotchbrite the body,tarnish the parts,put back crazy scuffs/scratches or dings and you can reverse it later on if you want.


I wonder if it's because the poly is thick? I don't know how thick it is in relation to other guitars.


Why not? Your grandchildren will need something to be alternately amused and horrified by.


I wonder if it's because the poly is thick? I don't know how thick it is in relation to other guitars.

– Devil's Tool

The RHH is nitro. Id leave it alone


Maybe Gretsch should offer some relic models besides Custom Shop. Do they? Second hand value not an issue. Im not selling . A new business model...relic any guitar. Scothbrite the body? I don't trust myself enough .


Personally, I've have a hard time understanding the whole relic thing, though I respect those who do. I kind of like to let mine aquire their own patina, but "to each their own".


I get it . I have a 1965 SG that Im the original owner of and it sure does have relic/ patina from the road to say the least. Its no collector piece it's a player. I did at one time dismiss a reliced guitar too...just a poser you know? But nowadays since auditioning many relics I 've changed a bit. To me Some of the reliced guitars do project and have a nice feel or comfort level that a spanking clean new finish might not. Depending on the guitar I might go relic just because the guitar plays, sounds and feels good. Afterall is said and done I just want a guitar that's got mojo for me relic or not. I love my RHH but just thought it might be an idea to relic.

I saw a band in Nashville last month blasting out on Broadway. I said to myself and Im not easily impressed that guitar really looks and sounds very good . He was playing what turned out to be a newer Tele relic. Anyway you get my point.

And theres that something with the EC Tribute that to me illustrates what Im talking about ...if you know what I mean? Play me!

(Gibson and Fender reference on the Gretsch Pages, sorry)


I do get what you're talking about Joel, I absolutely meant no disrespect. I have heard that about some of the relic guitars, taking away some of the pain etc, can absolutely change the way the guitar vibrates, and therefore feels and even sounds. Good luck if you decide to move forward with the project.


This is not difficult, if you're patient.

Leave it out of its case, sometimes in the sun. Don't clean it. Play the hell out of it. Take it to gigs in a garbage bag instead of a case. Don't duck ceiling fans.

Have the neighborhood kids over and give them free lessons on it, then when they get good enough, let them take it home for the weekend for garage practice.

We will never resolve the relic-vs-lookingnew debate, as it's as personal and subjective as any other matter of taste (which is all it is).

I have noted that people who came up in frugal families, under the strong influence and example of elders who remember the Depression and "making do" generally appreciate the virtues of shiny and new, and do their best to keep their equipment that way. In their minds (and it's a mindset I share), deliberately aging or distressing a new product insults the people who put so much skill and effort into making it, and almost mocks those who felt poorer and less privileged when they made do with something old and beat up while the wealthy could afford new and shiny.

It was inculcated in those with that mindset that you take care of your stuff, keeping it as nice as you can for as long as you can.

That doesn't mean there isn't dignity in a piece (be it furniture, household accessories, a musical instrument, whatever) which has aged gracefully over the years, even collecting some mourned-over scars along the way - and the same people who like and respect shiny new stuff and try to keep it that way are also likely to try to preserve an old worried and weathered piece in the condition in which they find it (assuming it's functional), rather than try to restore it to new appearance.

It's an old-fashioned, possibly passé notion, but it goes back to the concept of stewardship I was Bible-drenched in growing up.

When he was a boy, during the Depression, my father dropped the family's last quarter down the register in their farmhouse while marveling over its singularity. From the late 20s through the rationing of the war years and the jerky startup of the post-war economy, the family (and all their neighbors) were all about making do. Everyone was a mechanic. Wire and baling twine repairs were real. When times improved, my grandfather developed the habit of trading for a new Chevy truck (stepside, no chrome, 3-on-the-floor - but fresh and reliable) every two or three years. New was special.

In keeping with that, Dad was one of the earliest proponents of crop rotation, anti-erosion measures, and other practices of the then-young notion of science-based conservation - forerunning today's "sustainability." You took care of things - natural and man-made - because, under it all, they're made of finite resources. On the next level up, they contain the embedded need, imagination, intention, science, skill, and effort - the human resources - of those who made them. They were made for a need, and you preserved and conserved in respect of that.

When my grandmother died, we found a shoebox in the attic labeled Lengths of string too short to save - and that was what was in it. As soon as a tire was worn past the point of perfect safety (because he taught Driver's Ed, and was all about that), Dad replaced it - but he kept all the old ones in a dark, dry corner of the basement "just in case." "Empty" cans of motor oil were left to drain into canning jars in the garage, so gravity and time could extract every precious drop.

Again: preservation, conservation, stewardship. These were practical examples of a lesson my forebears drew from their Christian heritage, that we are to care for our world and its resources - and our stuff which was made from it - just as we are to care for others.

But that imperative doesn't have to be ordained by God, or based in any religious tradition at all. It's just a matter of respect for all things natural (which is to say...all things) - AND for the cultural heritage, skill, processed materials, energy and effort embedded in a made thing.

What's that have to do with relic-ing? You'll have to draw your own connections as suits you. I get a connection, because I eventually realized that under Dad's disgust and aggravation when I left one of his tools out in the yard was a sense of dishonor and even a little form of grief for letting it get rusty. The term was "It's a shame."

It connects for me, because I felt lucky to eventually have ONE electric guitar (bought with my own money, which I scraped paint for, yadda yadda), and it was a prized possession. Beat it up so it looks old? I could never have imagined.

No doubt there's some deep-seated (and pretty dishonorable) psychological connection between my feeling deprived of guitars as a kid (other guys had them first, their parents bought them for them, etc) and my current ludicrous over-investment in guitars. But even with all this excess, I haven't become cavalier about taking care of them. It still goes against every fibre of my being to consider intentionally distressing one.

Shiny is good. Shiny is new. New is special. Once upon a time, we couldn't afford new.

Every one of them embodies the real stuff of the planet, represents thousands of years of human cultural and then technical and scientific development, and decades of art and craftsmanship in a complex web of economic relationships. To my mind, after production of the physical necessities of life a musical instrument is one of the highest uses to which we can put our art, craftsmanship, and industrial ingenuity.

I'm all too aware (and daily more so) that in a real sense I'm just holding these guitars for a time. They'll outlast me. I'm preserving. I'm a friggin' steward.

Not very rock & roll of me, I know.

To artfully and intentionally antique, age, or wear an item is, I realize, an old and exacting craft. Who knows when it began? Probably when "old stuff" started to have collectible (and therefore market) value - so that it was worth someone's while to make credible and salable counterfeits. Then, certainly, the art and craft of making the new look old has been crucial in drama, cinema, model-making.

Among my clients in the area have been several furniture companies, at least two of which offer distressed furniture. I found it a jarring experience to visit the ancient two-story home of Karges Furniture in Evansville and see in one room a table headed for the Sultan of Dubai - 30 feet long, 6 feet across, magnificent woods, a flawless mirror-like surface - and in another room sturdy new dressers and sideboards, built with just as much craft and integrity, brush-painted chalky white and decorated with delicate motifs of painted filigree - and being beaten with chains. The voice of the market, I suppose.

I don't discount the art, skill, and technical resources that go into convincing relicking. And it certainly didn't start with guitars.

But to my knowledge (per oral history recounted by Joe Carducci, while walking through a parking garage outside the Anaheim Convention Center during a NAMM show), the modern relic market began (at least at Fender) when the Rolling Stones contacted the company wanting new guitars they could tour with. These "new" guitars were to look like their old guitars.

Why? Let's take a moment to parse this. Because a certain set of beat-up instruments were owned by the Rolling Stones - because they had acquired provenance - they were now too valuable for same Rolling Stones (who, with a staggering income and accountants, have managed to gather some moss) to risk further damage - or, more devastating - loss or theft on the road.

Fair enough - these particular Very Famous Guys put the honest wear and tear on these particular once-new plain-ol factory guitars, and thus embedded so much extra value in them that they became reluctant to risk their loss. (Emotional attachment? Monetary value? Dunno.)

BUT. The Rolling Stones with shiny new instruments? Perish the thought! They're FAMOUS for particular beat-up instruments. Those are the instruments which recorded this song and that song and the other song. Would we believe the Stones with virgin guitars? Well sure - but as an audience, we want to revel in the history of the instruments too.

In short, in order to appear rock-n-roll authentic...the Stones ordered new counterfeits of their old guitars. And we were off and running.

To undoubted economic utility, both manufacturers and free-lancers realized we would pay for guitars that look older than they are, that look like they've been lovingly (or angrily) played, gently scarred or battle-worn. As if in acquiring an instrument that looks like it's been played hard for 30-40-50 years, we also acquire the skill, memories, mojo of that unknown player - or that somehow, by some quantum trick of temporal superimposition, we are ourselves that seasoned veteran (never mind that we're not old enough - or would have to have lived a different life - to live up to the implied history).

Headhunters and cannibals, I'm understand, believe they acquire the life-force of those they consume or whose heads they shrink. In that analogy, we would acquire Keith's (or Eric's or Jimi's or Brian's or whosever) actual guitar, and thus gain all that potency.

But what do we gain when we get, not the real thing, but a replica of it? I get the inherent if inexplicable magic of the real thing. Hendrix's burnt Strat? SRV's #1? Irsay-level one-only true and genuine historical artifacts? Oh yeah. Chuck Berry's early Gibson is (or was, a decade ago) under glass at Blueberry Hill in St Louis, and seeing that sent a visceral jolt through me. Johnny B Goode's actual guitar? I mean, holy gunny sack, Batman! (But I noticed it was in remarkably good though perhaps Chuck took care of his stuff.)

I wonder if there's a market in selling rubber and fake-hair replica shrunken heads to the headhunters.

In the other column, I realize some people just prefer the aesthetic of a distressed item. My wife, bless her, LOVES and collects old beat-up stuff. She stops short of beating old stuff up herself, but she'll pick out the rusted corrodey old toaster in an antique store; I want the one that looks new. But when she puts her hand to crafting, she often makes "new" rustic stuff.

So I can add the art, skill, and effort of the distresser to the column where I tabulate all the value in resource, time, and labor embedded in an artifact. I also get that one might have enough regard for a particular player, be in sufficient awe of him, that it would be meaningful to own a scar-for-scar replica of his significant guitar.

So you know. No judging. You likes what you likes, and go for it. I don't get it, but I don't have to.

It's just funny that there's a market for distressed new guitars with the patina of years - but we want the nicest possible example of an actual vintage guitar, with as little wear and damage as believable.


Wade, no offense taken really. I didn't take what you were saying in that way at all.

Proteus... that's certainly spells it out and it's an interesting and well thought out reply. Thank you. I do like your process for relicing.  “almost mocks those who felt poorer” ? nah , Im not, never would .but…I paid for it after all. The Depression reference sorry but its not relevant to me. "I wonder if there's a market in selling rubber and fake-hair replica shrunken heads to the headhunters." That's the funniest thing Ive read in years!!! Hahahaha LOL Stewardship? yeah but grandkids don't seem too interested these days, maybe they will... The Stones angle, I don't know, I think it was just a Fender marketing trick that worked well.

Maybe I should just buy the EC Tribute and be done!!!

Take it out, leave it out, and play the hell out of it. Leave it out where it will get played from day one without ever having to worry about that first ding.


"I wonder if there's a market in selling rubber and fake-hair replica shrunken heads to the headhunters."

There is.


Elegantly put Proteus, I have a similar father, and I was raised to be a "good steward" to all my possessions. Dad was career US Army (born in 1938), and I grew up having a lot of second hand things from the Goodwill store. As we grew older and Dad progressed up in rank, we got to shop at Kmart and JC Penny. I remember my first watch, a boys Timex from Kmart, it was brand new and shiny. I'll never forget the pride of owning that new watch, all watches were analog back then, and required daily winding, care and occasional maintenance (cleaning, oiling etc). I had a similar occurrence with leaving an adjustable wrench out in the rain, and getting a lecture on "if you take care of your tools, they will always take care of you". My first electric guitar was a 68 Stratocaster, Dad bought it used in 1973 for $200. It was in immaculate condition, I kept it in as good of condition as I possibly could, until it was stolen in 2011 (a gut wrenching blow). I paid him back for the guitar by cutting lawns and running a paper route, Dad kept a ledger of my weekly payments, teaching me how credit works. As already stated, it is indeed a personal preference for artificially beating up a guitar. I personally have a great deal of respect for the craftsmanship it takes to make a functional piece of art, such as a finely made guitar.



JC Penney, Sears, Kresges, the glittering emporiums of the unobtainium of my youth. Store-bought new? More often, bought used and fixed up. Not that there's any dishonor in that. I shouldn't leave the impression that I was in any way deprived: I had everything a boy could want - including a blue wagon (repainted, used garden hose tires tied on with wire), Tasco telescope, microscope, Lionel train, and chemistry set - and greater benefits you don't realize at the time. Like an intact family, fully engaged parents who lived for us, steady emphasis on education, discipline as needed, summer travel/camping vacations, city grandparents and farm grandparents. I lived on Mulberry Street, and we had a mulberry tree. I lived in the Buckeye state, and we had a buckeye tree.

It was a charmed life, and literally nothing bad ever happened. It might as well have been Mayberry, and I was Opie. (Except Dad was a teacher instead of the cop, and I had a mom. And Aunt Betty rather than Aint Bee.)

But man, I always wanted a Schwinn bicycle. Well...any new bicycle. We had used Huffies and whatnot. I "bought" a new Royce Union 3-speed in gleaming black with earnings from selling personalized Christmas cards - and promptly bent the fork in a collision with a telephone pole guy wire.

I think I had worse transport lust for a Stingray bike when Schwinn introduced them than I ever had for any car. Dad rejected it out of hand - those highrise handlebars couldn't possibly be safe, and why would you want to pedal harder to drive skittish 20" wheels if you were big enough for a 26"? Besides, that slick on the back would be unsafe in the rain. And the fenders didn't cover the tires. And that long banana seat? I forget just why, but that was deemed unsafe as well. The gear-shift sticking up from the top bar? Have a wreck with that there and forget having children!

The fact that it was expensive (for a teacher raising 4 kids) was probably the bottom line. So instead Dad and I made a modified stingray (with a lower-case "s"). I sanded and prepped, and he sprayed a 20" frame with his new Craftsman compressor. Red. Hadda be red. He gave in on hotrod fenders, chrome, from Western Auto. At the time there were junior low-rise handlebars, another compromise - and a mini-banana seat. (Black, not sparkle.) Not long enough to ride a girl behind, and it didn't fool the cool kids (if there were any), but overall it satisfied. Coaster brake, natch, and one gear. But I rode the hell outta that thing. Kept it clean and waxed.

The kicker? My little brother (Steve of Tru-Arc manufacture), 6 years later, had some phenomenal ultra-ray, maybe Huffy. But man, this thing was evolved. Stretched frame, 20" rear slick, 16" front tire on an extended springer fork. 5-speed derailleur with shifter on the bar, caliper rear brake and DISC front brake. Full highrise bars, and a seat from here to Decatur. Gleaming green, sparkle seat (of course). He probably got it used, but still.

He was always cooler than me anyway.

I think wanting - and not getting - a rolled and pleated sparkle vinyl banana bike seat is probably what sowed the seed of my eventual fascination with and love for Kustom amps.

(OK OK, just my impression of an old man playing checkers and swapping lies on the porch at Cracker Barrel. I'll fall back to sleep now.)


It will relic itself in time. My DSW I’ve had for 14 years is well on its way.


My 2000 Eddie Cochran model is pretty well broken in. I never put dings or dents in it. Got lucky there. But the binding (which wasn't yellowed at all in 2000 even though the new ones come yellowed) is now yellowed, the knobs are all pitted, the p-90 is scratched up and the pole screws still have spots of dry blood from a show where I was palm muting a little too crazy and ripped my finger open. The dynasonic is all pitted. The back is all scratched up cause I had to have my studded belt in those days (yeah I know). When I bought the guitar I didn't set out to beat it up, but I also didn't baby it. I was never a crazy "jump around the stage" player and I've always been aware of my surroundings so as to avoid the headstock dents and dings. But if I was super worried about that first ding or scratch all the time I think my playing would suffer.


In the gear rundown of the Black Crows' Rich Robinson's guitars they talk about his Black Falcon and the relic job done at Cobra Guitars in New York...I quite like what it did to the appearance of the guitar.


Are new cars ever relic'd? On purpose?


Oh, for movies I'm sure, if it fits the story.

And, oddly, a massively (and well) over-restored old car is worth WAY more than even a "natural" relic of the same make and model - and probably as much as a pristine undriven example.

But different markets. A car can be functionally used up: even a perfectly restored classic is not by any measure (performance, comfort, safety) a fraction of the car you can buy new. And an "average" drivable old car is even less wonderful by comparison. (And I regularly enjoy driving my old cars; each is its own unique and pleasant experience, but it would be hard to pretend they're in any practical way better than a modern car. You don't choose them for traction and handling in rain or snow; unless it's for the retro experience, you don't choose them for comfort on a road trip.)

Cars have just evolved that much since any definition of the classic era (whether that be 20s-30s-40s, 50s-60s, or even 70s-80s).

Guitars, on the other hand, haven't evolved much. They still look the same - and most buyers consider the electrics of the 50s and 60s to be the gold standard. Unless those guitars are thoroughly trashed, they can always be brought back to perfect functionality.


Here are my thoughts, which echo some of the comments above.

Even people with lots of experience relicing stuff don't always do a super convincing job. So, if you are gonna do it, get it done professionally or.... have the CS build you one, if you can afford it ...or, just play the crap out of it!

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