How to Relic a Sunburst Guitar

by Leah Newman, Demand Media
    Keys are just one of many objects that can be slung against a guitar to create dings.

    Keys are just one of many objects that can be slung against a guitar to create dings.

    Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

    When you relic a guitar you purposefully give it a worn look. The object is to make a newer guitar look like an older, more experienced axe. Among guitar customizers, it is acknowledged that it's easier to relic a Fender body style guitar than a Les Paul body style because of their shapes, but the process can be done to any style or brand of guitar. In addition to the tricks and techniques listed here, a well-placed sticker or two with light sanding on the top and at the edges is always a nice touch.

    Step 1

    Hold the guitar as if you were playing it and make careful note of where your arm, body and belt touch the guitar. These are the places that normally receive the most wear on well-used guitars.

    Step 2

    Remove the strings, pick guard, pickups and bridge from the guitar. Carefully unbolt the neck and remove it.

    Step 3

    Sand the areas of the guitar that you want to look the most worn using fine grit sandpaper. Pay careful attention to the edges in these areas, sanding them until the wood shows through.

    Step 4

    Wad a plastic kitchen scouring pad in your hand and scuff the finish on the rest of the guitar body.

    Step 5

    Use a razor blade, keys or a chisel to ding up the guitar, or add depth to marks that may already be in the surface.

    Step 6

    Spray the guitar body using a spray can of compressed air designed for cleaning computer keyboards. To do this, hold the guitar upright. Shake the can well and hold it upside down approximately 12 inches from the guitar. Spray the guitar surface for at least one minute. The frosting from the cold compressed air will crack the nitrocellulose lacquer finish.

    Step 7

    Dull the chrome hardware by soaking it in a plastic container filled with muriatic acid. The acid will bubble as the chrome is worn away. To completely remove the chrome finish, wait until the acid stops bubbling before removing the hardware.

    Step 8

    Reassemble your guitar.

    About the Author

    Leah Newman has been a professional writer since 1999, writing about fine arts both in print and online. She specializes in how-to articles covering DIY projects. Newman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia and a Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature from Pennsylvania State University.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images