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Thread: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

  1. #26
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I've been working on creating a distressed Gibson F5G since about 2005. I've got some of it done mostly in spots where I rest my fingers and thumb.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    While I can't imagine buying a distressed instrument personally although I think they're fine, I once played a Gibson DMM and it looked really, really good. Felt like having a Loar in my hands. (Ok, I've only held one Loar for about 3 minutes.) Sounded good, too.
    Cary Fagan

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    ....another quiet day in the news.

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    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I'm just the opposite. I dearly love to own really old instruments that look like new...
    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
    --William Shakespeare

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Seriously. Think of all the times someone posts a grandpa's attic find, all excitedly, and everyone concurs with wonder that a century-old instrument could look so wonderful and sound so great. That's truly wonderful. Even if there are some signs of wear from use, that just adds to the story, in a naturally-occurring, organic, human interest way.

    What's the story that goes along with an artificially distressed instrument?
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  9. #31

    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    These instruments seem to be more popular in the electric guitar world than in the acoustic music scene, FWIW......

  10. #32
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I'll quote another philosopher, Sir Ian Hunter:

    Some spade said "Rock 'n' rollers, you're all the same
    Man, that's your instrument!" I felt so ashamed

    "Man, that's your instrument!" That should be enough. Take good care of your instrument, which brings you so much joy, fulfillment, fun, and hopefully respect, even income. Sorry, I just don't get this. I will try to shut up about it, though, before I join Timbofood in the corner ...

    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    George Gruhn said if you ding a “reliced” guitar it doesn’t negatively impact the value like a ding on a pristine instrument.

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    So what happens to distressed instruments when they get used a lot for many years? Do they wear out sooner that an equivalent pristine new instrument with the same amount of usage and natural wear? Why reduce the lifespan potential of your mandolin by starting out with a well worn product? And how about the warranty, does it still have a lifetime warranty or just half a lifetime? And of course there is no warranty regarding finish defects on that distressed instrument.

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    So what happens to distressed instruments when they get used a lot for many years? Do they wear out sooner that an equivalent pristine new instrument with the same amount of usage and natural wear? Why reduce the lifespan potential of your mandolin by starting out with a well worn product? And how about the warranty, does it still have a lifetime warranty or just half a lifetime? And of course there is no warranty regarding finish defects on that distressed instrument.
    "Wear out"? Is it possible to "wear out" an instrument? If so, the folks paying big bucks for those '30's D-18's are in for a shock.

    Personally, I love the look and feel of an old instrument with plenty of wear. All of the wear and tear on my mandolins is natural, but only one of them was new when it came to me (and that one is also developing a "look" - I'm really not into the cleaning/polishing thing). In my electric guitar days, I also only had one that was bought new, and I did end up scuffing the finish with high grit sandpaper because I didn't like the high shine of the poly finish - honestly, that finish was so tough and thick that power tools would have been necessary to really damage it. And I've always removed any finish that was on the neck - sanding for guitars and scraping a "speed neck" on mandos.

    Kinda interesting how the mandolin and fiddle worlds differ in this aspect. I've only ever seen super cheap violins with any sort of shiny finish. The fiddlers of the world seem to want all of their instruments to look essentially identical - matte finishes and a dusting of rosin.
    Mitch Russell

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Just to clarify: I have nothing against instruments that show real playing wear. You should see what my main gigging instruments look like! I treat instruments as tools for making music, and don't "baby" them. You seldom hear a carpenter lamenting the wear marks on his hammers and saws.

    What perturbs me is taking a new instrument and sanding off the finish in "wear patterns," de-plating metal parts with acid, scuffing and scouring to fake years of hard use, then selling it at a premium. Surprisingly, I don't see too many other areas where this kind of deliberate "aging" goes on; definitely has been practiced for many years in furniture making, where some buyers seek the "antique look" in furnishing their homes. However, I'd be surprised if you went to an automobile showroom, and found them charging extra for a "distressed" Toyota -- or visited an appliance dealer who offered to make your new refrigerator look as if you'd owned it for 30 years.

    I'm sure that those who see some esthetic value in performing with a brand-new instrument that looks as if Blind Lemon Pledge bought it new in a Delta general store in 1930, and played until he died last year at age 105, will continue to support the "distressed" market. And, of course, custom auto shops turn out "rat rods" for those who value patina, and clear-coat over naturally occurring rust. But making a virtue out of real wear-marks -- as I do, and some others posting as well -- is different from asking the manufacturer to age your instrument for you. Age it yourself, why don't you?
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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by onassis View Post
    Kinda interesting how the mandolin and fiddle worlds differ in this aspect. I've only ever seen super cheap violins with any sort of shiny finish. The fiddlers of the world seem to want all of their instruments to look essentially identical - matte finishes and a dusting of rosin.
    I beg to differ. Google "coloured violins".
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I've owned several instruments for a long time. Rather than "reliced"*, the message they're putting out is "clumsy".

    * Wouldn't that mean "to add lice again"? I suppose you could spell it "relicked", but that's a bit misleading.

    D.H.

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I don't mean to be obtuse (well........maybe I do). I wasted my time reading this whole thread-My reaction - you either like, dislike or are neutral on relic-ing (for lack of a better term)-and who cares! You like what you like and it really doesn't matter in the giant scheme of things. Not as much as what brand of pick is best-hahaha.
    Thanks

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  21. #40
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Well, maybe you are being obtuse, because you seem to have forgotten how this thread started. To refresh your, and everyone's, memories: A member asked the question, "What do you think?" Twice, even. So people have been offering their opinions, yea, or nay, or what the hey. It could hardly be more on point. Indeed, as these things go, it's been well above average in terms of being on topic. Though you didn't express your opinion on the subject. But yeah, as far as how this stacks up against the giant scheme of things ... it's anyone's guess as to how important what we do here is. But we do it anyway.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  23. #41
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Just to clarify: I have nothing against instruments that show real playing wear. You should see what my main gigging instruments look like! I treat instruments as tools for making music, and don't "baby" them. You seldom hear a carpenter lamenting the wear marks on his hammers and saws.
    I'm pretty much like Allen here. I treat my instruments with respect, but if they need a strap button or pickup, I put one on and don't even think about it. I have an electric guitar that's a case queen, but all of my other instruments look like they've been played and even knocked about on a tiny stage cause that's just the way life is. But if I could afford a Gilchrist, I'd rather get a very used one that already had lots of nicks in it, cause then I wouldn't have to worry
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

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  25. #42
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    You've made several good points here, and really got me thinking about my own situation with my main player. Good old Molly, she's been through a lot of rough use, but like the old Timex commercial said, she takes a licking but keeps on picking. I mentioned earlier about the patina she's taken on, that she looks almost more like a Sheraton brown than her actual pumpkin tone. You can see how much she's darkened, especially where my arm and wrist have brushed against her above the strings. That's salt damage from sweat, earned through many hours of playing in bars. I also mentioned that I started to clean her but stopped, when I saw bare wood peeking through. That's plain to see. But I direct your attention to the scraping where the pickguard should have been. That's bare wood, and an odd display it is. That was there when I won her on eBay. In fact, I believe that was a key factor in me winning the auction. Only one other person was bidding, and I'm pretty sure that patch, and a short crack in the top alongside the fingerboard, were the reasons why. Essentially, cosmetic issues, not likely to negatively impact the sound. So I paid somewhere around 1/3-1/2 less than the typical going rate for a teens plain A some 11-12 years ago.

    In other words, I had bought a distressed mandolin. Not intentionally faux-distressed, but played hard over the years. It's a good thing distressing wasn't the fashion at the time. The market dictated an instrument with some damage, superficial though it was, would command a lower price than one in more pristine condition. I've since distressed her further, and though that crack I mentioned was addressed - albeit clumsily - another crack, much longer, has appeared by the treble side of the bridge. I'm hoping she'll hold on until I can get her to my luthier in a few months. I should really retire her for the time being and play the A-4, but dang if she doesn't sound a whole lot better, to my ears.

    So now I'm thinking how this relates to the topic being discussed. Is all the distressing she's endured actually making her value increase? Among certain thus-minded people, of course. Should I ask my luthier to fix the cracks but leave the finish alone? Or better yet, clean her up, exposing the bare wood, for a really distressed look? I just don't know anymore. This flies in the face of logic - well, the logic to which I've grown accustomed over the years. Honestly, I'd really like him to do a refinish, get her all spruced up and shiny. But if it means taking a beating on her value in the distressed instrument market, I dunno ... I just dunno ...

    I don't expect to ever put her on the market - I've never sold an instrument, or a car - they come here to live out their lives, getting driven into the ground. But I may have stumbled onto a gold mine here, and I should be careful to play my cards right, use the hand I've been dealt wisely, so as to safeguard my investment. It's a quandary.

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I especially enjoy it when some amateur "relics" the neck joint.......
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I think it's like people dressing up to put on reenactment shows, no harm, gives an impression for the punters, but it's just a false facade, a bit like the false front buildings on a western film set, serves a function, but I wouldn't want to live in one. Dressing up and role playing can be important to 'getting in the zone' for some actors, so if it helps the musician get comfortable in their performance role then it's possibly a useful tool to have. As a young sparky if starting on a new site, any of my new tools got taken out to the shed and given a good dusting over, so I didn't look like a total newbie on the tools & have to put up with all the crap that went with being the new guy or looking like a total greenhorn. However for me personally as a musician performance is a consequence of my musical activity rather than the objective. I wouldn't want to buy something that looks a bit wrecked if it was new, I'd feel like I was trying to pretend something or dress up in a role; ok on stage, but a bit weird if I'm heading out to play music with the locals.
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    JB, there’s room in the corner, sometimes there are cocktails too!
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  31. #46
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Ye, Tim, I'm sure there is, and there are. Lord knows, you've put in enough time there over the years, I'm sure you've made it much more amenable to long-term living with comfortable conveniences.

    One thing I neglected to mention is that this distressing phenomenon is bound to muck up the market. How will a prospective purchaser know whether an instrument he or she is considering acquiring has wear that has accumulated over the years through playing, or whether it has been artificially ginned up in a shop? And will we reach a point at which the shabbier an instrument appears, the more it will be worth? Should we then stop practicing previously customary niceties such as cleaning and polishing instruments, knowing that this will adversely affect their market value? What a topsy-turvy world this will create!

    OK, Tim, make some room. I'm heading over ... Mimosas in the morning?
    Last edited by journeybear; May-14-2021 at 8:00am. Reason: removed a oopsie
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Ye, Tim, I'm sure there is, and there are. ? Lord knows, you've put in enough time there over the years, I'm sure you've made it much more amenable to long-term living with comfortable comportments.

    One thing I neglected to mention is that this distressing phenomenon is bound to muck up the market. How will a prospective purchaser know whether an instrument he or she is considering acquiring has wear that has accumulated over the years through playing, or whether it has been artificially ginned up in a shop? And will we reach a point at which the shabbier an instrument appears, the more it will be worth? Should we then stop practicing previously customary niceties such as cleaning and polishing instruments, knowing that this will adversely affect their market value? What a topsy-turvy world this will create!

    OK, Tim, make some room. I'm heading over ... Mimosas in the morning?
    It doesn't seem to have mucked up the guitar market, where it primarily occurs, since the builders who do engage in the aging/relic/distressed whatever process advertise their instruments as featuring that. The more well known purveyors, Nash for electric guitars and the PreWar Guitar Co. for acoustic guitars specialise in producing instruments with relic-ing - if you buy one of their instruments then you know that the wear on it by and large came with it from new (unless a previous owner added to it via wear and tear while the instrument was in their care). In the case of lesser known builders doing the same thing, an online search would probably bring up images/information to enlighten someone that an instrument was deliberately finished to look aged vs. it being wear accumulated over years of play. Martin have been doing the same process on some of their higher end guitars (their Road series on the other hand demonstrates some of the worst attempt at replicating player wear that I've ever seen - surely whomever designed that series could've sat down and looked at some images of what old guitars with honest wear on them actually look like?), Waterloo guitars offer the option now as well, and Fender offer it not just on their custom shop models but also on more standard series models.

    Aside from Weber whom I recalling offering a model finished to replicate player wear, and Eastman (if I recall correctly), are any other mandolin builders doing this? I don't see it becoming a thing in the mandolin world somehow - it just seems like the guitar world has more romance if ye like built up around well worn instruments, so shouldn't be surprising that builders would tap into that. In my many years of playing guitar I've never been put off buying an instrument because it showed signs of heavy use - the two best acoustic guitars I've ever owned, my sadly no longer with me '57 Gibson J50, and my current '69 Martin 00-18 were both very "well worn" by the time they came into my possession, but more importantly they sounded fantastic and were structurally sound. Someone commented earlier here that if a new player was starting off with an instrument that showed signs of wear that it would make them a poseur since they weren't the ones to put that wear on the instrument - does that mean I was a poseur when as an 11 year old I bought a '60's Epiphone Coronet from the pawn shop as my first electric guitar? It definitely had signs of wear on it. It was also affordable, well set up and sounded great - those three things right there were the reasons I bought it, pretty sure my 11 yr. old mind wasn't thinking of ways to look like I had more experience than I did via buying a guitar with player wear on it.

    Personally I'm not losing any sleep about aged/relic-ed/distressed instruments. If ye like them, more power to your elbow, if ye don't like them more power to your elbow. Everyone's taste is different - someone made a comment about the inlay on the headstock of my mandolin (was it on a thread here somewhere or on Facebook? Can't remember) - it's of my Beagle Janey Mack, sitting up. The person disliked it and thought it "took away" from the rest of the mandolin. I LOVE it and couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Luckily for the person who disliked it, they don't own the mandolin, I DO!
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  34. #48
    Maurice McMurry
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    I think creating fake wear it is tacky and phony. I refuse to do it (on pourpose) to anything I make. My projects have a tendency to turn out rustic dispite my intentions.

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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Personally I'm not losing any sleep about aged/relic-ed/distressed instruments. If ye like them, more power to your elbow, if ye don't like them more power to your elbow.
    I'm not losing any sleep over this either. And I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek in spots. But I do find this practice puzzling, and so I'm ponderously puzzling my way through, hoping to comprehend the incomprehensible.

    I've been involved in owning and operating antique instruments for 53 years. I learned the value of care and maintenance of these lovely devices, in which I had invested so much and from which I have received so much. So this notion of intentionally, artificially doing quite the opposite completely contradicts that. The examples Allen presented concerning doing the same to cars or refrigerators provide a good pertinent analogy of my feelings on the matter. Instruments are functioning artifacts, not museum pieces. I fully understand the commonly accepted notion that antiques such as firearms and furniture and pottery etc etc which have acquired a patina over the years, decades, centuries should not be cleaned up, as that demonstrates their age, and removing it would decrease their value to collectors. But these are meant to be viewed, not used, and one of the main factors in determining their value is their age, not their utility. If an instrument is intended to be put on display, not be played, then OK, leave it as you found it. If you're going to be playing it, present it as nicely as possible. Or don't - most instruments will sound no better cleaned and polished, just look better. But intentionally roughing an instrument up won't make it more presentable as a museum piece; indeed, in that case, this would be seen as fakery and fraud.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  36. #50
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    Default Re: Antiqued/distressed instruments?

    Appearances mean more to some, less to others. If I picked up a new, distressed instrument and played it, and it had a wow factor about the sound and feel of it, I might want it - I can entertain that scenario philosophically, hasn't happened, but it could.

    What I think is that to me, the feel and sound of an instrument is more important than the finish. And I'm a career finisher, lol. I have been paid big bucks to make things look good, without regard to their underlying condition. If it looks good, it will fly in the minds of many.

    When it comes to making music, and yes I know I'm repeating myself, the way an instrument feels and sounds is so much more important to me than the way it looks that I can easily overlook the appearance, and who cares what anyone else thinks of the appearance if I love the instrument ...
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