Guitar \u201crelicing\u201d is a trend that transforms a shiny, good as new guitar into one that looks like you\u2019ve been on tour for decades. Maybe you want your guitar to look like one of Jimi Hendrix\u2019s Stratocasters after he banged it up all over the stage during one of his live shows. Well, you don\u2019t want to achieve that look banging up your guitar the way he did, because it probably won\u2019t be functional anymore. To get that worn, vintage guitar aesthetic, you\u2019ll need to learn how to relic a guitar properly with these various tools and techniques. Before You Start There are a few things you\u2019ll want to consider before starting the relicing process. Check the Finish It\u2019s important to check the finish of your guitar to know which tools or techniques need to be used to start. Most guitars have either a polyurethane or a nitrocellulose lacquer finish. This is what gives them that glossy, shiny new aesthetic\u2013 the look you don\u2019t want if you\u2019re reading this right now\u2026 Nitrocellulose lacquer is ideal for relicing as it responds well to sandpaper. Polyurethane finishes are pretty hardcore and are unfortunately resistant to sandpaper. You\u2019ll end up pretty frustrated if you try this method and will need to try various other methods plus a heating and cooling method to break the finish of polyurethane, and it still might not look right. When considering this you may want to research your guitar\u2019s finish and decide if this is the right guitar to relic. I highly recommend you choose one with a nitro finish instead of a urethane one. Practice First If you\u2019ve never tried this before, I\u2019d suggest practicing some of these techniques on a guitar other than your favorite, most-loved axe. Perhaps find an older or cheaper guitar and try out some of these techniques on it first to see how you like it. Because once you start, there\u2019s no going back. Get Your Tools Ready Then, you\u2019ll want to gather all the tools you\u2019ll need for the process from start to finish. Decide what tools you want to use, for example, get all the different grit levels of sandpaper and start with the higher numbers (or the finer grit ones) to start. Then, decide if you want to use the back of a hammer, scissors, rocks, or other tools to scratch up that guitar of yours. Once you mark off all the areas you are planning to relic, you can get an idea of what tools you\u2019re going to use where. This may take a bit of reading, looking at photos of old guitars, or YouTube video streaming. But once you have everything, it\u2019s time to get to work! Remember Sounds Won\u2019t Change Keep in mind that when you relic the guitar, you won\u2019t change the sound. A great-sounding guitar should have the same beautiful tones, and a mediocre-sounding guitar won\u2019t sound any better after the process is complete. Once you\u2019re committed, it\u2019s best to break things down into steps. The Wood Aging the wood is pretty easy\u2013all you need is sandpaper and some patience. The neck, body, and headstock are all made of wood and it\u2019s relatively simple to achieve this rustic, used look. Since you are trying to mimic the natural wearing of a guitar that you\u2019ve played for ages, you\u2019ll want to take note of where these areas are before starting. Think of the places your hands rest or rub against the guitar the most\u2013 those are the spots! You can check out some images online, but here is a list of common areas: On either side of the strings on the bodyWhere the strumming hand rests on the guitar bodyThe neck of the guitar or between fretsSurrounding the volume and effect controlsNear or around the input jack First, you\u2019ll want to take all the metal off the guitar, and ideally remove the neck. If you don\u2019t remove the neck, its shape could get warped during heating and cooling. As we mentioned above, guitars have a lacquer made of polyurethane or a nitrocellulose lacquer finish. To create the aging look, you\u2019ll need to remove the lacquer in all the aforementioned areas. If the guitar is newer, it might be made from a urethane finish, which will not respond to the sandpaper technique. After you\u2019ve carefully sanded the surface, you can use a hairdryer or expose the areas to heat or place it in direct sunlight, followed by cold temperatures like a freezer or an air compressor spray. This process helps to crack the finish. The scratches will naturally collect dirt and start to age your guitar in no time. The Metal Aging the metal on the guitar is optional, however, this will add to the overall rock n\u2019 roll lifestyle look, and give your guitar that more authentically worn aesthetic you\u2019re looking for. You\u2019ve hopefully already removed the metal parts before working on the wood. Now, you can go to town, banging up the metal parts with various items like rocks or your sidewalk to make scratches or dents. For a more matte look, you can use a metal filing tool, sandpaper, or steel wool to get the shine off. There are also chemical substances you can use, such as harsh cleaning products, to create a rusted, used look for the metal parts. You can soak the parts for the whole day in chemical liquids and check them periodically using gloves. This should give them a beautiful, old colorful metal look. The Plastic Now you can remove the plastic pieces off the guitar, including the pickups and the pickguard. You\u2019ll probably want to sand these down, and this will typically reveal different colors between the layers of plastic. Once again, you can also go ham on these pieces with some scratchy tools like scissors or a dull blade. Just be careful not to cut your hand! Knobs & Hardware Usually, sanding the area around the knobs is common during the relic transformation process. This is to emulate wear and tear from turning the knobs while playing. If the knobs on your guitar are shiny and new, you can either do what we mentioned above (the metal section) or you maybe find some vintage knob covers to pop over those bad boys. This will age the guitar in a jiffy, and bring up the whole vintage vibe a couple of notches. You may not want to mess with the electric hardware part of the guitar unless you feel comfortable doing so. If you don\u2019t have any experience with wiring or soldering, it might be a good idea to ask a guitar tech to help you remove the pickup and pots. If you\u2019re confident, you can try it out, but I\u2019d recommend you watch some YouTube videos about how to do this first and\/or practice on another guitar before doing it with your beloved sound-making machine. Customize It As you go, make sure you are customizing your relic process to reflect your true and inner guitar player. If you want to copy another relic job, then, by all means, find a guitar player you love and go for it! As you go, make sure you are customizing your relic process to reflect your true and inner guitar player. If you want to copy another relic job, then, by all means, find a guitar player you love and go for it! Hit the Road, Jack Now, it\u2019s time to transform that bad boy! You should at least have a solid foundation of what goes into the process of relicing your guitar. Remember to follow the guidelines carefully, make sure to practice some of the techniques first, and you\u2019ll be glad you did it. There are some not-so-good relic jobs out there, and you don\u2019t want to be one of the people mourning your pre-relic guitar. However, a great relic job can be a beautiful transformation and give off exactly the vibe you\u2019re looking for. So go all in, get all your tools ready before you start, and you\u2019ll soon look like you\u2019ve been on the road for years rocking on that thing!