The question of “Road Worn” has been floating around for quite some time now and there are a huge number of these versions out there both from DIY enthusiasts to guitar builders all the way to the manufacturers who are always happy to beat up a guitar and charge you extra money for it. It’s much like many youngsters who will pay enormous amounts of money for a pair of jeans that’s been ripped, stained, frayed and faded in pursuit of the latest fashion trends.
I am often asked to carry out this procedure which I always refuse. I do not have it in my heart to take a perfectly made guitar and completely ruin it, instead I prefer to take an old abused or modified guitar to restore it to its former glory and aged suitably as you will see in my website.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with a genuine old guitar that has worn naturally and if someone asked me to restore that, I would contemplate it very carefully before I proceed. But there are a very few true road worn guitars around, usually belonging to the likes of Clapton, Hendrix, Gallagher, artists who toured and played almost every day for years and having to keep a certain guitar. Check out Hendrix’s Woodstock guitar (or his other guitars) and you’ll find hardly a scratch on it. In short, professional artists look after their guitars or have it looked after by guitar techs to keep the tool of their trade in perfect condition.
I am now in my 60’s and believe me I’ve seen and played a lot of guitars in my time but never seen more than a handful of guitars in a state where most the paint had rubbed off, loads of dents and chunks all over the guitar and rusted metalwork. Those guitars were not “road worn” but simply “road abused”! A truly road used old guitar, would have been looked after and cherished by its owner. Due to the type of finish of the day (mainly nitro cellulose), the finish would have gone dull, full of little micro scratches, thinning of paint in select areas, few small dents at the base where it’s usually stood up, fading and yellowing of the paint and general dulling of hardware.
So before you decide to attack your guitar with a hammer, chisel, sand paper and stripper, think very carefully as to what you’re trying to archive with the “look”. Do you want to be seen as an owner of a beautiful cherished musical instrument or one who’s an abuser?