How to Relic a Guitar Neck: A Step-by-Step Guide


Relicing is a process that adds character and authenticity to a guitar by giving it a vintage look and feel. This article will guide you through the steps to relic a guitar neck, using expert tips and advice from experienced luthiers and musicians.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before starting, make sure you have all necessary tools on hand, including a belt sander or sandpaper, a buffer or polishing wheel, various grits of sandpaper, tape, plastic sheeting, and clear coat or sealant (optional).

Step 2: Decide on Your Design

There are many ways to relic a guitar neck, so decide on your design before you start. Common options include adding scratches and dents, carving patterns or designs into the wood, or using chemical treatments for a distressed look.

Step 3: Sand and Shape

Sand the guitar neck with coarse grit sandpaper (80-120) to remove rough spots or imperfections on the surface of the wood. Then use finer grits (up to 2400) to create a smooth, polished finish.

Step 4: Add Scratches and Dents

Use a sharp tool (such as a razor blade or needle) to make small scratches and dents in the wood to simulate age and wear. Be careful not to go too deep or cut through the finish.

Step 5: Buff and Polish

Buffer and polish the surface of the guitar neck with a soft cloth and a polishing compound using a buffer or polishing wheel. Use clean, dry cloths for each step to avoid streaking or smudging.

Step 6: Seal and Protect

Apply a clear coat or sealant over the surface of the wood to protect against moisture and UV damage, as well as add a glossy finish to the instrument.


Relicing a guitar neck is a fun and creative way to give your instrument a unique and personalized look. With the right tools and techniques, anyone can achieve professional-quality results. Be patient and careful, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different designs and techniques to find what works best for you. Happy relicing!


Q: Can I relic my own guitar neck or should I hire a luthier?

A: While it’s possible to relic your own guitar neck, hiring a professional luthier can save you time and ensure that the results are of a higher quality.

Q: What kind of sandpaper should I use for each stage of the process?

A: Use a belt sander or orbital sander with a soft cloth for coarse sanding (80-120 grit), a handheld or bench sander with a fine paper for finer sanding (150-240 grit), and a buffer or polishing wheel with a soft cloth and polishing compound for polishing (2400 grit and above).

Q: Can I relic other parts of my guitar in addition to the neck?

A: Yes, many luthiers and musicians choose to relic their entire instrument, including the body, fretboard, and headstock, for a truly vintage look. Just be sure to take your time and use caution to avoid damaging the finish or other parts of the guitar.