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When did NOS become bad?

Discussion in 'Fender Custom Shop Tele Forum' started by arlum, Oct 22, 2020.

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  1. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is pure speculation on my part, but I think the NOS Custom Shop instruments are less common for a bunch of reasons:

    (1) If you’re into the “this is a reproduction of a 1950’s/1960’s guitar that looks new” vibe, a very good reissue can be had for significantly less money—whether you go US- or Mexican-made, and/or new or used. Whether it’s a USA-made reissue, a Vintura or whatever, you can get a fairly (visually) accurate reproduction of a vintage guitar for a reasonable price (compared to the investment of a Custom Shop axe).

    Plus, nowadays it is really easy to make a Partscaster with vintage specs and looks for very little money (relative to a CS guitar).

    My 1992 U.S. Vintage ‘62 Stratocaster looked as good as any NOS Custom Shop, even before I upgraded the cosmetics (pickguard, etc.).

    After I got done with all the mods, everyone immediately assumed it was a Fender Custom Shop creation...and all-in, I still paid significantly less than a NOS Custom Shop 1962 Stratocaster would have cost...

    (2) The trend is toward Relics right now...
    Most of us have heard that Keef was behind the initial relics (he didn’t feel it fit his image to go on the road with a showroom-new-squeaky-clean-looking guitar), but I also trace this back to the popularity of players like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kurt Cobain, the guys from Sonic Youth, Jaco, Rory Gallagher, etc...they looked cool with those battered guitars—like they had spent their life with that guitar and it displayed the same scars the musician had on their (literal) bodies and (figurative) souls...

    Just like my daughter wearing my old Levi’s jacket from my 1980’s high-school years (although it’s an actual vintage jacket and every faded, ragged tear and worn spot is authentic—it’s not a “Relic”); I don’t know if she’d wear it if it looked brand new—maybe, maybe not...but it looks cool (besides the sentimental value of wearing her dad’s jacket).

    (3) I think most people that are willing to spend that kind of money on a guitar are (A) buying a status symbol, (B) insisting on “perfect” vintage specs (neck profile, fretboard radius, etc) or (C) wanting something unique.

    Well, they might get (A) and (B) covered, but based on assertion #1 (listed above), the NOS CS guitars aren’t gonna scratch itch (C).

    While a NOS CS Daphne Blue 1963 Stratocaster is rare and attractive to some people (not me—I detest baby blue guitars), if you spend the money for a CS re-creation of it, it’s not noticeably different from a US-made reissue (until you look at the back of the headstock or the COA [which I assume people don’t carry around with them] or the stitching inside the case).
    It doesn’t look significantly “Custom”, whereas a faux-battered version of the same thing probably won’t look exactly like any other one, and is more likely to be mistaken for an actual vintage instrument (which, let’s be honest, is part of the attraction to many people).

    (4) IMHO, (and pardon me if this offends you or you don’t agree), but a lot of the NOS CS guitars look very...vanilla. They don’t have much (visual) personality.

    As dynamic as my U.S. Vintage ‘62 Stratocaster looked when I bought it new, that was really only because of the color—Fiesta Red...

    If it had been Daphne or Sonic Blue, or Sunburst, or even Olympic White, it would’ve looked very commonplace. It stood out quite a bit due to the Fiesta Red finish...but even then, it looked a little...boring.

    That’s why I replaced the stock pickguard with an aged white mother-of-toilet-seat one, and the plain knobs/tremolo spring cover plate/pickup covers with an aged white (cream-colored) set—it made the vibrant FR color “pop” even more, besides making it a bit more personalized-looking.
    The other little cosmetic tweaks (etched neck plate, “CUSTOM” badge from the interior of a 1960’s Pontiac mounted on the “ashtray” bridge cover, signature decal on the back of the headstock, sticker of my band’s logo on the trem spring cover), besides the electronic modifications (5-way switch, push/pull pot that turns on the bridge pickup, Pete Biltoft SP-90 pickups) and then blocking the tremolo with a stack of quarters made it *truly* my guitar—after everything I did, there’s not another one like it anywhere in the world. By the time I was done with the modifications, it was #1 and remained that way for over a decade...it looked, sounded and felt exactly how I want a Stratocaster to look, sound and feel...(and then I discovered I liked Telecasters better and it got relegated to a beloved #2 instrument).

    If you go out and get a NOS CS guitar, it’ll undoubtedly be well-made and look very nice, but it might be a little (visually) boring, too.

    That’s my thoughts.
    I shouldn’t have had that third cup of coffee...this went on a bit more than I expected.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
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  2. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    Addendum:
    Some of y’all are getting hung up on the term “NOS” or “New Old Stock”...

    Yes, NOS legally and traditionally meant something that didn’t sell (for whatever reason) and is now “old”, even though it’s a never-owned, brand new and/or unsold item.

    We often hear of NOS tubes or electronic components, much treasured by some amp builders or enthusiasts.

    However, for the purposes of this discussion, NOS is also a Fender Custom Shop designation; it refers to a guitar that looks/spec’d like it was made in 1950-something or 1960-something, but for whatever reason spent it’s life for the last 60-70 years in the back of the shop, never sold.

    It has no relic-ing, and looks like a perfect, brand-new, showroom-floor-shiny production model guitar of that era.

    The relic levels go up from there—Closet Classic, Light, Heavy, dragged behind a semi*, etc.

    *that may or may not be an actual designation from the Fender Custom Shop...I’ll let you decide...
     
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  3. Drew617

    Drew617 Tele-Meister

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    I agree basically with a lot of the sentiment about authenticity of relics. I'm not into pretense. I don't own any relics right now, and on any guitar I require clean, polished frets, a consistent feeling neck, modern tuners. Stuff that feels out of place on a relic that's supposed to have been ridden hard for decades. Of course you could get a fret job, tuners, new hardware on anything, but...

    Good relics do feel good in my hands though. I have some OCD tendencies, not really clinical, and can't abide sweat, smudges, other random schmutz on my nice, perfect-ish poly finished guitars. I always hate putting that first ding on them. In my experience relics are useful in relieving that pressure.
     
  4. Doctorx33

    Doctorx33 Tele-Afflicted

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    It occurs to me that, as a the owner of vintage, beat to hell Strat that it's much less likely to be stolen because folks will think "That's just a badly done relic."

    [​IMG]
     
  5. ronzhd

    ronzhd Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    To each their own, Fender has to sell guitars to stay in business. Supply and demand never goes away, so you have to supply what people want in order to compete. I don't think it's a fad, I like some of the relics, others seem a little over the top. I have a mild relic on my Nash T-63. Most of my other guitars are just reliced from time and use.
     
  6. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Afflicted

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    i like the color of patina and aging plastics, that has nothing to do with use, just age, so if you can just speed up a year or two's time for me, that's great. if not, no big deal. i don't need you to make anything rusty or stained. the way that older finishes dull between gloss and semi-gloss is also nice. i wish more guitars came stock somewhere in between satin and high gloss. after all, plenty of furniture does.

    the nice thing about player grade vintage instruments is they're worn in. if you can make the neck feel old, i don't care about looking the part.

    i think getting a beat up old guitar can be cool, not for aesthetics or parading around with it, but in that it makes you think about the life it lived. and to think about how you fit in the chain of players and gigs that the thing will see throughout its life. and what kind of life it'll live when you're gone. i don't think its "posing" if you aren't the one who beat it up. it is cool to hold and be a part of some weird history and humble yourself. within reason.

    but buying something that was beat up in a shop by a luthier just because it looks cool? don't really get it. suit yourself.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
  7. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    I think what's more the bizarre disconnect here is even the use of the "custom" term.

    AFAICT Harley Davidson was a leader in selling factory non-custom stuff and calling it custom.

    If it's pre-made and you didn't get to set all the specifications it's not custom. It's custom if it's *custom for you*.

    If I wanted a custom Fender I would want to go to a dealer and fill out a sheet and get exactly the guitar I want because there wasn't a stock fender with the specifications I wanted. If I'm doing that I can get whatever finish I want apparently. I wouldn't get a relic finish.

    If you go in these custom shop dealers and the "custom" guitars are already on the wall they're not custom for you, and Fender has just decided it works to have the custom guys make non-custom guitars that are different from the "stock" guitars. Maybe this keeps the custom shop workers busy when there aren't enough true custom orders. The shop is putting an order together of "custom" guitars they think will sell.

    Fender should call these guitars something like "Fender Prestige Shop" or something if they're not really custom.

    I have a custom G&L.. it wasn't my custom order. Luckily it wasn't a relic or I would not have bought it. The amazing thing this week is I found the guy on the internet who actually put in the custom order. It was not a dealer order. The customer came in and put the order in and somewhere along the way from the dealer filling out the sheet to the guitar getting built the guitar got built without the requested quartersawn neck. He took the first guitar home and played it while they made him a new one with the correct neck he asked for. When that one came in the dealer put it back on the shelf and I got it for a great deal. As far as I'm concerned he has a custom guitar for him. I do not. But I have a somewhat rare guitar in the process that just so happens to have made me a very happy customer. He happened to select a very close set of options to what I'd have picked. (Satin neck, no binding, custom finish, etc..)

    The dumb thing about the relic finishes is that not everyone will even wear a guitar out like that. My guitar teacher has a FCS Tele that he's had for a very long time. He must play something like 40 hours a week and is not even the first owner. It looks nothing like a SRV guitar, it still looks almost brand new. It's not like these trashed finishes are universally realistic for all players.
     
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  8. Strebs

    Strebs Tele-Meister

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    I think people are looking for mojo. If a guitar looks like it has tens of thousands of hours of play on it and the scars to prove it, the assumption is that it must have mojo. That makes it cool.

    I'm not a fan of them so I'm just speculating.
     
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  9. Goldenshellback

    Goldenshellback Tele-Meister

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    I never want my guitars or anything I own to look abused. I grew up poor and everything I had was hand me downs or used. I worked for over 50 years and saved and invested allowing me in retirement to purchase want I only dreamed of when I was a kid. Sorry no road worn guitars for me. I owned them back in the 1960’s because that’s all I could afford and they were truly road worn and not a high dollar custom shop creation. I’ve been known to buy and give guitars away and the person who receives the guitar received a pristine example. I take pride in what I have.
     
  10. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Afflicted

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    right, and how many guitars really have "road scars," and how many are just "this is beat up because i don't care and just threw it around at home, in the trunk without a case, etc."

    vintage archtops aren't anywhere as beat up as solid body guitars (maybe some honest dings and a little finish peeling off). and no one can accuse those guys of not gigging or hustling. and a lot of those guys, some lower end lam top was the only tool do do their job they could afford, and even still pricier than most solid bodies, so you better bet they couldn't afford a fragile thing like that taking a death blow.
     
  11. VillainSean

    VillainSean Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    This brings up a good point, it's not just Fender doing it.
     
  12. BrazHog

    BrazHog Tele-Meister

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    Quality post. Keep chugging that jitter juice. :cool:
     
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  13. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think it looks great...I’d steal it! :p(just kidding...I wouldn’t steal it, but it looks cool...)

    I don’t have a problem with the nomenclature of “Custom Shop” attached to the upper-grade, non-production-line instruments...it’s just a label...why do we call anything by the name we call them?
    Because the manufacturer assigned that name.

    Now that’s something I’ve noticed—I have guitars that are 40, 27 and 25 years old (respectively) that have all been used extensively that don’t look too beat up at all...admittedly, I haven’t gone on world tours and I try to baby my stuff, but I don’t white-glove them, either.

    I do know that certain people’s body chemistry eats up guitar finishes, too...Rory Gallagher’s brother said that his sweat destroyed guitars; the guitarist from Blues Traveller (Chan Kinchla) started putting carbon-fiber necks on his guitars because his sweat ate up the necks on his guitars; I have a friend whose sweat is destructive to guitars, too—even though he babies his instruments, the color fades pretty quickly where his forearm touches them (I don’t let him play my guitars).
     
  14. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    The manufacturer uses that name for marketing purposes. It doesn't mean it's actually custom according to any normal definition of the word custom as relevant here:

    "made or done to order for a particular customer".

    If the "customer" is wildwood or sweetwater or andertons that's not a "particular customer" IMO. They're dealers.

    We all seem to agree the FCS guitars are generally higher quality than their production line. At least they have that.
     
  15. arlum

    arlum Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    I used the terms NOS and Closet Classic because those are the terms used by the Fender Custom shop to define a mint condition Custom shop guitar and a slightly less than mint condition, (like it's been kept in a closet for many years and recently found and put back into use). I've only used the term NOS for New Old Stock in the past. Usually concerning tubes and out of production never sold hardware. In this thread I'm using the term the Fender Custom shop chose to use.

    Collectors of vintage instruments want them in original condition. A refinished vintage instruments value is drastically reduced. For those looking at the instrument as an investment rather than an instrument to be played and enjoyed I guess I understand. You don't polish up rare old coins or valuable antique furniture.

    I'm not into investing in instruments. I want to own and play my favorite models built to perfection. Fender Custom, Gibson Custom, Ibanez J. Custom, U.S.A. built Gretsch and Rickenbacker and specific boutique builder models. I prefer guitars in this price range, (far less than investment value instruments), to look like new when I purchase them. I also like many production Fender,Gibson and Ibanez models but I won't buy one of those either if it's a floor model hanging in a store that lets perspective customers trash their product and then hang it back up. I've bought production shop models from Wildwood, Sweetwater, Musicians Friend, Guitar Center and The Music Zoo. The one requirement is I want them before they've ever been in a showroom. Delivered in it's case and a factory box that's only been opened for the instruments inspection and, in some cases, setup.

    My preference for custom shop models has nothing to do with value / resale value. It has everything to do with quality of build. Attention to detail. Knowing that the best Luthiers / builders that work for whichever guitar brand are going to own the hands that create my instrument.

    I also own guitars I've bought in "used condition" on ebay or Reverb. Once an instrument I want is out of production I look at "used" offerings and buy the best example offered at a fair price. These instruments are never mint and I don't expect them to be. I love these because I can have fun with them, get carried away while playing and do whatever modifications I feel like doing.

    I just prefer new to look new. It's just a personal preference. I'm just trying to find a retail source that specializes or at least offers multiple choices of New in Mint condition, NOS, or whatever their builders choose to call them.
     
  16. tamer_of_banthas

    tamer_of_banthas Tele-Holic

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    why are we still doing these nos vs relic threads? there is now over a decade's worth of written human interaction devoted to this "cause." check archive dot org if you don't believe me.

    as a whole, this is a subject that was never compelling in the first place. no one REALLY cares about this. if you handed a pro-NOS dude a relic for free, he would take it. same deal when the shoe is on the other foot.

    if anyone really still cares about this nonsense, they should think carefully about giving up on it as a subject.
     
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  17. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

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    Unpopular does not equal bad.

    I hate relic.
     
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  18. Joe M

    Joe M Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Admin Post
    This thread has stayed pretty civil up to the last couple of posts; guess it's time to close it....
     
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