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Custom relic job on a 2004 strat

This was a project my old man took to give me a guitar I would bang on the road wherever I went. Since todays finishes are so tough and durable, it would take forever for a guitar to get in such a shape, so he started me off with a custom relic job, in the style of Number one, Stevie Ray Vaughans favorite guitar.




Tools you will need:




Industrial power sanders :-)

A pickup truck to drag the stripped guitar body around the block :-D

Engraver for a special touch 

Parts used


One sunburst guitar

Texas special pickups

Schaller locking tuners

Aged plastic parts

Custom neckplate

The first thing you need to do is take off all the hardware off the wood, so when you start your relic-ing process, you won't damage any parts that need to be functional.  Next take the neck off the body by removing the 4 screws and the neckplate.


The neck itself is not something you should bang up, only age.  In this case the neck is lightly sanded on the back in the areas it would wear down from years of playing. Then the headstock was given a few bumps here and there, but very carefuly, avoiding cracking the wood. The fretboard needs to be taped off with painters tape. The back of the neck and the headstock was then stained with a yellowish nitro finish with just a light coat to make it look older. The icing on the cake is offcourse the burned cigarette mark by sticking the cigar beneath the 6th string and letting it burn.  :-)


Banging up the body and removing large portions of polyurithane finish, is a major pain-in-the-ass. Todays poly finishes are hard as a rock. So if you plan to do this prepare for a whole lot of elbow grease. You could go the easier way too and start with a guitar with a nitro finish, such as a Highway One model from Fender. Anyway, do your worst of sanding, hammering, chipping, and dragging around the block on concrete to get the look you are after.


No relic job would be complete with brand new plastic parts, so be sure to get some aged ones off of Ebay or such. In this case the tone knobs are aged, and the volume knob is new on purpose, making it look like the original volume knob was lost over the years.


Custom shop Texas Special Strat pickups are the ones to go for, if you are after the SRV tone. The one important thing about this pickups that took me some time to figure out is they need to be adjusted very low, away from the strings, or they tend to sound very harsh.


The next step was to replace the tuners with Fender locking tuners. If you are wondering why, the fender locking tuners have a thumb screw on the bottom, that when tightened, locks the string in place. This makes a much easier job of string installation, and ads to tuning stability.


To do this job you'll need a drill, some small drill bits, a 10 millimeter wrench, a strait edge, and some patience.


After removing the old tuners, the first thing to do is place the tuners into the headstock tuner holes. You want to keep the tuners aligned with the strait edge, while finger tightening the tuner nuts. The reason for this is because there are two small alignment nubs that need to be drilled out for.

We've found that instead of trying to make some fancy template, it's much easier to just put the guitar tuners in place,and tighten them down gently. At the same time making sure that the tuners don't go out of align by using the strait edge.As you tighten the nuts, the alignment nubs wil make small indentations in the wood where you must drill.


Use a 1/16" bit in your drill. Then use some masking tape to mark the drill bit for depth. Don't try and wing it without the tape, the few extra second is worth not drilling through the front of the headstock. 


Once the 1/16th inch pilot holes are drilled, use a 3/32" bit, but check the nubs width on your model because the nubs may vary in size a little. You want a nice, snug fit, so if your unsure, use a smaller bit. Remember the depth tape, and your patience. Once you've got the holes drilled try out a tuner for fit

Make sure the tuners fit all the way into the alignment holes, and lay flat on the back of the headstock. If you can't pull them in flat by tightening up the tuner nuts, then ream the hole a little with your drill. Never use a hammer or any hammering action to try to fit them or you risk cracking your headstock.

All repair and setup articles on this website are provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind.. The entire risk as to the results and the performance of the information is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Bluesmannus be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages suffered in the course of using the information on this site. If you are not sure you can do this you are safer leaving the process to a professional. - Bluesmannus Team

SRV - Testify on a reliced 2004 strat