Durban Guerrilla Part 8: Year Of The Relic

13th Feb 2009 | 12:37

Guitarist’s Dave Durban is a musician on a mission. He is searching for a sonic grail: the ultimate guitar tone and he’ll stop at nothing to get it. During his quest he will encounter all manner of wonders and obstacles: gigs in far-flung places, studio sessions, guitar mods, amp tests and sea monsters.

Guitarist’s Dave Durban is a musician on a mission. He is searching for a sonic grail: the ultimate guitar tone and he’ll stop at nothing to get it. During his quest he will encounter all manner of wonders and obstacles: gigs in far-flung places, studio sessions, guitar mods, amp tests and sea monsters.

Welcome to the world of a dedicated gearhead, the Durban Guerrilla – and every week he’ll be sharing his candid journal with you. This time Dave takes a look at the new ‘vintage-vibe’ phenomenon…



What comes around…

With the rather heavenly looking February issue of Guitarist featuring Fender’s new Mexican-made Roadworn series, it’s another reminder for me of an emerging theme in the world of guitar: 2009 is the year of the relic.

So what is it that we tone musketeers adore about relic guitars? Well, having spoken to many, many fans of the relic I’ve come up with a theory that’s a little deep and even slightly odd. The answer: romance.

Let me explain…

Obviously, I’m not talking about two courses at Pizza Express and the promise of dessert with your Deluxe Tele here. Your private business is your own. This is a romance founded on a history and legacy of defining music.

The early fifties and mid-to-late sixties would arguably witness the most exciting, innovative and yes, romantic period for Rock’n’Roll, in which Fender would arguably go on to be President Elect.

At this time, the company were producing some of the most iconic guitars ever made and these instruments would ultimately find their way into some of the most iconic hands ever to grace the stage; Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck to name a few.

There is something particularly haunting in the way a Fender of new or original vintage ages over time, and this is why I think it suits a Fender more than any other style or also-ran instrument. They can take the hard treatment, a proper workhorse guitar being battered and bruised, inflicting passion and art into one curious melee.



Luckily for us, a Fender Relic can offer this feel straight off the shelf. A good relic should encompass individuality and attitude. Slung low with a chicken-head nod playing the Tele above and you’re into Keith Richards territory or if your memory serves you well, even an early Jimmy Page. For me it’s an image and feel of musical history – something that can’t be imprinted in your own lifetime and a vibe that is rarely replicated in a modern, pop-chart saturated music scene.

But please, if some day in the future PRS release a range of aged and distressed Custom 22 and 24 guitars, remind me of this piece and make me eat every word!

Actually, at least one person in the Guitarist office thinks PRS relics would be a great idea so you never know…

I’m leaving the roost to settle in the fine city of Leeds for a few days, where I will be taking part in a studio session using a pedalboard from The Gig Rig Ltd with a mix of stomp lovelies and a very cool Sampson era Matchless Lightning amp. I’ll report back on that in my next blog.

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