Saturday, January 15, 2011

Distressed instruments

In the previous post, you’ll have seen how I have decided to reduce the price of my parlour guitar due to some finger nail marks on the soundboard. Well, I’ve been having a look on t’interweb and I’m shocked by the trend of distressed instruments. Quite simply, brand new instruments that have been artificially aged to look like they have been played (and in many cases abused) for years and years. The only advantage that I can see, is that if you’ve got an instrument that looks beat-up, you won’t be overly upset when you mark it yourself!

There’s a couple of interesting threads on the Mandolin Cafe forum that you might be interested in:

Of course this trend isn’t confined to mandolins- loads of guitars are available distressed too. It seems that there is a premium to pay for a distressed instrument due to the amount of time and skill needed to successfully carry out this weird task! I’m sure that it’s more involved than thrashing your guitar with an old bike chain! BUT WHY??!! What’s wrong with buying a guitar, playing and enjoying it and letting it pick-up its own patina of age? It’s a bit like looking in the mirror and seeing your own wrinkles and scars- they tell the story of your life.

Now, I don’t mind seeing a guitar that has been honestly worn. Sure, it maybe marked, but it was built to be used, all artefacts will show signs of ware and tear. But as a luthier, how could I spend hours, trying to make the most beautiful guitar, and then ware away polish to simulate years of playing, damage surfaces, capo marks on the neck etc. ? It goes against the grain (pardon the pun).

Maybe it’s like when you were at school and you got a new pair of shoes, you’d scuff the toes so that no one would notice. Anyway, I don’t understand it!

By the way, if you’d like to buy a brand new, distressed parlour guitar drop me a line.

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