Relic guitars....what an interesting product.  When Fender first introduced the relics, Mr. Bill Carson of proto-Strat fame told us he really didn't understand it.  We think it is similar to pre-washed jeans, dirty tennis shoes, and a pair of broken-in Birkenstocks.  They just feel comfortable, and you know you can't screw them up any worse.

When we turn a guitar into a relic, we like to envision how the guitar would have gotten that way in the first place.  It certainly helps the process, particularly on where and how much to age the instrument.  Here is a little folklore concerning a recent Fender Mexican Telecaster transformation...we would like to believe this short story.  Hope you enjoy it.


Once in a blue moon you run up on one of those "deals."   This Tele is one of those deals.  We acquired it from a Middle Tennessee Bluesman/ Traveling Musician/ Truck Driver/ Artist who goes by the name of Bob Brandon.

Bob was originally from East Tennessee -- some said around Cleveland, but he wound up in the Tullahoma area sometime back in the late 1970's.  We remember seeing Bob playing with several bands around Manchester -- in such places as the AMVETs Club on I-24 and Vi's Disco Lounge.  Bob was always one of those perennial rhythm players who played in one of those "country and old rock" bands that were so plentiful back then.  They would play "Working Man Blues" by Merle Haggard, and then kick into "Green River" by CCR.

Bob's mom, Miss Glenda, was a beautician.   His Dad, Bob Senior, was a charismatic, non-denominational preacher and master cabinetmaker.  This Telecaster was originally played in Bob Sr.'s church somewhere in the mountains around Ooltewah, Tennessee.  Most of the time all you see around Ooltewah is modern-day hippies, Atlanta yuppies, and "back to nature, Columbia-wearing" types coming around to white water raft and canoe.  But Bob's dad knew how to shake that Tele down for the Lord, and that is what he did several times weekly.  The guitar was originally bought new in Chattanooga in the mid-60's with a nice, black-faced Fender Pro Reverb amplifier.  Once back home, the Senior Bob and Miss Glenda decided that black was not the color for a preacher of his caliber.  He took the guitar back to the store in Chattanooga the next week and had them refinish it in gleaming Olympic White.  Bob Sr. was ecstatic with the new white guitar -- "It is talking to me in a mysterious way" he said on the Sunday when he unveiled it to his flock.  While Bob Sr. paid to have that nasty, custom black finish removed, it is clear now that the "luthier" at the shop sprayed the white right over the top of it.

Bob Sr. would leave the guitar in the church building at all times -- many of the kids in the church loved playing the Tele even though they didn't know how to play.  Bob Sr. used to remark that the kids just loved that "old play purdy", a Tennessee saying for toy.  In the years that the Tele stayed in that old church house it became more and more worn, but that never kept it from doing it's duty.  One day Bob Sr. showed up in Cleveland with a brand new guitar -- a 1974 Stratocaster with a very natural finish.  He liked the idea of having three pickups instead of two, and he thought that the image of the new guitar would help to support his and Miss Glenda's budding gospel singing group.  Bob Jr. inherited the Tele, and immediately started playing some very non-church music on it.   Bob Jr. thought the first song he played on it was "House of the Rising Sun"...probably a pretty good call.

After a scrape with the law in Knoxville, Bob Jr. enlisted in the Army in the summer of 1976, and went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Basic Training.  Bob Sr. kept the Tele in the shed behind the house for "safe keeping" while all of the church business was carried out on the natural Strat.  The Tele stayed in the shed for about a year while Bob Jr. finished training as an Army truck driver at Fort Eustis, Virginia.  Bob was then stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama -- not too far from home -- and he started playing "country and old rock" again.  Bob Sr. wrapped the Tele up and mailed it to him after several sad phone calls.  The Tele made the rounds in the honky tonks around Anniston and all the way over to Atlanta, and Bob Jr. would let his Army buddies play the beat-up Tele during weekend jams in the barracks.

When Bob Jr. got out of the Army, he got a job with Yellow Freight Lines driving trucks in Middle Tennessee.  We first saw Bob Jr. picking it out at the AMVETS club in Manchester, Tennessee back when Lois was still running the joint.  He was playing rhythm behind some guy that allegedly played with a guy named Stonewall Jackson.   Everyone in Middle Tennessee has played with "someone" -- that is how one gains status in the crowded club circuit.  Bob was playing "cowboy chords" like Bob Sr., and had it going on.  We remembered that he had a big leather strap with "BOB" embossed on it, and he was wearing a big, huge rodeo belt buckle.  Bob put on some weight after leaving the Army, and somehow the Tele seemed kind of small for him.  Bob supposedly picked up smoking with in Army -- we figured Bob Sr. didn't have a "square" stuck on the headstock.

Bob married in the summer of 1982, and his playing trailed off considerably.  His new wife, Treva, worked at the Wal-Mart in Tullahoma, and was known as fine Christian woman.  She got Bob off the cigarettes, back in church, and out of the honky tonks.  The Tele seemed like a relic of the past to Bob Jr.  He asked his Dad if he wanted it back, but Bob Sr. said "it probably smells like cigarettes, beer, and sin...no thanks."  The Tele was shoved under the bed in Bob Jr. and Treva's bedroom, wrapped in a plastic garbage bag to "keep the smell down."

Bob agreed to sell his old time Tele when he was laid-off from his trucking job.  We agreed to give him the chance to buy it back once he got back on his feet because we do like Bob, and hated to see him lose this piece of history.  We also think he may be back picking again -- we'll send you an update.

Is it worn?  Absolutely.  Is it worn-out?   Never!  Click on the photos below to see full-sized versions!

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