Why ‘Signature’ And ‘Replica’ Guitars Are For Losers.

I’ve been a guitar player for almost 21 years now…

My very first guitar cost my parents 15 bucks. It was a 3/4 sized cherry sunburst acoustic and it came with horrible black nylon, plasticy strings which I replaced as soon as I figured out how. I’ve never ever seen black guitar strings since.

I got that guitar for my 10th birthday and I played it for about 5 hours every single day over the next few years. Regrettably, I gave that guitar away to a pal and the last I heard of it, it had been sprayed with silver or blue paint and as recently as 2004 it was still being passed around by kids in my home town interested in learning how to play.
I wish I still had it.

My second guitar wasn’t very much of an improvement on my first. Again, it was a nylon stringed acoustic costing 25 bucks from a catalogue. It was just like the kind of guitar used in Scottish high school music departments.

That guitar ended up falling off of a cliff and getting smashed into smithereens. Yep. A cliff.

I went through quite a few guitars after that and eventually ended up playing an electric Epiphone Les Paul. It was blue and sparkly and it really was a great guitar. I played it for years and by the time I was through with it, it was covered in scratches and dents and occasionally, blood. The paint below the scratch plate had worn away and the neck had even been broken and fixed but you know what? It didn’t matter because those scratches, dents, dings and breaks were made because of the way I play.

I took great care of that guitar but that doesn’t mean to say that I didn’t use it. Scratches and breaks are inevitable.

Whilst looking at Gibson Les Paul guitars on Ebay today I came across this:

Neil Young OLD BLACK Gibson Epiphone Les Paul Standard Gold Top – Bigsby Relic

Neil Young’s ‘OLD BLACK’!
Yours for only £1299.00!

– Except, that’s not Neil’s beloved Old Black because Neil has his beloved Old Black because it’s his. Nope, that’s a replicated version of Old Black and as you can see, it looks just like the real thing. Every scratch and modification has been painstakingly recreated exactly according to the original.

I have a problem with this kind of thing.
I think it’s a sad person who would spend money on this. Neil Young didn’t make or cause those scratches or (as I believe they are called in the business) ‘distress marks’. Some guy in a factory made those marks and besides, why would anybody want a new and unplayed guitar which is covered in scratches? It won’t make you sound like Neil Young my friend. Neil Young sounds like Neil Young because he’s Neil Young and because he does things like this:

That guitar is not beat up. It just looks beat up. It’s never been played and ironically it’s listed on Ebay as: “A new, unused item with absolutely no signs of wear.”

What we have here is simply an overpriced Les Paul Epiphone. The original ‘Old Black’ was and still is:
(a) Old.
(b) A 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop which was crudely painted over with black paint and then heavily modified by Neil Young.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?
If your guitar ends up as beat up as this cheap imitation looks, it should be in that condition because you really used your guitar over the years.

I also have a problem with the money that is charged for shoddy items like this.

A beat up and broken VOX amp that Jimi Hendrix once pissed on and then set fire to?
– Nah. I’ll take a fully working and un-pissed upon VOX amp that hasn’t been set alight thanks.

A beautiful cherry sunburst guitar that has been defaced by the signature of Slash in thick black marker?
– I think you see where I’m going here don’t you?

I hope you do because this isn’t what guitars are for. Play your guitar every day and before you know it, you’ll have a style all of your own and if the Gibson Company one day approach you to authorise your very own signature brand?
– Tell them to EFF OFF!

You May Also Be Interested In…
* Neil Young’s Sound
* A 1997 Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Florentine
* A Montecristo Cigar Box Guitar!

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. If some kid wants to buy a replica to feel “connected” to his idol (obviously why he probably bought it) what’s it to you? Just concentrate on your own shit man….

  2. What it is to me is of no concern to you.
    It’s not like you don’t have enough things to keep busy with…

  3. Seriously? Nobody cares about your problems.

  4. Fuck you asshole !

  5. I think that you make a good point and at that price I am inclined to agree with you. However if the price was £ 200 / £ 300 for the guitar I would be more inclined to go for it.

  6. The Guitar is an Epiphone and Neils was a Gibson. Here someone has taken a cheap guitar and tried to make it look like a Gibson. Even changing the headstock and engraving it with gibson.. thats actually copyright infringement I would say, Nothing on that guitar is even near the origional. And to be hohnest if anyone buys a guitar which costs new a few hundert pounds that has been painted over by some guy for that price they are just simply crazy.

  7. I agree with the author of this article 110%. This is exactly the notion I’ve been espousing to for a vey long time.

    The people that go for this “relic” and “aging toner” crap have all been sold a bunch of rubbage. They’re posers, and the guitar companies like Fender and Gibson are the money mongers that feed this stuff to the masses.

    Perhaps these guitars help the players project this rock and roll bad-ass persona. Well give it up guys. You’re making fools of yourselves and rich guitar company execs laughing all the way to the bank.

    I may be old school, as I like Fender, Gibson and Martin guitars, but there’s no way in hell I will be caught playing a pretentious guitar or amp. Just like all of us, everything gets old in due time. In the end, most people would probably be happier if they let the guitars age on their own.

    But in this world of instant gratification……..


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