The trend started with (of the Rolling Stones) telling Fender that he preferred his guitars to be worn-in and used rather than brand new off their production line. So Fender produced a couple for him and from there the Custom Shop started producing limited runs of reliced reissue guitars, intended to look exactly as the original 1950s/1960s guitars do now, after years of gigging and loyal service.
A trend has stared here on eBay of people selling so-called 'relic' guitars and this is something you have to be very weary about. Do you really want to spend your hard-earned money on a guitar which someone else bought years ago and then got bored of, sanded down, hit with a bike chain and then stuck on eBay as a relic in the hopes of making a bit of money out of it?!
Many of the 'relic' guitars here on eBay are nothing more than cheap far-eastern guitars which someone has bashed around a bit. That is not a relic, it's a waste of your money. If what you're after is a guitar with some vintage vibe about it, then buy an older guitar, or at least go to someone who knows what they're doing.
The truth behind the matter is that reliced guitars are fundamentally cool-looking but what's the fun of owning a guitar that someone else has already worn out? You also need to take into account other potential issues, for example, guitars are lacquered (whether it be in polyurethane or nitrocellulose) for a reason: to protect the wood and avoid it from being exposed to moisture in the atmosphere. Equally, cigarette burns on the headstock are pointless - how many guitarists do you know or have seen who actually put their cigarette behind the strings at the nut whilst playing? Even then, how many of those that you have seen are dumb enough to let it burn right the way down until it's touching wood and still leave it there even longer so that it actually leaves a mark?!
If you're thinking about buying a relic guitar, think carefully and weigh up your options before spending your money - don't buy from somebody on eBay who writes in their auction "I reliced this myself" because 90% of the time you will be disappointed when you have the guitar in your hands and it won't play like a vintage instrument. If you must, buy from a reputable seller or brand-name. Also consider the ramifications before undertaking any relicing of you own - will it really add value to your instrument or will it, three years from now when the fed fades again, be worth nothing more than it is: a guitar that someone's abused?
It should be noted that although we sell guitar parts ourselves (we are a custom guitar workshop), eBay automatically puts what it feels are 'relevant' listings beside these reviews, not necessarily our own.