So you like the idea of a guitar that looks like it's been around the block and you're looking at relic guitars. Here's something to keep in mind. If you can afford that Fender Custom Shop relic for four grand, yea awesome, it's gonna look great. BUT...you're still getting a NEW guitar. That's right. It may look 20 or 30 years old, but those are new woods on that beauty. Same with those relic shops you'll find that put together "Strats" and "Teles" that they make from Fender licensed parts.
I don't pretend to understand the physics involved, but it is a widely agreed upon principle that the longer the woods on a guitar age in the real world, the BETTER THEY SOUND--the more resonant they become. So I'd make the argument that guitars like the 2007 Highway One relic we currently have for sale present a big advantage.
Namely, it's got woods that have 13 years of real world use under the hood. So it existed out there for years getting played, aged, and loved...and that adds up to more TONE.
Here at Still Kickin Music, we do all our relics on factory Fenders and Gibsons, not parts guitars. And most have at least a few years under their belt, often 5 or 10+ years of time for those woods to take on some character. So Custom Shop is great if you can afford it, but those woods won't be aged. But a used relic guitar?--Tonewood bonus!
This 2010 P-bass had 10 years under its belt before it got reliced.
This Strat had 12 "real world" years of playing time before we beat the heck out of it.