What Are Fender ‘Road Worn’ Guitars?

In a nutshell, Fender's Road Worn guitars offer desirable "relic'd" nitrocellulose finishes and vintage-inspired specs (like many of their Custom Shop instruments) but without the huge price tags. In this article, though, we dig a little bit deeper...

Elliot Stent

Elliot Stent

“Relic’d” guitars, like those from the Fender Road Worn series, are all the rage these days. So many musicians just love the look that beaten-up, well-played vintage instruments have (with their chipped paint, dents and cracked lacquer), that they want to capture the same aesthetic in guitars that aren’t actually decades-old or as expensive as real ’50s and ’60s instruments!

But why are relic guitars so popular, and what makes them special? It’s hard to explain exactly why, but as guitarists ourselves, we feel that they just possess that extra character, charm and most importantly, “mojo”, which can sometimes be missing from brand new, flawless-from-the-factory instruments. A relic’d guitar provides you with all of that old-school vibe without having to actually wait years for genuine wear and tear to appear. Don’t get us wrong, they’re not for everyone. But here at Andertons, we love a good relic…

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at Fender‘s Road Worn series, which we believe is a fairly underappreciated line in their current product catalogue. This range encompasses a number of relic’d electric guitars and basses but, as you’ll soon find out, there’s a bit more to them than that. By the end of this piece, you just might consider a Fender Road Worn model for your collection!

What is a “Road Worn” Fender Guitar?

Fender FSR Vintera Road Worn Stratocaster Guitars

First introduced back in 2009, the Fender Road Worn series boasts a number of artificially-aged instruments — from stylish Stratocasters to “twangy” Telecasters and even oddball offsets. These guitars are purposefully made to look far older than they actually are via a “relicing” process, whereby the paint coats are worn and distressed at specific points. These are typically in places where your body makes contact with the guitar, such as the body’s lower bout (where the forearm of your picking hand rests), and the back of the neck. Pieces of metal hardware that are often subject to sweat, like the bridge and tuning machines, are also oxidized to create that cool, aged look.

A Fender Road Worn guitar therefore possesses many of the desirable features you’d find on a vintage Fender instrument. However, the beauty of Fender Road Worn models is that they’re available at prices that are far more in reach for players than genuine vintage guitars, or the instruments from Fender’s Custom Shop division. This is where Fender builds its top-of-the-line models, the majority of which are replicas of vintage guitars (or at least heavily inspired by them) — sporting period-correct pickups and parts, and of course, relic’d nitrocellulose finishes. Fender Road Worn guitars give you many of those attributes, most notably nitro finishes, but at a much more affordable price point.

Read our ‘Nitro vs. Poly – Which Guitar Finish Is Better?’ blog to learn more about nitrocellulose finishes and what makes guitars with them so special.

Does “Road Worn” Mean Damaged?

Fender Road Worn Finish

Well, yes. Kind of. Structurally-speaking, Fender Road Worn guitars are not damaged and will be just as reliable and easy to play as any other brand new Fender guitar. Their finishes, however, are deliberately damaged in order to recreate the look and feel of real vintage guitars. To quote Monty Python, it’s like they have “just a flesh wound” — well, a few actually.

One of the biggest benefits that Fender Road Worn guitars offer, or any relic’d instrument in fact, is that it doesn’t really matter if you inflict even more damage upon them! Adding your own battle scars is just a part of the fun, and it means that you can be a little bit less precious with your Fender Road Worn Stratocaster, Telecaster, bass, or whatever takes your fancy. One of these guitars would therefore serve as a fantastic gigging workhorse!

Where are Fender Road Worn Guitars made?

Fender Road Worn guitars are made in Mexico, to ensure that they remain relatively affordable. If you want a Fender Road Worn style guitar crafted in the USA, then you’d have to buy something from the prestigious Custom Shop line. This is because Fender doesn’t currently offer a Road Worn finish option for their standard American production line guitars, such as those from the American Performer, American Pro II or American Ultra series’.

If you do decide to go the Custom Shop route, then you’re looking at paying at least triple the price of something from the Mexican-made Road Worn series! With either choice, you’ll still get the luxury of a real nitrocellulose finish — just like those “golden era” Fender instruments produced in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

What Fender Road Worn Guitars Do We Sell?

Fender FSR Mischief Maker Strat Purple
Here at Andertons, we pride ourselves on our close relationship with a number of industry-leading brands, and Fender is very much one of them. This allows us to collaborate with Fender on Andertons-exclusive models that boast our very own custom specs that you won’t find anywhere else! So alongside Fender’s standard Road Worn models, including artist signature guitars, we have a selection of limited edition instruments with unique finishes and upgraded parts — including USA Custom Shop pickups.

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Elliot Stent
Elliot Stent
Elliot is a Senior Digital Product Marketer at Andertons, and at least the 7th best guitarist in the company's Web Team. He's exactly one day younger than Harry Styles, and believes that this "head start" is the only reason why Harry's more successful than him.

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