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  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

Relic Guitars The Hague - The Interview with Frans van Uffelen

Relic Guitars The Hague logo
Relic Guitars The Hague

Relic Guitars The Hague - The Interview with Frans van Uffelen

Hi Frans. This is Baris from Tone Journey. Welcome to my passion. Now lets begin with your very first beginnings. Whats the story behind the Hague?

RGTH started back in december 2015. Before that, Robert and I were building guitars from our garden shed just for fun and hobby. When our first builds sold quickly, custom orders were coming in and soon after that, we were building 150 guitars in the evenings and weekends. A year later we decided to make the company official. Last year we moved twice to bigger workshops so as to give our expanding business more space and to accommodate the large machines we need to build our guitars.

We’re still a small custom shop, we build around 250 guitars a year, both on special demand and in small series. Our focus is on building vintage style guitars. Custom (hand) made, for a ‘factory price’. That way everybody can have a high quality handmade guitar for a descent price, including our unique lifetime warranty.

Relic Guitars The Hague replicas of blackie and blk1
Blackie and BLK1

Felt curious when i first knew that you were from Holland. Couple years ago i had an interview with Luke Wetfield from Rebel Relic Guitars that was also from your homeland. An American vibe from Holland or European taste on relic guitars, right? Does it confuse other people? And is there some kind of growing tradition on relic guitars in Holland?

I sincerely believe there are many great guitar builders in Holland. I can name 10 of them by heart from whom I’d buy a guitar instantly, without hesitation. But to answer your question… No, I don’t think our clients get confused between RR and RGTH. We both have our own signature in building and aging guitars. We’ve never had a client who was also thinking about buying a RR and I bet Luke can tell you the exact same thing about his clients.

Relic Guitars The Hague relicing

About the tradition you are referring to…, I am not aware of that. But I guess ‘relics’ are hot at the moment and the huge misunderstanding that any moron can drag a guitar behind a car and relic it is still very relevant. Lots of builders try it to attract a new group of guitar players but most of them fail in a way. You can make a guitar LOOK old, but it’ll never PLAY and SOUND old unless you really know what you’re doing.

Can you please tell me about the raw materials for your guitars? What kind of woods you choose, what origins do they have, do you have any kind of acceptance criteria etc?

Most of the woods we use are the obvious choices for any guitar builder; (red) alder, swamp ash, old pine & mahogany. For the necks we use maple (US or Canadian) and Indian Rosewood. We’re not that much into the flamed, quilted or birds-eye versions of those woods. Just a matter of personal preference. We only use AAA+ versions of the woods above and most important the wood has to be light and resonant. You cannot judge a book by it’s cover, but you can most certainly judge a piece of wood by knocking on it.

For custom orders we’ve used paulownia, zebrano, basswood and a whole lot of other woods as well, but we don’t stock them.

Relic Guitars The Hague

What advantages do your guitars have Frans? Why someone should think of buying your guitars instead of any other brand? What do you offer your customers exclusively?

  • We build all guitars by hand. And by that, we mean not by CNC or any automated machine.

  • All our guitars have a lifetime warranty on defects

  • We use premium woods, lacquer and hardware

  • Our clients are in charge of the building process. If you want a Jazzmaster with a Strat trem system and a Tele neck that sounds like a ’58 Les Paul we will build that.

  • We are not afraid to try new things, new processes and new techniques to make our instruments sound the way our clients want them to sound.

  • We offer the best instruments for the best prices.

Relic Guitars The Hague comparison

Can you please give some details about pickups of your guitars? Are they historically accurate pickup clones or modern ones for todays needs?

We custom order them to our specs all around the world, including the Netherlands. Our pickup guys are specialists, make all pickups by hand and do an awesome job

Your products have very elegant line of aging. They are so realistic and seem like they have their own stories. Whats your point, concept about “relic making” concept?

We build our guitars the way our hero’s built them half a century ago. Our relics are not just optically old. They really feel and sound old as well. We have figured out a process to age the woods and pickups in a way our guitars can seriously compete with any true vintage instrument.

I especially liked the replicas of celebrity guitars like “blackie”. It seems there is detailistic afford on them. Do you have special stories about them?

Projects like “Blackie/Brownie“( Eric Clapton) or the “Black1”(John Mayer) are indeed special to us. We like to to things right, or do not do them at all. When you make a reproduction of a famous guitar, the devil is in the details. Our clients expect a true 1:1 replica, so we will do anything to keep that promise.

There is undeniable interest on relic guitars recent years. Thats why there are some other relic strat/tele builders, Fender Custom Shop releases too many relic guitars and Fender releases affordable “Road Worn” models. Whats your opinion about why? Why do people love those very dirty looking instruments?

That’s a discussion we have had way too many times. I recon any guitar player should be able to play what he or she wants and we should all stop trying to explain what the heart wants. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the discussion should focus on why players still want a 1cm thick poly finish on a piece of crappy wood and pay way to much for it :-)

I have never played any of your instruments. But they are looking as same as extremely expensive original custom shop guitars. But how about the sound, the playing comfort?

Our guitars sound as good, or better, than any, much more expensive instrument. Ditto for the playing comfort. I can tell you a thousand things, but to only way to be sure is to try one yourself. Words are only words.

Relic Guitars The Hague - The Interview
Relic Guitars The Hague - The Custom Shop

How is your import/export situations? In how many countries can your guitars be bought?

We export all over the globe.

What is the limit of succes to you? Are you satisfied about the position you are on?

Bill Nash is one of our big heroes and we’d like to grow to his proportions. Somewhere in the 1000 guitars a year region and a small factory. But we’d rather have 250 happy clients than 900 ‘so-so’ happy clients.

Do you have endorsees? Can you tell me about your projects about endorsements?

Yes we do have a couple of endorsees. Some very famous, some unknown. Most important to us is to have a connection with the musician in question. Sales, gigs and record deals come after that. Some of our best endorsees are the guys you’ve never heard of. But we love to work with them. They’re considered family.

Relic Guitars The Hague custom shop
Relic Guitars The Hague

What aftersale advantages you have? Can you give a strong support?

Well, I guess the lifetime warranty says it all.

Thanks Frans. I wish you all the best for your guitar biz. I wish someday i could play one of your instruments. Take care...

white stratocaster

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