Giving metal parts that "antique" look

How to age metal guitar parts quick!

I don't know about you, but when I go into a guitar shop I'm always instantly drawn to the rack with all the used gear.  Maybe it's because the beat-up instruments carry a certain mystique, they all have a story to tell.  I want to ask them, "where have you been?" "Who played you?" "Have you been all over the country, or all over the world?" "How long have you been around?" "Have you been in any fights over the years?"  Only the people who owned them know the answers to these questions, and they may be long gone.  When I look at these guitars I get the same feeling I did when I was a kid and I would dig around in the dump full of antiques that was behind my parents house in Maine.  I would find some old farm equipment, or a piece of an engine, or even an old Coke bottle and just stare at it for hours and make up all kinds of stories in my head.  So I think a guitar with some character is a little more interesting than all the shiny turds that were spit out of a factory somewhere overseas.

The first step to giving a guitar some character is rust.  Some people might cringe at the idea of intentionally rusting their precious guitar, but it is fairly easy to do and doesn't effect the playability of a guitar.  You DO NOT, however want to intentionally rust parts that effect the adjustments like action and intonation, for example, tuners and bridge adjustment screws!  So how do you make rust?  Salt!  If there is one thing I learned in Maine it's that salt will rust your car faster than anything.  In the winter they salt the roads to melt the ice, it's good for the traction, but bad for the cars.  You would be lucky to find any cars over 10 years old still on the roads in Maine.

So to rust my metal guitar parts I first remove them from the guitar and put them on a piece of plastic or in some sort of container.  I mix a couple teaspoons of salt with some warm water and mix it up with a paintbrush and then brush it on the parts as if it was paint.  Then I simply leave them outside and let Mother Nature do the rest.  I let them sit there for a couple of days and really let the elements beat on them, reapplying the salt water mixture as needed. 

In a couple of days I rinse off the parts with water and dry them with a paper towel.  Now my guitar has the look of one that's been played, sweat on, and beaten up for years!