The "relic" guitar phase may finally be over (but the replacement kinda sucks)
Something happened at NAMM this year that was good...
...and that was Fender showing a lot of non-"relic" guitars.
Make no mistake that as long as Fender exists, they will build "heavy relic" guitars because there are buyers out there willing to spend many thousands for a distressed Fender electric.
However, the fact that Fender did not have a prominent showing of relic'd guitars at NAMM this year signifies that the popularity of distressed guitars has at long last run its course. When Fender scales back showing off fake-old guitars, that basically tells the guitar industry that it's time to move on (thank God).
What's the Next Big Thing?
Before I tell you what my guess is, bear in mind I play trebly-extreme, big-single-coil Jazzmaster guitars and primarily focus on surf rock with some '50s stuff and country pickin' intermixed with that...
...which is the absolute opposite of what the internet guitar community is focused on.
And what is the internet guitar community focused on at the moment? Shredding.
There's a guitar out there right now, the Mitchell MD200. Not my style of guitar, but it is a game changer. It's cheap, it has 24 frets, it has a 13.75" fingerboard radius, black nickel hardware, offset dot inlays, thin neck. Someone on my Facebook page even asked me about it recently.
The MD200 is an Ibanez fighter, and it has the goods where it counts. This is the cheap shredder guitar anyone can buy that gets the job done...
...but hang on, there's also another inexpensive contender, the Jackson JS12. And there are other contenders besides that too.
I'm seeing more cheap 24-fret cheap shredder guitars appearing, and there will be plenty of people buying these guitars up left and right.
I don't shred and I don't listen to shred guitar at all. But I do recognize that is what the kids are buying these days. And if that's what they want to play, at least it's good there are genuinely good and cheap ways to do it.
I did a search for the Mitchell MD200 on YouTube, and I couldn't find anything. This means anyone who gets that guitar and posts a video will be found first on a search.
Will the high-priced shred guitar make a return?
Presently, there really aren't that many high-price shred guitars. Not compared to current "relic" stock, anyway. And by high-priced I mean "well into 4-figure territory".
The go-to guitars at the moment for a high end shredder are the upper tier Ibanez JEM offerings, almost anything made by Charvel and upper tier Jackson models. There are other brands, but for the moment I see Ibanez, Charvel and Jackson dominating the shredder space. You could also throw ESP in there too, but most of their super-high-tier stuff is signature model and special one-offs while Ibanez/Jackson/Charvel have better production run choices.
I do think there will be more shred guitars coming. I won't be playing any of them, but if that's your thing, there should be more coming to market real soon.