Time to step up and face it: the ‘relic’ trend isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, it seems to be picking up steam as the ‘technology’ (mainly scrapin’ stuff and bangin’ junk, I bet) becomes more cost-effective. And that’s just fine by a lot of guitarists. We can’t all afford sweet vintage goodies with decades of grit, grime, love, hate and passion hammered into them, but relic’d guitars make it possible to tap into some of that same vintage vibe, along with the associated playability benefits. Now, ESP is no stranger to the relic biz. Witness their blindingly precise Kirk Hammett aged model, or George Lynch’s GL-56, the James Hetfield Truckster and Iron Cross models, and various other designs over the past few years. One of the more recent entries into the catalog is the LTD TE-202, a guitar which isn’t exactly shy about wearing its inspirations on its sleeve – it’s pretty much ESP’s take on a Telecaster.
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Let’s put aside the relicing for a moment and look at what the TE-202 has to offer from a structural perspective. It features a heavy-duty Alder body (a tone wood prized for its rich midrange, tight bass and airy treble as well as a pretty damn decent dynamic range), with a satisfyingly vintage-tinted maple neck and fretboard, historically-accurate 25.5″ scale length, bolt-on construction and a traditional flat-mount bridge with six individual saddles.