Relic guitars… These are a somewhat controversial topic in the guitar community. Some people absolutely love the look of a worn-out Strat or Tele and simply cannot afford to purchase a vintage instrument. Other people will say it’s entirely pointless and you should just play the guitar and let it develop its own natural wear and tear. Either way, I think we can all agree that you shouldn’t attempt to relic a $4000+ Mayones to the point of destroying it.

I still cringe when I look at that…

Today, we’ll be taking a look at the affordable LTD TE-254 to see how this ‘Relic’d’ Tele holds up!


– Solid Ash Body
– Distressed 3-Tone Burst Finish
– Maple Neck
– Thin U Neck Contour
– Maple Fretboard
– 25.5’’ Scale Length
– 13.77″ Fretboard Radius
– 22 Extra Jumbo Frets
– Traditional Flat-Mount Bridge
– LTD Tuners
– ESP LTS-120B/LH-150N Pickups
– 1xVolume/1xTone/3-Way Switch

So, the ‘relicing’ job actually looks pretty sweet on this guitar. It’s not over-the-top, but it has a reasonable amount of wear. The finish is quite thin and the grain of the wood is popping out a bit. There were a few spots where the finish was entirely gone and the wood was bare. All of these little areas felt smooth to the touch, so that’s a big plus for me. The neck was the most convincing part of the guitar as it legitimately looked as if it was naturally worn over the course of a few decades. Hats of to ESP for nailing that one.

To talk about the actual feel of the instrument, the neck on the LTD TE-202 felt similar to the TE-417 (except with 1 less string) that we reviewed a while back. It’s not super thick, but it does have a nice chunky feel to it. It feels great for rhythm playing, although it’s not my favorite for lead styles.

I know it’s expected on a $400 guitar, but the tuners felt just pretty cheap. I would recommend swapping these out for some nice locking tuners. Check out our Top 4 Locking Tuners for some recommendations!

LTD TE-254 Relic

LTD TE-254 Relic Back


An interesting addition to this guitar is the Ash body. I wouldn’t say that Ash is objectively better than Alder or anything, it’s just usually associated with more expensive instruments and you don’t generally get that option in this price range.

The Ash body adds a nice resonance and percussive pick attack to the guitar. It’s a bit brighter than your standard Tele.

The LTS-120B bridge pickup is very clear, bright, and responsive. It does a great job of letting your hands do the work. Its strong suit is clean tones for sure, but it handles mid-gain just fine.

The LH-150N is obviously fatter than the bridge pickup. I found that it’s a bit bassy for the crystal clean tones that I tried to achieve from it. It handles mid-gain leads the best.

Overall the pickups are decent. They were actually better than I expected in this price range, but they aren’t very tight and pretty much fell apart when exposed to high gain. It’s not a big deal because considering it’s a relic guitar, I’m assuming most buyers would be using it for vintage tones. If you did in fact want to use it for hard rock or metal, I’d probably consider a pickup swap, at least in the bridge.

Read about how to swap pickups here!

Build Quality:

Well, you know… the finish looks like crap…

In all seriousness, we’ll skip the finish because it’s supposed to look terrible.

The positives here are that the guitar sounded decent, played well, and was comfortable to hold.

The tuners did feel really cheap, as I said earlier, and the frets had a number if scratches. I’m not sure if that was intended because of the relic job, but I’d rather have good frets even if the rest of the guitar looks vintage.

Final Verdict:

The LTD TE-254 is a very affordable relic Tele for the player whose looking for something that looks and sounds quite vintage but is on a budget.

A few minor upgrades and you’d have yourself a really well playing $400 Tele.


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This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana.

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