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The process of "distressing" or a "distressed" model refers to a process whereby the instrument is given a look that implies age and weathering or evidence of playing wear. In short, it's building a new instrument to look like one that is decades old and hopefully feels and sounds as such.
The distressing process is done by artificially introducing features in the construction process such as finishing checking, wear use, scratches and even minor dents and dings to the finish.
This practice is quite common and accepted in the high end violin community, and is even preferred by many. It's also fairly common in guitars, but not so common in mandolins.
Over the years a few individual builders have experiemented with this technique, and the Gibson corporation even offers a productional distressed model as part of its retail mandolin family.
Some builders claim their distressing procedures result in the instrument actually possessing a vintage tone. Whether this is true or not is a matter of opinion and part of the controversy that often surrounds this building process.
Authored by: Mandolin Cafe
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