How worried are you about how your guitar looks? Are you like me with a new guitar ... anxious about every nick, scratch and ding?? Here is a photo that shows the various cosmetic issues that my 2005 Artist Mosaic has ... these things are about the only reason I got it for $300 instead of $600-$800. As I was strumming it last night I thought back to the time this past summer when I got to play the marvelous 1953 Martin D-28. That particular Martin valued at $14,000, was not much better cosmetically than my Artist. And yet, it was considered gorgeous and full of character, rather than beat-up. Both the Artist and the vintage Martin play much better than a brand new model because they've been played a lot and they've aged nicely. While I don't ever see myself being the type to wear a hole in my top like Willie Nelson or Glen Hansard, I think I'll become more comfortable with scratches, dents and dings as I mature along with my instruments. How about you??
I know people look at Willie Nelson's or Keith Richards' guitars and smile and say "wow, what stories that could tell". Those instruments have been seriously abused, partly because they are used so much on the road, performing night after night, banged around by roadies, etc. I understand the whole rock 'n' roll warrior thing, or the punk ethos (look at Joe Strummer's tele), and that Hansard guitar, well that's a crime.
I like them clean and shiny. My Simon & Patrick Pro Rosewood is 14 now and has just a few light pick marks (no pickguard), few light scratches on back, and some wear on the fret board. The Vintage Burst Parlor is brand new and so far is scratch-and-dingless. only a matter of time, of course. My 14 year old Tele is pretty clean, too, and I'm the third owner.
When I change strings on any of my guitars, I take the time to wipe them down with a soft cloth and some polish. The fret boards get conditioned twice a year (forced air furnaces here in the northeast, very dry). I just love the object. Guitars are wonderful, beautiful things. I love the way they look, feel, sound, and smell (yep, smell!) They deserve respect, and I take care of mine (and, of course, they're "only mine for a while.").
I guess I look at my guitars as I do my vehicles, I try to keep them looking as good as I can. I know both the guitars and vehicles will get scratched dinged, but I try to keep it to a minimum. The guitars are a little easier to prevent damage to them the vehicles.