Finding authentic paint colors and formulas of the original vintage guitars was the first feat. After reading an article in Vintage Guitar magazine that showed the origins of the original Fender colors that were taken from the American car colors of the time, Joe got to work. The original formulas of those colors had been lost over time so Joe set out to establish formula replications that were dead ringers for the originals. He found paint chips (in mint condition) and original guitars that had areas of exposed finish that he matched. Original Fender finishes from the ’50s and ’60s definitely varied a bit but what he has now is the most comprehensive collection of authentic formulas that he uses on both Vintage refinishes as well as his own Riggio Custom Guitars.

I personally finish every Riggio Custom Guitar and refinish the same, using nitrocellulose lacquer. The thinnest application possible insures that the body and neck are allowed to resonate to their potential. I also mix my own color formulas, so almost anything is possible, from authentic vintage colors and sunbursts to your personal favorite.  Vintage colors are available with or without aging toner in the clear coats. These aging toners will make a new finish look more like the vintage version you might expect.

Necks are available in 3 different finishes:

  • Traditional Gloss – polished lacquer
  • Satin – Slightly dull, slick feel
  • Hand-Rubbed – Gun oil finish, works well with aged body finish and fading into gloss headstock and heel

Aging toners are also available on necks to give that warm vintage look.

I have personally formulated my aging toner to look realistic and not like others you may have seen.


The subject of “aging” newly-built guitars has become somewhat of a controversial subject. Some love it, some can’t wrap their heads around the concept and some even think its embarrassing. I have to admit that I both love the process and art of aging guitars, as well as the result. For many owners, it’s an ice-breaker that helps them grab the guitar without fear of putting the first scratch or mark in their new baby. iF you’re interested in having your Riggio Custom Guitar aged, you have the choice of the severity of the process. Everything from mild checking to extreme wear is possible.

I have very specific intentions when I perform this process. It must look realistic and not contrived. I will never simply take sander to it and call it good. I use various methods and tools to replicate actual wear patterns, real lacquer checking, scratches, dings and accidents.

One thing you will not see is parts that have been oxidized, to the point of uselessness. High performance will always win over looks.

My levels of aging are: Mild and Moderate. (Higher levels of aging available upon request and conversation)

The Best Set-Up You’ll Ever Get
Joe will set up your guitar better than you’ve ever had it set up. He uses a highly intensive and painstaking geometric system to ensure every guitar is playing its best.

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