Pickguard Picking

Custom Pickguard

From time to time, I get asked to make a custom pickguard for someone (and it's fair to say that making my own guitars also means making my own pickguards).

If you've got a relatively standard guitar, there's usually a good chance you can buy a replacement pickguard 'off-the-rail' (which is handy as it'll certainly be cheaper to buy something that's been cut in three seconds by a machine than something that has to be made to order). However, some people want something a little different or just can't source a particular pickguard for an older or an unusual instrument. That's where I come in.

scratchplate custom cut
custom-cut pickguard

Doing this isn't rocket science but there's a little bit of work involved as it's generally necessary to sort out a template first. Having a template lets me rout and bevel the edges cleanly. If I were to cut this plastic by hand, it would be very, very difficult to get a good finish along the edges. Spending the time making a template is pretty boring but it pays off in the end-product. 

I took these photos a while back, while finishing up the last Bassmaster. The process is the same for pretty much any of these, though. Spend the time perfecting the template. Rout the edges and then bevel wherever necessary (that 45° angle usually doesn't run the whole perimeter). Often, as here, there will be cut-outs for pickups and annoying little control plates—that's when the swearing starts.


The other annoying thing: When you rout plastic, it shaves off in tiny slivers that fly about, all charged with static electricity. These cling to whatever they touch and you end up finding tiny squares of white/black/white plastic in strange places for days.

As I mentioned, then, if you're looking for a standard pickguard for your Strat or Tele, have a look online and buy one for a few quid. If you need something a little weird, though, give me a shout. 

The Perils Of Pickguard Production

Routing plastic pickguard material is fraught with danger. Routing wood makes a mess; lots of wood shavings and sawdust. Routing plastic also makes tiny shavings but they fly about the place, all charged with static and eager to cling to anything they touch like they're some sort of face-sucking alien and you're John Hurt.

The horror! The b/w/b horror!

Plastic Pickguard Detritus
Custom Pickguard