View Full Version : A Question For Bruce Taylor

Memphis Mike
02-17-2008, 11:36 AM
Hey Bruce, this is the newest member of my fleet.


It's a great guitar but I couldn't stand the design work on the pickguard. I read where you could scrub it off with nail polish remover and my dumb a$$ tried it using an abrasive pad. {scotch bright} It dulled the finish on the pickguard.

My question is can the pickguard be replaced and is this something I can do myself or what would you do about it?

02-17-2008, 11:44 AM
Mike....Wait until Bruce or someone who knows what they're talking about chimes in but.....I'd try automotive rubbing compound, then polishing compound.

Memphis Mike
02-17-2008, 11:54 AM
Thanks, Lefty. I'll wait to hear from Bruce. I never thought of fine grit rubbing compound. That might work. The floral design on the pickguard was a little too girlie for me.:o

Paul Pless
02-17-2008, 12:06 PM
youy could always go SRV on it and put some reflective mailbox stickers on it;)

Bruce Taylor
02-17-2008, 03:07 PM
First, congrats on the new guitar. :cool: How's it sound? You going to use it in the acoustic band?

Pickguards can be replaced (heck, every piece of the guitar can be replaced), but I'd do exactly as Lefty suggests and try to rub out the scratches.

Assuming this is a reasonably hard plastic (like the traditional celluloid) it shouldn't be too hard to restore the gloss. Start with automative sandpapers, working your way up through the grits from, say, 800 to 2000, depending on how deep the existing scratches are (you might find 0000 steel wool works better, if the pickguard material is a little soft). Then go to a rubbing compound followed by fine abrasive polish (automotive store). Be really careful to keep the goop out of any gaps, cracks, or exposed pores...especially if it's white (ask me how I know :rolleyes: ).

Then buff till the shine comes back. If you use a powered buffer be REALLY vigilant. You don't want any heat build-up and you don't want to touch the finish of the wood around the pickguard. Use masking tape.

If you happen to have one of those kits for restoring scratched CDs you can probably use those pastes and polishes on your pickguard. I haven't tried it, but the principle is the same: you rub out big scratches with littler scratches, and then rub out the little scratches with even littler scratches, until you're back to gloss.

StewMac sells a line of abrasives that they recommend for polishing pickguards, but I wouldn't resort to expensive specialty polishes unless locally-available abrasives don't work for you.

02-17-2008, 06:31 PM
Polishing it should work but might be much more work than just replacing it. Most pick guards are held on by some very strong PSA adhesive that can be defeated with moderate effort and perhaps a bit of heat from a hair dryer applied VERY judiciously. You have to take it slow and easy 'cause if you rush it you could pull some of the finish off.

Memphis Mike
02-17-2008, 06:50 PM
Thanks Bruce, I'll try to polish it first. Yeah it sounds great. Really loud, full, bellsy tone. I may play it on stage but I haven't been playing it at practice.

Bruce Taylor
02-17-2008, 07:23 PM
Thanks Bruce, I'll try to polish it first.

It's the gentlest intervention. If it doesn't work out, you can replace it later. Getting the old pickguard off isn't necessarily the hard part (unless, as on some older guitars, it's attached to bare wood, with a fillet of lacquer around the edge). Since you don't want tanlines, and definitely don't want to have to rework the finish over that sunburst, you'll then have to order an Epiphone pickguard, or cut your own from a blank (not that hard, but definitely more trouble than polishing what you've got).

Memphis Mike
02-17-2008, 07:31 PM
So there is no actual glue under the pickguard and it is only fastened at the edge?

Bruce Taylor
02-17-2008, 07:43 PM
No, as MAM says, it's glued down. On most modern guitars the pickguard is glued over the finish, but on some older instruments the pickguard is glued to bare wood. When removing a guard like that you have to be particularly careful not to chip out any lacquer.

Todd Bradshaw
02-17-2008, 07:59 PM
I think you may need to go to at least 2000 grit as most of the tortois-colored stuff is fairly soft, compared to something like plexiglass. If you're ever planning on doing any more sanding on guitars or delicate stuff buy a pack of Micro-mesh disks to use for hand-sanding (the disk form of Micro-mesh is the best value for the money, even if you never use them on a sander). Grits included run from 1,500 up to 12,000 and the package is $16.50. These are the best super-fine abrasive papers you will ever buy and last a long time when used by hand.


"Wet-sand" using a little bit of Windex as your lubricant instead of water and work your way up through the grits (this is usually done by rubbing fore-and-aft, not round and round). For polishing, hand rubbing will do the job. You can use 3M "Perfect it" (auto supply stores) or 3M "Imperial Hand Glaze" rubbed with a clean cotton diaper (you should know all about those:) and cotton diapers are less prone to leaving scratches than any of those fancy polishing cloths).

Another excellent polishing compound is called "Scratch-X" and you can get it in the auto dept. of places like Target (along with Zymol cleaner wax which is one of the absolute best waxes for modern polyester finishes) You put a small dab of Scratch-X on the surface and rub it until it's gone. It's kaolin (clay) based and as you rub it, the particles break down and it gets finer and finer as it works. This information comes from the best guitar refinisher I've ever seen, who also happens to be the guy who builds all of Rickenbacker's custom acoustics. When I built my new bass body, I was scared that if I tried machine polishing with some sort of cobbled-together buffer, I'd burn through the finish, so I hand sanded and hand buffed it following his advice above. It turned out pretty darned shiny.


02-17-2008, 08:15 PM
I have a set of micro mesh sanding/polishing sponges similar to the ones in Todd's link but, since they are small squares (2 by 2 I think) they are strictly for hand work. They might be a better choice for a pick guard than 5" discs. A set is seven sponges starting at 2400 grit going up to 12,000.

I don't recall which guitar supply house I got them from but it might have been Stew-Mac.

Todd Bradshaw
02-17-2008, 08:54 PM
Woodcraft has Micro-mesh in several sizes, including the 2" squares. I just figure I'll buy the biggest chunks I can get for the money and cut them down if I need something small and the hook-and-loop-style disk backing makes them quite sturdy. I wrap them around various blocks of stuff, depending on how firm and flat I need the surface to be. It's hard to get too excited about sandpaper, but this is really good stuff.

02-17-2008, 09:13 PM
On the other hand...... A guy who's really secure in his masculinity could get up on stage and play a Broaday show tune on a pink guitar with roses on the pick guard, sing like Liza Minelli, and then segue right into "Purple Haze" without a hitch......:D ;)

Memphis Mike
02-17-2008, 09:24 PM
Shuddup, Lefty.:p Thanks for the info, guys.

02-19-2008, 12:37 PM
Hey Bruce! I just got a "Master" grade set of Engleman Spruce for a top... Tell me how to build a guitar again please! :D ;)

Bruce Taylor
02-19-2008, 01:07 PM
Amazing what you can find at Home Depot, these days. :D

When do you start?

02-19-2008, 09:16 PM
As soon as I figure out how to stand up, bend over, and lift anything over 5 pounds without screaming in agony.
Youngblood had this set put aside for me since last summer, and was begining to wonder if I'd ever stop by to pick it up....

02-19-2008, 09:51 PM
Pick guard..We don't need no stinkin pick guard