This pickguard – genius, or, what was I thinking?

So, I had this young man come in, wanting me to take a look at his guitar, if everything was alright. It was a pretty looking (though dusty) Hertz with many aesthetic appointments.

For one, the back on the instrument had some very pretty, figured rosewood type wood on the outside.

The heel cap, too, was very pretty, different from what I had ever seen; spruce from the looks of it.

And that arm bevel…

Ah, well!!!

The owner brought it in because he was a little worried about this glue-up job and whether it would hold.

The glue-up job seemed to be holding and it was a  good fix. So, I told the owner to rest his head and not worry about it too much.

But as I turned the guitar over, I saw this

The first two photographs show dents possibly caused by fingernails in the process of percussive playing. The third photograph was cause for concern: pick or nail marks. Given enough time, the owner could easily slice through the soft, spruce. So, I told him that the instrument would need a pickguard, and he agreed with my suggestion.

In all the three photographs, do go back and admire the lovely soundhole rosette – another of those very aesthetic appointments.

Now, contrast all those lovely features that I pointed out, to this

Notice that the bridge is ‘painted’ a lovely dark brown. The real colour of the wood used is what you see on the walls of the bridgepin holes and the the empty saddle slot!

Also, the areas marked red looked as if someone had put plugs on the bridge. Plugs? Why? And then it struck me. As I went inside the guitar’s body, I saw it. I tried clicking a photo so that I could show you too, but, silly me, I did not clean the mirror.

Exactly where you can see dust on the mirror (the encircled area), is a length of screw hanging down from the top. There was its twin hanging just like it from the opposite end of the bridge.

No one, NO ONE…can convince me about the utility of these screws. On the other hand, I am sure I can persuade anyone on the disadvantages of having these on the bridges of acoustic instruments.

What was more, the bridge was beginning to show the initial cracks at the ‘G’ and ‘B’ bridgepin holes. I stuffed them with sawdust and wood glue and sanded everything smooth.

Needless to say that I also swapped the plastic/micarta/whatever nut and saddle with bone elements (not documenting it here; you’ve seen me do it a million times).

Thereafter, the fretboard and the fretwires were given some love and some love potion. See how it shines? And yes, that’s the new nut seated proudly in the slot.

However, the main job was fashioning a pickguard for the instrument. I showed the owner many designs and pickguard materials. He chose this one

And here begins the story of a strange happening. As you can probably make out from the photograph above, I had traced out the shape of the pickguard on the material and was about to cut it. Then, just like it happens in the films – eyes turning in their sockets and things happening on their own – I went blank, completely blank! I have no recollection of what transpired.

When I ‘awoke’, the pickguard was done, dusted and stuck to the guitar like this

My first reaction was to let out a shriek of horror. After that a lot of head-scratching followed to figure out how what had happened, happened (It was afternoon, and no, I hadn’t been drinking!). This was a month or so ago, and even as I write this, my brows are furrowed and I am still trying to figure things out.

‘Ah! What the hell,’ I had thought to myself…’if he doesn’t like it, I’ll have to rip it off and create another pickguard’.

But thankfully, the owner was very cool about it and, in fact, liked the ‘different’ design!


Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

2 thoughts to “This pickguard – genius, or, what was I thinking?”

  1. This was an interesting read because of that unique, accident-ly awesome pickguard.
    It’s good to see this blog running and have something positive to look forward to in these pandemic times. Stay safe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *