MARTIN GUITAR PICKGUARD REPLACEMENT
by:© Steve Carmody|
This 1963 Martin OOO-18 pickguard has curled up and away from the body. Older Martin guitars ( and other makes as well )
had pickguards which were glued directly to the bare wood of the top.
Nitrocellulose finish was applied over the pickguard after it was installed .
This gives a classic look but over time the inevitable shrinking of the
plastic , hastened I believe by the reaction to the solvents in the finish which overlayed them
, causes the pickguards to shrink and pull away from their original
location. In some cases the topwood is drawn away with the pickguard
causing the " pickguard crack" that you often see at the edges of the
guard . If you are lucky the pickguard shrinks away without taking the
wood with it, but cracks are often caused by this creeping action .
In these cases the cracks must be repaired and the pickguard eventually
becomes so distorted that it needs to be replaced. Additionally, it is not
unusual that , as the pickguard shrinks , it pulls wood away so that a
stock replacement guard ( available for Martin guitars) will not cover
the exposed area. In these cases ( and all others where a factory part
is not available i.e. most other cases) a pickguard must be handmade.
First , the old pickguard must be carefully peeled off. I like to use
a thin painters palette knife. The exposed area of top wood must be cleaned
and lightly sanded smooth
With the pick guard removed , any cracks are glued and clamped.
In some cases the cracks will not close up with clamping pressure .
If the guitar has been in this state for a long time a thin spline of
wood may have to be fitted into the crack but sometimes the guitar is
all dried out and just needs to be humidified for a few days .
A quick way to restore moisture to a guitar is to put a wet sponge ,
contained in a plastic box, inside the guitar. Cover the instrument
with a plastic bag and put it back in its case for a few days. Sometimes,
clamping the crack into place (no glue) while the humidifying goes on
helps to keep it aligned while it closes. I have heard of taking the
instrument into the bathroom while taking a shower (!), but I'm not
comfortable trying this out on a customer owned instrument so I can't