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Looking for a decent tortoiseshell pickguard material for electric guitar...

Mighty Melvin

Senior Member
Messages
2,711
...by which I mean not the thin pieces that you glue onto an acoustic guitar. Although if it's not paper-thin I'd take a look.

The Stew-Mac material has been criticized by having the photo resolution of a 1940's comic book. The others I have heard nothing about. I want a nice mellow pattern and (they seem all to be striped edges) an edge that is not too garish. I don't really need real celluloid (a piece of which spontaneously burst into flames in a display case at the shop where I worked).

I just want a nice piece. Anyone have any good experiences?

Thank you kindly.
 

Khromo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,170
This stuff looks pretty good. Allparts has three different flavors of tortoise shell and this "vintage" version is by far the best I've ever found. Darker, smooth and mellow. Dangerous looking. Also a little pricey (if you buy it directly from Allparts) and flammable (I've had it burst into flames when I was roughing out a pattern on a belt sander! Who says guitar repair is boring?!?!)

https://www.allparts.com/Vintage-Nitrate-Tortoise-Pickguard-Blank_p_2547.html

Buy it from an Allparts dealer and the price should be a lot better than buying direct from Allparts.
 

Laurent Brondel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,322
Mojotone, WD and AllParts all have decent 3 or 4-ply tortoiseshell / poly guards. If you want something with the look of the vintage stuff and are ready to pay for it, this dude does it perfectly.
 

Khromo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,170
Geez, for 86 bucks they oughta be able to tell you how thick it it. That's more than half of what the guitar cost.
Buy it from an Allparts dealer, not from Allparts. As you can see, Allparts doesn't seem to encourage retail customers! There is a "Find A Dealer" tab at the top of the home page.

I don't have a piece handy to measure, but I use it a lot and it seems to be the same thickness as everybody's three- and four-ply materials, about 0.090 inches. It is real (highly flammable!) nitrate and it looks great on vintage style instruments, but you have to pay for that.

They also have red tint and "untinted" celluloid (I think) versions at about half the price.
 

swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,485
I bought a piece from Stew Mac that is real nice. I think at the time they had a couple different options in different places in their catalog. I like the vintage style that looks more like real tortoise, less red in it too. It would help to know what guitar you are making it for.
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,243
The celluloid stuff is supposed to be the best looking you'll find by far. As has been pointed out, it is flammable, but so are a lotta things we rarely have any trouble with. Solvents and finishing materials come to mind. So, I'm not sure I'd worry about that too much. The more common problem is that it's not as stable as the ABS plastic most 'guards are made of, so it tends to distort over time and the tendency is pretty temperature-sensitive. I've even heard of loose pieces showing up substantially warped just from shipping during the summer months.
 






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