Strat pickguard material-can it change tone?

PremiumPlus

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My '91 Am Std Strat has a custom black walnut pickguard, with Kinman AVn blues pups. My guitar teacher tells me that a maple one would sound brighter. I'm thinking about going to a maple neck for that reason, but will the wood the pickguard is made out of make a difference?
 

uOpt

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898
There's no way to hear the different between two wood pickguards.

But in general, the stiffness of the pickup mount is audible. A floppy plastic pickguard might be audible compare to a stiff wood pickguard.

Is the pickguard is conductive all kinds of electrical effects come in. At the very least Eddie Currents near the pickups, and possibly a buildup in capacitance.
 

RvChevron

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2,465
When it comes to guitars or stringed instruments, everything affects everything.

I once had a parts strat. I was waiting for the pickguard to arrive so I strung it up and played it unplugged without the pickguard for a while. It rang out nice and loud acoustically.

Once the pickguard arrived I install the assembly and mounted it on. Guess what, it now sounded kinda muted acoustically, compared to without the pickguard. It was noticeable.

I had another strat, there was not much audible difference acoustically with or without the pickguard.

Both strats had 3 ply vinyl guards. I have similar experience with hardware changes also.

So, it comes down to each individual guitar. Change one thing, it's noticeable on this guitar but not the other. I do think that applies to pickups also.
 

lawl Dave

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I've heard people say that anodized gold pickguards give a "tinnier" sounds than normal ones, but I can't say. It really seems like pickguard material has a negligible (at best) difference in tone. But then again, I'm the kind of guy that thinks a lot of things have very little impact in tone besides the pickups, bridge, and player.
 

Ian Anderson

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5,240
I am putting an anodized guard on my blonde Lentz S. I have heard it affects the sound, and I can imagine it will. You know what a bathtub route sounds like. There is a whole dynamic to the tone that comes from the guard and pickup assembly. Tell me a strat with hard mounted pups and no guard would not sound different than the same guitar with a guard!

Now I would be hard pressed to say there is a difference in tone between a single ply .060 guard and a .090 3 ply.
 

trower

[geer/peyj] hubris confusion paralysis by analysis
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In my experience YES! If the material is say plastic vs Aluminum. I have a handful of custom made heavy anodized Silver and Gold pick guards and they add a noticeable amount of girth or meat and even sustain to my Strat(s) The above post about everything effecting everything is true to some degree, just more subtle in some cases.
 

uOpt

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898
What effects would a stiffer pickguard have vs a floppier one? I had never heard of a woodpickgaurd before this thread, but now im intrigued.
The stiffness of the mount determines how closely the pickup moves with the body. If you have a floppy mount then the pickup doesn't follow the body as much. In effect that creates movement relative to the strings. That has a noticeable impact on sound. Imagine you look at the guitar with the strings as the reference position and how fast the pickup moves, in audible frequencies.

If the pickguard is conductive all hell breaks loose. At least you will get Eddie Currents that dampen the amplitude of resonance frequency of the pickup. And possibly you get an increase in capacitance for the whole thing that is significant.
 

JohnK24

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I believe materials and thickness can affect the tone. I had a Hamer T51 tele clone, it came with a single ply matt finished black guard, I changed it too a 3 ply tortise guard and noticed the tone was slightly darker, and didn't ring out as much. I swapped the guards several times in one week (after a string change) and noticed the difference each time...an Eric Johnson thing ? Hmmm.....?!
 

uOpt

Member
Messages
898
I believe materials and thickness can affect the tone. I had a Hamer T51 tele clone, it came with a single ply matt finished black guard, I changed it too a 3 ply tortise guard and noticed the tone was slightly darker, and didn't ring out as much. I swapped the guards several times in one week (after a string change) and noticed the difference each time...an Eric Johnson thing ? Hmmm.....?!
You don't even have to go to the material and/or one-layer versus three-layer.

Pickguards aren't flat, none is. They are bend somewhere. if they are bent in the middle towards the body then the screws will press the pickguard onto the top of the guitar. If it is bent outwards in the middle, then the middle, where the pickups are, will float, and it will move. Very obviously the pickups in the first case will follow the body much better and hence have a movement relative to the strings - which induces currents.

Three-ply should be stiffer so if case #2 applies it will have less effect with a three-ply.
 

methenyesque

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182
I'm thinking about getting a maple guard for my G&L ASAT Special from woodguarden.com.

They do a great job with their wooden guards. Very nice quality. And prices are usually pretty good.
 

benjammin420

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1,564
yeah, im tempted to get a rosewood to match the fretboard. but a dark pickguard ona sunburst seems more SRV-wannabe than im going for
 

10strings

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2,731
I just got one of the new Fender American Specials with Texas pups, Rosewood fretboard, and Sunburst finish. Would I notice much tone differents with a maple pickguard? I just don't like plastic black pickguards and was wondering if I would get a tone benefit. Thanks
 


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