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Gibson Les Paul, Custom Pickguard

5/13/2014

 

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1. Ebay Pickguard Fail.  This replacement pickguard comes up short.  It’s warped, fits too tightly around the neck pickup, and much too loose around the bridge pickup.  I could modify the pickguard to better-fit the bridge pickup but it would still be a sloppy fit in other respects.  A new pickguard is in order. 2. A Gibson.  Originally equipped with mini-humbuckers, a crude conversion to the larger standard-sized humbuckers was made.  The new pickups are irregularly aligned and the pickup-rings have been forced into the shape of a paralellagram.  I’ll make a pickguard from scratch that aligns with the unique geometry of this guitar.
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3. Tracing a Les Paul Pickguard onto a sheet of paper.  I’ll leave the bass-side of the pickguard blank where it will conform to the pickups. 4. Tracing the Pickup Rings.  I’ve slipped the tracing beneath the pickup rings and reattached the ring mounting screws and pickguard top mounting screw.
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5. Pickguard and Template.  I’ve attached the tracing to a sheet of cream PVC plastic with spray adhesive, then rough-cut the pickguard and a plywood work-board with the bandsaw.  A thin, double sided carpet tape attaches the pickguard to the plywood.  At the same time that I make the pickguard, I’ll create a custom template. 6. Drilling Out the Corners of the pickup-ring notches with the drill press will make cutting out the notches easier and faster.
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7. The Bandsaw rough-cuts the pickguard and work board assembly to within 1/16” of the tracing. 8. The Disc Sander cleans up the bandsaw marks from the outside corner of the assembly.
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9. Sanding the assembly smooth with the oscillating spindle sander.  I used the large spindle to smooth most of the guard.  Now I’m using the smallest spindle to get as close to the tight corners as possible.  The small spindle leaves light ruts in the work piece which will have to be cleaned up later. 10. A Sharp Chisel cleans up the small spindle sander ruts.
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11. A Round File cleans up the corners. 12. A Jack Plane trims the bass side of the pickguard to its finished size.
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13. Final Fit and Finish.  I used a scraper and a quarter-round router bit as a scraper to profile the edges of the pickguard.  Some light block-sanding with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper smoothed the edges.  Counter-sinking the mounting screw holes and fine-tuning of the notches around the pickups have this pickguard ready to mount. 14. The Ebay Hardware didn’t quite fit right.  A little bending of the bracket has the pickguard acceptably aligned with the strings and top of the guitar.  I also had to grind the top mounted screw to be much shorter in order to avoid contacting the top.
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15. The Cream Pickguard matches the color of the pickup rings.  I’ll save the finished work-board in the off chance that I can use it as a router template for a future custom pickguard. 16.  All Done.