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Cutting my own pickguard?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by TDSLaBassiste, Nov 21, 2012.


  1. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Location:
    Southwest Florida
    On my wishbass, the routing for the pickup is really.... not that good. The hole for the pickup really does not perfectly match the shape of it at all and I want to cover the area with a pickguard, but because of how far down the fretboard extends, I'll need to get a pickguard and then cut it down myself to fit. How should I go about cutting and sizing down the pickguard to fit around the pickup?

    For those interested, here's a picture of the pickup in the bass. Sorry, it's a little fuzzy. http://i.imgur.com/PKVJ7.jpg
     
  2. CnB77

    CnB77

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Location:
    NJ
    You'll want a router. I assume you'll use a MM pickguard?
    Don't forget to bevel the edges after you cut the guard
     
  3. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Location:
    Southwest Florida
    I plan to get a MM pickguard and cut away the excess. How would I go about using a router for this?
     
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2004
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    You can buy pickguard router bits at stewmac.com. But before you cut an existing PG, I'd continue my homework, watch YouTube videos on router technique, and do some practicing with a router.
     
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  6. 49sfine

    49sfine Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I made a 3 ply PG for a MIJ Fender Bullet bass and it came out super. No one yet can tell it's not factory. I bought a sheet of PG material from Stewmac and used the old one as a template. I did the cut outs using a drill and jewelers saw and some fine files. I also hand beveled the edges with the same files and then scraped it smooth with a single edge razor blade. The holes for the screws to hold it down were drilled with a drill press so keep them all precise. It took some time, but was cheap since I had all the tools already.

    However, I work on Wishbasses alot and I would not make a standard type of PG - I would use some kool, thin wood that would either contrast or blend nicely with your body woods. That, IMHO, would be more in keeping with the character of a Wishbass. I made such a pickup surround using thin metal and veneering it with maple, to blend with a body made out of poplar (or just use some very thin lumber which actually looks even better). It covered up some ugly screw offsets and an out of square p-up hole. Here's what it all looked like ...

    [​IMG]
    Wishbass Stude #00003 as it I got it ...

    [​IMG]
    Cutting out the veneer for both p-up and cavity covers - glued to aluminum using contact cement ...

    [​IMG]
    Both veneers ready for finish - in this case, Tru-Oil ...

    [​IMG]
    The finished product - much more in character with all things "Wishy"!

    Another approach to this problem is too simply enlarge the existing p-up cavity in order to tweak it's position and also clean up the screw offsets. Sometimes this will work if the cavity is not too far off center. I've had to do this with Steve's EMG routes and I simply made my own router template for a J-type p-up, but just made it slightly larger than is needed. The extra space around the p-up was not noticable, especially after painting the cavity black with conductive paint.

    The last suggestion I have would be to replace the p-up with something larger. On one bass I refinished, the EMG J-type was so off center, enlarging to the same shape was out of the question. I ended up installing a KA soapbar which took care of the whole situation. I recut the cavity for the KA and just made sure it was square to the neck stringers, thus cleaning up the whole top of the bass.

    If you need any other help or questions with this, go ahead and PM me - I have lots of other photos of the different ways I've combated Steve's wonky router jobs.
     
  7. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Location:
    Southwest Florida
    I never really considered making one out of wood, that would look pretty good, especially if I use a dark wood.
     
  8. 49sfine

    49sfine Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I agree! Here's a Wishnevsky mandolin I am working on that got new wood covers for the pickup hole and the cavity cover. The p-up hole cover is made out of 1/4 lacewood to match the body and the cavity cover is some even thinner rosewood I had left over from another project. (I ended up replacing the fretboard too, since the deck of the mando was so uneven the p-up cover would not lay flat. It's now made out of an old cello fingerboard I salvaged.) I not only get to hide the screw offsets, but also the two holes used to attach the routing template he uses - it really changes the look of the thing at the same time!

    [​IMG]
    The mandolin as it arrived to me ...

    [​IMG]
    My paper template and the lacewood cover being fabbed up ...

    [​IMG]
    How it looks after fabrication, though still unfinished. This mandolin is obviously still not completed, but hopefully will be soon. (I actually have the p-up cover oriented upside down here as the longer point now is on top.) Even if you don't like the shape of my cover, it sure looks better IMO, than leaving it as-is ...
     
  9. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Location:
    Southwest Florida
    I'm trying to plan this to cover the holes that come on Wish's instruments as well. Unfortunately, they're pretty spaced out on my bass. I'm definitely gonna have my hands full with this project.
     
  10. 49sfine

    49sfine Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Depending on the woods used for the top, they can sometimes be disguised by making them look like an inclusion, a grain swirl or a knot. I use StewMac brown toners for that and just a tiny dap placed in the right spot and either swirled or streaked across the filled hole can sometimes make them blend into the overall look of the top. Even if they don't completely dissappear, they can look so much less prominent by doing this, or a variation of it. Try it out, you can always take it off with denatureed alcohol or lacquer thinner and do it again. (and again, and again ................)
     
  11. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Location:
    Southwest Florida
    Eh, it's a really light wood and the wood putty is very orange, I don't think I'll be able to cover it with just some toners or oils haha
     

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