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Fender mint green pickguard history

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rondoc, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. rondoc


    Feb 18, 2013
    NYC area
    I sometimes see these popping up on vintage listings but could never really understand when were these introduced, on which body colors (only custom?) and when phased out of production.
    Any information and/or links would be welcome!
  2. lowendblues

    lowendblues Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2004
    My favorite guard for a vintage look.
    SwitchGear likes this.
  3. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I think they’re currently on all of the American Pro line (I could be wrong). The “mint” green guard is meant to simulate the color vintage white guards would turn over time.
  4. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    That seem unlikely. White plastics may yellow over time due to the presence of amine accelerants for the polymerization process. I think we've all seen this. However, there's nothing to my knowledge (and I actually teach polymer materials technology) that would cause a white plastic to turn mint green. Ergo, it must be a colour choice.
    Pocket4 and quickfix like this.
  5. @jmlee Really like your sig.
    Bill Whitehurst likes this.
  6. saabfender

    saabfender SUSPENDED

    Jan 10, 2018
    My '94 MIM came with a bright white guard and white Start knobs. Changed that with a week of getting it.

    WhiteBass - 1.
    SwitchGear, Wisebass, REMBO and 4 others like this.
  7. rondoc


    Feb 18, 2013
    NYC area
    I know they put them on all sorts of new models these days, all the way from MIM to custom shops and historical repros.
    I was trying to figure the timeline historically. BTW, from what I read it was originally this greenish color and not something that time made.
  8. Mint pickguards were a thing from the early sixties (1960-1964). They started out as pristine white guards, but since they were made from a celluloid material (like pingpong balls), they degrade over time and under the influence of oxygen & (UV) light. In case of white celluloid, they became greenish in colour. Some years are more prone to discolouration than others (1962 for instance). By 1965, Fender switched over to a different plastic that didn't degrade. After a while people started to like the greenish white, so Fender started offering mintgreen pickguards, especially on their vintage-inspired models.

    As for "on which instruments which", it's fairly simple: Stratocaster & Telecaster: always white, with tortoise as a factory-option. Other instruments: tortoise on the sunburst, white & blonde instruments, white on the other custom colours from 1961 onwards. Exceptions are always possible (Brian Wilson's P-bass for example).
    Aqualung60, matty1039 and Swerve like this.
  9. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    They were originally all celluloid that naturally had a faint greenish hue to it. Some of those celluloid guards were darker than others. It’s not known if some just got “darker” over time, so you’re probably correct in that it wasn’t actually an aging process. In any case, the modern version of mint green was originally meant to simulate the older celluloid guards. Now they are an aesthetic option just like everything else and are quite ubiquitous.
  10. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Makes sense. The celluloid would have to have been cellulose acetate which, if it degrades, produces acetic acid and an embrittled yellow-brown product. There may have been a bluing agent added to compensate for the naturally slightly yellow cellulose acetate, producing the slightly green material.
  11. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Thanks! Jonathan Frakes (River in Star Trek TNG) really can play trombone. This from Wikipedia:
    “Frakes appeared on the 1994 Phish album Hoist, playing trombone on the track titled "Riker's Mailbox".
    MattZilla, Pug the Pig and quickfix like this.
  12. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    On some of the actual celluloid guards you can see some spots where the green is darker than on other spots. The underside of the guards will often look much whiter by comparison.
  13. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Well, that strongly suggests a surface treatment for colour, doesn't it?
  14. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Tony from Pickguardian explained to me that the layer of black under the top layer of white, eventually changes the white over to mint. On the old guards, not the new ones.
    D Bopp likes this.
  15. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Being a happy accident makes me like it even more. Mint > white in so many cases.

    Attached Files:

  16. rondoc


    Feb 18, 2013
    NYC area
    Thanks for that awesome info guys.
    I only ever seen them on Fender basses that came factory custom color in the 60’s (talking only vintage of course). Someone here once said that if you see a non sunburst vintage bass with a tortoise guard it must be a refin, wasn’t sure that’s the case.
  17. matty1039


    Oct 26, 2015
    New Orleans
    That’s good info. My hypothesis was going to be something for black and white TV. Didn’t Gibson have a color called TV Yellow that was for black and white tv?
  18. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    There are a couple of schools of thought on why and where the mint colour comes from. Ironically the first generation white ABS or vinyl pickguards (such as single-ply '50s P bass/Strat/Tele/Esquire) don't change colour over time to the same degree! The trouble arose when Fender opted for three-ply pickguards.

    Some people consider the mint shade to appear when the upper white layer becomes more transparent, revealing the black middle layer. Combine this with a natural yellowing of the top layer and the black/yellow mix makes a subtle khaki colour. Some also suggest that the black bleeds out a little into the upper white layer.

    However the following website documents some destructive testing performed on an original 'mint' Stratocaster guard, and the consensus here is that the mint shade only occurred on the surface of the upper white layer. There is no bleeding through from the black layer, and the mint shade can be wiped away from the upper white layer. taking you back to the original colour.

    Celluloid Fender Pickguards - ' 59 - '65 Mint Green Nitrate

    Some makers totally over-cook the mint shade, with too much of an emphasis on an overt green shade. I think this is because manufacturers identify and market 'mint' as an overtly different colour, which gets messy when you're marketing pickguards in various shades of ivory/parchment/aged/cream etc. Combine this with a flat, consistent shade of the colour, and you get odd combinations that I don't think look right:

    petrus61 and SwitchGear like this.
  19. Treebeard


    Jun 5, 2016
    Fuquay, NC
    Bear Light Symphony, TimepeaceNC Band
    I LOVE that color combo even though I'm a mint hater as a production color.
    saabfender likes this.
  20. telecopy


    Dec 6, 2009
    I think the best use of mint green I've seen is fiesta red/maple. Sonic blue close second.
    petrus61, 2112 and MattZilla like this.

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