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Removing paint from pickguard

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by hyperba55, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Hi there - I have a 72 fender Jazz that someone in it's past life had painted designs on the original pickguard. It looks like spray paint, it looks like it has been there awhile, and it looks hideous. It covers over 3/4 of the pickguard. I bought a replacement pickguard, but for obvious reasons I would like to keep the original pickguard.

    Anyone have any ideas as to how I might take care of this without doing damage to the original pickguard?

  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Very lightly sand it off with a fine grit, working slowly to remove as little plastic as possible. Once the paint is off, buff the plastic and it will look like new again. I've done this before many times...
  3. Low Main

    Low Main Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    Can you post a pic? That might help.

    Anyway, if you have an original 72 guard, be conservative with it.

    Don't use lacquer thinner or toluene (toluol). I guarantee you that those will remove the paint but probably wreck the guard too.

    First things first. Get some packing tape with high tack adhesive, rub it down firmly on the paint, then pull the tape off fast. See if it takes the paint with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Worth trying, because it's probably the safest way to go if it does work. The guard should be screwed in place on the bass, and just do small areas at a time.

    Also, you can try isopropyl alcohol from the drug store. It's watered down pretty heavily. Test on an obscure area first before attacking the paint. Maybe try it on the back of the guard to see if it clouds the pickguard material, etc.

    If isopropyl sort of works but not fast enough, you may be able to graduate to denatured alcohol from the paint store. Again, test first before going at the face of the guard. Use the material sparingly - just enough to remove the paint. Don't flood the guard.

    If it's acrylic paint, the alcohol should remove it.
  4. Thanks for the suggestions. The tape had no effect. I tried the iso and denatured alcohol - the iso worked a tiny, tiny bit the denatured a little more so, but they barely made a dent in any of it after 20 mins. I may try the sanding route tonight.

    What does one use to buff a plastic pick guard?

    I'll post pics a little later. It is truly horrible. it looks like they used a fishnet stocking as a "template" so there is this semi-sunburst fishnet pattern on it. It's ... aweful.
  5. Punisher Bass

    Punisher Bass

    Dec 24, 2008
    St Louis MO
    I agree with trying some very light grit sandpaper, maybe around 600 or so. If I was going to polish plastic like this, I'd get some Mothers plastic polish (you can get it at any auto parts store) and a polishing pad. It might be easiest if you get one that will clip onto a drill so you're not rubbing it all day and night.
  6. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Once you sand the paint off, you could try polishing the pickguard with something like this:

  7. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Well, if you've used alcohol and you haven't damaged the pickguard it's safe to say it isn't a nitro cellulose pickguard. Probably vinyl.

    More agressive methyline paint removers will get the paint off quickly and won't damage vinyl. Citrus Strip is a safer paint remover to use though. It takes much longer to work but will remove most paints quite well and doesn't have the toxic fumes to worry about. It also won't dissolve your skin.

    The pickguard is probably damaged from someone sanding it to help the paint adhere. You've got a lot of work to bring it back to a glossy surface again. I'd start with 600 grit silicone carbide paper and work up the grits to 1500 grit, then polish with a plastic polishing compound. These are available in the automotive section of the big box stores.

    It's usually easier and cheaper to replace the pickguard.
  8. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    Do this. It will take a long time and it's tedious work, but this is guaranteed to work and the results will be a pickguard that looks like new.

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