Telecaster Basses 1968-1971 pickguard mystery

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by boroman, Apr 29, 2019.


  1. boroman

    boroman

    Apr 27, 2009
    boro
    Screenshot 2019-04-29 at 20.26.04.png

    I have been digging a lot for the info about these basses and what seemed strange is pickguard for the single coil tele basses made between 1968-1971 only. Pickguard "disintegrates" killing/oxidizing metal parts like pickup, strings & frets. I found dozen info about that over the internet. It seems that metal shield (?) on the back side of the pickguard is causing the problem and it did witin first years since new, so probably no original pickguard survided to this day. There are repros and relic'd parts that emulate the original (so that's the ones that sellers probably use and say that basses are 100% original - but they are not). I think they sortet it out in 1972 when humbucker one came out. I don't remember mine (it was 10 years ago) but I think I'm sure it did not have the metal shield.

    - does any of you have original 68-71 tele bass pickguard?
    - were there any black pickguards available back then as a custom order? Mine has black pickguard and looks old, the shade under that is identical to the pickguard

    pic:
    Screenshot 2019-04-29 at 20.26.04.png
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
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  2. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I have no knowledge to offer here. Still, it is an interesting topic and worth a bump to see if anyone knows anything about this.
     
  3. Gunga Din

    Gunga Din

    Jun 22, 2018
    Surely has something to do with the % of nitro content as that stuff is essentially an acid?
     
  4. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Kentucky
    Having owned a few Tele basses all had original pickguards. They were white w/ pearloid backs, not metal. The acetate pearloid would “gas” over time and if left without room to vent the gassing would oxidize metal parts and disintegrate.

    All mine were intact but did shrink over time.
     
  5. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    This was my understanding as well. Kept in a case, no where for it to gas-off so things around it got ruined.
     
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  6. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    As stated, the pearl and the white celluloid decomposed just as it did on so many old archtops. I've never known a Tele bass to have an aluminum shield, which wouldn't have caused the problem anyway, and they all came with white guards.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  7. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    The single ply whites were made of the stuff and imploded like my '68 , luckily it did not take out the pickup they they often do . I was able to clean it up and bought a simple replacement off reverb

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  8. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    don't let those pics fool you it was a mess , almost as bad as that op pic . It had some nasty toxic fuzz all over it and it eats metal . It works into the higher frets and everywhere it could get . I spent a lot of time bringing it back . I don't recall it having a pearl back but I can check later . iirc only the 50's P bass "tele" slabs had the black p/g . also the case is stinky but cat loves it
    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    I have 'The Fender Bass' book by Hal Leonard. It has a picture of a fragmented Telecaster bass pickguard that killed the strings, screws and upper frets on the bass. It split exactly like @fretno's bass.

    The pearl-backed pickguard blank stock was used for Stratocaster pickguards as well though, oddly, I've never heard of a Strat pickguard off-gassing. It happens to some Gibson 'archtop' pickguards where they used faux tortoiseshell. The gas attacks gold plating.

    Presumably the pearl-backed stuff was originally intended to be displayed pearl-side up as a compliment to the tort pickguards (tort for basses, pearl for guitars?) but this never went anywhere. Fender's parsimonious brilliance dictated, presumably, that they simply recycled the stock by flipping it over.
     
  10. boroman

    boroman

    Apr 27, 2009
    boro
    Thanks for the pics fretno - that really is what was looking for. And yes, the material is NOT the celluloid or antyhing they made before. The old pickguards shrink and bend and are flammable, but does not anything wrong to metal parts.

    So, my initial thoughts were right - no original 68-71 one survived to this day?
     
  11. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    I think I read that it is the Case Queen basses that end up gassing off and doing damage.
     
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  12. That is an incredibly gorgeous bass! Good work. Set off my GAS for a Tele bass all over again..
     
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  13. Shadi

    Shadi Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2008
    Carbondale, IL
    It was definitely the single ply nitro pickguards that 'exploded'. My March 1968 (maple cap neck) had a single ply guard and indeed, it exploded....I replaced it with the "late-1968 style" 3 ply non-beveled guard with the pearloid backing.
     
  14. stst

    stst Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2007
    Texas
    I now have my late fathers 69 black tele bass. In most pictures of him playing the bass, it didn’t have a pick guard. He told me story that the pick guard exploded when he left it in the car for a couple 100 degree days. I never completely understood how that could happen until now.
     
  15. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    NYC
    That happened to mine. The pickguard just shattered into a thousand pieces after being in cased in an attic for a few years. It luckily did not damage the pickup but may have contributed to wood staining on the neck at frets by gaseous action. The luthier was puzzled by the stains.

     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2021
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  16. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Kinda cool lookin’ with the ghosted PG image. A real manufacturer relic job.
     
  17. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    NYC
    Here’s another.

     
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  18. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Yup it's like the blob that eventually works it way down into the electronics to bring it's final death . Little known to all of us there was once a quiet killer of the electric bass guitar .
     
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