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What is the purpose of having a pick-guard?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SynapsyS, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. I think they look great, however, for someone who mostly uses fingers, and doesn't do much in the way of bashing his guitar with a pick, is there any real function for a pickguard on a bass?

    Just wondering :D
  2. nonohmic

    nonohmic Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    Its like these guys that put hood protectors on their flash sports cars..

    sure your protecting the finish - but we cant see the finish cause of that ugly thing draped all over it!
  3. Gegatso


    Jan 16, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    Well, I guess they're great if and when you use a pick :rolleyes: (or to prevent awesome wear like on Vic Wooten's bass) but other than that, I've just found them to be enhancing to the looks of the instruments.

  4. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    um. pickguards on fenders are to cover the ugly pickup and electronic routes.
  5. hmmm, I think they guard the instrument from the picks. I could be wrong though.
  6. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    If you would take the time use the search function, you'll find many threads explaining that the purpose of a pickguard is to keep the mojo fairy dust in.
  7. Jiggybass


    Nov 15, 2005
    Sudbury, Canada
    That, and to hide electronics.
  8. I did more damage fingerstyle than I ever could pickstyle....go figure.

    Seems especially true when a bass is slapped and popped a lot...
  9. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Sono est omnia Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 26, 2003
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    Luthier and Instrument Tech at Kala Brand Music Co.
    Well, on the cheaper ones, yes. The MIM ones have open routes but on the '62 RI Jazz and '57 RI P that I have, you can't see the routes when you take the pickguard off.

    I think that early basses were designed to withstand use and abuse and to be usable by the largest amount of people possible. They are tools after all. What if you were a pick player (or a slapper) and you wanted a pickguard? It's easier to simply take it off than to put one on. They were designed with every player in mind no matter if he/she played it with a pick, fingers, thumb, etc. Also, what if you rent/lend a bass to someone? If they ever decided they might wanna use a pick with it, it's nice to have the PG there! :D

    Back on the topic of utility....on the Precision, the knobs are actually attached to the PG. On the Jazz, the control plate is an extension of the PG. Also, they have that sloping curve on the bass side where you can rest your thumb if you want.

    Which brings us to the aesthetic function. I just love the way they look. They've been around so long that people have gotten used to the way they look and sometimes expect that on prospective instruments. In a stroke of genius Roger Sadowsky has, not surprisingly, realized yet another improvement upon the electric bass. He can give your PJ bass a universal route so you can orient the P pickups in their normal fashion or you can have them reversed! The pickguard hides the extra routing. All you need is another pickguard with the reverse routing and you're off. No routing/drilling on your bass! :cool:
  10. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Pickguards are added to basses to deliver additional kinetic mojo to the sound. It's true.
  11. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    I have a Fender 51 Precision Reissue with the large "amoeba" pickguard and it's pretty clear that (a) the construction in the pre-CNC days was pretty primitive and (b) Leo Fender had the finely honed artistic sensibility of a rowboat manufacturer. After Freddy Tavares came along the asthetics improved markedly (compare the Tele to the Strat) and the next bass, the '57-on P, was much more attractive.

    Fender was a great hand for combining functions: note the bridge cover that doubled as a mute on the '51, and the pickup cover that served as a shield. So when the revised P came along the existing pickguard's role was expanded to contain the pots and output jack.

    By the time other manufacturers jumped in, the "look" of a pickguard was pretty well established. Certainly Leo retained it for the various Music Man basses.

    But by the time of G&L, he had a change of heart, and designed the L1000 and L2000 and other models without pickguards, just as God intended.

    BTW, I own both a 51 RI and an L2000.
  12. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    Absolutely true.
  13. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Picks generally do less damage than the 11-odd screws drilled into a bass to hold the pickguard on.
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Brass pickguards give more sustain.
  15. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    And chick magnetism.
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