Wood for a new pickguard?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by M.D.S., Nov 19, 2005.

  1. M.D.S.


    Nov 8, 2004
    As a first small (Read - Miniscule) step towards my dream of making my own basses, I want to make myself a new wooden pickguard for my fretless. It's a 70s-ish fretless schecter parts bass that I picked up a few months ago while on holiday in Holland -


    It's in pretty good condition apart from the wooden pickguard being snapped in half as you can see in this pic here -


    Normally, I would probably just leave it, but lately I've been ocassionally (And painfully!) catching my fingernails in the break, so I decided it would be a good idea to make a new one for myself (Really the only thing I can make until I get a little workshop space to do some more experimenting)

    However, before I start, I need some advice.

    Firstly, Any suggestions as to what wood I should use? Whatever it is at the moment is nice, but I think I would prefer to have a little more contrast, possibly with a lighter wood?

    I also need to know what type of wood would be of a suitable thickness. I was thinking veneer but being by no means an expert on these things I have no idea where to look in the UK to get any, or what kind of thickness it would be.

    Any help at all would be great!
  2. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    Wow! that bass looks nice and broken in! I think it looks great the way it is. Maybe before you make another pickguard, try and salvage that one by taking all the controls off it and gluing it back together. You could sand it down and clean it up a bit and I bet it'd get a little lighter.
    Looks to me like rosewood or walnut......but who knows.

    However, if you want to make your own, I'd suggest getting some thin backing material and laminating a sheet of whatever wood veneer you want to the top of that. You could even set it off by putting a piece of maple veneer inbetween the backing material and top veneer.

    I bought a strat pickguard from these guys:
    I dunno if they make jazz bass pickguards or not, but it would definitely be a fun project to do yourself.
  3. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    You do not want to use veneer, it will be too thin.

    Assuming the original cannot be repaired (does not look that bad, some gel superglue and sandpaper could fix it), use two layers, alternating the grain orientation, and pick a wood you like the look of. A panel sander should be able to take the layers down to 1/16 or so, then glue them up.
  4. That is definately the most beautiful jazz bass, I've ever seen.... And it's fretless too, my, what a perfect little bass you have! I would suggest first, trying to salvage what you have now, I understand you're eager to modify and build, but you've got time to do that, take your time with this project, prove you don't always need something new. I think being able to fix this would say more than being able to build a new one. Second, if you do infact decide to make a new one, I suggest a walnut or even perhaps wenge. I think that darker wood contrasts best with your body wood.

  5. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    Though totally irrelevent (-vant?), I also think that is the best looking J I've ever seen.
  6. I'd also weigh against a lighter wood, the darker wood complements the fretboard really well. Maybe if it was bound with something lighter, or JSP's suggestion with the maple inbetween the backing and top piece.

    If I may so bold as to make some suggestions for future modifications?
    - replace the gold knobs in favor of some purdy wood ones;
    - make some wood covers for the pups (dark for back, lighter for front);
    - replace the bridge with custom wooden number.
    (Mmm, organic woody-woodiness)

    - replace the bridge with a shiny gold one.
    (The gold looks hot against that darker wood)

    Just my $0.02. Which is probly worth closer to like $0.015 (with exchange rates and such).

    Josh D
  7. I've had success making wood laminates with different colored layers using veneers and a press. By laying them up in opposing directions and using an epoxy as the glue, you can make a laminated sheet that will cut and finish on the edges very much like a regular pickguard. Stack up some walnut and maple and you can make a nice 3 or 4 layer look when it's beveled. The epoxy is important because when I've used water based glues, I've had problems with warping.

    You can sand quartersawn hardwoods down pretty thin - certainly thin (and thick) enough to make a good PG. Even some woods will flatsawn but you run the risk of more warpage as you get thinner. I've laminated a thin pretty veneer on thicker more inert stock to avoid this. Believe it or not, you can use masonite with a veneer on top and it looks great. Start with the thin stuff and then you might have to sand it a little thinner after laminating but the unremarkable masonite acts like a nice plain border around the prettier top veneer.

    If you use oilier woods like rosewood, ebony, or cocobolo, you won't have to finish it with anything. Just sand and polish to a nice sheen and then maybe an occasional touch up to keep it that way. Those woods are also tough so they'll stand up pretty well under the rigors of play.

    And I like this look a lot too. I almost don't expect a "Jazz" sound to come out of it because it looks so earthy and organic.
  8. M.D.S.


    Nov 8, 2004
    Now that I look at it, I think it might be a better idea at first to repair the existing one (after all as it really does compliment the fingerboard very nicely) and then perhaps experiment with something else. After all, I can always put the old one back on again!

    Now that's something I ain't considered... I was going to replace the bridge with a gold one to match the rest of the hardware anyway (As the black one on at the moment looks pretty conspicuous) but that sounds like a cool idea. I'd also been wondering what to do with the pickups for a while, as I thought sticking black plastic covers on them would stick out much like the black bridge does now and the empty bit of routing for the bridge pickup cover was getting on my nerves a little...

    Hmm... So any ideas on wooden pickup covers and bridges (Cause I don't have a clue! :) )

    Hehe! I still don't believe the deal I got on this bass... I got it for a little more than I would pay for a squier standard jazz here in the UK!

    And 'earthy' is a pretty good description of the tone, especially now I stuck some flats on it, it's very upright-ish. The only real problem it has is it's made of SOLID ROSEWOOD and it wieghs a ton! Even playing it sitting down you can feel the circulation to your leg getting gradually cut off...
  9. + 1 on wooden knobs... Matching Rosewood would look stellar!!!

    You know, I think that perhaps spruce would make a nice contrast to your bass. I played my friend's Fender Dreadnought today, with a spruce body and rosewood side and back lams, absolutely beautiful IMO.

    Just a ponder.