(Building a) rosewood pickguard

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(Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:49 am

Yep, a wooden pickguard. I was faced with replacing a very beaten plastic guard on the oldest guitar in my collection - a '73 Yamaha SG35. Over the years and countless hours of playing, its met its maker. There are few (if any) stock parts floating around for this old guitar, so I decided to make a new guard out of rosewood.

This pic gives you an idea of what I am working on - this is the stripped body with a couple of coats of tru oil.



The old pickguard has lots of cracks and one sharp end was broken.



I bought a 1" plank and had the shop cut it lengthwise and cut one edge perfectly square so that I could bookend the two pieces. On my garage workbench, I made a jig and glued them.



The ends of the cut rosewood were pretty rough. Nothing was even close to flush on the side I wanted to use. However it bookended nicely, with some mismatch.




It was time to visit my buddy and neighbour Grant S. He is, among other things, a master of cabinet building. He offered to help me by planing and drum sanding this sucker.




The planed and sanded piece is now about 3/8" thick - a good start point for the final routing etc.
At this point we used a band saw to cut the rough shape of the pickguard - I had a trial run blank (cherrywood - nice but I messed up the neck cutout) that I cut with a Sears jigsaw. We used this as a guide.



Careful now...



And after a bit of sanding just to get the contours right, the penultimate product!



When I get the guard drilled and pickups in, I will post more pics. At that point I will dissemble it to apply tru oil (gun stock linseed polymer) - and am guessing it'll stain very dark, for some contrast to the SG's mahogany body. More to come...






















Last edited by anaerobe on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:04 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Westbone on Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:10 pm

That's some handy workshop you have there.

Loking forward to the next episode! Smile

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Barry on Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:34 pm

Great idea Ian! Should look remarkable when you're done. I'm a wee bit concerned as to durability though. I'd hate to see pick scratches across that beautiful grain. Crying or Very sad

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by corsair on Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:43 pm

Yep; nice... Very Happy

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:01 am

Thanks for the encouraging words!

Barry - when I considered this build I thought about a number of issues - eg, looks vs durability vs tone. The guitar itself is a strange design. The original plastic pickguard functions more like strat than anything I can think of, certainly not very SG like - and it may play a role in regulating the tone on this guitar.

To be honest, thats where this axe fell down. This was partially corrected by some fantastic aftermarket pups.

To digress a bit wrt tone issues - on these very early SG models (precursors really to the SG1000/2000/3000), the original stock bridge and stop were not very good (OK they were crappy) and probably equally to blame for flatness of tone. I have now purchased some quality Gotoh pieces from allparts to replace those. Hopefully these changes will help to produce a more open-sounding instrument. Expensive, yes - but as this SG was my first guitar, I think the investment is warranted.

Back to your point: Rosewood is about the toughest wood I could think of for this project. The $40 plank that I bought for this project was literally about as dense as concrete! Second, the finish will be Tru Oil which is a cheap bastard's dream as it goes on easily, is durable, and best of all can be repaired easily.

When I say easy, it really is. The method is that you take a soaked piece of cloth and simply schlop on more of the stuff and wait for 24 hours for it to polymerize - it will fill in scratches and with 5 min of rubbing, is indistinguishable from the original finish. I picked up a bottle (liquid form) for 8 bucks from a sporting goods shop (Cabella's). If you use 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper and mineral spirits to rub between coats, you can get a highly polished, almost glassy finish. The main body of the guitar has 16 coats, the neck has 6. I'll throw on about 6 coats to the pickguard.

So - time will tell. The best part is that I only used half of my plank, so I will make a backup. Smile


Last edited by anaerobe on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:29 am; edited 5 times in total

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:08 am

Hey I just thought to ask - can you spot the glue line in the final picture?

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Iceman on Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:50 am

You definitely made a good choice with the Tru-oil. I am also a self taught gunsmith and can attest to the wonderful things it can do to a really fine piece of wood. Any professional smith will usually swear by it as it can really bring the grain alive. Straight linseed oil will really nourish a wood like nothing else and that is the real secret of Tru-oil. Seems to me you are really gonna have a star in your hands!! bounce

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Iceman on Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:54 am

anaerobe wrote:Hey I just thought to ask - can you spot the glue line in the final picture?

Glue line??? What glue line???? Wink

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Barry on Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:15 am

Nope, no glue line.
Thanks for the Tru-Oil tip, I'll be on the look out for it now.
I've had very good results with Tung Oil which will also dry to a solid hard finish but this sounds like it may be better on fine or expensive woods where the intent is to really highlight the grain.

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:24 pm

Iceman: Thanks - in truth I just borrowed on my Dad's experience - his firearm collection is extensive, and he knows his stuff.

Barry: Tung Oil is good too - Lee Valley sells a Tung Oil kit ($$$$) that's chemically coaxed into polymerizing like Tru Oil - but the truth is that Tru Oil is easier to apply than Tung Oil because its a lot less glutinous. It spreads on like H20, and its relatively harmless to biological items like seasoned guitar players.

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:33 pm

Minor progress: I reinstalled the neck and laid on the pickguard to check for fitment.



You can see discrepancies in the curve of the guard, but that's what Mama Yama did thus there go I. Note the open grain of the mahogany body. Hopefully the oil will darken up the guard to a similar hue as the fretboard. (Guitar in the background is a '74 FT-130 Epiphone (Caballero)).


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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Iceman on Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:11 pm

Did you toy with the idea of following the body contour?? It does look rather sweet anyway. You are hoping the guard will stain darker than the body? Can't wait to see your new love all dolled up!! :!: :!:

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:33 am

Yep - I toyed with that idea, but realized the routered cavities in the body follow the lines of the current (and original) plate. I'm reasonably sure that it will stain darker than the body with Tru oil.

I need to sand another 1/8" off the back of the plate this weekend - and then will try to bevel the edge. I hope I don't make a hash of it.

Keep you posted.

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Iceman on Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:11 pm

....ohhhhhh, this is gonna be good :!: bounce bounce bounce bounce

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:54 am

Westoners

A bit more progress to report. In a nutshell, I have:

i) taken the thickness of the plate down to a more manageable 1/4"
ii) carried out a 45* bevel of the top edge, nothing too fancy there
iii) did a test fit - all good
iv) now in the process of routering pickup mounts, etc
v) decided on my final pickup choice - Artec Giovanni PAF-type neck 'bucker (nice articulation and inexpensive) and a Seymour D "pearly gates" in the bridge. (The original Yamaha pups were not great, so they go into my tackle box of parts. They can be described as hot, but no definition - very very dark tones from those. MMK45s are far brighter, by way of comparison).

I want to wire the current choices for a coil cut, just like the later SG models, so that I can wrestle some stratty sonics out of it as well. This is where I am sitting at the moment.

P.S.

I recently tripped over a wonderful old Tube amp - Univox U-1246 bass @ 60 watts (B series) - shades of Jeff Beck - The circuit is kind of a cross between a JTM 45 and a Bassman - Everything is totally stock including the (brit-made) Mullard preamp tubes @ 12 au7, 2 x 12ax7s and the 2 x GE 6L6's in the power section (solid state rectified). Massive output tranny!! No one around here seems to know what these can do, so I paid a price well within even my meager budget. I am playing with it a bit (thinking about retubing at least the preamp with Tungsol reissues), the plate voltage is good. However like all cathode biased amps, she is biased very cool - I've asked my tech to mod it to a set bias per se, much like an old JTM 45. THese old bass amps can actually make very good guitar amps, very sweet overdrive tones when properly biased.

I'll post more on this later in a separate thread.

Ian


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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:11 pm

Update - This project is back on line after a couple of delays.

Pickup guard - I have all the pots' holes and pickup mounts carved out. I applied 8 coats of Tru Oil to the guard. I placed it on the main body last night and it did stain a bit darker than the mahogany body.

Pics to follow... stay tuned!!

Ian

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Iceman on Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:13 pm

YES !!!!!

Wondered where you had stumbled off to Ian. Glad to hear you are still picking away at it..

Cannot wait for the pics... bounce bounce bounce

Is that the other saw you used in your avatar?? Razz


Last edited by Iceman on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:28 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by hobster on Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:51 pm

First time i've seen this, what a cool idea and a great job you've done. I can't wait to see the pics! Very Happy

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:28 am

Thanks...its getting pretty exciting, now that I'm on the penultimate step. The game's afoot. :bball:

I applied a couple of extra coats of Tru Oil - the stuff is like magic @ 8 bucks/can. It works well on rosewood and mahogany, thats for sure.

I am away for a week - travelling across the border down to Pittsburgh, PA of all places. My daughter is setting up for University down there.

Pics when I return, boys and girls.

Ian

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:29 am

Iceman... That saw was the one I used on the prototype. scratch lol!

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:21 pm

Images to whet your appetites sunny


Top view - 8 coats of Tru Oil - showing all of the mounting screw holes (I'll seal at a later date)



Backing view - 2 coats of Tru Oil -Showing all of the control mounting holes
Showing the mounting holes for the pot tabs to keep the pots from spinning ala the original


Backing view II - 2 coats of Tru Oil - Showing the counter sink required because the jack barrel is too short to run through the new guard!

yeah!



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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Barry on Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:01 pm

Lookin' close to very scary Ian!
Great stuff my man!

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by anaerobe on Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:41 pm

Thanks!

While the conception of the plan is mine, a great deal of credit should go to my two buddies Grant S. and Jake J. Grant knows just about everything about woodworking and loaned me a bunch of tools needed to carry out this plan. The kind of guy who will drop his stuff and give you his time. Jake is a phenomenal bass player, a great luthier and one of the best guitar "gear" guys I have ever met, a real guru. He did a bunch of the critical cuts, was indispensible for locating the new Gotoh TOM and stop on the body, and advised me on materials. There is no one that I know who knows more about putting together a great guitar than Jake. I learned a ton on this project.

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Barry on Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:58 pm

With my luck, I think I'd be scared to death of the wood splitting with so many holes! Probably while drilling the last one. pale

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

Post by Iceman on Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:59 am

...that is just...................wow

(tears welling up, he logs of quietly)

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Re: (Building a) rosewood pickguard

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