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how much does the plastic pickguard affect pickups sound and tone?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by wrong_note_rod, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Posy rules! Strat-Talk Supporter

    I just saw on EBay a pair of socks worn by SRV at a cleavland show in 85, serious mono factor. A steal at 350$.
    simoncroft likes this.
  2. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014

    I continually find it surprising how much unwinding of marketing snake oil has to happen around the forums.

    I was looking through the Spring 2018 Sweetwater catalog and the number of 'tonewood' references were thick like fleas with the higher guitar prices.

    Because of course builders must rely on fancy 'tonewoods' to get anything at all out of those instruments.

  3. Believer7713

    Believer7713 Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Dec 27, 2016
    I had a strat that was too warm sounding so I changed the PG to an aluminum one...Thinned out right out!
    The difference in tone came from taking the stock pickups out and installing a set of Rose Robusta's along with the alternate wiring scheme I used.
  4. CephasG

    CephasG Strat-O-Master

    Dec 13, 2017
    Land of Lincoln
    Well... there is plastic and then there is tone plastic. Leo used tone plastic and all pre-CBS Fenders had tone plastic pickguards. They don't make them as they used to. I miss the good old times.
  5. ChukkerNation

    ChukkerNation Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 9, 2015
    Pickguards are horrible and dampen tone. I took mine off and don’t use one. I still haven’t quite got the sound I want and I’m debating removing the body next.
  6. dirocyn

    dirocyn Strat-O-Master

    Jan 20, 2018
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Any change in weight or stiffness is going to have an effect on what frequencies resonate acoustically--and that's going to effect which frequencies resonate in the strings. If you listen closely, you can probably hear a difference just from sticking a capo on your headstock. But it's going to take a bigger change than the pickguard to make a change most humans can detect. Especially since you'll be comparing one sound to your memory of the sound from several minutes ago. It's easier to hear differences if you can a/b them right next to each other.

    Also consider, when you replace the pickguard you will invariably change your pickup height. It doesn't take much change in pickup height to make a change humans can hear. Some people might hear a difference with as little as 1/4 of a turn of the pickup height screws. I reckon you can get your pickup height back within 1/2 turn of the height screws, if you measure with feeler gauges first.

    Also, replacing strings will also make a change most people can hear.
    simoncroft likes this.
  7. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 Strat-Talker

    Mar 22, 2018
    I'm more concerned with the tonal impact of the pickguard screws...i hope mine aren't made out if pot metal! :confused::whistling:
    RobZ69 likes this.
  8. mad axe man

    mad axe man Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 23, 2016
    ontario canada
    black pickguards sound darker and white ones sound brighter
  9. Tom Cat Strat

    Tom Cat Strat Strat-Talker

    Jun 3, 2018
    New York
    YES, the pickguard does affect tone!

    And I can prove it.

    Here is John with his Epiphone Casino...note the pickguard is on it. Nice clean sound from guitar:

    Then a year or two later John removed the pickguard from that same guitar. Please click on the video below to see how dramatically the guitar's tone changed:

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    Tone Guru likes this.
  10. Sarnodude

    Sarnodude Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 26, 2015
    Are you one of the original members of the RHCP's?
    Colnago1 and vid1900 like this.
  11. Believer7713

    Believer7713 Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Dec 27, 2016
    Just make a swimming pool route so those claustrophobic coils will have some breathing room. All that's needed there.
    ChukkerNation likes this.
  12. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 1, 2009
    My house.
    Here again, 47.
    Stormy Monday likes this.
  13. baconjerky

    baconjerky Strat-Talk Member

    Jun 25, 2015
    The more your pickguard ages the more tone it puts out. Relic tones off the charts
  14. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    The really weird thing is, when I use a massive amount of overdrive on my amp when I play a different song, not only does the sound become more distorted, the sunburst finish I stripped off disappears and the pick guard disappears! It's almost as if changing the settings on the amp does more than make a fundamental difference to the tone...

    Seriously, everything in musical instrument design makes 'some' difference. Attributing the sound of the same guitar played through an amp clean, and then with overdrive, with the pick guard being removed is 'novel' to put it diplomatically.
    Tom Cat Strat likes this.
  15. roger@pennyflic

    roger@pennyflic Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 4, 2013
    Oh you guys..... Sooo sarcastic. Was the OP's question serious cuz there is another similar thread regarding "blue" guitars sounding different.

    I will however enlighten y'all on what really alters the tone of a guitar......

    It's the sounds "around" the guitar that mostly effects the tone.

    In the days of ampsims it is simple to "dial-up" a tone but has anyone ever noticed that you may play/record a tune having found an absolute killer sound only to find when you "dial-up" that sound in a different song, it sounds like rubbish.

    Not sure if this effect is noticed with people who just use an amp and who play very similar music all the time but if you are recording a lot - and recording very different musical genre's - then I have found to my great disappointment that the sound that I have finally found is complete junk in the next tune I attack.

    Am I alone in noticing this ??
  16. Morgenholz

    Morgenholz Strat-Talker

    Jan 17, 2015
    It will only sound different when you are not plugged in and you are playing acoustically trying not to awaken anybody. Amplified, not at all.
  17. david57strat

    david57strat Strat-Talk Member

    Jul 6, 2018
    Huntington Beach, CA
    No one has asked this yet; but I'm sure someone has thought it:

    How do you plan on cleaning, or wiping the sweat off of the pickguard, after a gig, if it's covered in material?

    Is the material able to be wiped down (like plastic would be)?

    Sorry - I know it sounds like a gross question to ask, but it's a valid question, and most guitarists (including I) sweat, at least a little, when performing at gigs.
  18. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 30, 2014
    Ok, what about these tooled leather pickguards? With a less reflective surface and less dense material, wouldn't they affect tone?
  19. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    I'm sure that Simon would never go out on stage wearing nothing but one strategically located sock in that manner. I would be most disappointed in him if he did this.....
    simoncroft likes this.
  20. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 12, 2013
    Southern UK
    OK slightly more serious question... It seems to be generally accepted that the bridge sound on a Tele is distinctly different from a strat because of a) the pickup is hotter b) the metal plate on the bottom of the pickup (though I have some without) and c) the metal bridge plate that the pickup is mounted in.

    So would a metal strat pickguard make a difference? Owners of anodised guards might wish to comment...
    BuddyHollywood likes this.