Building your own vs buying loaded pickguard

kyleTheDude

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 22, 2022
33
Bethesda, MD
Got some samarian cobalt noiseless (SCN) pickups on my strat which I'd like to upgrade with CS fat 50s. I don't know anything regarding guitar electronics, but I see two routes: buy the loaded pickguard from Fender or buy just the pickups from the fender, high quality components from elsewhere and build it myself.

Would there be a difference in sound? Which route would be cheaper? I am not concerned about the time and work required for building my own so we can take that out of the equation. If the sound quality is the same and the price is the same, I may just go ahead and buy the loaded pickguard.
 

Butcher of Strats

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2022
1,128
Maine
Sound should be the same but if you want to be a player who also mods and fixes your guitars, you rob yourself of learning and skills development buying a prewired guard.

Better still, buy caps in .01uf, .022, .033 and .047.
Try each tine cap and listen to the entire sweep of the pot, then choose the cap value that delivers to broadest range of tones you can actually use.
I find .047 gives me a very short pot rotation thats musically useful.
For me i can use the whole range with a .01uf cap.
 

TepidPilot

Strat-O-Master
Apr 26, 2019
959
South Central Texas
If I were to assemble my own custom pickguard I would try very hard to emulate what these folks do:

https://www.stratcat.biz/5006.shtml

5006-pg-back-l.jpg


Tidy beyond belief.

TP
 

hrstrat57

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2016
264
RI
WhiskeyJim on eBay seriously ridiculously good. His 62 rig with the 7 way switch is magnificent

I’ve had em all I was stunned at the performance and quality workmanship

Under $100 ( yep crazy)

 

dspellman

Strat-O-Master
Mar 24, 2013
831
Los Angeles
If I were to assemble my own custom pickguard I would try very hard to emulate what these folks do:

https://www.stratcat.biz/5006.shtml

5006-pg-back-l.jpg


Tidy beyond belief.

TP

I watched one of Nik Asam's minions handwire one of the Ceriatone amps for a customer and nearly cried. I spent a long weekend once putting together a Metro amp kit, making sure that it was just so, with the right wires routed around the outside of the chassis and the solder joints perfect in every way. She knocked out that amp while wearing headphones and listening to some Indonesian music, and the thing was so pristine and she did it so quickly that I felt embarrassed afterwards to tell anyone I knew how to handwire an amp.

I won't pay to have someone wire a pick guard, though. A man's got to have some dignity.
 

StratMan1991

Strat-Talk Member
Jun 18, 2020
59
Canada
In Halifax. Just got free beer at a pub. 2/3. In th we bag as nd going to pick up the Gibsom in a few minutes. Carrying around a rainbow collie red stuffed narwhal Gordimer reafon
What pub? Gonna be there in a few weeks and sounds like it’s a time.
 

wooders

Strat-O-Master
Nov 19, 2021
753
Kent
My soldering needs more practice, that's for sure. Assuming I was a super solder (not like universal soldier), it would still come down to cost. I've seen fully loaded pickguards for sale cheaper than buying separate components. I picked up a new fully loaded fender player PG for £50. That type of deal is a no brainer.
 

jvin248

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 10, 2014
5,424
Michigan
...Would there be a difference in sound?... If the sound quality is the same and the price is the same, I may just go ahead and buy the loaded pickguard.


Build your own.
Order more pots and more caps that you can measure and try different ones, or bias toward what tones you want.
I used to swap pickups, until I learned how much impact the pots and caps have on the tone -- so I spend my modding time with those components. You already 'know' what 250kohm vs 500kohm pots do in guitars, then realize that pots have a 20% tolerance range and you might like a min end of spec part better than a max end of spec part.

Lately I build my Strats in SSS classic style and wire them with the Armstrong Blender mod so I can spin between classic SSS tones, through LP PAF, and into hot Super Strat HSH tones.

So I say build your own.

Lastly, make sure to use shielded cable from the volume pot to the jack. Single wires, even twisted together, can be half a guitar's idle noise floor. Same reason we use shielded cable to the amp not a twisted pair or lamp cord.





.
 

revtime

Senior Stratmaster
Jun 17, 2014
1,167
kansas
WhiskeyJim on eBay seriously ridiculously good. His 62 rig with the 7 way switch is magnificent

I’ve had em all I was stunned at the performance and quality workmanship

Under $100 ( yep crazy)

Thanks alot. I was looking for a loaded guard but not this soon. Very nice workmanship and prices.
I was looking at a BK set with aged guard but the 575 price tag was punching me in the nuts over and over again.
 

revtime

Senior Stratmaster
Jun 17, 2014
1,167
kansas
I cant do this kind of work. I mean I can and have wired up my own pickguard but I dont have this patience or to be honest skill.
20220525_161025.jpg 20220525_161121.jpg
This is going into the orange n black bastard.
Its gonna be a fun project.
This thing gots all kinda switching n such.
Cant wait to get it installed and play with it.
 

John Hurtt

Strat-Talk Member
Dec 9, 2020
32
Northern California
WhiskeyJim on eBay seriously ridiculously good. His 62 rig with the 7 way switch is magnificent

I’ve had em all I was stunned at the performance and quality workmanship

Under $100 ( yep crazy)

Disclaimer: I do guitar mods and build harnesses and pickguards

I took a look at these loaded guards. There are reasons that these are inexpensive.

Generic chinese plastics ($7-$12) depending on how much he is buying
Generic chinese pickups with a snazzy name (I've seen these as low as $19 set, much cheaper if you buy in quantity.
StewMac CTS pots - I don't see "Stew Mac" branded pots on their website, but the CTS are the good brass shaft/bushing pots. Nothing special on tolerances or taper.
Oak Grigsby switch - these are good quality switches and used on Fender non-CS guitars.
Build - Sloppy and cluttered - while he does use zip ties and shrink tubing, looking closely at the pictures makes me think that he uses the tubing to cover up sloppy soldering and melted wires from the pickups. A well laid out assembly doesn't need this. Once you place the assembly into the guitar there is no stress on the electronics. So you are using the tubing to keep things from touching and grounding. If you build properly its not necessary.

Not a horrible assembly, and worth the price he is charging. The weakness is the generic pickups (they aren't bad...but not nearly as good as the Alnico's coming in the MIM Fenders)...so you're not upgrading.

He's not making a bunch of money on these, but unless you are throwing away Squier mini-pots, plastic switch and ceramic bar magnets you aren't getting much of a tonal upgrade.

Large suppliers of loaded pickguards can get much better pricing from someone like Fender than you can build one. Also, most people (regardless of what they say) can't really build a top quality, professional grade assembly.
 


Top