Gold anodised pickguard "sucks tone". Apparently it does.

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by Guppy, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    I've started a thread on this on this on TGP but I thought I would inform you over here as well.

    I have an ESP 400 series strat from around '84. Very nice Japanese strat copy with vintagy specs. By now it's heavily modified and only body, middle pickup and saddles are original. I fitted a gold anodised pickguard pretty soon after I started modding. Purely for cosmetic reasons. I think it looks stunning in combination with that deep blue colour the body has. Others agree.

    Now I've heard rumours about the gold anodised pickguard being a real tonesucker. I was sceptical because my strat sounded great. So just out of curiosity I decided to fit the original, single ply, plastic pickguard to see if there was a difference. There was.
    I recorded a before and after D.I. into my computer and there is a significant difference. The plastic pickguard sounded somewhat brighter and more alive. Not that it sounded bad before but it now has more character. The pick attack is more prominent so it sounds a little more dynamic, less compressed.
    I still have to rehearse so I don't know if there is a real world difference but I suspect there really is. I play pretty heavy alternative/post rock with lots of fuzz (big Muff and germanium) so I don't know if u need the extra treble. The strat is my main guitar but I als have two humbucker loaded guitars for some tracks. Maybe this will upset there interchangeability in my rig. If these are indeed problems I will reinstall the gold anodised pickguard to "warm up" the guitar. And because it looks so f#@*ng cool.
    But, there you go. Gold anodised pickguards will cut a little treble and give slightly more compression. No Idea how or why though. And ymmv naturally.
     
  2. sgarnett

    sgarnett Senior Stratmaster

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    Aluminum pickguards will add some capacitance, and bleed off a little of the high end. Whether that’s good or not depends on the pickups - it’s probably going to sound better with bright, low-wind, or harsh-sounding pickups.

    Fender used large aluminum plates under the pickguards from mid-59 through much of the 60s. That was not as thick as a solid aluminum pickguard, but thicker than foil.
     
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  3. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm no expert but I'm not sure how the pickguard "adds capacitance" unless its wired in circuit.

    My guess is it's just changing the way the magnetic field is shaped around the pickup, or simply changing the way the guitar resonates.

    Who knows?

    Perception is in the eye of the beholder - get it out with Optrex (Spike Milligan).
     
  4. snoopdoug

    snoopdoug Strat-Talker

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    I think the capacitance would come from the pick guard being grounded.
     
  5. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    Both can be true. The pots mounted directly to the pickguard puts the pickguard in circuit via ground.
     
  6. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

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    i am an electronics white belt trying to find info on guitar shielding and the more i read, aluminum seems to have it's own special powers compared to other metals.
     
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  7. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    On TGP somebody even suggested that an aluminium pickguard can have this effect on some guitars and not on others. Very mystical material ;)
     
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  8. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

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    just my best guess, but if the pickguard shield is not connected in the circuit it can not have "the effect", so they will not hear what everyone does hear when it is connected.
     
  9. BuddhaFingas

    BuddhaFingas Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Did the original plastic pickguard have any conductive shielding material on the rear of it? If yes, was it grounded via the pot cases, as is typical?

    Also, the aluminum 'guard is probably a lot less flexible than the plastic, which means the pickups are more rigidly mounted in reference to the rest of the guitar.
     
  10. 2aug82b

    2aug82b Strat-Talk Member

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    The anodized strat pickguard I own is spending its life in a box waiting for someone to find a cure. The pickups just become lifeless with it. Haven't found the magic trick to make it good.
    I don't notice the same effect with an anodized tele pickguard though, but it isn't connected to ground.
    I don't notice this with a full pickguard shield under a plastic pickguard either. Maybe just because it is so much less material.
     
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  11. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    The original 50s designs had only a metal plate shielding the control cavity.
    In the 60s, this was expanded to a full (steel?) plate under the entire PG.
    To cut costs, CBS went to an aluminum foil covering over the back of the PG, and as the years have passed, it has followed a similar evolutil in shape, first covering only the control cavity, later covering any area that would be routed (or possibly routed i.e. Clapton.)

    So IF the aluminum PG has an impact on tone, it is because of a characteristic related to the thickness of the aluminum, and not merely the addition of a ground plane around the pickups.
    Note that it is commonly accepted that on the Tele, both the steel bridge plate, and the steel plate on the bottom of the bridge pickup help to create the unique tone of the Tele.
     
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  12. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    Maybe isolating the pickguard from ground with electrical tape between pots, switch and such? I don't know how that would work but please let me know when you find out. ;)

    Edit: that won't work because you have to isolate the screws as well.
     
  13. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member

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    Hooey. I've used chrome and anodized aluminum guards on half a dozen strats with zero tonal change at all.
     
  14. archetype

    archetype Senior Stratmaster

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    Special powers is a synonym for mojo. People say they hear a difference. No one seems able to quantify the difference in a scientific way.
     
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  15. archetype

    archetype Senior Stratmaster

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    ^This. It's a sheet of non-ferrous, conductive material near a magnetic field. It's no big deal.
     
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  16. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    and there being some distance between the ungrounded surface of the pickguard and the grounded surface...self-capacitance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
  17. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    possibly
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
  18. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Record the guitar, playing the same controlled strums into, Reaper/Protools

    Don't use any effects or compression.

    Post on Youtube and let the Golden Ears decide which is which
     
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  19. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    Well, it appears you haven't read the post in it's entirety. I went in sceptical but curious. I've tried to do it as controlled as possible and I actually hear a significant difference. Please don't dismiss my findings like that. I have nothing to gain in making stuff up. You didn't have the same experience, good for you. I'm trying to inform anybody interested with my experiences so they know what to consider when making choices. I could supply you with before and after audio but it seems you already made your mind up.
     
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  20. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    Will try that.
     
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