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

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

  1. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    My aluminum pickguard axe sounds amazing and it has overwound p'ups contrary to what was suggested earlier.
    [​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
     
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  2. ibdrkn1

    ibdrkn1 Strat-O-Master

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    I put one on my MIJ 62 ri Strat. Looked killer, but made the pickups microphonic. I guess plastic dampens vibrations, while the harder aluminum amplified them. Guitar became unusable for anything but clean tones. And I'm talking about playing at home. Forget keeping up with a band.

    Went back to a plastic pg, no issues. Same guitar, same electronics.
     
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  3. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member

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    Admin Post
    "I could supply you with before and after audio but it seems you already made your mind up.'

    I read your post. My opinion comes from my own experience with many different guitars. Just my opinion though. I'm not going for forum to forum to "inform" people of my opinion.
     
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  4. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    @Lonn
    I don't mind you having a different opinion or experience and expressing them for us to discuss. That is what forums are for.
    I do mind that you are calling my real world experience "nonsense"(=hooey) and therefore immediately disqualifiying it (as a lie?). Especially for an admin.
    What should I do with this thing I was sceptical about but found out it was a real thing?
     
  5. BuddhaFingas

    BuddhaFingas Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    If you heard a difference when you installed it, and the difference went away when you uninstalled it, the difference was real for you. As it's your guitar and you are the judge of what sounds good to you, that's all the "real" that is required.

    You can experiment with ground-isolating the aluminum guard. You could experiment with differing thicknesses of guards, or even (if you have access to the tooling) with thinning out the guard for an inch or so around the pickups by milling the back, and see if that lessening of material within the effective pattern of the magnetic field of the pickup makes things better/worse/same.

    Sadly, unless the mechanism of what is changing the tone as you perceive it can be understood or isolated in some way, defining a cure will be a matter of cut-and-try.

    It could be something very subtle, like the string height being slightly different due to differing thickness between the aluminum and plastic guards.

    It's either likely mechanical (vibration, rigidity, or position, etc) or electromagnetic (induced currents in the aluminum, eddy fields, etc), but narrowing that down could be a real bear.

    Eddy currents in aluminum are a real thing - they drove the older-style gear-driven wattmeters on everyone's houses before the switch to smart meters.

    Electric guitars are dealing with tiny signals created weak fields and subtle movements; tiny things can affect them.
     
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  6. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster

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    I think your tonal differences were due to not exact pickup heights - unless you absolutely did measure them each 1 by 1 to the same exact height/distance from strings in both pickguards.....
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
  7. AngelDeVille

    AngelDeVille Senior Stratmaster

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    ^^^^^ pickup height^^^^^


    That’s why I avoid gold anodized pickguards....

    [​IMG]
     
  8. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    The metal still impacts the magnetic field. Non-ferrous is not magnetic, but it is still electrically conductive.
    Traffic signal detector loops are tested with aluminum stop signs all the time, and they work with bicycles and motorcycles with aluminum wheels and frames.

    Any difference, if any, between a plastic PG with foil shield and aluminum PG is due to the thickness/mass of the aluminum.
     
  9. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    My 65 Strat sounded brighter without the shield. But...those pickups are low wind and bright. So...back on went the shield.

    Just my experience. But to be honest....the only experience that really matters to me is my own. I'm not you, and you're not me. I kinda like it that way. :D
     
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  10. sgarnett

    sgarnett Senior Stratmaster

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    My AO60s has the full plate and PV65 pickups (all original). It also has the loading of the volume control and a tone control on all three pickups. It sounds great to me. It might not to someone else. I’m ok with that.
     
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  11. Stratoholic

    Stratoholic Senior Stratmaster

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    I put an aluminum pickguard on my VM Jazzmaster. The only thing I noticed was a huge reduction in hum.
     
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  12. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Papa Americano Silver Member

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    I assume you changed strings when you changed the pickguard. It is feasible that the difference you heard was mostly in the string change?
    Were other changes also made? Just curious.
     
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  13. hobdybob

    hobdybob Strat-Talk Member

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    Bill Lawrence wrote some info about this
    http://billlawrence.com/Pages/All_About_Tone.htm/TeleLovers.htm

    "While aluminum has some of the best acoustical properties it has, by far, the worst properties to use for the bridge plate. It's like salt in a soup -- small quantities can perform miracles but too much will ruin your dinner. Aluminum has an extremely high eddy current potential and when placed under a pickup ( grounded or not grounded) can make a humbucker hum like a single coil, or make a single coil as quiet as a hum bucker. "
     
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  14. sonny wolf

    sonny wolf Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree.I bought a white Squier classic vibe 50s Strat a few years ago that came with a gold anodised pickguard.I loved the guitar but disliked the look so I installed a Fender 3 ply mint green pickguard made of plastic.I immediately noticed the difference in tone which was now more open and typical of regular Strats.The metal pickguard seems to smooth out the treble frequencies surely due to some capacitance.It's not a bad sound actually though...Strats can be really trebly so for some players who prefer a slightly smoother tone the metal pickguard can help.
     
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  15. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    No, I changed the pickguard by putting a capo on the first fret, loosening the strings and unbolting the neck. So same strings before and after. As said, I tried to exclude as much variables as possible. Including pickup height.
     
  16. 79olympicwhite

    79olympicwhite Strat-O-Master

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    Lots of things work as natural EQ....knowing how to get what you want from them (tone) is very helpful to me, so yeah play around with it and see what you like and how to use all efficienty.......
     
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  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    Did you accurately measure the distance from the strings to the top of the pickup poles before vs after? Or used the pickguard top surface to pickup covers as the measurement?

    The aluminum will be much thinner than the plastic pickguard and 1/8th inch of height difference is an important factor in pickup output.... Math says the magnetic field drops or rises at a distance squared rate.

    .
     
  18. Guppy

    Guppy Strat-Talk Member

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    I measured from the strings. I will try to repeat the experiment next weekend and take pictures. See if I can post it on YouTube
     
  19. tiredguy

    tiredguy Senior Stratmaster

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    I have experienced a small loss of volume and what was perceived to my ears to be a flatter sound when I added an anodized pickguard to one of my Strats. Same exact setup. The guitar did have Fender factory shielding paint in the cavities too so that 'plus' the pickguard might have had something to do with it. Another guitar I have, has an anodized pickguard with similar spec pickups that doesn't seem to have any problem whatsoever. Both pickguards are grounded. The difference between the guitars being one has shielding paint in the cavities and the other does not.

    I replaced the anodized pickguard with a plastic gold colored pickguard and now its back to how it was before the swap. It won't stop me using gold anodized pickguards in the future, but I've had a slightly negative experience in one situation with one guitar that made me realize there can be a chance I won't be entirely happy with the result.

    The pickups that were affected are 1957 spec Chevaliers. The unaffected pickups in the other guitar are 57/62 pups. Changing the setup would have changed the volume level but the sound was flatter than it had been and not as open = it was worth changing back in my particular case.
     
  20. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Senior Stratmaster

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    I was going to suggest a gold colored plastic guard as a possible option for some.

    My one and only experience with an anodized Strat pickguard was back in the 70s but I remember it making a difference at the time. Kinda doubt it was a grounding issue. I suppose it might possibly have been strictly physical resonance but I tend to suspect eddy currents as a more likely culprit. Bill Lawrence knew his stuff when it came to pickups.

    That's not to say I doubt the word of those who have tried aluminum and heard no difference.
    Guitars and pickups vary. Also, some of us could be listening for different things when it comes to comparing before/after tones.
     
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