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Jesse_Dylan

Can I repaint my pickguard?

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Now you're giving me a challenge Em7. I also wonder if its a long scale as it sounds awfully bright, sounds a lot like my 69er.

 

Have a listen to the Passenger clip that is going in the forum now, that is a classic Bird sound, albeit played much softer and with fingers.

 

But notice at the up-belly bridge. .

 

And yes, , , please go and find that worn early Bird. I have a 1000 in my archive and they all show intact wildlife.

Not that I want to stand proud here - if I'm wrong, , I'm wrong and then fine.

 

It isn't every day one meets a first wave Bird, but the 4 or 5 times I did, I always saw the motif embedded.

Maybe I was too mesmerized to judge - and maybe we're just talking German panzer-paint.

 

 

"All I want is the truth" , , , as Winston once yelled. .

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This one has a bit of fade, 1960 birth year Bird. But looking at the other Birds from 60's on Gbase this seems to be the exception. The 61-65 have their guards pretty much intact. Guess they had some teething challenges in the first year and soon sorted it out.

 

I do love the old Bird guards though, would love to buy one, would be happy to pay premium for it. Same with a 50's J-200 guard for my J-150.

 

http://www.gbase.com/gear/gibson-hummingbird-gia0658-1960-cherry-sunbur

 

EDIT: I lied after taking a close up look ... no fade !

 

 

But notice at the up-belly bridge. .

 

And yes, , , please go and find that worn early Bird. I have a 1000 in my archive and they all show intact wildlife.

Not that I want to stand proud here - if I'm wrong, , I'm wrong and then fine.

 

It isn't every day one meets a first wave Bird, but the 4 or 5 times I did, I always saw the motif embedded.

Maybe I was too mesmerized to judge - and maybe we're just talking German panzer-paint.

 

 

"All I want is the truth" , , , as Winston once yelled. .

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This one has a bit of fade, 1960 birth year Bird. But looking at the other Birds from 60's on Gbase this seems to be the exception. The 61-65 have their guards pretty much intact. Guess they had some teething challenges in the first year and soon sorted it out.

 

I do love the old Bird guards though, would love to buy one, would be happy to pay premium for it. Same with a 50's J-200 guard for my J-150.

 

http://www.gbase.com/gear/gibson-hummingbird-gia0658-1960-cherry-sunbur

 

EDIT: I lied after taking a close up look ... no fade !

 

Maybe it's something to do with sunlight. I would expect that 1960s Bird to have a really faded cherry on it, too, but it's still cherry as can be. Or did the fading dye not come into use yet?

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That's some pretty talented restoration. I have come to the conclusion that my only option is a protective varnish. I'll see how things proceed for a while since it seems like I might not actually cause any more damage. Wouldn't hurt to varnish it every year or so just in case, though!

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Go to a crafts store like Hobby Lobby, etc. (might even find it at a Wal Mart) and get a bottle of clear varnish.

 

I did exactly this about a year or so ago, small bottle of artists varnish from Hobby Lobby. But I was not protecting a pick guard, I used it to repair a damaged spot on the top. This kind of varnish is designed to be flexible (since it is supposed to be used on painted canvas) so it doesn't harden like the nitro finish on the guitar. I would experiment with this on a piece of plastic first and see how you like the feeling. It is very easy to scratch it with a fingernail where I used it to repair the top.

 

Personally I would just leave it alone and let the paint wear off. You guys will hate me for this, but I find those pickguards incredibly ugly to start with. [tongue]

 

Regarding semi-gloss vs gloss, my understanding is that all varnish is inherently glossy. To make a semi-gloss (or satin) finish, they just add some filler to the solution (like mica IIRC). That results in a less durable finish because of the particles suspended in the varnish. I would think a better approach might be to use gloss and then fine steel wool or 5000 grit automotive sandpaper to kill the shiny surface.

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I did exactly this about a year or so ago, small bottle of artists varnish from Hobby Lobby. But I was not protecting a pick guard, I used it to repair a damaged spot on the top. This kind of varnish is designed to be flexible (since it is supposed to be used on painted canvas) so it doesn't harden like the nitro finish on the guitar. I would experiment with this on a piece of plastic first and see how you like the feeling. It is very easy to scratch it with a fingernail where I used it to repair the top.

 

Personally I would just leave it alone and let the paint wear off. You guys will hate me for this, but I find those pickguards incredibly ugly to start with. [tongue]

 

Regarding semi-gloss vs gloss, my understanding is that all varnish is inherently glossy. To make a semi-gloss (or satin) finish, they just add some filler to the solution (like mica IIRC). That results in a less durable finish because of the particles suspended in the varnish. I would think a better approach might be to use gloss and then fine steel wool or 5000 grit automotive sandpaper to kill the shiny surface.

 

A lot of times the satin finish seems to be on less-expensive guitars, too, leading me to think it is somehow less labor-intensive. For instance, the J-15 has some kind of lower-labor finish (though it's not a satin). I like it, though!

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I'd recommend masking off pretty much everything not the pick guard. Use the blue painter's tape. I'ts low tack and comes off easy.

 

Testors paint? yes. Testors brush? no. Get a good quality very, small pointed brush. And practice, practice, practice before laying one drop of paint on the guard.

 

I'm thinking you should use flat as opposed to gloss paint. The Testors flats are usually relegated to the miliary paint kit. White and yellow is all you'll need.

 

And, keep the mineral spirits bottle as far away from the guitar as is practical. I'd recommend, also, using a Q-tip lightly dampened in the mineral spirits (bottle across the room with the cap on, in a drawer). If any of those spirits come in contact with the guitar finish, you will be mourning for years.

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Ha ! , , , you're probably right - but also challenged, young man.

 

 

 

Fact is that no one on the rock-firmament apart from The Stones played Hummingbird back in the day.

Now it's different and both one of the Oasis-bros and Thom York use vintage Birds (probably more).

 

But Hogeye and I have an interesting discussion goin' on these pages :

 

I claim that pre-68 H-birds have imbedded wildlife motifs and therefore never wear off (look them up, they're all intact).

 

Hogeye for his part, says they are engraved like the contemporary TV's.

 

Now I'm not 100 % certain and the topic is still open for me. Not least because this board's king-collector, tpbiii, when I asked him to kindly check his 1962 Bird, gave the mystious answer that it was both engraved and imbedded. Now grasp that, , , and let's get light on the grass in time. . .

 

 

 

 

not all of them are intact....

 

2011-04-01_12-21-43_853_zpsrfrxzxbg.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Keith

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Nice burst on that one! That's what I originally wanted until I came across mine instead. (well, I wanted that burst I mean, not a '60s guitar or a worn pickguard hehe)

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I think the Hummingbird might be the most illogical guitar to ever capture the public imagination in a big way. I'm sure there are quirky failures out there everywhere, but the 'Bird is an iconic guitar and yet it's the most fussy of beasts. Some don't ring out but purr rather quietly, while their calling card--that pickguard that is either beauty or ornate silliness--either deadens the sound or does nothing of the sort. But it's impossible, apparently, to keep it shining bright. Remove the pg and you have a plainer guitar that doesn't elicit the 'ooh' of it owners. Leave it be and you dare it to disappear or weaken in short or eventual time. So fickle.

 

I've played a number over the years and all have been substantially different from one another. The one I own is either '66,'67,'68 or'69 depending on who looks at it. (Upon first purchase, I posted photos here and we came to the agreement that no one was sure.) Talk about chicken or the egg! The pickguard or the rest of the guitar, which comes first?

 

I've even heard our beloved pickguards referred to as 'scratchplates."

 

And what does it say when on this site typing this message, I consistently get told pickguard is two words! It also refuses to accept Epiphone graciously.

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"Scratchplate" is one of those four-letter words. Yeah, "the bird" is different. Some consider it a comic guitar because of the pickguard. Yet, the pickguard is one piece of beauty stuck onto another. I bet when the name Hummingbird is mentioned a huge number of people think of the guitar as they do the bird. Outside of music circles, I bet the name is better known than D28.......I think it's the pickguard that tells the uninitiated just what the guitar is, leading to all the "oohs and ahs." Until they see the pickguard, it's just a pretty guitar.

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not all of them are intact....

 

Keith

Mind you this correction -

 

You're right - but this is a narrow-necked Bird. Maybe I should change my theory to pre-65/66.

 

Unless of course you can come up with a worn guard from between 1960 and 64.

 

, , , , and judging from the nut width, your ex looks like a 65/66'er [wink] doesn't it. .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think the Hummingbird might be the most illogical guitar to ever capture the public imagination in a big way. I'm sure there are quirky failures out there everywhere, but the 'Bird is an iconic guitar and yet it's the most fussy of beasts. Some don't ring out but purr rather quietly, while their calling card--that pickguard that is either beauty or ornate silliness--either deadens the sound or does nothing of the sort. But it's impossible, apparently, to keep it shining bright. Remove the pg and you have a plainer guitar that doesn't elicit the 'ooh' of it owners. Leave it be and you dare it to disappear or weaken in short or eventual time. So fickle.

 

I've played a number over the years and all have been substantially different from one another. The one I own is either '66,'67,'68 or'69 depending on who looks at it. (Upon first purchase, I posted photos here and we came to the agreement that no one was sure.) Talk about chicken or the egg! The pickguard or the rest of the guitar, which comes first?

 

I've even heard our beloved pickguards referred to as 'scratchplates."

 

And what does it say when on this site typing this message, I consistently get told pickguard is two words! It also refuses to accept Epiphone graciously.

 

Would it be possible to see yours again.

 

And yes, , , the Bird is peculiar phenomenon in the world of acoustics, , , , in fact stranger and stranger the more one thinks about it.

 

Isn't that fantastic !?!

 

 

 

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Has anyone heard the reasoning behind abandoning the use of a pickkguard design/material that can potentially last for decades for a design/material that can start disappearing in hours/days?

 

BTW, I've never used Testor's paints, aside from when I was a kid with model planes and cars. On the discussed pickguards I've used a clear and water based varnish.

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Has anyone heard the reasoning behind abandoning the use of a pickkguard design/material that can potentially last for decades for a design/material that can start disappearing in hours/days?

 

BTW, I've never used Testor's paints, aside from when I was a kid with model planes and cars. On the discussed pickguards I've used a clear and water based varnish.

 

Guess the panzer paint was too toxic for human inhalation - I use tiny Humbrol cans for scale-models when fixing the guard.

 

Mat or gloss doesn't really matter - sometimes I mix the 2 like fx when small scars on my old 45 top was retouched (black).

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My pickguard seems to be staying pretty stable now. I am still thinking about the varnish, though. I think if I do get a J-200, I may varnish from the get go to protect my thistles unless it's one of the flubber guards.

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Mind you this correction -

 

 

 

, , , , and judging from the nut width, your ex looks like a 65/66'er [wink] doesn't it. .

 

 

I did in fact miss that part of that post!

 

 

 

Keith

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Lots of fun stuff on this thread.

 

The original pickguards were celluloid. They used a graver and actually engraved the design in the celluloid by the process of engraving. This means they scratched a line in the material with a sharp tool. This engraving was relatively deep into the material and can be felt by running your finger over the engraving. Then they painted the pickguard with a lead based paint. They applied the paint rather generously. They didn't paint in the lines but rather over them and then they block sanded the pickguard taking off all of the paint except where it stayed in the deep engraved lines.

 

Fast forward to Montana. It takes a lot of time to hand engrave a pickguard. It is very costly to produce. Montana decided to try an updated process called a heat stamp. The machine is simple and easy to understand. There is a aluminum plate that has the design on it. It is and placed in a hydraulic press and heated. The press "stamps" the Hummingbird design into the pickguard. No costly hand engraving. It has a sheet of material that covers the pickguard and it puts the color on at the same time as the stamping. No paint or hand painting.

 

Some of the Hummingbirds coming out of Ren's custom shop were hand engraved and hand painted using the original technique. Ren engraved them all by hand. A fun process to watch but it took and amazing amount of time and energy.

 

Gibson had a learning curve to get it right. If you put to much pressure or heat on the stamp to get the proper depth for the process then the edges of the pickguard tended to curl up. This caused the pickguard to curl up and come off the guitar as it aged. If they didn't use enough pressure the stamp was to shallow and the design would rub off.

 

Gibson got complaints from everyone that ever bought a Montana Hummingbird. They found a Korean manufacturer that used the famous Flubber to place the design under the material. No more complaints. You are all happy. Well all of you except those that like the tone of a good Hummingbird. The Flubber is a soft spongy material that sits on the top and does not vibrate with the top like celluloid does. This Flubber is a dampener and it dampens the vibration of the top. The celluloid is a stiff brittle material that will vibrate with the top and does not dampen the vibration of the top. Simple as that.

 

Everyone seems to be happy with the fact that their guitar will not reach it's tone potential but the guard will not scratch or fade. Gibson liked the experiment as the "Flubber guards cost pennies per unit instead of dollars for celluloid. NO one complains about the loss of tone as you aren't interested in a good sounding guitar just a good looking one. The end result is that they are putting the Flubber an a bunch of guitars now. Flubber on a J-200. Good grief.

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Lots of fun stuff on this thread.

 

The original pickguards were celluloid. They used a graver and actually engraved the design in the celluloid by the process of engraving. This means they scratched a line in the material with a sharp tool. This engraving was relatively deep into the material and can be felt by running your finger over the engraving. Then they painted the pickguard with a lead based paint. They applied the paint rather generously. They didn't paint in the lines but rather over them and then they block sanded the pickguard taking off all of the paint except where it stayed in the deep engraved lines.

 

Fast forward to Montana. It takes a lot of time to hand engrave a pickguard. It is very costly to produce. Montana decided to try an updated process called a heat stamp. The machine is simple and easy to understand. There is a aluminum plate that has the design on it. It is and placed in a hydraulic press and heated. The press "stamps" the Hummingbird design into the pickguard. No costly hand engraving. It has a sheet of material that covers the pickguard and it puts the color on at the same time as the stamping. No paint or hand painting.

 

Some of the Hummingbirds coming out of Ren's custom shop were hand engraved and hand painted using the original technique. Ren engraved them all by hand. A fun process to watch but it took and amazing amount of time and energy.

 

Gibson had a learning curve to get it right. If you put to much pressure or heat on the stamp to get the proper depth for the process then the edges of the pickguard tended to curl up. This caused the pickguard to curl up and come off the guitar as it aged. If they didn't use enough pressure the stamp was to shallow and the design would rub off.

 

Gibson got complaints from everyone that ever bought a Montana Hummingbird. They found a Korean manufacturer that used the famous Flubber to place the design under the material. No more complaints. You are all happy. Well all of you except those that like the tone of a good Hummingbird. The Flubber is a soft spongy material that sits on the top and does not vibrate with the top like celluloid does. This Flubber is a dampener and it dampens the vibration of the top. The celluloid is a stiff brittle material that will vibrate with the top and does not dampen the vibration of the top. Simple as that.

 

Everyone seems to be happy with the fact that their guitar will not reach it's tone potential but the guard will not scratch or fade. Gibson liked the experiment as the "Flubber guards cost pennies per unit instead of dollars for celluloid. NO one complains about the loss of tone as you aren't interested in a good sounding guitar just a good looking one. The end result is that they are putting the Flubber an a bunch of guitars now. Flubber on a J-200. Good grief.

 

Thanks for the detailed history. I'm curious what kind of material the Hummingbird True Vintage model uses (and I assume it's the same as the new baked vintage hummingbird today). It's different than the modern classic right? Are these the hand engraved guards you're talking about? Mine was built in 2012 so maybe Ren was involved with my guard, I like to think so anyway :). Thanks!

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Thanks for the detailed history. I'm curious what kind of material the Hummingbird True Vintage model uses (and I assume it's the same as the new baked vintage hummingbird today). It's different than the modern classic right? Are these the hand engraved guards you're talking about? Mine was built in 2012 so maybe Ren was involved with my guard, I like to think so anyway :). Thanks!

 

 

Sorry but the TV uses the heat stamped process. No hand engraving anymore. It's been a long time since Ren hand engraved a pickguard. He has moved on from Gibson several years ago. Gibson quit engraving them long ago. The original engraved guards were done in Kalamazoo. Only high end Custom guitars were engraved in Bozeman. Several examples of them can be seen in the Whitford book "Gibson's Fabulous Flat-Top Guitars". Check page 165 for a great example of the art of Hummingbird engraving.

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Sorry but the TV uses the heat stamped process. No hand engraving anymore. It's been a long time since Ren hand engraved a pickguard. He has moved on from Gibson several years ago. Gibson quit engraving them long ago. The original engraved guards were done in Kalamazoo. Only high end Custom guitars were engraved in Bozeman. Several examples of them can be seen in the Whitford book "Gibson's Fabulous Flat-Top Guitars". Check page 165 for a great example of the art of Hummingbird engraving.

 

 

Good to know. I though Ren was still around in 2012 when mine was made which is why I asked whether it was possible he had engraved it :) Wishful thinking. As far as the guard material itself, is it the "flubber" that you mentioned in your previous post or something else?

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Lots of fun stuff on this thread...<snip> Everyone seems to be happy with the fact that their guitar will not reach it's tone potential but the guard will not scratch or fade. Gibson liked the experiment as the "Flubber guards cost pennies per unit instead of dollars for celluloid. NO one complains about the loss of tone as you aren't interested in a good sounding guitar just a good looking one. The end result is that they are putting the Flubber an a bunch of guitars now. Flubber on a J-200. Good grief.

 

The guard on my J200 Jr doesn't feel spongy. It seems to have relatively hard surface and you can feel the relief of the design. Are all the guards flubber now or could some still be the older process.

 

Here is a photo of the pickguard room from the time I was at the Homecoming. Is that the heat press machine in the back? She's still painting the 'guard no?

 

IMG_20110617_100243_zpsvkicvpji.jpg

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