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dbeetcher

J-200 Pickguard

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I was wondering if anyone knows how a J-200 "flowers and vines" pickguard is made (see attached JPG for example)?

 

Thanks, Dan

 

Hi Dan - there are 2 types. The original way they would do this is pour the plastic into a mold and then apply paint in the grooves. Some of the J200 pickguards depending on era also have MOP dots glued/inlayed as well.

 

The other type on the newer SJ200 standards are just printed and sandwiched between two layers of pickguard material (outer layer being clear).

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The last post was an interesting theory.

The original Montana pickguards were actually made from celluloid sourced from Italy. These blocks of celluloid were sliced into sheets in New York and shipped to Bozeman. The sheets were cut up into the pickguard shapes and the J-200's were hand engraved into the design you see today. This engraving was then hand painted. This was expensive and very labor intensive and to speed the process the pickguard's design was later heat stamped into the celluloid.

 

The new "flubber" guards are no longer celluloid but some silly rubber/sound deadening stuff manufactured in Asia. Lots of controversy over the new material.

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I was wondering if anyone knows how a J-200 "flowers and vines" pickguard is made (see attached JPG for example)?

 

Thanks, Dan

 

Thank you both for your inputs about how these pickguards are (or might have been) made. When you say that the pickguards were hand engraved, how was that done? I assume the engraving was done from the rear of the pickguard? Was the pickguard a two-layer item, with a solid color (Tortoise?) on the rear, and a clear layer on the front? Then the engraver would cut through the back layer just enough to form the 'flowers and vines' pattern, but not penetrate the clear front layer? Finally, the engraver would fill in the engraved cuts with the desired paint color? Or did they engrave the back layer from the top side, then carefully fill in the engraving with paint, then attach the clear layer on top of that (somehow)?

 

I'm hoping to duplicate this method using my CNC machine, using a two-layer pickguard (solid/clear) and machining it from the rear. But the big thing that is holding me up right now is the two-layer pickguard material, with a solid color on the back and clear on the front. Any idea where I can get this material? Or can I attach two separate pickguard layers together using adhesive pickguard tape (not my preference!) or use some sort of chemical or solvent that would provide a good bond (without any air bubbles or other visible flaws)?

 

Thanks, Dan

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The engraving and hand painting was on the front.

 

Wow, really? Does that mean that the top surface of the pickguard was uneven (from the engraving and paint) and not smooth? I'm confused. I would think that a rough/uneven surface would collect dirt/grime/beer/crud! Not what I would expect for a pickguard. I'm still not catching on, I guess.

Dan

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Basically the J200 pickguard is made of visually appealing misery.

 

The early (hand engraved and painted) celluloid guards are attached to guitars that only presidents can afford.

 

The mid-period (heat stamped and painted) guards feature a design which jumps off the guard and runs off if they’re breathed upon.

 

The current (flubber) guards are (depending on who you ask) either fine or a tone killing monstrosity which violates the sanctity of a national icon and besmirches the legacy of music itself, and are extra terrible on top of that because they’re made for Gibson in Asia (much like, of course, the East Indian Rosewood that’s right next to said pickguard in the form of the bridge and fretboard of the J200).

 

This thread has re-opened one of the most unappealing of Pandora’s boxes...expect it to run to 5 pages and for everyone to be burning their guitars (and each other) by the time the mods lock it 😂

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Wow, really? Does that mean that the top surface of the pickguard was uneven (from the engraving and paint) and not smooth? I'm confused. I would think that a rough/uneven surface would collect dirt/grime/beer/crud! Not what I would expect for a pickguard. I'm still not catching on, I guess.

Dan

 

It's a PICKguard, not a BEERguard.

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Don't hold back, Jinder.

 

Let it out........

 

There was a lot of tongue in a lot of cheek in my post...I find it amusing how passionate people get (myself included!) when this topic is raised!

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There was a lot of tongue in a lot of cheek in my post...I find it amusing how passionate people get (myself included!) when this topic is raised!

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks for your comments. I did not realize that I would arouse such passions about something as innocent as a pickguard!

 

Allow me to provide some background about myself:

I retired a year ago. About 8 years ago, I decided to get into building guitars as an 'after-retirement' hobby. I built a Telecaster from scratch and now I'm working on a Gibson J-200. I built a CNC machine a few years ago, and I've been trying to incorporate the precision/repeatability of the CNC into my guitar building processes.

 

For the 'flowers and vines' pickguard, I'm planning on using CNC again. But I'm not understanding the process that was used by Gibson to make these, so it's frustrating to try to figure out how to use CNC to make these!

 

It would be much appreciated if someone could take a few minutes to give details about the step-by-step procedures that one would take to build the pickguard......the type of details that you would give to an apprentice who doesn't have a clue about what to do!

 

If this forum isn't really the right place to exchange this information, please feel free to email me and we could continue this conversation offline: dbeetcher@wi.rr.com

 

Thanks again for all your comments!

Dan

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There's the materials aspect of the pickguard which may be a challenge. They are very thick and it has to be since they need to be engraved.

 

The design of the pickguard engraving has got to either be a mold or an heat imprint pattern that Gibson uses. The Hummingbird pickguard, as an example, did not engrave pickguards on reissues until they found the molds in around 2002-2003. They then started to create a special historic line that featured these pickguard which later became the True Vintage series and now the Vintage series.

 

The painting process is basically applying paint by hand and polishing the top of the pickguard so the paint applies within the "grooves". It is fully exposed and can rub off from strumming.

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If you can build a CNC I would love to see what you can come up with w/o copying Gibson (who lately isn't copying Gibson either). The new J200 and Hummingbird pickguards amount to vandalism in my opinion on their most iconic guitars. I won't go down the slippery slope of tone and flubber guards. I haven't any first hand knowledge but wish you luck in your endeavor.

Edited by aliasphobias

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I have a Hand cut sj200 Guard.. done by Ren back in the early 90s. Walker applied the Color.. . it was one of two he did for a brazilian Sj200 I own..the spare is a back up.. :)

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I was wondering if anyone knows how a J-200 "flowers and vines" pickguard is made (see attached JPG for example)?

As you probably know there are several versions (not only talking materials) of this guard.

The one you post might be among my favorites. The outline does something special, but the other factors are beautiful as well.

 

All from me - Hi

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I have a Hand cut sj200 Guard.. done by Ren back in the early 90s. Walker applied the Color.. . it was one of two he did for a brazilian Sj200 I own..the spare is a back up.. :)

 

Hi Slimt,

 

Would you mind describing your pickguard, with some details about how/where the engraving was done? Is the top surface smooth? If yes, is it because a clear pickguard layer was attached, or was a protective finish sprayed on?

 

Thanks,

Dan

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Hi Slimt,

 

Would you mind describing your pickguard, with some details about how/where the engraving was done? Is the top surface smooth? If yes, is it because a clear pickguard layer was attached, or was a protective finish sprayed on?

 

Thanks,

Dan

 

I bet if you contact Bozeman directly, they'd be happy to share with you some tips on how to copy that pick guard. I'm sure it's not patent protected or anything.

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The design of the pickguard engraving has got to either be a mold or an heat imprint pattern that Gibson uses.

 

The painting process is basically applying paint by hand and polishing the top of the pickguard so the paint applies within the "grooves". It is fully exposed and can rub off from strumming.

+1

The standard way has the "grooves" on top. The paint fills the grooves and the excess is buffed off the surface, leaving them filled with paint. The texture is not enough to be a problem, so there is no need to be perfectly smooth. The durability of the paint can determine how easily the artwork is damaged. (E-minor7 can tell you all about the panzer paint used on vintage guards)

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Thank you both for your inputs about how these pickguards are (or might have been) made. When you say that the pickguards were hand engraved, how was that done? I assume the engraving was done from the rear of the pickguard? Was the pickguard a two-layer item, with a solid color (Tortoise?) on the rear, and a clear layer on the front? Then the engraver would cut through the back layer just enough to form the 'flowers and vines' pattern, but not penetrate the clear front layer? Finally, the engraver would fill in the engraved cuts with the desired paint color? Or did they engrave the back layer from the top side, then carefully fill in the engraving with paint, then attach the clear layer on top of that (somehow)?

 

I'm hoping to duplicate this method using my CNC machine, using a two-layer pickguard (solid/clear) and machining it from the rear. But the big thing that is holding me up right now is the two-layer pickguard material, with a solid color on the back and clear on the front. Any idea where I can get this material? Or can I attach two separate pickguard layers together using adhesive pickguard tape (not my preference!) or use some sort of chemical or solvent that would provide a good bond (without any air bubbles or other visible flaws)?

 

Thanks, Dan

 

Hi Dan,

 

The original pickguards were one piece of celluloid. The engraving was done on the top of the pickguard with a hand held graver. All done by hand. Then the color was applied. This was a time consuming endeavor and the pickguards were priced out at a dealer net of $150.00. $300.00 retail for replacements. It took a lot of time and skill to make these bad boys and thus the high price.

 

All you wanted to know was the process and then the can of worms was opened. There has been a lot of speculation about the whole process. I'm to blame for this as I coined the term "Flubber" for the new material being used and am responsible for all the contention. I apologize to all concerned. I just think that if you replace a $150.00 pickguard with a .25 cent pickguard the price should be adjusted.

 

The celluloid is readily available from any number of suppliers ( Stewart MacDonald) and the process should be rather simple with todays computers. Send us a photo of the completed project. Just for the record you would probably find the hand engraving process a lot of fun. Celluloid is highly flammable so be careful machining the stuff on a CNC.

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(E-minor7 can tell you all about the panzer paint used on vintage guards)

Hahe, , , think it's better to pass this time. It was after all told in the autumn.

Almost certain there will come a chance to launch it again - if I don't (against all expectations) grow up before that. .

 

But yes, it's an intriguing tale. Bet there must be buckets here and there in both Belgium and the rest of Europe to this day.

Saw one on Norwegian eBay - that auction went sky-high.

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Wow, really? Does that mean that the top surface of the pickguard was uneven (from the engraving and paint) and not smooth? I'm confused. I would think that a rough/uneven surface would collect dirt/grime/beer/crud! Not what I would expect for a pickguard. I'm still not catching on, I guess.

Dan

 

Here is a close-up of my 2012 SJ200 Golden Age pickguard. It is engraved and painted on the top. You can feel the engraving and various paints and textures under your fingers. I like that a lot. The feeling of that engraving under my pinkie fills me with opulence with this magnificent instrument. I was playing it yesterday and, again, blown away by the voice and the feel of this guitar. I don't care if the paint fades. This guitar is a work of art.

 

IMG4293.jpg

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Thanks for adding that photo. Now I understand how Gibson does it. I'm going to continue with my attempt to cut this pickguard from the rear side, using CNC. It could be really cool.........or it could suck, time will tell!

 

Dan

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Basically the J200 pickguard is made of visually appealing misery.

 

Sounds like the girl I dated for five months in 2011.

 

(rim shot)

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Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks for all your comments.

 

I have one last favor to ask: For those of you who have a J-200 with a mustache bridge, would you mind taking a measurement of the thickness of the bridge. The information I have is that the bridge is basically flat on top (except for the saddle) and it is 7.5mm (9/32") thick. However, if you do the mm-to-inch conversion, the two measurements are not equal.....there's an error of about 0.35mm. Now, 0.35mm is not much of an error, but I sure would like to be as accurate as possible when I make this bridge. I'm leaning towards the 9/32" as being the correct one, but let's hear what you have to say!

 

Thanks, Dan

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