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L-5 Pickguard Off-gassing

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Have a 79 L-5 CES that was stored in the case for most of it's 40 years. Collector owned it, didn't know any better I guess. 

So now I own it and get to replace all the gold screws, PU rings, covers, bracket, etc. 

Others here say this process will never stop. My question is why? If its NOT stored in the case and placed in a correctly humidified area, can this original pickguard not be used with all new gold hardware? It does have kind of a cool look.

Admittedly, it is a pain and not very fun to have to track down all of these parts. I do believe that Gibson themselves should, knowing this is an issue, make it easier for players/owners to gather these by offering new/old stock on their site. They do not. They also will not reveal the vendor they use for pickguards on L-5s that are currently being made. Nor do they stock archtop pickup rings or covers known to be affected on these top of the line F-hole models of vintage age.

So my only option is to replace this pickguard with a more modern one? Is everyone SURE about that?

Thanks, W


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The process is irreversible once it starts, in my experience.

I've only had it happen once, on the original pickguard on a 1947 L-7.  It damaged the finish on the side of the neck and the top  in the area of deterioration (where the thick celluloid spacer was glued to the underside of the guard next to the side of the neck), as well as corroding fasteners and adjacent frets. It seems to be a chemical breakdown that escalates.  Even after removing the guard and leaving it in open air, it continued to deteriorate.

I've always suspected that the thicker celluloid pickguards of archtops makes them more vulnerable to out-gassing. I've had several vintage Gibson flat tops with celluloid guards, and haven't had the same problem.

If this link works, it's probably more information than you want.


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  • 1 year later...

No celluloid will always deteriorate and there is no way to stop it no matter how it is isolated.  It certainly cannot be in close proximity to other metals, just not a good material for a pickguard no matter how new or old it may be.  It was one of the first synthetic materials created, and it took time to discover it's shortcomings.  Sort of the epitome of "seemed like a good idea at the time".

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