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We’ve talked about pickguards in great depth on the blog.
But in case you’ve forgotten, here’s a summary. Pickguards: a) affect how your guitar looks and b) protect your guitar’s finish from scratching. There’s not a whole lot more to it.
But maybe you don’t want a stock pickguard. Maybe you want to make your own or get a custom pickguard made for your special guitar.
In this guide, first, we’ll look at the best pickguard material sheets. Then, we’ll look at how to make your own pickguards from them.
Ready? Let’s get into it.
Musiclily 12×17 Inch Blank Guitar Bass Pickguard Material
The Musiclily pickguard material sheet is ideal for DIY and custom pickguard projects.
The one ply sheets are 0.09 inches in thickness and 12×17 inches in size.
It comes out of the box with double layer protective film on top.
This material comes in different thicknesses and colors, including:
- 1 Ply Black.
- 1 Ply Cream.
- 1 Ply Matte Black.
- 1 Ply White.
- 3 Ply Aged White.
- 3 Ply Black.
- 3 Ply Cream.
- 3 Ply Ivory.
- 3 Ply Mint.
- 3 Ply Mint Green.
- 3 Ply White.
- 4 Ply Abalone Shell.
- 4 Ply Agate Black.
- 4 Ply Black Pearl.
- 4 Ply Mint Pearl.
- 4 Ply Parchment Pearl.
- 4 Ply Pearl Blue.
- 4 Ply Pearl Bronze.
- 4 Ply Pearl Grey.
- 4 Ply Purple Pearl.
- 4 Ply Red Pearl.
- 4 Ply Red Tortoise.
- 4 Ply Shell Red Yellow.
- 4 Ply Shell Tiger Spot.
- 4 Ply Tortoise Shell.
- 4 Ply Vintage Tortoise.
- 4 Ply White Pearl.
- 4 Ply Yellow Black.
- Silver Mirror.
Most customers are happy with this material.
Some have noted that it can be difficult to fashion the material into a pickguard and others warn not to remove the protective film before you’ve completed installation.
Always good to know!
The Musiclily material is about average in terms of price and for some basic customization, it should more than suffice.
IKN Guitar Bass Pickguard Material
The IKN pickguard sheet is 12×17 inches in size, made of environmentally friendly celluloid and PVC plastic material and comes with two-layer plastic films on top.
Colors and designs include:
- 3 Ply Cream.
- 3 Ply Mint Green.
- 4 Ply Aged Pearl.
- 4 Ply Black Pearl.
- 4 Ply Blue Pearl.
- 4 Ply Brown Pearl.
- 4 Ply Brown Tortoise.
- 4 Ply Gray Pearl.
- 4 Ply Green Pearl.
- 4 Ply Purple Pearl.
- 4 Ply Red Pearl.
- 4 Ply Ret Tortoise.
- 4 Ply Tiger Stripe.
- 4 Ply White Pearl.
- 4 Ply Silver Mirror.
As you can see, this product is comparable to Musiclily’s.
Customers are generally happy with their IKN purchase, though some weren’t satisfied with the color they chose.
It can be hard to tell from just a picture, so results may vary.
Either way, this is another good option to consider if you’re going to be making your own pickguard.
Kmise Blank Electric Guitar Bass Pickguard Scratch Plate Material Sheet
The Kmise Black Pearl pickguard material sheet is made of celluloid, and measures 17.3 x 11.3 x 0.3 inches.
And, yes, Black Pearl is your only option for this specific material sheet.
This should be enough material for two Teles, Strats, Jazz Basses or one P-Bass.
Most buyers are quite satisfied with their purchase of the Kmise material sheet.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t come in a multitude of designs or colors. What you see is what you get.
Vencetmat Guitar & Bass Pickguards DIY Anti-Scratch Blank Sheet
The Vencetmat DIY anti-scratch blank sheet is versatile and can be used to create guitar picks, back plates and of course, pickguards.
This environmentally friendly, thermostable, no-smell pickguard material is made of 3 ply PVC plastic and 1 ply celluloid.
- Black Pearl.
- White Pearl.
- Dark Brown.
- Black Agate.
- Black Pearl.
- Dark Brown.
- Retro White.
- Rose Brown.
This material, measuring 17.3 x 11.6 x 0.4 inches, is about as cost efficient as the others introduced here.
Overall, the Vencetmat is a good quality product for your custom pickguard needs.
EZwave Aged White Pearl Pearloid Pickguard Scratch Plate Blank Material
This four ply EZwave scratch plate material comes with a protective film on top and measures 16.9 x 11.4 x 0.9 inches, giving you the ability to make two Strat pickguards with it.
There are no negative reviews for the EZwave material, and its price isn’t half bad either. Check it out.
FLEOR Blank Pickguard Material
The FLEOR blank pickguard material measures 12 x 17 inches, giving you enough material for two Strats, two Teles, two Jazz Basses or one P-Bass.
The four-ply construction features quality celluloid and PVC plastic material.
The materials are environmentally friendly, thermostable and don’t have a smell.
Color/thickness options include:
- 1 Ply Sparkle Golden.
- 1 Ply Sparkle Silver.
- 1 Ply Transparent.
- 3 Ply Ivory White.
- 3 Ply Red/Black/Red.
- 4 Ply Black Agate.
- 4 Ply Blue/White/Black/White.
- 4 Ply Boa Stripe.
- 4 Ply Green/Light Yellow/Black Stripe.
- 4 Ply Green/White/Black/White.
- 4 Ply Light Pink Pearl.
- 4 Ply Orange Shell.
- 4 Ply Orange/White/Black/White.
- 4 Ply Pink Pearl.
- 4 Ply Pink/White/Black/White.
- 4 Ply Purple White/Black/White.
- 4 Ply Red Shell.
- 4 Ply Red/Green Stripe.
- 4 Ply Red White/Black/White.
- 4 Ply Sky Blue Pearl.
- 4 Ply Tawny Stripe.
- 4 Ply Tortoise Shell.
- 4 Ply Vintage Green Mint Pearl.
- 4 Ply Yellow Pearl.
- 4 Ply Yellow Black/White/Black.
- 4 Ply Zebra Stripe.
Several customers have commented on how colorful and vibrant the material is and how it brings a new life to their guitars.
Aside from that, there’s not much to say about the FLEOR material. Give it a try and see how you like it.
Dopro Acoustic Guitar Self Adhesive Scratch Plate Sheet Pickguard Material
The Dopro acoustic guitar pickguard material is made of PVC plastic and measures 10 x 8 x 0.3 inches.
Out of the box, this material sheet comes with a plastic protective film on the top and a 3M self-adhesive on the back.
It comes in Black Pearl, White Pearl, Black, Clear, White, Dark Tortoise, Red Tortoise, Tawny Stripe, Tiger Stripe and Vintage Tortoise.
The material is intended to be used for cutting your own acoustic guitar pickguard shapes.
It isn’t just electric guitars that need or necessarily have pickguards.
Acoustic guitars do too.
So, if you’re looking to put a pickguard on your acoustic guitar, you might like this material.
The adhesive makes it easy for you to attach the pickguard directly to the body of your guitar.
Of course, you’ll want to line up the pickguard perfectly before sticking it to your guitar.
Customers note the material is easy to work with, though some were only half satisfied with the quality of the material.
Still worth a look though.
Vencetmat Acoustic Guitar Pickguard Anti-Scratch Blank Sheet
Here’s another viable option for seekers of quality material for their acoustic guitars.
The affordable Vencetmat acoustic guitar sheet can be cut to any shape you desire with the use of scissors.
You can also use the material for guitar picks and other accessories and parts.
The sheet measures 7.9 x 6.7 inches and comes with 3M glue on the bottom.
The manufacturer claims you can get at least two pickguards and 35 to 40 picks out of the material (one or the other, not both).
Made of celluloid, this material is available in Black Pearl, White Pearl, Dark Brown, Black Agate, Black Pearl, Black, Dark Brown, Retro White, Rose Brown and Transparent.
Customers are generally happy with the material, making it great for acoustic guitars.
What Should I Look For In Pickguard Material Sheets?
So, you’re ready to swap out your pickguard.
Maybe it’s scratched.
Maybe it’s dented.
Perhaps you’re just tired of the color.
There are times when it’s necessary to change your pickguard.
And, at other times, it might just be a matter of preference.
Of course, there’s going to be some of you that want to make your own custom designed pickguard – that’s probably why you’re here.
It could be for a guitar that already has a scratch plate, or it might be for an axe that’s never had a pickguard before.
Materials aren’t all the same and aren’t created equal. But that doesn’t mean you won’t end up with similar results, regardless of which material you choose.
With that in mind, here are a few things to look out for when shopping for pickguard material.
The Right Size
It would be disappointing to buy a pickguard material sheet only to discover it isn’t enough for you needs.
This is rare assuming you’ve measured everything beforehand but it’s worth mentioning.
And, if you want to use whatever is left over for guitar pickups or a backplate, you should be looking at how much material you ultimately need.
Be sure to check the dimensions of the sheet as well as how much material you need for your new pickguard before purchase.
A Design/Color You Like
If you’re going to upgrade or customize your guitar, you may as well enjoy the results.
Be sure to scan through the various options and choose a design/color combination you like.
And, by that I mean the color of your guitar against the color of your pickguard.
Even color combinations that you’d assume wouldn’t work sometimes work out, so it’s worth testing if you have some extra change to spare.
There are more choice than ever, so scan the selection and enjoy shopping for the right material.
A Price That’s Easy On The Wallet
Pickguard sheet material is generally cheap, so I can’t imagine budget being a major factor.
Maybe if you chose to invest in a more expensive material like diamond or gold – then you might fuss a little more over budget (note: diamond and gold sheets are not featured on this list).
And, of course, if you go through a lot of trial and error, you might end up wasting a few sheets.
Not the end of the world.
Just remember to stay within budget and you shouldn’t have any regrets.
The Right Material
Most materials are PVC plastic, celluloid or some combination thereof.
That’s not what I’m talking about, although it’s worth looking into if you’re looking for something specific/different.
I’m talking more about what the material is suited for – electric guitars or acoustic guitars.
Self-adhesive material probably won’t work with most electric guitars that already have a pickguard.
It might be a different matter for a guitar without a pickguard, mind you.
And, also keep in mind that pickguards for electric guitars are usually screwed in (i.e. you’ll need to drill screw holes) while acoustic pickguards are often attached directly to the body of the guitar.
Please avoid drilling holes in your acoustic guitar.
If you’re not worried about cracking or how that might affect your acoustic guitar’s tone, go right ahead.
Otherwise, don’t do this.
How To Make A Pickguard
Warning: Making a pickguard yourself can be technical in nature. If you aren’t confident in your ability to cut the material to suit your guitar, get a qualified tech to do it for you.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here are the steps involved in making a pickguard.
- Prepare your material. If you haven’t already bought your pickguard material sheet, do so. You can use materials other than the ones mentioned here if you so desire. Just note that you may require different tools depending on the material.
- Design a template. The template can be made of different materials, whether paper or wood. It should already be cut to the exact shape you ultimately want your pickguard to be. Trace the shape onto your sheet.
- Cut your material. This may be done with different tools. The most common is jigsaws and bandsaws. Take your time. It can be challenging to get the corners right.
- Drill the holes. Use a drill for the precision work (e.g. cutting out the holes for the pickups and pickup selector switch). Find the right drill bit for the job.
- Smooth the edges of the pickguard. Your pickguard won’t be neat and clean after sawing it. Use sandpaper, a file or other appropriate tool to smooth the edges.
- Remove the plastic film before installation. Be sure to wait until you’re done cutting the pickguard.
Those are the basic steps.
Here’s a video that shows (but doesn’t entirely explain) each step.
The steps followed may be slightly different from the above, but the procedure is essentially the same:
How To Cut A Pickguard
Warning: Cutting a pickguard yourself can be technical in nature. If you haven’t done this before and you’re worried that you might make mistakes, get a qualified tech to do it for you.
We’ve talked briefly about how to cut a pickguard already.
The exact steps you follow will likely depend on the material and the tools available to you.
First, you’ll want to make (or potentially buy) a template. This is so you can trace the exact shape of your pickguard on the material sheet you’ll be fashioning it out of.
You can fashion your template how ever you please, assuming the design will fit your guitar.
Double check the dimensions of your guitar and how the pickguard will sit on it.
Double sided tape can be handy when attaching your template to the sheet material so that it doesn’t move while you’re tracing it.
After tracing, you can cut the pickguard.
You can use a saw, router or other tool to do this.
In some cases, scissors or other simple tools can work.
Then, you can clean up the edges.
Use sandpaper, a file or other suitable tool for this job.
Drill the holes.
If your pickguard is going on an electric guitar, it may already have the holes you need.
If not, you will need to drill holes into your guitar as well.
Finally, you can pull off the plastic film and put the pickguard on your guitar.
Here’s a helpful video that begins with creating the template and ends with cutting the pickguard:
How To Remove A Pickguard
Warning: Removing a pickguard can be technical in nature. Although not complicated, if you force the process, you could end up causing damage to your pickups, electronics or guitar in general. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, take your guitar to a tech.
The exact process for removing your pickguard will vary depending on your guitar.
Here are the basic steps involved:
- Remove the strings. If you haven’t taken off the strings already, do so now. A string winder can be helpful for this process.
- Measure the height of the pickups. It might seem tedious, but if you love your pickup configuration and don’t want anything to change (the height of the pickups affects tone), be sure you know exactly the height of each pickup.
- Remove the tip of the pickup switch and tone/volume knobs. Skip this step if your pickguard does not sit on these components. A flat bladed screwdriver can be helpful for pulling off the knobs. Be gentle when using it as you can damage the knobs or the pickguard itself.
- Remove the screws from the pickguard. Depending on the pickguard there will be many screws that need to be removed. If you’re removing a Strat pickguard, you don’t need to unscrew the screws holding the pickups at this stage. The pickguard should come off without doing so (but be careful taking it off as you don’t want to damage the wires).
- Remove the knots around the pots. Use a wrench to loosen and then do the rest by hand.
- Gently lift the pickguard. Don’t pull hard. You’ll see the electronics beneath the pickguard. This will not apply to some guitar models.
- Remove the pickups one at a time. Now you can take a screwdriver to the screws on the sides of the pickups and remove them one by one.
Here’s a video that explains the entire process:
How To Replace A Pickguard
Warning: Now that you know how to remove a pickguard, replacing it is essentially the same process in reverse. But it can be somewhat technical in nature. If you’re unsure, turn to a qualified guitar tech for assistance.
If you removed the pickguard from your guitar, it should be ready for the new one.
In the last section, we looked at how to remove a pickguard from a Strat style guitar.
Here we’ll be looking at how to put a new pickguard on your Strat.
If you aren’t using a Strat, then the process might be even simpler than described here.
Here’s how to replace your pickguard:
- Insert the pickup screws into your new pickguard. Put the springs on the screws as well. Begin the process of attaching your pickups to the pickguard, one by one. You can tighten the screws by hand at first. Then use a screwdriver.
- Insert the pots. Put the washers on and tighten them.
- Pop the selector switch through the appropriate hole. Use the designated screws and tighten them.
- Ensure the cables are tidy and gently put the pickguard in place. Ensure that you have a nice, snug fit.
- Make sure all the holes line up correctly. If you were successful in cutting your pickguard correctly, this should not be a problem. Otherwise, you may need to go back to the drawing board. You won’t be able to screw on your pickguard if the holes don’t line up properly.
- Put all remaining screws in to make sure they fit right. You can tighten them once you’ve confirmed they’re all sitting in the right holes.
- Put the knots back on around the pots. Tighten with a wrench. You can also put the tip back on the selector switch and the knobs on the pots.
- Raise the pickups to the appropriate height. Hopefully you took note of the height of each pickup so you can set them back to where they were. Important if you love your guitar’s tone as it is.
Here’s a video explaining each step:
Can I Make A DIY Pickguard Out Of Other Materials?
Warning: Making your own pickguard can prove challenging. With enough practice, you can learn to do just about anything. But if you want to do it well and get it done right the first time, you’ll probably want to enlist the help of an experienced tech.
The short answer to this question is “yes”.
Although the materials recommended here are likely best suited to conventional pickguards, this does not mean you can’t find other materials you like and use them for a pickguard.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that you might end up needing different tools to cut and shape the pickguard.
If you aren’t deterred, then research the material you’re thinking about using and how to cut it properly.
There are some tutorials and videos out there describing how to use different materials for pickguards.
For instance, here’s a video of someone making a pickguard out of sheet metal:
You may need to do additional research depending on what you’re planning to do.
Best Pickguard Material Sheets Reviewed & Compared, Final Thoughts
DIY projects can be a lot of fun and when it comes to guitar, there are a lot of things you can do to customize, whether it’s the hardware, pickups or pickguard.
Cosmetically, a pickguard is one of the primary components second to the finish of your guitar.
There are plenty of Strat, Tele and Les Paul style pickguards out there, so if you’re just looking to replace what you’ve got with a new color or design, this might be the better way to go.
But if you want to create a custom design and make your guitar your own, there’s nothing quite as gratifying as choosing your own material and fashioning a custom pickguard out of it.
The process might be difficult and confusing at times, and if you don’t have the right tools, it can be hard to do.
But you can always call up your local guitar tech for assistance should you need it.
Have fun with your new pickguard!