How to Cut a Pickguard

By Carl Hose

A pickguard is a piece of plastic, typically at a thickness of about .095 inches, that adheres to the front of a guitar. It protects the area around the pickups and knobs and a good portion of the front of the guitar body from pick damage due to playing over an extended period of time. Pickguards come in a variety of shapes and colors and are fitted to the cover with openings for tuning and volume knobs, as well as the pickups. Some pickguards are fitted between elements. Many musicians prefer to design and make their own pickguards, which is a relatively simple process. Here's how you can cut a custom pickguard for your guitar.

Design your pickguard. Look at the front of your guitar and decide whether you want the pickguard to be fitted over your tuning and volume knobs or if you plan to make a small pickguard that will fit in the space between the knobs and pickups. Decide if you will need to cut holes for your pickup (if you choose to apply a large pickguard).

Purchase the material you'll need to cut your pickguard. You can purchase plastic material for pickguards from some music supply stores or find it online. The material comes in flat sheets and in a variety of colors. Decide how thick or thin you want your pickguard. For an electric, 0.95-inch is acceptable. Since hollow-body guitars are less durable than solid-body, consider thicker material for an acoustic guitar pickguard.

Measure the area you want your pickguard to cover, then measure the area for any holes you will need to cut for knobs and pickups. With a thin dry erase marker, draw your pickguard onto the plastic material, including all areas you will need to remove to allow access to knobs and pickups.

Place the plastic material on a flat, stable surface and cut your pickguard using a band saw or a portable jig saw. You can also cut a pickguard by hand using only a utility knife, but this takes a steady hand and isn't recommended.

Sand all of the edges of your finished pickguard with a piece of sandpaper, then seat the pickguard on your guitar. Most pickguard material is self-adhesive. You can add small screws on the main corners of your pickguard for extra assurance, but avoid using screws on an acoustic guitar.

About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.