Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

How to 'age' a pickguard?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by LUKO, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. LUKO

    LUKO TDPRI Member

    Jan 20, 2007
    Warwickshire. UK
    I have a vintage style 5 hole pickguard in white. I'd like to 'age' it, making it slightly 'off white' or 'yellowy'. I've experimented on the back with some wood stain but this just wipes off because it cant soak in. Any ideas?

  2. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    Amber shelac.
    I've heard tea works, coffee would probably work faster. But I would think they would just wipe off too? Plastic not being porous, ya know.
    Some klinda oil... like used motor oil would work, but your guitar would always smell like a garage. Although I'd be afraid that the oil or some additive might destroy the plastic some. Again, Dunno....

    These are just guesses. I don't have any first hand experience with a method that actually works. Other than having it around for along time. But my only old pickguard is black, so you can't tell anyway!?!?!?!

  3. trevarty

    trevarty Tele-Meister

    Mar 8, 2007
    Wallingford, PA
    I'm guessing if you left it in a pot or pan of dark brewed tea for long enough it might start to stain it.

  4. elgorgon

    elgorgon Tele-Meister

    Sep 10, 2004
    Reston, VA
    The only success I've had with aging pickguards is by sticking them on a windowsill in the sun for a few months. I had one stark white guard up for about a year and now it's a cream/alabaster color. Before that I tried tea, coffee and sealing it in a bag of smoke, none of which worked permanently. The tea & coffee soaks did absolutely nothing; the smoke did stain the guard but it wore off quickly (can be wiped away with soap & water) and made it smell like an ashtray.

  5. TelZilla

    TelZilla Friend of Leo's

    Jan 21, 2007
    Cleveburg, USA
    I stuck my Strat knobs and PuP covers in a strong cup of coffee for about 30 mins and it aged them pretty nicely. Plus, the guitar smells like Peet's.

  6. elgorgon

    elgorgon Tele-Meister

    Sep 10, 2004
    Reston, VA
    Knobs, switch tips and pickup covers will all take the tea/coffee treatment well. Pickguards seem impervious though.

  7. The String King

    The String King Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 6, 2006
    I discovered this by accident...

    I went over the pickguard with very fine sand paper, then put it into an envelope (a jiffy...) and then, whilst wiring, I spilt my tea (black, no sugar :p) onto the envelope. I cleaned up the mess but didnt open the envelope until the next day... and it looked great! It's just a shame it was a strat p/g...


  8. Jack Wells

    Jack Wells Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Oct 19, 2003
    Albuquerque, USA
    I experimented using Kiwi brown polish on a pickguard once. It changed the color somewhat but probably won't last. You could tint it with tinted lacquer then put several clear coats over it.

  9. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 19, 2006
    get some gigs at the dives i've played. smoke will yellow it right up...:D

    sharpie makes some wood toned markers now, the lightest of which, if thinned some sort of way, could give you a "parchment" like color. sharpies are of course, permanent, so it shouldn't wipe off. i have of course, not tried this, so i'd experiment before ruining a good p/g.

    honestly, my best advice-- buy a fender mint green. they look sooooo good.

  10. NewOldStock

    NewOldStock Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2003
    Northern Minnesota
    Yes, or parchment. Me likey.:p

    I'm surprised...when I frequented here in the past the most common suggestion was tanning beds, it seemed. I think prom season's coming up(spring?). Perhaps you could find a young lady that'd haul one into the tannery a few times. Otherwise find an alternative source of UV rays. Television leads us to believe it's usually cloudy or raining in England. Don't know if this is true or not.

    edited. I checked-:D

  11. Blues Hurler

    Blues Hurler Tele-Holic

    I tried and tried, and couldn't get my guard to age. Then, I realized that a lot of actual vintage Tele's have very white pickguards on them still. So I had to ask myself why I was trying to change the colour so hard, when some actual 60's tele guards looked just like mine! Eventually I gave up. That's my completely unhelpful advice. You gotta watch leaving it in a window. Might warp.

  12. Lostheart

    Lostheart Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 26, 2005
    Agree with you 100%.
    I love relic/worn in guitars and I've been experimenting with certain aging techniques for quite some time now.
    IMHO some things are better left unaged or they might look weird.
    Muriatic acid for bridges/control plates/neck plates is what instantly comes to mind...totally fake looking! Most of the old Teles have plenty (if not all) shine left on their chrome parts and none that I have seen resemble the look that muriatic acid does to them.
    The most convincing relics are the ones that only received a mild relic treatment and are played from there on.
    The look of natural relicing (especially on bridges/control plates/neck plates) that will occur even within a short span of 5 years is something I have yet to see on any artificially reliced guitar.
    Again IMHO...less is more...

    But back to the pickguard...if you sand it with very fine sandpaper and submerge it in a tea/coffee solutuion it will take the stain in no time...
    But keep in mind...the area underneath the knobs is upposed to look lighter than the rest...

  13. demillso

    demillso TDPRI Member

    Mar 9, 2007
    Here's the best way I have found. First gently rough up the guard with very fine sandpaper or a fine scotchbrite pad. Get some RIT fabric dyes from WalMart or whatever you have across the pond, its easy to find here in the US. I use a mixture of dark green, yellow and brown, weighted heavily towards the green. Mix it in a shallow pan large enough to submerge the pickguard. Slip the pg in and shove it into the oven at 200 degrees (thats degrees F, are your ovens metric?) for about 25-30 minutes. You can check it periodically until you get the color you like. Make sure to rinse thoroughly when you are checking because most of the color will rinse off. The goal here is to end up with a nice looking mint green color. Next, mix yourself up some of the yellow powder with a little water. A thick liquid consistency is perfect, you want it almost a paste. Take a cloth and rub the yellow (which should look dark orange) around in key areas of the guard. Look at some pictures of old guards for guidance. Wipe a little on and then wipe it back off, repeating if necessary, until you are satisfied with the look. Here is one I just finished. Don't shoot, I know it is a strat, its all I had around at the moment. It started as an ordinary MIM bright white guard.

  14. jazzguitar14

    jazzguitar14 Tele-Meister

    May 19, 2006
    I never tried it, but how about smoke...

    Im a smoker and I know everything in my smoking room has a disgusting yellow coat on it... Maby put the guard safely above a smoker or chiminey shoot of some sort...

    Just an idea...

    otherwise, sandpaper, amber shellac, and graphite -- or leather dyes...

  15. Tedecaster

    Tedecaster Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 16, 2006
    Greensboro, Vermont

    It's gonna be hard finding one who wants a Tele P/G-shaped tan line.

  16. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    Check eBay. What I do, is sell off the white guards I don't want, and buy one i the desired color. Sure is quicker. Sometimes, I've netted out ahead of the game, depending on how the auction goes.

  17. txspreacher

    txspreacher Friend of Leo's

    Jun 21, 2004
    I had a spare white Tele guard I wasn't using, so out to the garage with my Pre-Val sprayer with an amber shellac mixture. As long as I very lightly misted it, it wasn't too bad. A little "spotted", but subsequent mist coats may have evened it out. I dunno, it just didn't look great to me. Maybe putting the mixture in a pan and dipping the pickguard?

    Krylon has a spray paint designed for use on plastic called "Fusion". There is a color in that line called "Dover White". The samples online don't look like they'd work, but it has a nice off-white look when you see the can in person. Also worth considering is the Reranch tinted clear lacquer. Yeah, I know - about $15 a can. But you'd be able to do several pickguards.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2007

  18. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    You know, I tried the coffee rout, I tried all kinds of stuff... I had an extra white PG laying around. In the end the best thing I found was to use the shelac as a kind of 'dirt' around the screws. I thinned it out a lot!, THen I used some dark oak wax (Briwax is the brand) It added just a hint of color. I was afraid of making it look too relic'd. I think underdone is better as someone else stated.

    I was afraid to sand down my PG, thinking if the sanding swils were to even it would also look fake.

    The fabric dye does seem to look about the best of all I've seen so far, maybe I'll pull out that old PG and start experimenting again? Wonder if hair dye would work? Maybe the next time one of the females in my house uses a natural brown color (instead of purple or orange or blonde...) Maybe, I'll give that a shot too?

  19. txspreacher

    txspreacher Friend of Leo's

    Jun 21, 2004
    LUKO, I know you used the term "aging", but are you simply wanting to change from the stark white color are do you want to make it look reliced and worn?

  20. Uriah T.

    Uriah T. Tele-Meister

    Jun 3, 2005
    Maine in the Braine
    Reranch tinted clear is very yellow, and also very noticable. Hard to go subtle with it, and when you do a misting coat, you can see the spray speckles when looking up close. Shoe polish and/or wood stain in an appropriate color, then coated with clear nitro, is a much better option in my opinion. But many here are right: old guards often look much newer than relic guards- take a look at GVCG pickguards to see how a relic can look accurate. Subtle is better all of the time.

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