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

Where buy Celluloid Tortoise pickguard material?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by mowcheeba, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Pleasant surprise

    I just received a Fender "pickguard strat tortoise 11HL" SKU 7 17669 44715 1, part number 099 214 2000 with a very pleasant surprise. The brown shell pickguard on my '97 Roadhouse has little round red dots interspersed with yellow. The new pickguard (incidentally the package says Made In Mexico) is very different, with swirlies of brown and streaks of yellow that look just like the Italian celluloid material from Warmoth. Photos don't do it justice, but I'll try if I can get to it.

  2. Guitarslinger1

    Guitarslinger1 Banned

    May 26, 2005
    Yes, the Fender tortoise shell pickguards are real cellulose. Or, at least the ones that we stock are.

  3. seekir

    seekir Tele-Holic

    Jan 7, 2007
    Hilo, Hawaii
    I bought a Grizzly tortoise blank, and found it to be pretty inadequate appearance-wise. The pattern repeats on it like the "tiled" background on a webpage with a textured background, so it's presumably a digital print. They are cheap and big though. Got a more convincing Stew-Mac 9"X15" blank for somewhat more than twice the Grizzly price ($33.00).

  4. hugo

    hugo Former Member

    Oct 17, 2006
    How do you cut this stuff? I have flames on my one tele so I'd like to do a pickguard with Rat Fink by Ed Roth. It would totally suite the guitar. Anyone got any ideas on how to do this? I've seen a few guitars with graphics on the pickguard and I have no idea how they did it?

  5. mowcheeba

    mowcheeba Tele-Holic

    Jul 31, 2005
    Santiago, Chile
    Thank you KevinB, looks great. Unfortunately they don't ship outside U.S:rolleyes:

  6. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Sure did smell like it when I pulled the plastic protector off, but my imagination sometimes gets going... That might account for why it's slightly curled if it's celluloid laminated to regular vinyl w/b/w underneath. Beautiful stuff.

  7. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Roughing it out with a jigsaw (or bandsaw) and a very fine blade (like one for cutting thin metal) works well for cutting pickguard material. If you use a jigsaw, cut from the back so any tearout/fuzz is on the back and not on the front, and if the saw scratches the piece it will only affect the back of it. The preferred way to make a pickguard from a blank is to use a pattern and a router. You mess around with a 3/8" or 1/2" sheet of scrap material (plywood, or even better a piece of MDF) until it's the shape you want. A drim sander on a drill press will help guarantee that the edges are square. Then double stick tape the pattern to the rough cut pickguard blank and use a flush trim router bit with a bearing guide to shape the outside. The ball bearing on the end of the router bit follows the pattern. Then come back with a bevel or laminate trimming bit to make the chamfer around the edge (everywhere except by the bridge and control cavity and neck pocket).

    Then again, the made-to-order pickguards at Warmoth are hard to beat - any pattern, any control layout, any pickup configuration you want and presto. That is so long as you like their choices of materials. They did a nice job for me on a pair of hybridTele pickguards (like the Merle Haggard model) with regular sized humbuckers in the neck position. Liked them so much I didn't bother to return the spare one.

  8. Westerly Sunn

    Westerly Sunn Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 28, 2006
    S.E. North Carolina
    Can only select "clear" color from site? All sold out, perhaps?

  9. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Lmii has tor-tis sheets too, but they are $61 each.

  10. Robert(og)

    Robert(og) Tele-Meister

    Jan 24, 2008
    crawfordsville In.
    i have had good and bad experiences with lmi, on one hand i got some mcfadden quart sized containers, good price, great clear, and fast shipment.
    on the other hand it took them over 2 months to tell a lutheir friend of mine that the european maple sides and back set that he ordered was out of stock.

  11. mitchelguitar

    mitchelguitar Tele-Meister

    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunrise Fla
    I wanted to post these picture from my potobucket account of a celluloid pickguard and the 1973 Gibson L5 CES that I just restored. You can see that the pickguard deteriorated and leached all over the pickup covers, frets and the body. The guitar had to be disassembled, and everything cleaned. The original case can not be used any more as it is contaminated and returning the guitar to it will only contaminate the guitar again. To say that it over reacting and keep it real is an understatement. This guitar would have been mint, a 9.5 if you will. But unfortunately the pickguard has reduced the value significantly and has broken the heart of the owner as it was his father guitar and the only item he has left from his Dad.

    here is what it looks like after the restoration

  12. superV

    superV Banned

    Nov 6, 2008
    Thats actually been proven a myth. Dont know where that story started but no one can name the company who was shipping it or exactly when becuase it didnt happen.

  13. Ramblin Ray

    Ramblin Ray Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    New York
    I believe Italy is the only country still producing celluloid, no? So what's the big deal that it's "Italian" celluloid.

  14. superV

    superV Banned

    Nov 6, 2008
    Italy is the main source for almost all celluliod. China produces it as well by the boatload. Of course (and not to diss its just a fact), with Chinese production you never know what plastics they mix in. Theres some really bad chinese pearloid floating around. You can tell instantly when you see it.

  15. ASC67

    ASC67 Friend of Leo's

    Jul 3, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN.

  16. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    albany, ny [not chicago]
    Years ago StewMac sold this great celluloid tortise that was sandwiched between two layers of clear... something. Had the old school look of cellulose, but was thick so it wouldn't warp and was great for floating pickguards.

    It should also be said that the cellulose material used in film and pickguards and guitar pics is not the same as nitroglycerin. The manufacturing process has some common elements, and there are common molecules, but it is not the same stuff.

  17. Brett Faust

    Brett Faust Tele-Meister

    Dec 21, 2008
    Washington state
    If you open the case now and then and play your guitar, I hope you would notice any strange problems with a pickguard.The point is to play your guitars on a regular basis and act accordingly when things don't look right.
    I have worked with celluloid for many years and made thousands of pickguards and bound plenty of bodies too.
    There are a few rules when working with the stuff.
    Store it in a place away from any possibility of ignition.
    Clean up shavings.
    Use sharp cutters,saw blades,and sandpaper.
    No smoking.
    NEVER use a microwave to soften celluloid when molding it.

    Be careful when working with celluloid as a dull bit can get hot and ignite your project. You will not get an explosion but celluloid does burn quickly, especially shavings.
    So keep it tidy when working the stuff.
    Power sanding more than a tiny amount is a big no no because it will generate too much heat and melt,next thing you know you have a fire. Hand held orbital sanders are usually ok because they heat up the material much slower,and give it a chance to cool.

    So be careful and aware but not fearful of the stuff.
    Enjoy the camphor fumes and have fun,safely. :lol:
    BTW Chandler used to carry some wild stuff and may still be a good source.

  18. gitman

    gitman NEW MEMBER!

    Jan 21, 2008
    western europe
    Celluloid for pickguards - FOUND IT !!!

    having the same problem with finding a new guard for a vintage Gibson Super-400 i have found out this : in europe the "Celluloid" material is also often referred to as "Acetate" and guess what : it's widely available in all colors and
    hues because about 70% of the frames for eyeglasses are made out of the same material ! lot's of cheaper/fashion jewellery, too. so next week i will go visit a small manufacturer in my area who not only makes his own acetate blocks and sheets but he manufactures frames as well so he will know all there is to know about how to handle the stuff.
    regarding the famous and mysteriuos "Italian" celluloid i have learned that indeed it was a famous italian manufacturer called Mazzuchelli who provided many luthiers with the raw stock, all over the world and not only the luthier community but also pen-makers ! many vintage fountain pens are as valuable as they are ($ 500 -2000,- !!!!) because they are made out of a very exclusive, rare and pretty kind of celluloid. Mazzuchelli went out of buisiness not too long ago without leaving a successor. nowadays the majority of celluloid and/or acetate is made in Hong Kong and mainland China and is exported all over the world.
    go to your local optician and ask where they get their raw materials .....:cool:

  19. superV

    superV Banned

    Nov 6, 2008
    Acetate is not celluloid.

    Cellulose Nitrate is Celluloid
    Cellulose acetate is not, its plexiglass. Eyeglass makers have not used Celluloid for a few decades now. Its illegal to use Celluloid for eyeglass frames. Thats why the pretty tortoise frames got uglier. Celluloid looks great - acetate looks like a cheap imitation. It was the falmmability issue that caused the eyeglass rule. The flammability is overblown but since celluloid can and does spit when ignitied it makes some sense I guess to keep it off your face.

    Check out
    For a whole explanation of this stuff and a peek at the real thing.

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