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Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Fender-guy, Mar 7, 2021.
I do like the unfinished look but that’s partly just laziness.
Git er done and play music!
Here's a pic of my vintage Fender guard before I laq'd it. I think I bought it for about 15 bucks shipped if I recall correctly.
Those pickguards look pretty sweet. I’ll pull the one off my 51 pbass and see what it actually is.
This is what I bought. Probably cheaper to cut one myself, but then I didn't have to cut one myself. The hole pattern didn't matter for me because it's a new body with no pre-drilled pg holes. The neck pocket is off by about 1mm, I hope it isn't too noticeable when the build is complete.
I’ve seen and bought probably 3 different off brand and fender ones within the last year or so. They are all good, just not what I was looking for, texture and feel wise.
The Fender brand "Bakelite" guard pictured with the tape marks on the back is from maybe 2002 or so, and I haven't bought whatever Fender sells now. It is AFAIK legit (modern garolite/ phenolic)
I've bought Fender "original bone nut" blanks and saw a distinct plastic molding mark on the bottom, so Fender does seem to now use material terms as style terms.
@telemnemonics This this my 2001 custom shop broadcaster pickguard, tape marks look really similar and this pickguard you’d swear is vintage. Yes I also notice Fender using material terms as a style. Like nitro finishes just like the originals. Well they forgot to mention anywhere that it’s over top of polyurethane.
For what it's worth, check this out (and no... I'm not affiliated in any way with the seller. Just happened to be on the classifieds and saw this, and thought of this thread )
Callaham make a serious reproduction out of bakelite with a nitro lacquer polished to a high gloss. Not cheap though.
I'm of the opinion that at least SOME of the confusion out there is because of this....
Fender actually used a couple of different materials with the early blackguards.
They used a vulcanized fiberboard material prior to using Bakelite.
Just as with the ever popular "butterscotch blonde" chase....viewing vintage pickguards both of the different materials AND in various states of wear, people are often left confused as to which is "proper", etc.
Now, I'm not exactly sure WHEN Fender changed from fiberboard to Bakelite, or how many of each were produced... or how much overlap for that matter.
I'd tend think the fiberboard pickguards would be found in only the very earliest examples.
I'm sure someone with vastly more blackguard expertise than myself could pop in and help out with THOSE answers, although I've found it surprising the lack of people who actually know there were indeed two different materials preceding the use of El Plastico.
At any rate...
I've used the Garolite and it can be worked to look good.
I also make some guards out of lacquered fiberboard and they definitely have the authentic look of those very *early* guards, although NOT amongst the easier materials to work.
I went down a rabbit hole researching this a while ago and while I'm no expert...
I think the confusion comes from the use of the term Bakelite. Bakelite is a trade name for the first synthetic thermosetting plastic invented by Leo Hendrik Baekeland.
Bakelite made a number of products using phenolic resin (old telephones/radios and jewellery were made of a completely different grade of "bakelite" than Fender pickguards) and today there are still multiple grades of phenolic resin sheet materials using different binders.
Paper, linen, fibreglass etc
The closest to the old pickguards is XX grade. Garolite is XX grade phenolic resin and compressed paper.
There are a plethora of products calling themselves Bakelite because they are a phenolic resin sheet material but they look nothing like XX grade.
While most pickup manufacturers use fibreboard or modern plastic for flatwork, factories in Asia also use a type of "Bakelite" that is closer to a modern plastic (I had a sample sent by one of my hardware suppliers)
It is similar to the "Bakelite" material that Hosco in Japan used to use and more closely resembles old 78 records than XX grade. Their pickguards were also 2mm thick.
I believe this is the same material that StewMac used to use for their "Bakelite" pickguards (I don't know what they or Hosco currently use).
There is still a Bakelite firm in India producing phenolics today, hence the widespread use of the term in industry/manufacturing when searching for sheets online.
From everything I've seen in my research (pics of underside of genuine vintage pickguards especially), XX grade phenolic resin and compressed paper sheets is the closest modern material to that which Fender used, even if they didn't use Bakleite branded products as mentioned by Peegoo earlier in the thread.
My 2006 American has one. I have been searching for a backup I can't find one. So where was Fender getting them from?
Cant answer THAT question, but wanted to mention...
Looking at Fender's current offerings, it appears as if they only offer a "bakelite" blackguard with the 8 hole configuration, which....is weird.
Their 5 holers are not marketed as "Bakelite"
I agree that some of thw confusion does indeed spring from the various terms as you've mentioned.
I believe there is additional confusion, as I posted earlier, due to the fact that Fender used another fiberboard material prior to Bakelite on early models.
Combine THOSE two things with the fact that some people and/or companies also use terms such as "bakelite" and "fiberboard" interchangeably (Callaham for example) when there are indeed two different materials...both if which were used by Fender for blackguards.
Sheesh...it's little wonder people can't wrap their heads around such an (otherwise) seemingly easy thing.
I could certainly be mistaken, but It *seems* among the materials in the "Bakelite" family, they kinda' breakdown as follows:
#1-There is/was a material comprised of the phenolic resin and impregnated with fibrous material.
#2-There is/was also a similar material which was more akin to fibrous sheets which were themselves impregnated with resin..."Vulcanized", if you will.
#3-I suspect there is/was a material which consists of JUST the phenolic resin, sans fiberous reinforcement.
Now, insofar as the ones WE are concerned with...
The earlier blackguards would have been made of the #2 material..the vulcanized fiberboard, aka "fishpaper" aka "Forbon".
Afterwards, Fender switched to the #1 example, which is the fiber impregnated resin type, aka "Bakelite".
Unless, of course, the material they called Bakelite was possibly of the #3 example...an unimpregnated phenolic resin type..???
At the end if the day, I suppose what it all means for us..today...is that for replicating vintage blackguards, we currently have a choice of using the "fiberboard" for making replicas of the earlier examples, and "Garolite" for making the Bakelite replicas.
Personally, right now I'm particularly liking the fiberboard stuff as used in apparently only the very earliest examples of Broadcasters/Esquires, and THAT is what I've been using, rather than Garolite.
I'm hoping I can be able to...sooner rather than later...post pics/examples of my finished pickguards, so folks can see replicas of the very earliest ones as used by Fender, because it seems these days we only get to see replicas of the Bakelite models.
I'm currently trying to rush along a build which I'm eager to show off, but...u know how that is, you can only rush nitro SO much.
No it’s definitely confusing because the terms get all mixed around so you never know what you’re actually buying.
I guess what I’m after for look and feel is the fibre board compressed stuff or whatever they used way back in the 50’s. Which is what I think I have on my broadcaster because I can almost see fibres on the edges, not the straight square edges on my 51 pbass.
Which I’m pretty sure after all this is actually Bakelite. Just a different form of it compared to my broadcaster. I’m hoping the garolite I ordered will be close.
Well if the earlier style material is what your after, you can always order a sheet of Forbon from mojotone and cut your own.
OP - I have an 08-09 FSR Trans Butterscotch Ash Tele that came with a 3-ply BWB pickguard. I removed the PG, put 3 coats of permanent black felt marker on the edge to the cover the BWB laminations and then sanded the top with very fine sandpaper for a matte finish. It looks no different than all the pics of bakelite PGs in this thread for almost $0 cost. Try it...you may be surprised.
I did the same edge treatment with a black felt marker on a 4-ply tortoise PG on my 2000 Roadhouse 3-color burst. However I left the face of that PG glossy/stock. It looks stellar how that PG now blends in with the black outer rim color on that guitar. The edge of that PG just disappears into guitar finish. It gave it a whole new look...sort of a custom touch.
Be sure to let the black felt marker dry overnight before re-installing the PG on the guitar.
Not cheap but the best I've seen. These are the ones I use. He'll do finished w/lacquer and polished or rough and tumble with no further finishing after being cut and several stages in between.
Always happy with the results. Last one replaced the plastic guard in my GE Smith.
I had a thick black shiny plastic guard lying around not being used so gave this a go. I concur, it looks really good and has replaced the crappy flimsy guard on my Baja now. It was single ply so didn't need the Sharpie, but either way very happy with the result