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Looking for tips on custom color acrylic pickguard

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by chillman, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

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    Hi folks, I've noticed a lot of boutique builders I follow don't use the standard multi-ply basic plastic laminated pickguard material very often anymore. It looks to me like they're doing a lot of clear acrylic that is painted on the underside of the acrylic so the top has the factory finish but the material picks up the color it was painted underneath. Here's an example from Kauer:

    [​IMG]

    Before I waste acrylic trying this myself, I wanted to see if anyone here has experience with this?

    I assume (I know, dangerous) that the underside must be sanded enough to knock the gloss off so paint will adhere to it. But I wonder if the rough scuff marks would obscure the visibility/homogeneity of the color? Could I paint right on top of clear un-sanded acrylic and have it actually stick? Any chemical compatibility problem with screwing two painted surfaces together and leaving them that way?

    I guess my most basic question is...how do I make a pickguard like the one in the picture?

    EDIT: I don't care about the inset black stripe and logo part, just curious how to paint acrylic to achieve the above effect.
     
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  2. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    go to the hardware store and buy a little sample or two, and experiment with it a bit.

    If you wanted to do a stripe or whatever, you'd have to make a stencil, think mask off the whole thing except what you want to be black. Plaint the black. then remove the mask, then pain the next color. It would be the opposite of the way you would do silkscreening.
     
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  3. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I think people often just back the acrylic with some picture too, so you can just screw it down over the paper, or glue the paper on or whatever. I think I've seen that done on this very forum. I'm sure if you dig through the home-depot build threads, you can find various examples of how people have approached them.
     
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  4. Chandlerman

    Chandlerman Tele-Meister

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  5. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've done several pickguards like this (painted Lexan sheet). I wet-sand the back with 400 grit paper to completely remove the gloss, and shoot the color of choice.

    I get better results when I have the plastic sheet already cut out to the final pickguard shape before I shoot paint because it's far too easy to damage the painted surface when shaping the plastic sheet. I use 400-grit and water afterward to remove the overspray from the sides.

    Important: keep the plastic film on the front as you work with the material, or face it with strips of painter's tape to keep it protected from scratches.

    I use Lexan polycarbonate--not acrylic. I tried acrylic early on because it's cheaper, but it's also really brittle (easy to crack out at the mounting screw holes) and it scratches a lot easier than Lexan.

    This method also works great to make truss rod adjuster cover plates for headstocks, pickup rings, control plates, and amp control panel face plates.
     
  6. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

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    Very cool! Not to mention one of my favorite places to visit. I read the thread but you never answered if you used adhesive. I imagine adhesive might mess it up since it would have to be on the face of what you're seeing and would have to dry perfectly flat and crystal clear. A thin layer of mod podge perhaps?

    This is giving me an idea of designing a tortoiseshell pattern in Photoshop and trying your trick. Since commercial tortoise looks like garbage and Spitfire charges like $200 for one pickguard.

    But in general I'm looking to do metallic gold and I can't print that out. I guess I could spraypaint a sheet of photo paper metallic gold.

    So...adhesive or no?

    Thank you, this was exactly what I was looking for. So the 400 doesn't obscure the color? Seems like sandpaper scratches would affect the refractory properties of the clear material, but maybe not. Thanks for the tip about Lexan. Guess I'll practice on the acrylic I have first and then move up to the good stuff.

    Have you had any trouble with paint-to-paint contact underneath the guards? Seems like it could possibly get sticky and bond with the instrument's finish which could make a mess if the pickguard is ever removed. Or do you protect it with something after painting it?
     
  7. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    The cool thing about sanding clear plastics to a frosty appearance and then applying a finish is they clear up, so no--the scuffed plastic does not obscure the color.

    Here's an example of what I mean: a bowl I made where I incorporated sticks of 1/4" clear acrylic sheet in with the various exotic woods, and sanded smooth to 220. I followed up with a few coats of Deft lacquer, and the acrylic looks like polished glass. It's not optical quaility, but it looks like little windows and it works great.

    Click on the pick to enlargenate it.

    [​IMG]


    I was concerned about paint to paint adhesion so I punch little 1/2" circles from wax paper and use them as washers between the pickguard and the finished wood. The stick-down issue is only a concern around the screw holes where compression is greatest. Never had a problem doing it this way.
     
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  8. MLHull

    MLHull TDPRI Member

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    I have never used it for a pickguard, but you might want to look at Krylon Fusion. It works on glass and is said to work on plastics without sanding. Comes in a wide range of colors.
     
  9. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Now I'm getting ideas!
     
  10. JUSS10

    JUSS10 Tele-Meister

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    Just did one today actually! I used acrylic that I had laser cut to my shape with the holes and everything ready to go. Taped off the A surface (face) and then painted the B surface (back). I was the piece with soap and water and made sure it was good and dry first. Taped the A surface off with masking tape and then just did a light dust coat first, then 2-3 more coats in varying directions. I'll post a picture when I get a chance. I used a cold/bronze type paint and it looks really cool through the acrylic.

    I've also done prints on my other guitars where I can just swap out the graphics whenever i want. Ever did some with fabric on the bottom side where i wetted it out with a thin transparent glue. Lots of cool options!

    I agree that lexan (polycarbonate) would be better than acrylic as its less brittle but my laser cutter doesn't cut PC very well and I have limitless amounts of acrylic "scrap" at my job.

    Justin
     
  11. JUSS10

    JUSS10 Tele-Meister

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  12. Chandlerman

    Chandlerman Tele-Meister

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    I only used some small pieces of tape to hold the print while I trimmed it. I figured adhesive would make it easier but I was worried about a reaction with the print. Others have indicated that adhesive sprays or mod podge will work so I would go that route next time.
     
  13. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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  14. JUSS10

    JUSS10 Tele-Meister

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    thanks! It’s a 3D printed prototype till I get my stainless steel one laser cut. Should be in next week.
     
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  15. JUSS10

    JUSS10 Tele-Meister

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    i used modge podge on my first ones. Now I just slide the print under and screw down the clear guard. Works just as well for me.
     
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  16. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    are you going to get it lasercut flat and then bend the saddle tabs up?
     
  17. JUSS10

    JUSS10 Tele-Meister

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    Yup! done it a few times for bridge plates that work with bigsby guitars. I'm not the first but I guess if folks like the design I may list a few on reverb or ebay. Not a lot to it, most people could do it themselves! Its surprisingly cheap if you can find a local laser shop that does small cash jobs.
     
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  18. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

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    My jaw dropped. Everything about that guitar is gorgeous. That's exactly the pickguard I'm going for. That bridge is beautiful and I might be one of the people who buys one if you list them on reverb. The blue color is great too. Also no roundover is bold and works great with that design. I'd love to see a pic of that completed guitar. What I can see of it reminds me of the short lived but very stylish Hanson Gatto.

    Thanks for the info on how you do it. Sounds like I have a plan.
     
  19. JUSS10

    JUSS10 Tele-Meister

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    funny you brought up the Hanson. I designed this guitar before I noticed it looked similar. I’ve played lakland basses for years as a bass player and always wanted a Hanson Gatto but I prefer 25.5” scale bolt on guitars. I’m wondering if I subconsciously made my guitar a similar shape.

    I have a thread going in the build se toon on the guitar if you haven’t seen it.
     
  20. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    what size/kind of metal stock did you have it made out of? It looks pretty great to me, and would you be willing to share the cad file?
     
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