Pickguards are hard to relic. I give up.

Midgetje94

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I like to build relic T Style guitars. 1. I like old stuff, 2. I like telecasters.

I don’t pass them off as real. I don’t try to fool people. There’s a art form with it. At least to make it passable. Knowing where and how much to wear, knowing when to stop. I’ve made some pretty solid relics and getting good at it. I started and got good with aging wood parts, then moved to aging hardware realistically. Now, on this build, it should be my first FULL self relic (not relying on company aged parts. Doing it all myself by hand) Pickguards freaking suck.

I’ve been through a couple Pickguards, trying to get a realistic one. Wood wears, hardware tarnishes, plastic… is plastic. It’s the same all the way through, it’s made to stand the test of time. That’s why eco-nuts hate it so much 🤣.

Anyway this is my end product. Attempted to keep under the strings cleaner, had palm and finger wear (thumb part of palm rests above strings, and fingers balance hand below them) idk. I’m not 100% pleased with it. But I don’t hate it. But like it more than most “relic” guards.

*disclosure: I’m not usually a fan of white guards. But I wanted it on this one.

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Midgetje94

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Oh yea. I meant finished with the discoloration. I’m trying to figure out how to add cracks without ruining it. Thinking a blown up image for reference and a razor blade.

The challenge is back when these old guards were new, plastic was pretty unstable and tended to be all over the place with quality. (Making it sound like nuclear reactors lol) but plastic now is made so much better and more durable. So im looking into methods to crack the plastic without ruining it all.
 

Falstaff1960

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I think what usually causes the cracks are plastics becoming brittle over time along with over-tightening of screws. This will take some research to discover what the pick-guards you are using are made of. Manufacturers may have their own formulas and so they may age differently. I would assume UV light would be a factor in its aging to the desired brittleness (and yellowing), along with temperature. I wonder if finding an old sunlamp might help in the aging process along with applied heat. You might get some shrinkage as well in the process which would be normal over time and exposure.

By the way, do you use something to darken the exposed "worn" wood on the edges of bodies and necks? The vintage instruments I have handled, the exposed wood has usually darkened because of oils from sweat and other factors. SRV'S or Rory G's strats are good examples of this. Would give a more authentic look to the exposed wood on bodies and necks.

Sorry if my comments seem foolish. I have limited experience with artificially aging of guitars.
 

Midgetje94

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I think what usually causes the cracks are plastics becoming brittle over time along with over-tightening of screws. This will take some research to discover what the pick-guards you are using are made of. Manufacturers may have their own formulas and so they may age differently. I would assume UV light would be a factor in its aging to the desired brittleness (and yellowing), along with temperature. I wonder if finding an old sunlamp might help in the aging process along with applied heat. You might get some shrinkage as well in the process which would be normal over time and exposure.

By the way, do you use something to darken the exposed "worn" wood on the edges of bodies and necks? The vintage instruments I have handled, the exposed wood has usually darkened because of oils from sweat and other factors. SRV'S or Rory G's strats are good examples of this. Would give a more authentic look to the exposed wood on bodies and necks.

Sorry if my comments seem foolish. I have limited experience with artificially aging of guitars.
Yea I’ve seen a ton of original 60s pickguards that still have solid holes. Most I’ve seen (if they are damaged) are just chipped off.


And yea as the finish wears off, the nitro cracks and chips off, that wood becomes exposed to all kinds of stuff: sweat, grease/oils, beer, smoke, sun.

I have used coffee and tea before to “age” bare wood. Graphite is another thing I’ve used. That’s a bit tricky. The coffee I’d do slowly in increments to get the desired tint, while graphite I’ve worked backwards. I’d darken then sand and buff out until it’s the desired look.

I’ve dove into ways to do this. I’ve watched COUNTLESS hours of YouTube videos, read dozens of articles. You have to be careful. Most the YouTube videos are more of a “what NOT to do” haha. I have a body and a neck that I never plan to assemble. They are my test subjects. I’ve come a long way. I’ll have to post some various pics for you
 

Midgetje94

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Here’s my test neck and body (my first attempt to relic. I painted the body and attempted to relic it)

At this point my exposure to “relics” were the cheap Vintage brand, the cheesy LTD worn stuff. The sand down some areas and seal over it.

That’s what I did. No method or reason. I tried to copy pictures. But didn’t stop to think and plan.

I planned to go back and fix it all and use them. But since abandoned that idea and use it to test ideas
 

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Midgetje94

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This is my first real relic build. It’s a eBay body I reliced from new. Neck is Mighty Mite. I did that as well. The hardware was all new nickel that I aged myself. Pickguard is a relic Bakelite I got from reverb.

I went more subtle on the wear. Made it more “player” wear. And I think that looks a LOT better than the yellow one lol. I was more careful about how much and where I sanded. And I didn’t put a finish on the wear, so it will continue to darken naturally as well as continue to crack and age.

You may be able to see spiderweb checking. I tried the canned air and heat gun trick. And while I’ve seen some naturally spiderwebbed checking most is straight horizontal or vertical. I think the canned air and heat gun is too rapid to look right.

You can see the “wear” on body, neck, and head. The body was darkened with coffee. And the neck and head was powdered graphite.
 

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Midgetje94

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And this is the current build. The sunburst is a more “played and cared for” wear. This one I wanted a more rough relic. Not necessarily “heavy” just a more played and road worn. Neck is made to look more grimy (more played, less often cleaned) was a bit more rough around the edges.

I found a much better way to check the body.

Edit!* I have not aged the exposed wood on this one yet. I plan to put hardware on it and strap it up first. See where it hangs on a strap, where my arm tends to rest. So I can gauge what parts just need a little darkening, and what parts get more skin contact
 

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Midgetje94

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I’m not a expert by any means. I’ve learned as I’ve gone. I’ve repainted several guitars in the past. I’ve done some stuff. Unfortunately not a whole lot of pics. Deleted most after I sold them. Wish I kept pics at least.

I’d like to get into actually making body’s from start to finish. But that takes space and money for tools haha.

But I’ve gotten good at partscasters. Several local guitarists have complimented my builds. So that counts for something
 

posttoastie

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I had a 50s Fender Road Worn Blond Tele. I took 3-in-one penetrating oil (try in small area first) and covered the whole guitar with it. I wiped it off after a few minutes and it turned out great. The body checking looked great and the phony worn maple neck front looked better. The back of the neck also turned out nice and all the little chips looked real and dirty. I even added the wear marks between frets 9-12 to make it look better.
My friend thought it was a Fender Custom Shop when I showed it to him.
Kiwi shoe polish also works well on guitars depending on what look you are going for..
 

Fretting out

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I like to build relic T Style guitars. 1. I like old stuff, 2. I like telecasters.

I don’t pass them off as real. I don’t try to fool people. There’s a art form with it. At least to make it passable. Knowing where and how much to wear, knowing when to stop. I’ve made some pretty solid relics and getting good at it. I started and got good with aging wood parts, then moved to aging hardware realistically. Now, on this build, it should be my first FULL self relic (not relying on company aged parts. Doing it all myself by hand) Pickguards freaking suck.

I’ve been through a couple Pickguards, trying to get a realistic one. Wood wears, hardware tarnishes, plastic… is plastic. It’s the same all the way through, it’s made to stand the test of time. That’s why eco-nuts hate it so much 🤣.

Anyway this is my end product. Attempted to keep under the strings cleaner, had palm and finger wear (thumb part of palm rests above strings, and fingers balance hand below them) idk. I’m not 100% pleased with it. But I don’t hate it. But like it more than most “relic” guards.

*disclosure: I’m not usually a fan of white guards. But I wanted it on this one.

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Is the Coke Zero a relicing device or just a tasty beverage?
 

Fendereedo

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I've used 400 grit sandpaper, then soaked in warm water and coffee grounds over night, to great effect ymmv.
 

Midgetje94

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No one seem to have the penetrate local. Ordered some through orileys. Will be in tomorrow
 

Lou Tencodpees

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I find the knobs and plastic on Strats the most difficult to relic. Some take, some don't. I think it likely has to do with what types of plastics are used.
 

Midgetje94

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Update on what I have so far.

Thought I had the tuners lined up better and marked. But they aren’t bad and will work.
 

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FenderLover

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Another thing you don't see attempted is shrinkage. The holes on my '68 are all stretched, as if the guard pulled from all edges to the center. One could drill a half screw head off and file the true location to shape. Distort it a little with a heat gun.
 
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