Scott's Guitar Blog: August 5, 2013

Making a new pick guard for a ’77 Gibson Es-355TD

Sorry to have not posted in so long! I’ve been busy with life and the shop. I hope to be back more regularly!

This is a great 1977 Gibson ES-355 TD that needs a bit of love. It’s a guitar I bought from a client who purchased it in this sorry state and no longer wanted anything to do with it. The guitar had no pickups the fingerboard had been removed (despite no good reason to do so) and the pickups had been cut out and lost. Don’t worries the fingerboard is intact and perfect simply needing to be re-glued!

The pickguard had crumbled into dust causing tremendous corrosion to the gold-plated hardware. Sigh. This post focuses on the rebuilding of the pick guard. First I carefully removed all the degraded material, preserving the binding, intact and perfect. The old cellulose nitrate material they used simply self-destructs and the off-gassing caused the aforementioned corrosion of hardware.

I found a really nice piece of modern faux-tortoise in my shop…not the annoying, terrible-looking red stuff but an elegant pattern in light brown swirls. Cutting it out on the bandsaw then contouring it perfectly on the spindle sander was all that was needed to fit the original pick guard’s binding around the new piece. Using artist’s tape I glued the binding on then carefully sanded the glue squeeze-out away, preserving the time-faded tint of the binding. You can see in the photos how well it looks with this old guitar! I’ve yet to cut out the regions for the pickups and mounting rings; that will occur once I assemble the fully restored guitar in order to get a perfect trim on the pick guard. I tried to finish it with just that touch of roughness that would evoke the effects of time and use so it would blend with the spirit of the instrument.