Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by AWSchmit » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:18 am

So cool. I really enjoy reading these threads.
I finally finish building a guitar, go to play it, and then remember, "oh yeah, that's right. I suck at playing... Why did I build another guitar again?"

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by lefty » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:45 pm

Will can I pick your brains on this please? I’ve just bought a 1960 guard for my new 1960 JM and the guy postage’s it to me without screwing it down to a board like i asked. I’m so annoyed as it shrunk and doesn’t fit. The money i spent is painful as I could have got a spitfire but worse is that he ruined a beautiful 1960 guard. It’s such a waste. What do you think about me trying to stretch it? Do think warming in an oven might be a less harsh and firey way to do it?

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by will » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:57 pm

lefty wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:45 pm
Will can I pick your brains on this please? I’ve just bought a 1960 guard for my new 1960 JM and the guy postage’s it to me without screwing it down to a board like i asked. I’m so annoyed as it shrunk and doesn’t fit. The money i spent is painful as I could have got a spitfire but worse is that he ruined a beautiful 1960 guard. It’s such a waste. What do you think about me trying to stretch it? Do think warming in an oven might be a less harsh and firey way to do it?
Warming a pickguard in the oven will make it soft enough to stretch, but the tricky part is getting it to stretch evenly. The thinner parts of the pickguard (like the area above the neck pickup) are much easier to stretch than the more massive areas (like the space between the pickups)

From my experiments, I've come to believe that flattening out a warped pickguard works quite well, but un-shrinking a pickguard is much trickier. I have a couple pretty old guards screwed to boards, but the reproductions are so much better these days that I use those instead.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by lefty » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:16 am

will wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:57 pm
lefty wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:45 pm
Will can I pick your brains on this please? I’ve just bought a 1960 guard for my new 1960 JM and the guy postage’s it to me without screwing it down to a board like i asked. I’m so annoyed as it shrunk and doesn’t fit. The money i spent is painful as I could have got a spitfire but worse is that he ruined a beautiful 1960 guard. It’s such a waste. What do you think about me trying to stretch it? Do think warming in an oven might be a less harsh and firey way to do it?
Warming a pickguard in the oven will make it soft enough to stretch, but the tricky part is getting it to stretch evenly. The thinner parts of the pickguard (like the area above the neck pickup) are much easier to stretch than the more massive areas (like the space between the pickups)

From my experiments, I've come to believe that flattening out a warped pickguard works quite well, but un-shrinking a pickguard is much trickier. I have a couple pretty old guards screwed to boards, but the reproductions are so much better these days that I use those instead.
Ok cheers Will. I appreciate you taking the time. I think I've reached the conclusion its not going to work. After some back and forth where the guy told me he's never heard of people screwing down guard and never having one shrink, I'm going to see if I can get a refund through reverb. I should have just gone for a spitfire from the off.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by Plumerai » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:23 pm

If you order from spitfire be sure to find out how thick the guard will be. I bought one for my 65 jm. Most of the holes lined up fine but the roller controls don't clear the top of the guard. maybe if i did away with shield beneath it will be better, but compared to the original guard it is a bit thicker. plus my original guard is mint instead of white.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by will » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:56 pm

I thought that I should post some "after" results in this thread. Here's an original mid-60's Jazzmaster guard that I got for a not-totally-ridiculous price because it was kinda shrunken and hacked around the bridge.

I managed to stretch it enough to fit on the guitar, though it got distorted around the pickup openings. Any part of the pickguard that is thinner will stretch a lot more than the thicker parts - it stretches like taffy or the cheese on a pizza (only slower and more flammable)

If I were to try this again, I'd make two sets of rectangles out of MDF that are a bit larger than the pickup cutouts and use them to clamp the pickup cutouts and keep them from getting distorted. It is a lot easier to stretch the plastic than it is to make it smaller again!

Image
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...on the plus side it fits on the guitar now, without the screws getting totally diagonal - before, some of the pickguard screws couldn't even be seen when the guard was placed on the guitar.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by will » Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:22 am

I got a few questions on this thread and thought I should post an update:

When the pickguard is heated, it becomes sort of like very hard taffy or silly putty - so the thinner areas stretch a lot more easily. Basically, it would be a lot more difficult to stretch the area between the pickups than a thinner area, like above the neck pickup on a Jazzmaster.

I you just want to stretch the area around a bridge thimble, you could dip the corner of the pickguard in boiling water and then stretch it out a bit. I tried boiling water to heat a guard and preferred this, since a heat gun is very hot, and the temperature at which the guard burns isn't too much above where the plastic becomes stretchy. I needed to heat the guard in boiling water and stretch it out a few times to get it stretched enough (it cools down quickly!)

I used leather gloves so I wouldn't burn my hands. 200 degrees isn't ridiculously hot, but gloves do help. When I was stretching out the plastic, I pulled by pinching one of the thicker areas instead of hooking my fingers inside a pickup hole - the edges and thinner areas heat up quicker and deform more easily.

Also... I picked up a modded gold guard for my Jazzmaster so I wouldn't need to do any more stretching (just some extra-hole-plugging)

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by wastedyouth » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:27 pm

Do you find that the pickup cavities shrink down as well and need to be stretched around a pickup cover?

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by will » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:31 pm

wastedyouth wrote:
Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:27 pm
Do you find that the pickup cavities shrink down as well and need to be stretched around a pickup cover?
They should be shrinking less as long as the pickguard was left on a guitar, but the plastic will shrink pretty much everywhere. It's unstable stuff.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by wastedyouth » Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:06 am

So, I had a pretty bad day yesterday. I started with a decent guard that had minimal shrinkage, it could still be screwed to the body in all locations with just a little angle to some of the screws, but the thimbles were very tight. The pickup covers would not fit through their holes. Emboldened by the boiling water idea, I thought that I would be able to stretch it out all over. The water works well to uniformly heat the material, but I found that trying to pull it, keep it flat was very difficult before it quickly hardened. I found myself heating larger areas, the upper and lower halves trying to make all the features line up. Concerned that I had to get it stretched and pinned before I quit, the overall shrinkage getting worse. Finally, I basically flattened it out and pinned t to a piece of MDF to wait for another day, a long time from now when I have the patience to try and recover. Wishing I would have done more research, realizing what I had was a pretty good piece to start with, and just filed out the holes.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by Francer » Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:24 am

Can a guard really shrink in the post as suggested above, surely it’s a slower process than that, I would imagine it could take months or years? More than likely that guard was already shrunk when it was posted?

As for stretching it out again, of you could find a one with a smooth enough surface, could something like a rolling pin be used to stretch out a shrunken guard if it was softened up enough, I guess the risk is the surface gets damaged or marked by a less than perfectly smooth roller?

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by maximee » Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:38 am

Francer wrote:
Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:24 am
Can a guard really shrink in the post as suggested above, surely it’s a slower process than that, I would imagine it could take months or years? More than likely that guard was already shrunk when it was posted?
I’ve had guards fit fine on guitars before I took them off for a setup and shrink on me within an hour. Or rather more like the guard had a lot of tension on the screws from years of shrinking. All that tension is suddenly released by taking out the screws and then they never fit the same.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by wastedyouth » Sun Mar 07, 2021 12:03 pm

Francer wrote:
Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:24 am
Can a guard really shrink in the post as suggested above, surely it’s a slower process than that, I would imagine it could take months or years? More than likely that guard was already shrunk when it was posted?
Yes it was very slightly shrunken, like maximee described when I started but it couldn't be put on the body when I quit. I am guessing that the repeated heating and cooling from 200F water accelerates the degradation mechanism and causes further shrinking. Eventually I think I will try again, ignoring the thimble and pickguard holes, just to get the screws lined back up.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by wastedyouth » Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:21 pm

Update: I had a few hours of quiet today, so I tried again. As mentioned above, I removed the thimbles and pickups with the goal of stretching the guard back out to match the body screws. The good news is that it is back on the body though not quite perfect. It took a lot of work, heating and stretching many times. I tried rolling as suggested but could not apply near enough pressure to move the material. You have to pull pretty hard. It would be ideal to heat locally to stretch specific area and screw them down as you go, but also very scary with a heat gun. The water works well but isn't isolated to the spot you are working and tends to undo the areas you've stretched. So I feel better for now, but I can see that it will take a lot more work to get this to be usable.

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