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  • Form or Function

    Which is more important looks or tone? Does tradition come into play?
    Some Strat players claim the guitar sounds better with the back plate removed. So I wondered if my Tele would sound better without the pickgaurd..It does, it seems to be one big tone sponge. But it looks naked without it.. Tradition says you need that iconic pickgaurd but my ears tell me to lose it.. I know they make pickup rings for the neck position and the screw holes can disappear Still it just doesn't look right .so form or function? maybe a compromise ,but no vinyl stickers
    It looks pretty much like this one


  • #2
    Maybe a clear pickguard to fool your eyes so you have both?
    Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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    • GAS Man
      GAS Man commented
      Editing a comment
      Ditto. Or if you could swing a clear PG plus a neck p'up ring, that might look stellar.

  • #3
    I would be surprised if the tele pickguard were a 'tone sponge'. I could understand it on a strat where the pups are mounted on the pickguard. (and I make sure it is well flat to the body with extra screws)
    I do have the backplate removed on one of mine but that is more about rapid string changing
    Last edited by Chordite; 06-20-2016, 04:13 PM.
    .

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    • #4
      Originally posted by DeepEnd View Post
      Maybe a clear pickguard to fool your eyes so you have both?
      Glad you're thinking ,but wouldn't a clear pickgaurd look just as naked? Plus it would still soak up tone..
      Last edited by gardo; 06-20-2016, 04:33 PM.

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      • DeepEnd
        DeepEnd commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes but your brain would be all Schrödinger's cat saying it both had a pickguard (because you knew it did) and didn't have one (because you couldn't see it) so what you heard would sorta split the difference.

      • gardo
        gardo commented
        Editing a comment
        But if it looks naked with no pickgaurd it would look as naked with a transparent pickgaurd as a woman wearing a transparent dress
        While many people incorrectly assume Schrödinger supported the premise behind the thought experiment, he really didn’t. His entire point was that it was impossible.

    • #5
      I have the backplates removed from all of my guitars that have them, it makes for much easier string changes and fiddling around back there. On my 2 guitars with 6-screw trems, I use a backplate to stick under the back of the trem plate when I'm tuning the strings.

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      • #6
        Originally posted by Chordite View Post
        I would be surprised if the tele pickguard were a 'tone sponge'. I could understand it on a strat where the pups are mounted on the pickguard. (and I make sure it is well flat to the body with extra screws)
        I do have the backplate removed on one of mine but that is more about rapid string changing
        The wood resonates and the plastic doesn't. I can hear the difference. We go round and round about tone wood ,some believe it makes a difference and some don't. We even worry about different finishes changing the tone, so why wouldn't a slab of plastic make a difference ?

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        • GAS Man
          GAS Man commented
          Editing a comment
          I believe you. I'm not sure how much dampening it could cause, but some?, I'd say that's plausible. It's like the Road Worn Series from Fender. Plenty of reviews, included one from myself, where the Road Worns seem to have better resonance dues to their minimal finish nitro lacquer finish versus the thick poly coats used on most MIMs.

      • #7
        Okay, is there a source for a very thin Tele pickguard, so it looks right but there's minimal mass to affect tone?
        Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
        Member of the IBANEZ ACOUSTIC ASSASSINS
        Proud Member of The Alvarez Alliance
        Member of the Schecter Society
        Person-2-Person on the Web

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        • #8
          Here's one of my "pick-guard"/"no pick-guard" debates.




          I got this one back in the day when they were clearing them out for a Benjamin. I also have one in the yellowish-blonde as well. On the blonde, I kinda like the pick-guard, but on this burst, I think it looks better without the PG. In this pic I believe I'd put the screws in their holes in order to get an idea of what it might look like if I went with a clear PG. (Also changed the neck p'up cover to black) I also have a spare matte black PG and toyed with the idea of cutting it down to something a bit more minimalistic than the original design. But then OTOH, I don't really think the flat matte black really does much for this color.(And the stock white made it look "cheap")



          In the above pic, the pg is just sitting there to try to give me an idea of whether or not I wanted to go this route. In the end, I just decided to put the guitar away and play with it some other day.



          But in general answer to the OP. I prefer chasing tone in a guitar over "looks", but if that were totally true, I'd have less Les Pauls kicking around. To me, Gibson had it right around 1960 when they were phasing out the LP in favor of the SG (I just think SGs are a more versatile sounding guitar) but there's just something so damn sexy about a LP. IMHO, The SG is the guitar you date when you just want to get laid, not court the Prom Princess.
          A '57 Classic, MIJ from USA parts.
          HCEG Existentialism: I buy guitars, therefore, I am.
          Well Dick, it's got a good beat, and I could dance to it, so I give it a 10!
          I have opinions of my own,strong opinions but I don't always agree with them.

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          • #9
            Acrylic doesn't resonate?
            http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/b...eardillion.jpg
            .

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            • gardo
              gardo commented
              Editing a comment
              I never said it was acrylic ,it could be vinyl or celluloid for all I know

          • #10
            Originally posted by DeepEnd View Post
            Okay, is there a source for a very thin Tele pickguard, so it looks right but there's minimal mass to affect tone?
            Or maybe use a trim ring and paint on a "pickgaurd" that would be thin

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            • #11
              There's an outfit in Australia that sells stainless steel Tele pickguards on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from...guard&_sacat=0. Not cheap but they shouldn't suck tone.
              Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
              Member of the IBANEZ ACOUSTIC ASSASSINS
              Proud Member of The Alvarez Alliance
              Member of the Schecter Society
              Person-2-Person on the Web

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              • #12
                Make one out of swamp ash and paint it black?

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                • #13
                  You may feel a difference in vibrations with your hands on the bare wood vs having them on a pick guard, but the amount of detectable absorption from the pick guard is extremely small.

                  Here's a good question for you. If a hard piece of plastic did have an effect absorbing tone, what should happens when you press the guitar against your arm and belly or your hand on the neck?

                  Given the fat they are hundreds of times more absorbent then a pick guard, why don't they completely suck up all the vibrations? Its doesn't seem to absorb any string tone or vibration at all unless you rest your hand on the strings themselves.

                  I know the body can block sound from a high volume speaker and prevent sympathetic resonance, but doesn't seen to have much impact on normal tone.

                  The pick guard does vibrate with the body, maybe just not as much depending on its density. The resonance of plastic is very similar to wood by the way. I have one of those clear Plexi glass guitars and you wouldn't know it was plastic just by listening.

                  New pick guards are made of PVC which is a softer lighter plastic. Your fingers resting on it are buffered from "feeling" the body vibration a little

                  What you might want to try is an original Bakelite pick guard. http://www.stewmac.com/Hardware_and_...FceCfgodvZsHTg

                  Bakelite is the first synthetic plastic. Its very hard but it can be brittle. (You shouldn't over tighten the screws on a Bakelite pick guard or it can crack) Its a material that has been used in electronics for ages because its very non conductive.

                  Its should add mass to the guitar body and improve its sustain. I don't think you'll be able to detect much tone difference through the pickups however. Maybe the string transients will be a bit snappier like it is with my Gold Anodized pick guard is on my Strat, at least in the way the guitar feels when your pick slaps against it.

                  Last edited by WRGKMC; 06-21-2016, 07:36 AM.

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                  • #14
                    It's the screws that absorb the tone (just kidding, maybe).... which inspired this goofy thought: how about very thin washers under each screw for pickguard which would raise guard just enough to prevent body contact and sucking up the vibes....? Hey, if you like better without pick guard, go for it. It's your guitar. Last alleged thought: do a double blind test with and without pickguard. Need a couple friends to pull it off...
                    I was kicked out of music class for passing notes...
                    Tuned out, turned in and dropped off

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                    • #15
                      Originally posted by gardo View Post
                      Which is more important looks or tone? Does tradition come into play?
                      Some Strat players claim the guitar sounds better with the back plate removed. So I wondered if my Tele would sound better without the pickgaurd..It does, it seems to be one big tone sponge. But it looks naked without it.. Tradition says you need that iconic pickgaurd but my ears tell me to lose it.. I know they make pickup rings for the neck position and the screw holes can disappear Still it just doesn't look right .so form or function? maybe a compromise ,but no vinyl stickers
                      It looks pretty much like this one


                      I remove the back plate on my strats cause the strings are easier to replace.

                      Tone wise I have noticed not a difference. Sounds a bit whacky to me, but you need to do what works for ya.

                      1 of my tele's came with a bridge cover and 3 of my strats have them. I made those disappear too.

                      Some guys call the bridge cover and ash tray. I guess this goes back to the days when one could smoke in a bar or club. It was nice that Leo thought about smokers and all.



                      _____________________________________
                      Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

                      Join Date: Aug 2001
                      Location: N. Adams, MA USA
                      Posts as of Jan 10th 2013: 82,617

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                      • gardo
                        gardo commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Sweet Telecaster












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