Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Making a Tortoloid Pickguard for Martin D-12-28

Back to work on the Martin.  Believe it or not, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I may soon be able to play this puppy!

As you could probably surmise from previous posts, there are a lot of dings, dents, and stuff like that all over this guitar.  It actually gives it some cool mojo, but I have tried to touch up some of the worst areas.

Right in front of the bridge is an area where the finish is totally chipped off.  I touched it up with some Crawfish Secret Formula Shellac™.  It looks a little better I think.

The original pickguard had done the infamous Martin Shrinking Trick, and was also chipped up where the old bridge was removed (not by me).  Fortunately there weren't any top cracks due to the shrinking guard as is sometimes the case.

At any rate, I need to put on a new pickguard.  I've been really digging the look of tortoise shell (pseudo tortoise, that is), as found on my Martin ukuleles.  So I decided to go with some Tortoloid to get a 1940s Martin look.

I made a tracing of the pickguard shape using thin tracing paper.

Then I used double-stick tape to attach the tracing onto thin card stock (actually the Tortoloid sheet backing).  That gave me a solid template to lay on the sheet and cut from.

The Tortoloid is just fantastic.  The pattern is molded into the plastic - a lot of the 'tortoise' patterns are printed-on and don't look that good.  This stuff is different.  Unfortunately it's super expensive.  Doh.

It's also prone to chipping when cutting.  Don't ask me how I found this out.  The instructions say to warm it before cutting.  I had warmed my sheet first, then cut it.  One of the curves chipped, because the sheet had cooled just enough while I was cutting it.

So I adapted my technique - I passed the sheet over my heat gun while I cut it.  Not for too long - but a few times to keep it warm.  Cut some, warm, cut some, etc.

The sheet cuts very easily with scissors.

After the pickguard's cut, you can fine shape it as needed with sandpaper.  I used 320 grit.  Worked a treat.

Now I need to cut a piece of this wonderful 3M 467 MP adhesive from Stew-Mac and use it to attach the pickguard to the geetar.

Remove the blue backing, and one layer of adhesive is exposed.  Stick the pickguard onto that layer and trim the excess adhesive sheet with an X-Acto knife.

Do not slip and scratch your pickguard.  Just saying.

Then peel back the other side of paper covering the second layer (backside) of adhesive.

This is whatcha got at this point.  Ready to go on the guitar.

I had previously scraped and lightly sanded the bare spruce where the new pickguard will go to assure maximum adhesion.  Or something like that.

Position the guard where you want it to be, and press it down.  I used a hardwood block to press with.  The adhesive is sticky, but you can place the pickguard lightly on the guitar to position it exactly before you press it down for good.

The new pickguard in place.  There is a tiny spot of bare wood I'll touch up with shellac.

Otherwise, I think it looks good, especially with the color of the yellowed lacquer on the top.  I just added 30 years to the age of the guitar!

The Complete Martin Guitar Restoration Saga
Restoration begins
Repairing heel break
DIY chisel for bridge plate removal
DIY bridge plate removal iron, Pt.1
DIY bridge plate removal iron, Pt.2
Steam removal of bridge plate
Bridge plate removed
Tongue brace removal
Crack repair and brace scallop
New bridge plate Pt. 1
New bridge plate Pt. 2
Patching hole in top
Final fitting of top patch
Installing carbon fiber rod
Fret removal
Fingerboard crack repair, Pt. 1
Fingerboard crack repair, Pt. 2
DIY fret bender tool
Refretting Pt. 1
Refretting Pt. 2
Tuner shaft repair
Neck reset - dovetail fitting
Measuring neck set with DIY jig
Gluing the neck with hide glue
Tortoloid Pickguard (This page)
Fitting bridge pins
Brace reglue
Making bone saddle
Making a buffalo horn nut
Restoration completed


Post a Comment 3 comments:

  • Unknown said...
    January 10, 2013 at 5:39 PM
    Engraving shops can cut this material for you using a laser. Call your local trophy/engraver. Probably be happy to do something new and interesting.
  • Taylor Mullins said...
    January 21, 2013 at 4:39 PM
    Can you tell me where you got the pickguard material? I love the more red tortoise color... especially if its quality stuff. Looks great! Very nice job!
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    January 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM
    I got it from Stew-Mac:

    It's not cheap, but it's the best quality out there.

    Thanks for your kind words!

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