How to veneer a guitar pickguard?

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Forum topic by Raftermonkey posted 01-22-2011 06:11 PM 5537 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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560 posts in 2335 days

01-22-2011 06:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question trick veneering bass how to

Hey folks, I got a new bass recently and am wanting to make it, well, more my own, more unique. I was looking at changing the pickguard from the plain (boring) white one to maybe a perloid or tortoise shell one, but I can’t find any aftermarket pickguards for this bass. I’m sure I could have one made but that would cost more than I am willing to spend. How hard would it be to put a super cool burl veneer on a replacement pickguard? ( I plan to keep the original) I have never done anything in the way of veneering. I guess I am asking how I should go about doing this, (steps and techniques) and things I should be aware of. Here are a coupla pictures of said bass and pickguard. Epiphone Thunderbird. As always, all help and tips are greatly appreciated.




-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

6 replies so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4166 posts in 2279 days

#1 posted 01-22-2011 06:35 PM

Zeke that sounds a good idea.

It would look awesome


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 2335 days

#2 posted 01-22-2011 06:47 PM

Jamie I think it would look pretty cool too. If I only new how to do it,haha. I have searched and searched online and haven’t seen one single Thunderbird bass that has been “customized”. I can’t even find a replacement pickguard that isn’t white or black. It would surely make it one of a kind. I may even try to turn some “witch-hat” tone and volume knobs for it on the lathe.


-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Loren's profile


8168 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 01-22-2011 07:03 PM

The veneering itself is pretty simple. You just need 3 or more thin
layers to build up your laminate. Then you need to make it durable
with a tough finish over the burl. I suggest a 2-part finish like floor
varnish or West marine epoxy. These are very durable plastic resins
that harden in a catalyzed reaction.

Pour-on “bar-top” finish is another option. You can build any clear
finish pretty thick if you just put more coats on it.

I use clear plastic film about .010” thick for the pickguards on flamenco
guitars. The correct name for the flamenco pickguard is golpeador
and you can get adhesive film sold for this purpose or just use whatever
film you have available. I used a flat part of one of those horrible hard to
open sealed plastic cases retail electronics and things like locksets are
sometimes packaged in once. It worked pretty well.

You’d think you have to use special glue to laminate a clear film over
wood, but you don’t. White glue dries clear and it’s barely noticeable
under the plastic. When glued with white glue, a pickguard can be popped
off the guitar with a chisel as the glue dries brittle. To me, this is an
advantage because some adhesives stick so strongly there’s a real chance
of ruining the guitar’s finish when changing the golpeador.

Of course, I glue the film to a flat, finished wood surface so it’s not the
same as laminating plastic over a piece of burl, but I think the general
method I described would produce acceptable results for what you
want to do.

You can also buy “pearloid” materials in a wide range of color themes – the
stuff is used on drums shells mostly but on guitars too. Here’s a piece
on Ebay:

View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 2449 days

#4 posted 01-22-2011 07:09 PM

Check out Grizzly tool they have a whole boat load of info and guitar stuff to help you out :)

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 2481 days

#5 posted 01-22-2011 07:46 PM

Personally, rather than try to figure out how to make a veneer actually stick to the plastic guard, I would use it as a pattern and simply cut one from a choice piece of 1/8” wood. Use the original as a pattern. Cut it close to size with a band saw, scroll saw, jig saw or heck, even a coping saw if “that’s what you got.” Then use double stick tape to stick the original to the new one. Use a flush trim bit in a router to trim the wood to the exact shape and size of the original. Before you remobe the original, use it as a pattern to mark and even guide the drilling of the scew holes. Then remove the original. Using the appropriate choice of weapon (block plane, spoke shave, rasp, sandpaper) to feather the a chamfer on the edges. Countersinks for the screws. Apply your finish of choice. Attach it to your guitar and as the saying goes, “Bob’s your uncle.” I think it would look great. As a fellow bassist, I have been inspired and may attempt to do the same with one of my guitars. Just be sure to post pics when you git-r-done.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View knotscott's profile


7147 posts in 2798 days

#6 posted 01-22-2011 08:26 PM

You should be able to buy some laminate material online and cut your own using the original as a template. You could also make it out of wood. I made a birdseye maple pickguard on my first build for my son’s guitar…not too hard to do.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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