A local Luthier is working on an F5 I recently purchased. He asked if I wanted him to build me an ebony pick guard which, since (he primarily builds guitars) to his eyes it seemed lacking.
I told him that, because F5 mandolin strings sit so high off the body, I couldn't recall ever actually striking the body with a pick.
However, my current working mandolin, has what luthier Ben Wilcox refers to as a "finger rest". It's basically a miniaturized floating pick guard. It's obvious that Ben spent some time designing it to stay completely away from the sound hole. I do use it as a finger rest, and have grown accustomed to planting my pinky on it while cranking out the notes.
Today I did a little bit of research on the Mandolin Bros website, examining many mandolins to compare pickguards. I noticed that just about every mandolin built before the year 2000 has a pick guard, almost always big and plastic and to my eyes ugly. It made me wonder if anyone actually thinks its a good acoustic idea to feature a big piece of plastic blocking a sound hole?
Almost all the instruments built after 2000 lack a pickguard. Of those newer instruments with pickguards, almost every example is consistently smaller than those prior to 2000. If the instrument is post 2000 and also handmade, the pick guard is almost always built of real wood.
A lot of luthier's hang out here on the Cafe. I'm curious. Did you stop building pickguards because customers suddenly started declaring they didn't want them? Or was it an innovative builder's design choice, which soon spread to all the other builders?
More to the point. Are these modern smaller pick guards currently designed to serve as finger rests? Or do you NOT make a distinction between pickguards and finger rests?
I've decided for now, to forgo a finger rest on my new acquisition.