View Full Version : removing Gibson pickguard

Feb-16-2004, 9:16pm
I recently aquired a 1916 Gibson A that needs a lot of work.
I am going to attempt to do a lot of it myself. This is a scary proposition since I am new to this and I have run into 2 problems already. The first is that the pickguard is really stuck on there. The 2 pins into the fretboard will not release.
Any ideas on how to loosen it up without damaging it?
The second question I have is about removing the back.
It is about 60% off already but how do I go about removing the rest, which is still firmly attached. Should I just try to carefully pry it off or is there something I can use to disolve the glue?
Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Feb-16-2004, 9:42pm
Those pickguards are held on by two steel pins that go into holes in the neck/extender. They are often rusty and hard to move. They also often go in at an angle.
Sometimes I can get them to move by CAREFULLY levering the pickguard back and forth so that you are trying to pull one at a time. Go easy at first because it is easy to lever too far and damage the finish by pushing the pickguard into it.
If it starts to move, you car start to insert plastic shims (or something else sort of soft) and keep working til it comes off.

To get the back off, you can use some heat, but not much or you'll damage the finish. I use a thin putty knife and try to confine the damage to the linings instead of the back. It should come off fairly easilly and fairly cleanly unless someone has already had it off and glued it back on with who-knows-what.

jim simpson
Feb-16-2004, 11:38pm
I had an old fiddle teacher who also repaired them. He told me that he used a medicine dropper with a cup of hot water. I tried it with a fiddle I was restoring. Low tech but it worked! I used a thin blade knife to help the separation along as I applied the drops of hot water. Go easy!

Michael Lewis
Feb-17-2004, 1:39am
If the condition of the finish is good really try to keep it that way. The back is glued on from the factory with hide glue, which will not release with heat alone. Heat and moisture with a thin blade is one way, or alcohol and a thin blade is another. Alcohol breaks down the bond of the glue, but it can damage the finish also.

Your biggest hurdle once you get the back off is getting it on again in a neat and workman like fashion. If there is no internal repair you need to do I would suggest you don't remove it, but glue it back in place while the button/block area is still in tact.

Feb-17-2004, 2:24am
Well thanks guys,,, I got the back off in pretty good shape. A couple of inches of the lining came with it in various degrees of damage but not too bad. I guess my options are to either replace the damaged lining with new stuff or to rebuild it with the pieces. What do you think??
Unfortunately Michael I had to take the back off because the top brace is loose and the back has 3 hairline cracks.
Not quite sure how I am going to go about fixing them yet but I am going to give it a whirl. This is actually very interesting. The graduations of the top and back are quite something. I didn't realize just how thin these plates are in places.
The other area that needs work is on the top at 9 and 3 oclock (if the mando is held vertically with the neck up). At both of these locations there are tightly spaces cracks. They happen to be right on top of the lining so you can't see them from the inside so it seems that they are more cosmetic than structural. Might just have to leave them like that.
The pickguard just wont come off and I am afraid that it will break if forced any more so I think I am going to cut the 2 pins off and re-drill the guard and neck to insert new pins later.
I appreciate your answers to my questions. This baby needs lots of work.
The fretboard is split from the bottom right up the middle from the 20th fret to the 15th. Not very wide but something has to be done to it and the fret board is deeply gouged in the first 5 frets. Also a few open seams where the body meets the neck heel. The heel joint is solid, just those 2 little red cap peices are opened up a bit.
Thanks for your input and I will probably be begging for more help before long. I can't back out now!

Feb-19-2004, 12:49am
Just a quick update on this. I did end up cutting the pickguard pins off.
What I discovered after doing this is that someone had already re-located the pins and glued them into the pickguard and the neck.
I never had a prayer off prying it off without breaking it. Luckily it's still in one peice.