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Thread: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

  1. #1
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    Default Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Id love to hear from those of you that have switched from having a pickguard to not having a pickguard on your mandolins. I notice a significant tonal change when on and off and im really torn. On my particular mandolin I think it may sound better off but looks better on, and also may feel better on. Maybe I'm just not used to it off.
    So my guestion again is, Who has has either added or taken the pickguard of thier mandolins, and why?
    If to protect it then that's great, but what are some other reasons why you've chosen one way or the other?

    D

  2. #2
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I've added pickguards to both of my two F-style mandolins...

    The first was to my F9 within about a month after I acquired it from its original owner in July 2012.

    I had a couple of reasons...

    1) The previous owner had nearly worn through the finish around the treble F-hole and I didn't want to make it worse or to see it all the time. Plus in general I do like to protect the instrument.

    2) I use pickguards (aka head guards / finger-rests) on my main playing banjos and from that experience I have grown to really like not touching the vibrating surface of the instrument -- I know with banjos there is a noticeable volume and tone difference and although this kind if difference is much more subtle (and to be fair, even questionable) with mandolins, I still like to give mandolins the benefit of the doubt.

    Then, early last year I picked up an inexpensive MK LF F-style mandolin and after a few weeks of waffling, I finally decided to also add a pickguard to it. Same general reasons as above, plus one more reason:

    3) If you are used to playing mandolins with pickguards, there is a picking hand/arm playing geometry adjustment which has to be made if you play a mandolin without a pickguard. Of course the same applies to getting used to playing a mandolin that has a pickguard if you are used to playing mandolins without pickguards. That playing hand/arm geometry difference is not insurmountable, but it is a difference. In my case, I wanted my new MK LF mandolin to feel as nearly as possible the same as my F9.

    For what it's worth, for both protection and tone/volume reasons, I also have added an armrest to both mandolins and a tone-guard to both mandolins.

    Like many things mandolin, using pickguards or other add-on tone/volume or protection devices are very personal decisions. There isn't really a right or wrong, it's mostly what reasons appeal the most to you. The most important thing is to enjoy hearing and playing your mandolin.
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  4. #3
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I like pickguards IF they actually add something to the appearance of the mandolin. My Ellis has an Ellis pickguard on it,& i'd never dream of removing it. My Lebeda came with a Lebeda pickguard which i left on at first. Eventually,i decided that it was so annonymous & that it detracted from the appearance,that i removed it & i reckon it'll stay that way. The top wood grain is far nicer.

    I'd love a nice faux t/shell 'abbreviated' pickguard for my Weber,but importing one from the US would be far too expensive these days. Steve Smith at Cumberland Acoustics makes a beautiful pickguard :- http://cumberlandacoustic.com/produc...d-f-pickguard/ but as i say,the cost + postage + UK tax + postal handling fee,would be far too much - so my Weber will remain 'naked',
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  6. #4

    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Quote Originally Posted by Demetrius View Post
    ... Who has has either added or taken the pickguard of thier mandolins, and why? ...
    I always remove pickguards. Reason: they get in my way. And they're not needed for my playing, such as it is.

    (That's assuming, of course, that you're talking about modern raised pickguards, not the old-school built-in flush inlaid ones.)

    As to sound -- I never noticed much, if any, difference, although that might be because the unwanted pickguard comes off so fast there's barely time to compare. And there are probably many tonal qualities that I wouldn't notice anyway. I would guess that if you're using a pickup it would probably sound the same either way.




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  8. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I, OTOH added them, Steve Smith made a clean simple tortoise-oid, un bound plastic finger rest

    & edge mount, for my F type Lebeda 'Jazzica' with tort binding...

    Another,
    Off the classifieds I got a nice ebony one, someone did not want, abbreviated,
    shaped to not cover the treble F hole, & it went on my CF Mix A5..

    If it is floating above the top, you may think from the player's perspective,
    it sounds different,

    but out in front, to others, it does not.. even without a pickup ..




    Yay or nay , its a Schism dividing the mandolin users into 2 groups..
    Agree to disagree?
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  10. #6

    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I'm not a shredder but the Blue Chip and Primetone picks I'm using made me consider installing one as these new, high-density composite picks can really make a mess on the soundboard. In trying to avoid hitting the soundboard, I changed the way I held the pick(s) and in the process, solved the excess "click" noise they were making. Pick guard now unnecessary - Win-Win.

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  12. #7
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I have abbreviated pickguards on 3 different F5 mandolins (Altman, Pomeroy, Weber) and I do not detect ANY significant change in the tone. And my experience is much more commonly reported than yours.

    You may think you hear a difference, but it is WAY too easy to fool yourself on that count. You ought to conduct some blind tests, with (say) your brother playing your mandolin for you, both with and without the guard, in such a way that you are not able to see him play, and he does not tell you whether the guard is on or off during the tests! See what your batting average is in these tests.

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  14. #8
    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Quote Originally Posted by billkilpatrick View Post
    I'm not a shredder but the Blue Chip and Primetone picks I'm using made me consider installing one as these new, high-density composite picks can really make a mess on the soundboard. In trying to avoid hitting the soundboard, I changed the way I held the pick(s) and in the process, solved the excess "click" noise they were making. Pick guard now unnecessary - Win-Win.
    Just as a counterpoint, people have been suffering pick marks since long before Blue Chip picks came about. This is 100% down to picking technique, so while I'm glad you solved your problem, it's not exactly fair to blame the tool.

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  16. #9
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Using a pickguard to avoid hitting the top with the pick, gee...

    I guess it's me, but my technique is such that I would have a very hard time whacking the mandolin top with the pick. I mean, that would take some serious flailing away on my part. Not to say other pickers don't do that. I look at Monroe's Loar, Dawg's old Fern, Statman's A snakehead, Dempsey's Hutto - they all show dramatic top wear, all over the place. Is that all from the pick, their fingernails, or other?

    I've seen other mandolins/guitars with obvious pick scratches - Josh Williams' Gil, Richie Havens' guitars, Willie Nelson's Trigger - so it surely happens. I just would have a hard time inflicting similar damage with the pick. And I use a p/g, but rarely touch it. I just dig the look (and the fact that Charlie D. crafted it).

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  18. #10
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Put me in the "no pickguard" column. I rarely stray from above the fretboard with my pick, never mind the soundboard.

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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I have the ebony 'abbreviated' style on a couple. Not because I need it to protect the top, but mainly because it gives me a good solid, fast, easy-access anchor point for an ATM350 clip on mic:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #12
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I have never had a mandolin with a pickguard and there are no marks on my Weber, so I guess I don't need one. But, they do look cool on some mandolins.

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  23. #13

    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Well, once again - they're called 'pickguards' but they function as finger 'rests' and serve an important function for players who employ 'fingers down' technique for fine work. It's not essential for me on mandolin, but for plectrum banjos it is, or head treatment*. These plastic apparatuses allow the fingertips to glide smoothly and protect from wear on wood (from fingertips). If my mandolin doesn't have a guard, I simply extend my finger(s) slightly more - although it will also contact the f-hole this way. On plectrum banjos with frosted heads, I take sandpaper to the head to render a smooth portion in the area of where a 'guard' should be - otherwise there's unwanted sound from fingertips lightly brushing the head.

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  25. #14
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I'm odd but think a mandolin looks better with the pick guard off. Like I say, odd.

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  27. #15
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I have never modified. I have a mandolin that came with a pick guard, and kept it. I have a mandolin came without, and did not put one on. I just keep em the way the originally looked.

    I did once play two late 20s Gibson A, both with ff holes, back to back. One had its original pick guard, the other did not. I played it into a corner of the room, to hear what the audience would hear coming back at me. I did not detect a significant difference in volume. (The tones were pretty close as well.)

    If removing a pick guard significantly changes how the mandolin sounds, I would immediately suspect that something changed inadvertently, or coincidently.
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  29. #16

    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Streip View Post
    Just as a counterpoint, people have been suffering pick marks since long before Blue Chip picks came about. This is 100% down to picking technique, so while I'm glad you solved your problem, it's not exactly fair to blame the tool.
    I'm not blaming the tool - I blame me! High-density picks leave more pronounced marks on top than softer, celluloid picks.

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  31. #17
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    I'm a pick guard fan. They just look "right" to me. I also use it as a guide for my right hand.

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  33. #18

    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    No pickguard. Too decorative.

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  35. #19

    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    No pickguard. Not a fan of using the pickguard or face of the mandolin as a guide, that just gets the hand and pick in a bad position. I follow Mike Marshall's advice on right hand, pick grip and position. Plus, I like the look of no pickguard.
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  37. #20
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    The right guard can look pretty cool..
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  39. #21
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Hi Dem!

    I have removed the pick guards from my Gil, Weber, and Gibson F4 Hybrid. I never come in contact with the mandolin with my right hand, (except the strings!) and I've found the pick guard/finger rest actually gets in the way, especially with the E string.

    I hadn't thought about the esthetics of the topic, the mandolins are each so beautiful.

    I hope you are enjoying your Gil Fern, how 'bout an update?!

    Billy

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  41. #22
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I did once play two late 20s Gibson A, both with ff holes, back to back.
    30s maybe? I was under the impression that, outside of the Mrs. Griffith A5 in the early 20s, Gibson didn't make any A-styles with f-holes in that decade.
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  43. #23
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    After two hours of trying to make the buzzing coming from the pickguard on my first mandolin stop, I gave up and took it off. None of my other mandolin family instruments came with them, and I see no reason to add them.

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  45. #24
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    What mandolin is that? Looks like SUCH a nice machine.

  46. #25
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    Default Re: Pickguard or no pickgaurd?

    Billy you didn't have a guard on your gil when you sent me pics of her????

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