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Thread: Pickguards, or not?

  1. #1
    Registered User Zigeuner's Avatar
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    Default Pickguards, or not?

    Recently I’ve been Jonesing for another Mandolin, either an F-5 or an F-5 style. In my research, I’ve noticed that many of them are no longer fitted with pickguards. Is this a new trend, possibly related to tone or volume improvement without the pickguards?
    It won’t bother me not to have a pickguard, since I try to avoid picking on the guard or top anyway. I could see where Bluegrass players might need one considering all of the strumming done in that popular style.

    Does anyone know about this?
    1917 Gibson A-3, '64 Martin A, 2016 Rhodes F5R.

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    The pickguard does not affect the volume or tone. This has been beat to death over the years. There might be three dozen posts about it. It's a personal thing. On the original F5 they weren't called a pickguard or a scratch plate, they were called a finger rest.

    I don't have one on mine but it didn't come with one. I have no personal preference either way.

    If you'd like to take a trip down memory lane take a walk through these threads.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zigeuner View Post
    I could see where Bluegrass players might need one considering all of the strumming done in that popular style.
    I've no idea what this means. Anyone?

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  6. #4
    MandoHog MandoHog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    "No pickguard" is the correct answer.

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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zigeuner View Post
    ...It won’t bother me not to have a pickguard, since I try to avoid picking on the guard or top anyway. I could see where Bluegrass players might need one considering all of the strumming done in that popular style.

    Does anyone know about this?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    I've no idea what this means. Anyone?

    No I certainly do not see that there is any obligatory connection between bluegrass pickers and the need for pick guards. The only difference between bluegrass pickers and other pickers is that they tend to play bluegrass music -- it has notes just like other music! LOL
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    Registered User Zigeuner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    I've no idea what this means. Anyone?


    Let me help you out. This, of course, is the mandolin that belonged to Mr. Bill Monroe. Forgetting the obvious damage from having been smashed by a vandal, you will note the damage from heavy "strumming" done over the years by the master himself. See the white arrow.

    Would a pickgaurd have helped to avoid this? I don't know.

    This is not to say that he wasn't a great picker with an amazing ability. I was fortunate enough to have been at several concerts given by him and is group in Los Angeles and I was amazed at his talents. .

    I hope this helps to clear up the mystery in your mind.
    1917 Gibson A-3, '64 Martin A, 2016 Rhodes F5R.

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    Registered User Zigeuner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The pickguard does not affect the volume or tone. This has been beat to death over the years. There might be three dozen posts about it. It's a personal thing. On the original F5 they weren't called a pickguard or a scratch plate, they were called a finger rest.

    I don't have one on mine but it didn't come with one. I have no personal preference either way.

    If you'd like to take a trip down memory lane take a walk through these threads.
    Thanks, Mike. Those threads really answered my questions. With my apologies to the many Bluegrass mandolinists here.
    1917 Gibson A-3, '64 Martin A, 2016 Rhodes F5R.

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  13. #8
    knows little
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    It's easy. If the mando lacks a pickguard, use a felt pick.

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    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Yes, I love how they feel. Didn't think I would but I like em.

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  17. #10
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I don't have pickguards on mine but I would like to install one befoer the pinky wear gets very deep into the finish. If you're near a Northfield dealer, check out how they do a long support under the pickguard which forms into a pillar that supports the weight/pressure away from teh usual attachment point.

    Probably that description makes no sense so just look at a Northfield.
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    When I bought my old Gibson F-4, it came with a pickguard but I took it off. I also have the original case and, right now, it only provides storage for the pickguard because, occasionally, I use the mandolin in gigs.
    David Hopkins

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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I disagree with MandoHog, IMHO it is a personal choice. For me, I like the no pickguard look and feel.

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  22. #13
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I'm with Denny on this one.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I'm a fairly recent convert to the pro-pickguard camp. I didn't think I would like it, but it's turned out to be a good reference point for the pinky. I've even ordered the same Northfield-style abbreviated guard for my new build. But, with that said, I didn't miss it on previous mandolins. It's all down to personal feel and aesthetic.
    Mitch Russell

  24. #15

    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Given the fact that I am more of a 'melodic' player, and don't normally 'chop' or 'chord', I find that the pickguard/finger-rest is very helpful for keeping my hand in a comfortable playing position.

    As far as the 'protection' angle goes . . . as a matter of aesthetics, I am a big fan of honest overall play wear on a mandolin - so even if a pickguard was removed and the mandolin and got a bit scratched up from some aggressive chopping, I would not have a negative reaction to the look of the instrument.

    In short - I would cast my vote for: 'It's all a matter of personal preference'.

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  26. #16
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I have purchased a few instruments that came with pickguards and I've tried to get used to them. For me they just get in the way and I've removed them. If you like having one, you can always have one added to any mandolin that you like. Don't let the presence or absence of a guard dissuade you from a particular instrument.

  27. #17
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I tend to rest my fingers lightly on the top, no matter how much I try. I played guitar that way for 15 years before I picked up the mandolin, and old habits are hard to break.

    So for me, a finger rest makes sense. I've always thought an F-5 with a full sized finger rest looks the best, but I've never had enough courage to screw one one.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

  28. #18
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Pickguards good. Distressed top bad.

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  30. #19

    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I like no pickguard, because the way I play, although I often chop and chord with great violence, no part of my anatomy contacts the face of the mandolin, and I have grown to dislike having any kind of extras on it.

    But if you want or need one, I will not judge you.

  31. #20
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I do not need nor use a pickguard in any part of my playing. Never touch it.

    But, I like the way it looks and I like the protection it offers when someone asks to try my mandolin and then turns out to be a madman of top-scratching crazy picking!
    I own mandolins with and without guards.
    Phil

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  32. #21
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Usually,it a matter of preference - unless you really do need one to prevent damage to the mandolin top. Only my Ellis "A" style has one,simply because it came that way. My Lebeda used to have an annonymous looking Ebony one,which i removed because it detracted from the appearance of the mandolin. My Weber "Fern" doesn't have one,but i'd really like an 'abbreviated' Faux Tortoiseshell one for it. I think that it would look very nice - but,the cost of importing one is out of the question,& the mandolin looks great anyway - so...... !,
    Ivan
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  33. #22
    Registered User Zigeuner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Obviously it is a matter of preference if you have a mandolin with a pickguard and either leave it on of take it off. My original reason for starting this thread was to wonder about the fact that many new mandolins that I see for sale on various outlets are no longer fitted with pickguards. I just wondered why manufacturers seem to be leaving them off for the most part nowadays.

    1917 Gibson A-3, '64 Martin A, 2016 Rhodes F5R.

  34. #23
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zigeuner View Post
    ...I just wondered why manufacturers seem to be leaving them off ...
    It lowers the cost is probably 90% of it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  35. #24
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I get the impression that pick guards aren't deemed a 'neccessity' by most builders these days. However,some builders such as Tom Ellis & indeed,Northfield,seem to fit an 'abbreviated' style pick guard as standard,& to my eyes,they look very nice. Some builders,seeking to 're-create' the Loar design as closely as possible,fit a Gibson 'Loar' style pick guard - Jamie Weins for example. This one looks pretty darned awesome to me !!!,
    Ivan
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
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    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  36. #25
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    Default Re: Pickguards, or not?

    I don't really need a pick guard but I do like the looks so I have one installed on all my mandolins.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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