Ric Pickguard Material - drilling etc

Setup, repair and restoration of Rickenbacker Instruments

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Ric Pickguard Material - drilling etc

Postby (4000) » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:04 pm


Was wondering if special precautions need to be taken when modifying/reshaping the original Rick pickguard material.
It seems pretty brittle, could easily shatter/splinter I thought to have read (and as I've experienced myself on an old 4000x pickguard as well when I stupidily pushed on a pot-knob too firmly back then)

Talking about slightly reshaping a pickguard set of a 330, anything I'd best take into account when carefully drilling, filing or sawing ?

Any experiences welcomed, thanks!
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Re: Ric Pickguard Material - drilling etc

Postby (jps) » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:03 pm

I'd start with new material and not modify an original PG.
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Re: Ric Pickguard Material - drilling etc

Postby (collin) » Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:56 pm

Depends how much you are taking off to "reshape" the guard.

Jeff is correct though, sometimes it's even easier to just make a new guard from scratch. Take your existing pickguard to any plastics supplier (I go to TAP plastics, here in California), and ask them for sheet material. I often buy this stuff by the pound, as there are often offcuts available. It's a standard material.

Cut with either a bandsaw or a hand jewelry saw. Usually this plastic comes with brown paper already attached to the outside, which is best to leave on until the shape is cut (leaving a surface paper helps keep the edges from chipping). Alternately you could cover the cut areas with masking tape and then draw the shape/cut.

You'll need to sand the freshly cut edges. I use 220 grit sandpaper, then progressively finer up to 800 wet/dry. As for the control holes, these are easy to do - just lay down masking tape, mark the hole centers, drill a small pilot hole, then a sharp drill bit to cut the exact size needed.

That's all assuming you're using the standard white opaque pickguard material. The clear stuff (as used on back-painted gold guards) is a lot more brittle.
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Re: Ric Pickguard Material - drilling etc

Postby (teb) » Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:05 pm

One thing to keep in mind is that cutting, drilling and even to some extent sanding acrylic sheet material builds up stress inside of the sheet, making it more vulnerable to cracking when exposed to further stress or coming in contact with solvents. After doing some machining on a piece, it is a good idea to anneal it and ease the stress. You can do this at home by setting it on a flat surface (cookie sheet, pan, pizza stone, etc.) and sticking it in the oven for a couple of hours at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Then turn off the oven and just leave it in there until it has cooled down all by itself. Don't rush it. If it is a back-painted guard, you want to anneal it before painting it. If it is a colored acrylic guard, you're ready to go as soon as it has completely cooled. I always either bevel or round the edges of the guards I build and that step, as well as all cutting and drilling is done before annealing.

On back-painted TRCs, I wet-sand and polish the edges, but without beveling or rounding and without annealing for fear of damaging the paint - but I'm pretty careful about not over tightening the screws on them. Cleaning up the edges isn't critical, but it does make them look a lot better.

I usually pre-bore screw holes in new guards with a tiny, cone-shaped Dremel bit. I've had too many crack just as the drill bit goes through, and having this small pilot hole first seems to fix that problem.
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Re: Ric Pickguard Material - drilling etc

Postby (doctorwho) » Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:08 am

I worked at a plastics warehouse before I embarked on my journey through college, so I had a lot of experience cutting, sanding, drilling, and routing acrylic in various forms (along with other plastics). IIRC, the tools were specific for plastics, and the key operational guidance was to GO SLOWLY when working with acrylic. Like Ted said, it tends to form stresses and can easily chip or crack.,
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Re: Ric Pickguard Material - drilling etc

Postby (4000) » Mon Feb 04, 2019 12:06 pm

Thanks for the responses & info & warnings all, much appreciated! Also good to hear about the annealing.

While originally the milky white of various original pickguards seemed a bit cheap to me,
I've sure grown to appreciate it.
In addition, Rick-clones being clones is (for me) definitely confirmed by the use of 'normal' materials for the pickguards.
Knowing the somewhat weird, but 'right' look of originals, any other PG-material here seems to spoil the vibe for me.

OK, last week an original white PG-set came already in, so I'll be using that material.
(A relatively cheap but original set from ebay, indicated as for a 620/660, but seems 330/360 to me)

> It's a standard material.

I understood it's possible to source material that's 'close', but not that straightforward (it's The Netherlands here).
So getting an original set was more cost effective & convenient, since not that many changes to make.

I'll sure proceed with care, 'taking into account all info from this thread as well.
Perhaps first use 'standard material to have a definitive plan for the shape.

> Depends how much you are taking off to "reshape" the guard.

Several cm: a 'corner' in between pickups of a 330-top guard.

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