Learn about the 6 different types of pickguards including pre-made, handmade, clear, and more with pickguards for 7 different guitar styles!
Contrary to popular belief, a pickguard does a lot more to a guitar than just improve its aesthetics. Well, it’s in the name. A pickguard is meant to protect the body of your guitar, specifically, its finish from your guitar picks as you strum.
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But admittedly so, you won’t really harm your guitar that much except if you strum aggressively, but your pickguard does a few more things that might surprise you. For some guitar models, it is used as an access point to the internal electronic components, and it also affects your guitar’s sound subtly.
Curious? Let’s get to know the different types of guitar pickguards.
Types of Pickguards
As promised, the 6 different types of guitar pickguards are as follows:
- Pre-made Pickguard
- Hand-made Pickguard
- Clear Pickguard
- Floating Pickguard
- Thick Pickguard
- Inlaid Pickguard
Now, let’s discuss each type briefly:
1. Pre Made Pick Guard
Pre-made pickguards come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are usually meant for both acoustic and electric guitars. Plus, they can be cheaply bought in music stores near you.
You can then glue a pre-made pickguard on your guitar, and as mentioned, they come in multiple color options and tort designs covered with a clear laminate.
2. Hand-Made Pick Guard
Handmade pickguards are just those you DIY. Sometimes, you can’t find the desired shape, size, or overall design of a pickguard you want for your guitar model, so you have to improvise and do a custom design yourself.
3. Clear Pick Guard
Think of clear pickguards like the screen protector of your phone. They are thin and transparent much like vinyl stickers. You may then attach and detach them the way you do vinyl stickers.
This property makes it easier to install and remove. Clear pickguards are suited for those guitar players who aren’t a fan of actual pickguards but still don’t want to scratch the finish of their guitar body.
4. Floating Pick Guard
A floating pickguard, or what you may refer to as an archtop pickguard, is a piece of material that’s raised by some metal support brackets, and so it protrudes rather than being stuck on your guitar’s body.
It is about 0.100 to 0.125mm thick, and you can adjust how high it is raised accordingly. These types of pickguards may be the fanciest to look at as well as present in expensive guitars: both solid-bodied and hollow-bodied guitars.
For example, these are commonly seen on Gibson Les Paul (one of the best carved top solid-body guitars) and perfectly suit the playing position for anyone.
Another example is the Guild archtop jazz guitar, which has a floating pickguard with on-top volume control.
5. Thick Pick Guard
Thick pickguards are a bit rare today due to their unpopularity, but there are still a few that you can find in stores or online. They aren’t as desirable for reasons being that it dampens the tone of the guitar, and they don’t look too well once deterioration starts.
They can be 3 times as thick as your usual pickguard with several layers of pattern.
6. Inlaid Pick Guard
Inlaid pickguards are your usual pickguards just stamped with decorative patterns. These decorative patterns won’t necessarily have any effect on the guitar’s tone or anything, but they do look good, especially on acoustic guitars.
These designed pickguards are also found mostly on different types of classical guitars.
7 Types of pickguards according to the guitar model
A pickguard may also be configured to fit a certain guitar model, especially famous ones. This is to ensure that your guitar looks good, feels good, and the pickguard serves its function perfectly.
1. Types of Acoustic Guitars Pickguard
Pickguards used for acoustic guitars are usually 2mm thin and most are made out of PVC and adhesive is used to stick it underneath the soundhole. For acoustic guitars, it’s important that the 2mm thickness of the pickguard not be exceeded as much as possible to maintain the vibration, tone, and volume of your instrument.
They are usually not that large and subtle enough that it doesn’t catch any attention visually but accent your acoustic guitar’s body nicely.
2. Types of Flying V Pickguard
If you’ve ever seen a Flying V guitar then you know what we are referring to. Flying V pickguards usually encompassed most of the body of your electric guitar following its shape.
They usually wrap around the pickups and the knobs, as well as some part of the saddle. If you’re looking for style, then this is perfect for you.
3. Types of SG Pickguard
SG is a very popular Gibson guitar model and it’s got 3 popular pickguard designs. The first one being the original covers only a bit of the body and just underneath the pickups like the ones underneath the soundhole of an acoustic guitar.
The batwing, on the other hand, covers most of the body, including the pickups with the third one just being a bit more stylish visually than the first two. It’s important to take note that there are Gibson guitar models that don’t even have pickguards.
4. Types of Martin Pickguard
Martin guitar pickguards are a combination of beauty and functionality. One famous type of pickup is what they call the Tortoise. Martin guitar pickguards come in all shapes and sizes, plus they often have inlaid designs that are visually pleasing.
5. Types of Stratocaster Pickguard
Taken from the ultra-popular Fender Stratocaster model, perhaps this type of pickguard is not only common but is considered as the solid-bodied guitar pickguard overall.
This pickguard usually encompasses the whole body of the solid-body electric guitar, including the pickups, bridge, saddle, and knobs. They are usually designed to express the personality of the guitar itself.
6. Types of Telecaster Pickguard
As opposed to the loud Stratocaster pickguards, Telecaster pickguards are usually subtler. They only oftentimes wrap around the pickup(s) of your Tele.
7. Classical Guitars And Flamenco Guitars (Golpeador)
Although Golpeador is not a pickguard, it is commonly seen in classical guitars and flamenco guitars. Classical guitars are made for fingerpicking, and picks are rarely used. So, the pickguard isn’t a necessity for it. Rather Golpeador is used, which is basically for taping.
The Golpeador or the tap plate is used for heavy tapping and to save the guitar body from finger striking and fingernails. Flamenco-style players install it both above and below the soundhole.
Pickguards can also be the place in your guitar where you can tap and play some percussions.
So, what are the other benefits of installing or having a pickguard?
Let’s find out!
Benefits Of Pickguard
Actually, there are a number of benefits to using the pickguard. Besides percussions (for playing fingerstyle acoustic guitar), some of them are:
- Affecting guitar tone
- Finish protection of the guitar’s polished surface from aggressive strumming
- Decoration enhancements
- Hiding electronics (works as an access panel)
- Finger resting
- The autograph purpose for signature guitars
Although, guitar tone depends on many variables. The pickguard is one of them: especially for a hollow-body acoustic guitar, which has more resonance. Here the rule of thumb is the more resonant a guitar, the more a pickguard affects its tone.
But, on the other hand, the thing is this effect is hardly noticeable to human ears.
To know more in-depth about the benefits of the pickguard, check out our post called “What is the purpose of a pickguard?” where we have put together all the benefits in a much more elaborate way.
Disadvantages Of Pickguard
The problem occurs in the case of using a thick pickguard, as this is known as the tone killer. As we said earlier, a thick pickguard dampens the tone of a guitar. This is the case behind the 1965 Gibson Hummingbird, which cause a pickguard to be so unpopular in many regions.
The other factor is what many guitar lovers think: pickguard ruins the natural beauty of a guitar. Though, it depends on different perspectives.
Is A Pickguard A Necessity For My Acoustic Guitar?
The answer completely depends on you. We suggest it for hard strummers and players who want to enhance their guitar looks aesthetically. Read this article to get fully enlightened.
What Are Guitar Pickguards Made Of?
Pickguards can be made out of different materials. Celluloid, Vinyl (PVC), or acrylic glass are the three most common materials a pickguard can be made of.
Looking to customize your guitar now that you’ve had some fun researching the different types of pickguards? To the advanced guitar player, it’s more than just a piece of san accessory; rather, it’s something that can serve your guitar both in design and function.
So pick the right pickguard for your axe, make your guitar look, feel good, and sound awesome!
James B. Laskowski was born and raised in Fresno, CA. He has been working as an acoustic and classical guitar expert at Instrument Insight for over 5 years. In this time, he has gained a great understanding of acoustic and classical guitars and gears, their materials, build quality, playability, and versatility. James also has an in-depth knowledge of the history and origins of many acoustic and classical guitar brands.
Cornell K. Benson is from Mansfield, OH. He is 30 years old and has expertise in electric guitars and gears. Cornell has a great understanding of electric guitars and their materials, build quality, playability, and versatility. He also has an in-depth knowledge of the history and origins of various electric guitar brands.