How to Cut Pickguard Material for Different Types of Guitars

M Andrew

How to Cut Pickguard Material for Different Types of Guitars

Are you a guitar enthusiast looking to personalize your instrument with a custom pickguard? Look no further! In this article, we will delve into the art of mastering pickguard material cuts, focusing particularly on how to cut pickup holes in pickguards. Whether you’re a seasoned luthier or a passionate DIYer, these tips and tricks for hand-held routing will help you achieve flawless results. From exploring custom designs to creating bespoke pickguards, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to elevate your guitar’s aesthetics and functionality with precision and style!

How To Cut Pickup Holes In Pickguard

Welcome to this guide on cutting pickup holes in pickguards! As an experienced luthier and guitar enthusiast, I’ve had my fair share of tinkering with guitars and perfecting the art of cutting pickguards. In this article, I’ll share some valuable insights and tips on how to achieve clean and precise pickup holes in your pickguard, regardless of whether you’re working with an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, or a bass guitar. So, grab your tools and let’s dive in!

1. Getting Started

Before we jump into the specifics of cutting pickup holes, it’s important to have a clear plan and gather the necessary tools. Start by carefully examining your pickguard and determining the best shape and size for the pickup holes. You can either draw the shape directly on the pickguard or trace it from a template for more accuracy.

2. Cutting with a Jeweler’s Saw

Once you have your desired shape marked on the pickguard, it’s time to bring out the jeweler’s saw. This delicate tool allows you to cut as close as possible to the outline you’ve drawn. To begin, drill a pilot hole inside the area to be removed. Then, carefully assemble the jeweler’s saw through that hole and start cutting along the marked lines.

Pro Tip: Take your time and go slow. It’s better to make multiple light passes with the saw rather than rushing and risking mistakes. Remember, patience is key in achieving clean cuts.

3. Refining the Edges

After cutting the pickup holes, you might notice some rough edges or curves that need refining. This is where scrapers come in handy. Using a scraper, carefully work your way around the edges, removing any excess material and smoothing out any imperfections.

Remember: A 45-degree edge bevel by hand can be quite tricky, so take your time and be meticulous. If you find it challenging to achieve the desired bevel, using a scraper is a great alternative for achieving a clean and professional finish.

4. Exploring Alternative Methods

While using a jeweler’s saw is a popular method, there are alternative techniques for cutting pickup holes in pickguards. Here are a few worth exploring:

  • Using a smooth file coupled with a vise: This method allows you to file down the excess material while keeping the pickguard steady in a vise.
  • Using a Dremel moto tool with a small engraving bit or burr: This option provides more precision and control, as the Dremel moto tool allows for intricate cuts.
  • Using a template and a bearing-guided router bit: By using a template and a router bit with a bearing, you can achieve consistent and accurate pickup holes.
  • Using a bandsaw with a thin blade: This method is best for larger cuts that require more precision. A bandsaw with a thin blade can give you clean and smooth cuts.

5. Expand Your Knowledge

If you’re eager to delve deeper into the world of cutting pickguards, there are plenty of resources available to expand your knowledge and skills. Websites like The Gear Page, TalkBass, and TDPRI offer forums and discussions where you can learn from experienced luthiers and guitar enthusiasts.

Key Takeaway: Cutting pickup holes in pickguards requires precision and patience. Whether you choose to use a jeweler’s saw, alternative methods, or a combination of techniques, take your time, be meticulous, and refine the edges for a professional finish.

In conclusion, mastering the art of cutting pickup holes in pickguards is a skill that can greatly enhance your customization and modification abilities as a luthier or guitar enthusiast. By following the tips and techniques shared in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to achieving clean and precise pickup holes for any type of guitar. So pick up your tools, embrace the journey of craftsmanship, and create customized instruments that truly stand out!

Tips for Hand-Held Routing:

When it comes to cutting pickguard material, hand-held routing is a common technique that allows for precision and control. Whether you’re crafting a custom pickguard or modifying an existing one, these tips will help you master the art of hand-held routing and achieve a perfect fit for your guitar.

1. Use the Right Tools:

Before diving into the world of hand-held routing, it’s essential to have the right tools at your disposal. A plunge router with a straight-cutting bit is ideal for cutting pickguard material. Make sure you choose a router with variable speed settings, as slower speeds are recommended to avoid melting the plastic. Additionally, invest in good quality router bits to ensure clean and precise cuts.

“Using the right tools is the first step towards achieving a flawless pickguard cut. Invest in a plunge router with a straight-cutting bit and variable speed settings for optimal results.”

2. Prepare the Workstation:

To create a stable and secure work environment for hand-held routing, start by taping scrapwood blocks to the benchtop. This raises the template off the surface, allowing for more accurate cuts. Remember to position the blocks strategically to avoid uneven bevels in your final pickguard.

“Preparing your workstation is crucial to ensure stability and precision during the hand-held routing process. Tape scrapwood blocks to the benchtop to create an elevated platform for your template.”

3. Secure the Template:

Once your workstation is ready, secure the template to the pickguard material using clamps or double-sided adhesive tape. It’s important to ensure that the template is firmly attached to prevent any movement during the routing process. This will help you maintain the desired shape and avoid any accidental slips.

“Properly securing the template is essential for achieving accurate pickguard cuts. Use clamps or double-sided adhesive tape to firmly attach the template to the pickguard material.”

4. Plan Your Route:

Before turning on the router, take a moment to plan your route. Visualize the cutting path and consider the grain orientation of the material. Planning ahead will help you avoid any potential pitfalls and ensure smooth and consistent cuts. Remember, patience and attention to detail are key to achieving a professional finish.

“A little planning goes a long way in hand-held routing. Take the time to visualize your cutting path and consider the grain orientation of the pickguard material.”

5. Perfect Your Technique:

Mastering hand-held routing requires practice and finesse. Start by making shallow cuts along the template, gradually increasing the depth until you’ve reached the desired thickness. Take your time and maintain a steady hand to avoid any errors or mishaps. Remember, it’s always better to make multiple shallow passes than to rush and risk damaging the pickguard.

“Practice makes perfect when it comes to hand-held routing. Start with shallow cuts and gradually increase the depth to achieve the perfect pickguard thickness.”

6. Finishing Touches:

After completing your hand-held routing, it’s time to add the finishing touches to your pickguard. Use a file or sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges or imperfections. Take your time with this step to ensure a professional and polished look. You can even consider adding a beveled edge or decorative patterns to make your pickguard truly unique.

“Don’t forget the finishing touches! Smooth out any rough edges or imperfections using a file or sandpaper for a professional final look.”

In summary, mastering the art of hand-held routing for pickguard cuts requires experience, expertise, and attention to detail. By using the right tools, preparing your workstation, securing the template, planning your route, perfecting your technique, and adding the finishing touches, you can achieve a flawless pickguard fit for any guitar.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and refine your skills along the way. With time and dedication, you’ll become a master luthier capable of creating customized pickguards that enhance the look and functionality of any guitar.

“With the right techniques and a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to create custom pickguards that perfectly fit any guitar, adding a touch of personalization and style to your instrument.”

Custom Designs

When it comes to creating a truly unique and personalized guitar, custom designs are a game-changer. Whether you’re a professional musician or a hobbyist, having a guitar that reflects your individuality can enhance your playing experience and make a statement on stage. But how can you bring your custom design ideas to life? In this article, we’ll explore the world of custom designs for guitars, focusing on pickguards, and how you can master the art of cutting pickguard material for different types of guitars.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of cutting pickguard material, let’s briefly touch on the importance of custom designs in the guitar world. Custom designs give you the freedom to express your personal style and taste, making your instrument stand out from the crowd. They allow you to showcase your creativity and imagination, turning your guitar into a work of art that reflects your musical identity.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk about cutting pickguard material. Before you begin, it’s crucial to have a clear plan and gather all the necessary tools. Creating a custom pickguard requires precision and attention to detail, so make sure you’re well-prepared before you start cutting.

There are various methods and tools you can use to cut pickguard material. One popular option is using a jeweler’s saw. With its fine teeth and thin blade, a jeweler’s saw provides the precision needed for cutting along marked lines. This method allows for clean, accurate cuts, ensuring a professional finish for your custom pickguard.

Alternatively, you can use a file with a vise, a Dremel moto tool, a template with a router bit, or a bandsaw with a thin blade to cut your pickguard material. Each method has its own advantages and considerations, so feel free to explore these options and choose what works best for you.

Now, let’s talk about tips and tricks for cutting pickguard material like a pro. One valuable piece of advice is to start with shallow cuts and gradually increase the depth to achieve the desired thickness. This approach allows for greater control and minimizes the risk of errors or mishaps. Remember, patience is key when it comes to cutting pickguard material – take your time and maintain a steady hand.

After cutting the pickguard material, it’s important to refine the edges and remove any roughness or imperfections. This can be done using scrapers, files, or sandpaper. By smoothing out the edges, you’ll achieve a professional final look for your custom pickguard.

When it comes to mounting the pickguard on your guitar, there are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the placement and alignment before attaching the pickguard. Double-check the position and consider using clamps or double-sided adhesive tape to secure the template to the pickguard material.

Now, let’s highlight some of the benefits of using a pickguard on your guitar. Aside from adding a distinctive visual element, pickguards also offer practical advantages. They protect the guitar’s body from scratches, dings, and other damage that can occur during playing. Pickguards also serve as a barrier between the guitar’s electronics and external elements, ensuring their longevity and performance.

In conclusion, mastering the art of cutting pickguard material opens up a world of possibilities for custom designs on your guitar. Whether you’re creating a pickguard from scratch or modifying an existing one, attention to detail and precision are key. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating a custom pickguard that perfectly complements your guitar and reflects your unique style.

“Custom designs are the key to transforming your guitar into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.”

Custom Pickguards

Are you looking to add a personal touch to your guitar? Custom pickguards are the perfect way to showcase your style and protect your instrument. Whether you play an electric guitar, acoustic guitar, or bass guitar, cutting pickguard material requires precision and expertise. As an experienced guitar enthusiast and skilled luthier, I have mastered the art of cutting pickguards and can guide you through the process. In this article, I will share valuable insights and tips on how to cut pickguard material for different types of guitars, ensuring a perfect fit and a professional finish. So, grab your tools and let’s get started!

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before diving into the cutting process, it’s important to gather the necessary tools and materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • A sharp utility knife: This will be your primary tool for cutting the pickguard material.
  • Pencil or marker: Used for measuring and marking the pickguard shape.
  • Ruler or measuring tape: Essential for accurate measurements.
  • Sandpaper: Used to smooth the edges of the cut pickguard.

With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the task of cutting a custom pickguard.

Measuring and Marking the Pickguard Shape

The first step in cutting a pickguard is to measure and mark the shape. Start by measuring the guitar’s body where the pickguard will be placed. Use your ruler or measuring tape to get precise measurements. Once you have your measurements, mark the pickguard shape on the material using a pencil or marker. Remember to be precise and double-check your measurements before proceeding.

“Accurate measurements are crucial for creating a pickguard that fits your guitar perfectly.”

Cutting the Pickguard Shape

With the pickguard shape marked on the material, it’s time to cut it out. Take your sharp utility knife and carefully follow the marked measurements. Use slow and steady strokes to ensure a clean cut. If the material is thick, you may need to make multiple passes to achieve the desired depth. Take your time and be patient during this step to avoid any mistakes.

“Sharp tools and a steady hand are the keys to cutting a precise pickguard shape.”

Smoothing the Edges

After cutting the pickguard shape, you may notice rough edges or imperfections. To achieve a professional look, it’s important to smooth out these edges. Grab your sandpaper and gently sand the edges of the cut pickguard. Start with a coarse grit to remove any larger imperfections, and then switch to a finer grit for a smoother finish. Take your time and ensure that all the edges are smooth to the touch.

“Sanding the edges of your pickguard is a vital step in achieving a polished and professional result.”

Testing the Fit and Finalizing the Installation

Once you’ve smoothed the edges, it’s time to test the fit of the pickguard on your guitar. Place the pickguard on the designated area and make sure it aligns perfectly with the guitar’s body. Pay attention to any gaps or areas that need adjustment. If everything looks good, proceed with the final installation. Depending on the type of guitar you have, the installation process may vary. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional if you’re unsure.

“Proper fit and installation ensure that your pickguard not only looks great but also functions effectively.”

Additional Tips and Considerations

When cutting pickguard material, it’s essential to consider the type of guitar you have and the specific requirements of the instrument. Here are a few additional tips and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Use a pickguard template: A pickguard template is a valuable tool that ensures precise and accurate cuts. It can be purchased or created using a pre-existing pickguard as a reference.
  • Different pickguard materials: Pickguards can be made from various materials such as plastic. Each material has its own characteristics, so choose one that suits your preferences and the overall aesthetic of your guitar.
  • Explore customization options: Custom pickguards offer endless possibilities for personalization. Consider unique designs, patterns, or even artist signatures to make your guitar stand out.
  • Attach and move pickguards easily: Pickguards are designed to be easily attached and moved to different guitars. This flexibility allows you to customize multiple instruments or change your pickguard as desired.

“Attention to detail and knowledge of your specific guitar type are key in achieving a flawless pickguard cut.”


Cutting pickguard material is a delicate process that requires experience and expertise. By following the steps outlined in this guide, as well as considering the tips and considerations provided, you’ll be well-equipped to create a customized pickguard that fits your guitar perfectly. Remember to gather the necessary tools, measure and mark the pickguard shape accurately, make precise cuts, smooth the edges, test the fit, and finalize the installation. With patience and attention to detail, you’ll achieve a professional finish and have a unique pickguard that reflects your personal style. Happy crafting!

How to Make Your Own DIY Pickguard for Your Guitar

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If you own a guitar and want to give it a fresh new look, one of the easiest ways to do so is by making your own DIY pickguard. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of creating a custom pickguard for your guitar, ensuring that every step is easy to follow and understand.

Step 1: Gathering the Necessary Tools

Before diving into the pickguard-making process, it’s essential to have all the necessary tools on hand. For this DIY project, you’ll need the following:

  • Printer paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors or an X-acto knife
  • Wooden dowel or pencil
  • Sandpaper (120 grit)
  • Pickguard material
  • Double-sided sticky tape
  • Bandsaw or jigsaw
  • Router with a pickguard bit
  • Paint scraper
  • Clamps or double-sided adhesive tape

Step 2: Creating the Pickguard Template

To begin, take a few sheets of printer paper and tape them together to create a larger surface area. Place the guitar’s body on the paper and trace its general shape. Cut away any excess paper to get a rough pickguard template.

Step 3: Making Adjustments to the Template

After creating the template, make necessary adjustments to ensure that it fits your desired shape and size. You can use your fingers or a pencil to trace along the cavities of the guitar to determine precise placement.

“Using your fingers or a pencil, trace along the cavities of the guitar to determine the placement of your pickguard template.”

Step 4: Cutting the Pickguard Material

Once you’re satisfied with the template, transfer it onto the pickguard material using double-sided sticky tape to secure it in place. Carefully cut out the pickguard shape using a bandsaw or jigsaw. Remember to take your time and follow the lines precisely.

Step 5: Refining the Pickguard Edges

After cutting out the pickguard, it’s important to refine the edges for a polished look. Use a router with a pickguard bit to create a beveled edge. Scrape off any excess material with a paint scraper, ensuring smoothness and precision.

“Use a router with a pickguard bit to create a beveled edge, and scrape off any excess material with a paint scraper for a smoother finish.”

Step 6: Testing and Finalizing the Pickguard

Once you’ve completed all the cutting and refining, it’s time to test the fit of the pickguard on your guitar. Make any necessary adjustments or modifications before finalizing the installation.

“Test the fit of the pickguard on your guitar and make any necessary adjustments before finalizing the installation.”


Creating your own DIY pickguard for your guitar doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools, materials, and following the step-by-step process outlined in this article, you can easily transform the look of your guitar and showcase your unique style.

“By following these steps and investing your time, you can create a custom pickguard that not only protects your guitar but also adds a personal touch and reflects your individuality.”


Question 1

What are some tips for cutting pickup holes in a pickguard using hand-held routing?

Answer 1

Some tips for cutting pickup holes in a pickguard using hand-held routing include taping scrapwood blocks to the benchtop to raise the template off the surface and using a slow tool speed to avoid melting the plastic.

Question 2

Can pickguards be customized with custom designs?

Answer 2

Yes, pickguards can be customized with custom designs. It is possible to create unique and personalized pickguards by using different materials, colors, patterns, or even having them signed by artists.

Question 3

What tools are needed to cut pickguard material?

Answer 3

To cut pickguard material, you will need a sharp utility knife, pencil or marker for marking measurements, a ruler or measuring tape for accurate marking, and sandpaper for smoothing the edges of the cut pickguard.

Question 4

Why are pickguards used on guitars?

Answer 4

Pickguards are used on guitars to provide protection for the guitar’s body and electronics. They help prevent scratches, dents, and damage caused by the use of a pick or fingers during playing.

Question 5

How do I mount a pickguard onto a guitar?

Answer 5

To mount a pickguard onto a guitar, you should first measure and mark the pickguard shape by measuring the guitar’s body where the pickguard will be placed. Then, cut the pickguard shape using the marked measurements and smooth the edges with sandpaper. Finally, test the fit of the pickguard on the guitar before finalizing the installation.

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