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  1. #1

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    I was reading thru a recent post on soundposts as a solution for archtop woes. This got me thinking.

    I have this Aria Pro II, '78 model EA-650, lawsuit 175. It plays pretty well, and sounds very good. But sometimes I think I hear a buzzy thing going on. So I looked inside---the soundpost was secure...nothing else obviously loose.

    Then I took a look at the pickguard---fastened with the usual 2 screws. It had some play in it....hmm.....and when I hit some chords there was the buzz. Held down the pickguard, and as I hit a chord...no buzz. The 2 screws were securely seated, and tightening them wouldn't have eliminated the springiness....so, I said why not take it off, and see what it's like. Well, I did and immediately the sound quality was improved...louder, and cleaner with no buzz.

    Today, I pulled out the L4-CES. Repeated the experiment.

    The gtr. sounds better with no pick-guard, and it sounded great before. Louder and clearer. Visually, no pickguard looks a little funny at first...but my picking has a lot of fingers and hand--not much wrist or arm movement--no cause to worry. And chord work is not heavy strumming a la Willie Nelson. I'm never going to wear a hole in these 16", full body guitars. (The way I play with a strap, my hand comes nowhere close to the soundboard of the guitar underneath where the pickguard would be...the rt. arm sits on the back bout of the guitar.)

    Also, it's nice to be able to clean out accumulated dust, and gunk that settles in, under the pickguard. I think the guitar looks better as well.


    So the 2 pickguards are safely stored away. Don't think they're going back on. Guess I'll keep them, not that I'm planning on selling these 2 instruments any time soon.

    Anyway, this is something I thought I would throw out to the rest of you: Easy to test...no special tools, if you have those little screwdrivers to adjust eyeglasses, and easily reversible, if you don't like it.


    PS: Formula I racing cars don't come with CD players, or cup holders, or spare tires, or a copilots seat...nothing extraneous to interfere with their function as sleek performance and speed machines.
    Last edited by goldenwave77; 01-06-2017 at 07:33 PM.

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  3. #2

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    My fingers are long, but not long enough to support my hand playing an archtop without a fingerrest. If the fingerrest is buzzing, it is probably not mounted correctly.

  4. #3
    Well, it's pretty obvious how the 2 screws go into the guitar...really not a whole lot you can get wrong in attaching it.

    And both of these were attached properly...in fact the Aria had surgical tubing on one of the screw lengths, between the body and the underside of the pickguard, and it still buzzed, and had springiness. Some designs are just not wonderful, as anyone who has ever struggled with the cup jack on a telecaster knows...special tool needed, and I still think it works poorly.

    I also am 6'2" and have 37 inch arms...so the pickguard as a rest is not something I need to worry about w/ a 16" full thickness body. (Kenny Burrell is also pretty tall and rangy, so the big body guitars (the Super 400 and Super Eagle, and KB Model) all were pretty well tailored to him. I find my arm hangs just where it needs to be. With a strat style guitar, it is not supported.)

  5. #4

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    I think of pickguards as finger-rests. I'm playing exclusively fingerstyle these days, so a 1" wide strip of something securely braced would be adequate and largely superfluous, as I am striving for a floaty hand. And covering 2/3 of the treble soundhole always puzzled me. Perhaps it is the legacy of the archtop acoustic powerhouse projection device's need for an athletic strum. Still, a deco stair-step PG on a D'A or a Guild sets my heart a-flutter....

  6. #5

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    I have very exacting requirements for a pickguard. It has to be 3/8" below the strings and 1/8 away from the high E string. Hopefully, precision cut so it sits flush with the pickup and not sloppily cutout around the pickup ring.

    I consider the pickguard essential to my technique. Some folks don't need them (pat metheny for example) but others like myself do. I have very small hands and on an archtop with a high mounted fingerboard and neck, it drastically effects my picking angle when I play without a pickguard.

    I studied with a student of Al Dimeola and later Dennis Sandole who both advocated finger rests.

    And frankly, the small difference in tone and volume is lost (to me) playing through an amp.

  7. #6

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    I am a "no finger rest" guy. I removed the finger rest on a guitar I had built for exactly the same reason. Placed below the level of the strings about the same distance a flat top guitar sound board would be it would just occasionally buzz.

    I fiddled and fiddled and finally just took the thing off. It was a little weird at first. Something like the sensation of getting into a car and not putting on a seat belt. Eventually I forgot about it.

    Last year I built a guitar and the buyer asked for a finger rest. I found it awkward to play. It felt like gigging on a stage way too small and always being aware of being next to a wall or the edge of a stage.

    To be fair, as a player I'm a weekender who always plays fingers only. Playing with a pick is probably different.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #7

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    Like agentsmith, I find a fingerrest or pickguard very helpful for the relationship between my picking hand and the strings.

  9. #8

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    No pickguard, for me - don't like how they look and don't need them (don't rest my pinky).

  10. #9

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    I've played a 1951 Epiphone Zephyr Regent since 1970 that was missing the pickguard. I play jazz using a pick and never made any pick marks on the finish. However, my little finger rests on the top of the guitar where the pickguard would be and there is a finger sized spot worn through the finish. I don't think this would happen on the new type of finishes, they seem fairly indestructible. I also have a D'Angelico Ex-59 that comes with no pickguard. I have long fingers. It would be interesting to take note of the relation between having long or short arms and fingers and the preference for a pickguard or lack of one. I never felt they were necessary, they can buzz and the less parts the better. I tracked down one mystery buzzing to the metal label on the Epiphone headstock.

  11. #10

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    I waffle between removing them and leaving them on. I don't use them as a fingerrest very often. I do notice that some players remove them, or never have them installed. Howard Alden is an example. His picking style doesn't use or require one, and his guitars don't have them. I will say that the Benedetto method of mounting the pickguard is genius. It uses no hardware at all other than the pickup ring screws. The pickguard is routed, so that it sits on top of the pickup rings, and uses those screws to hold it in place. Between those and a small square of a dense foam material, the pickguard doesn't move, and there is nothing to rattle. It does require some precision routing and drilling, but that's easy enough these days with CNC machines, easier and requires less precision than inlays. For me, it's mostly a matter of looks, and I go back and forth on which look I prefer. YMMV.

  12. #11

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    For me, it depends on the guitar.
    At the moment I have two similar size blonde 16" archtops, and am fine with one having a pickguard and one without.
    Funny thing is, the PM2 was built without one, and the former owner had one professionally installed, and I do use it as a rest.
    And when I got my 16 Cremona, I did not care for the way Peerless attached the guard, and removed it, and do not miss having a rest on that guitar.

    So I have one with and one without, both opposite of their original design, and it's working for me. I want to keep the pickguard on the PM2. For that guitar, the amplified sound is it's strength and removing the guard would gain very little.

    Peerless did make the pickguard itself very nice, but they use no bracket to the rim, and the pair of screws up near the neck are too close together to offer a real secure mount. From pictures, it appears there's some variation on how they locate guards, dependent on neck pickup location. The support block under the guard that takes the mounting screws is made shorter when the PU is nearer the neck, and there's less room to keep the screws spread as wide.
    Is a Pickguard on Archtop Necessary?-both-jpg

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by agentsmith
    I have very exacting requirements for a pickguard. It has to be 3/8" below the strings and 1/8 away from the high E string. Hopefully, precision cut so it sits flush with the pickup and not sloppily cutout around the pickup ring.

    I consider the pickguard essential to my technique. Some folks don't need them (pat metheny for example) but others like myself do. I have very small hands and on an archtop with a high mounted fingerboard and neck, it drastically effects my picking angle when I play without a pickguard.
    I'm in Jack's camp on this. (See JAZ, we CAN be polite to each other.) The pickguard level is very fundamental to my technique, mostly because I'm SO OLD and have just gotten very used to it over the years. I've posted this pic before, but this is what I even installed on my electric steel string (Carvin AC375). Without it, I'd feel disoriented with my right hand. I pretty much free-float my right hand, I don't anchor, press, or hold onto the guard, it's just a constant light-touch reference point, mostly light contact with the side of my little finger. It's not functioning as a "pickguard" or finger"rest." More like a subtle "guide."

    I have to add, it's only when I'm playing flatpick. When I'm doing classical/flamenco/finger it doesn't make a difference.

    Is a Pickguard on Archtop Necessary?-ac375b-jpg
    Last edited by Woody Sound; 01-07-2017 at 11:04 AM.

  14. #13

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    I'm all fingerstyle all the time & I don't care much about a pickguard one way or another.
    I usually take them off.

    Except on my old '34 L7, on that one the pickguard holds the output jack . . .

  15. #14

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    Acoustics sound better without the pickguard. I go back and forth and don't notice the difference in playability.

  16. #15
    I am a fan of the pickguard. It is there when I need it. I play with a pick but struggle with a guitar when the pickguard isn't present. Eventually I end up putting a pickguard on all my guitars. It is a functional place to rest my right hand in between the notes being played

  17. #16

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    My Godins are the first archtops I've had that I haven't taken the pick guards off. I don't anchor my picking hand and most pick guards are at a height that I bang into them a lot so taking it off is usually the first thing I do. (The pick guards on the Godins are set a little lower so I'm not running into them all the time).

  18. #17

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    I use the bridge as my right-hand's reference point, so I'm not wedded to a 'guard.

  19. #18

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    I can play with or without them. I prefer having them there. If I stopped playing with a pick, I might prefer to not have them at all.

    Like most things archtop guitar related, there is no right or wrong answer. Each player must figure out what works best for them.

  20. #19

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    Since I anchor my pinky very often and have quite medium size hands, I need one on elevated fingerboard equipped archtop like the Tal, 175 or even the Emp Regent.
    I could however get away without one on the Joe Pass for a long time since the fingerboard is much closer to the top, the same with solid body like Les Paul or my new Frank Caster Tele project.

  21. #20

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    I do what I learned from Warren Nunes.

    Raise the pickguard up to the level of the strings (or very nearly so). Keep your right hand loose, with the fingernails of middle and ring fingers gently gliding on the pickguard.

    I have no idea whether it affects the sound.

    Buzzing, of course, means something is vibrating, and that "something" should be amenable to some kind of shimming, bracing, gluing, or something. Apparently, not so easy to find.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77
    I was reading thru a recent post on soundposts as a solution for archtop woes. This got me thinking.

    I have this Aria Pro II, '78 model EA-650, lawsuit 175. It plays pretty well, and sounds very good. But sometimes I think I hear a buzzy thing going on. So I looked inside---the soundpost was secure...nothing else obviously loose.

    Then I took a look at the pickguard---fastened with the usual 2 screws. It had some play in it....hmm.....and when I hit some chords there was the buzz. Held down the pickguard, and as I hit a chord...no buzz. The 2 screws were securely seated, and tightening them wouldn't have eliminated the springiness....so, I said why not take it off, and see what it's like. Well, I did and immediately the sound quality was improved...louder, and cleaner with no buzz.
    First of all, there should be 3 screws and one nut, correct? Two screws and the nut on the bracket, one screw at the neck. Assuming everything is tightened down as you say, maybe the guard is buzzing/rattling against the pickup(s)? Try placing a tiny bit of felt between the guard and the rings.

  23. #22

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    removing the pickguard is a quick and easy way to make your guitar look worse, generally speaking. of course, there are some dumb looking pickguards out there, too.

    being a hamfisted strummer, i do occaisonally bang into it with the pick, and sometimes i'll crash into it with the bigsby, but they stay on, acoustic or electric. over time, the mammoth pickguard on my g400 has taken on a gentle curve, which affords a little more clearance. were it just a touch more curved, it would be perfect. not sure how to go about that, though.

  24. #23

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    One way to curve a plastic pickguard is with heat. Not too much. Hot water works. Work slowly.

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    First of all, there should be 3 screws and one nut, correct? Two screws and the nut on the bracket, one screw at the neck. Assuming everything is tightened down as you say, maybe the guard is buzzing/rattling against the pickup(s)? Try placing a tiny bit of felt between the guard and the rings.
    Mine does NOT have 3 screws--it has two. One up by the neck, screws down into the body, and the other on the bracket screws into the side of the guitar--at a 90 degree angle to the guitar soundboard.

    So, there is no force vector, pushing down on the pickguard, towards the soundboard of the guitar, i.e. the piece into which the f holes are cut. Screwing down the neck attachment more does nothing for the springiness back by the pickup. It might actually make it worse--like overtightening a lug nut on one side of a wheel, doesn't cure the effect of a stripped nut on the opposite side.

    And, yes there are 3 pieces of felt attached to the back of the pickguard. These aren't helping.

    There are 2 little semi-circular "cutouts" on the pickguard which allow the pu housing screws to be attached to the top of the guitar. But these do not attach to the pickguard.

    I think this is just bad design.
    Last edited by goldenwave77; 01-08-2017 at 02:36 PM.

  26. #25

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    I like the pickguard as a reference plane for the 4th and 5th finger of the right hand.

    I have a guitar which buzzed despite all nuts and screws were tightened well. I turned out that it was the pickguard which vibrated against the bracket holding it. A quick and dirty shim of cardboard between the pickguard and the bracket solved the problem.

    With archtops, there are all kinds of potential sources of annoying buzzes/vibrations and sometimes they are difficult to hunt down. Pickups and pickup rings are usual suspects. On my Gibson 175 I have had a sax reed wedged between the PU and the PU ring since 1976. A crude solution, but it has now worked for 40 years.
    Last edited by oldane; 01-08-2017 at 03:30 PM.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77
    Mine does NOT have 3 screws--it has two. One up by the neck, screws down into the body, and the other on the bracket screws into the side of the guitar--at a 90 degree angle to the guitar soundboard.
    On the Aria 360 isn't there a 3rd screw & nut that holds the guard to the bracket? Roughly in the middle?

  28. #27
    The gtr. in question is an Aria Pro II, EA-650, 1978 lawsuit 175.

    One screw up near the front pu screws directly into the top of the guitar.

    A second screw connects the bracket to the pickguard, but not to the top of the guitar--so no downward pressure there.

    And then the 3rd screw is 90 degree perpendicular to the soundboard, and goes into the side bout of the guitar. In removing the pickguard, there are 2 screws to deal with, not three.

    So, yes, technically there are 3 screws but nothing to exert downward force, aside from the one up near the pickguard...nothing to counteract the "boingi-ness" of the pickguard. Both the pickguard and the bracket have some flex to them.

    The pickguard/bracket on the L4-CES is more substantial and better designed, but both of them still sound cleaner, and louder without the pickguards. I re-read K. Burrell's interview talking about his gear, and he liked BIG guitars because of the comfort factor for where his arm rested. I'm the same with 37" sleeves: Always had trouble finding off the rack dress shirts with sleeves that didn't make me look like "Zeke from Cabin Creek". A full width (3" or 3 3/8" archtop of 16" or 17") archtop is perfectly comfortable for me...smaller guitars like strats leave my arm flying in space.

    It is an anatomical peculiarity that in golf club lengths there is almost NO difference for ht. adjustments for a man between say 5'4" and 6'3": Our arms hang pretty much the same ht. off the ground, and it's pretty rare to use different length club shafts, and even then, the differences are small. But with guitars, arm length matters so some people like/need the arm rest feature.

    The way I hold my guitars with a strap setting I use on all of them, there is no way even hard strumming creates enough angle to contact the top of the guitar. Willie Nelson had this issue, but I don't and never will.


    Anyway, interesting to read the range of responses.
    Last edited by goldenwave77; 01-08-2017 at 10:24 PM.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77

    A second screw connects the bracket to the pickguard, but not to the top of the guitar--so no downward pressure there.
    I thought maybe that could be the thing rattling, if it is coming loose from the nut underneath.

  30. #29
    It is a good thought, actually, as when I took off the L4 pickguard, it has a different design. That pickguard is glued to the bracket arm, and the bracket arm threads through at a 90 degree angle.

    But the Aria's vibration is more low level--not ringing, or metallic. The Aria screw-through attachment would probably be improved with a lock washer, but that's not really the issue.

    Anyway, I think I'm in the no pickguard camp for now.

  31. #30

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    Definitely depends on the player. I don't need one, I've found (when I bought my Heritage a few years ago it didn't have one), but I've never gone through the trouble of actually taking one off.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77
    It is a good thought, actually, as when I took off the L4 pickguard, it has a different design. That pickguard is glued to the bracket arm, and the bracket arm threads through at a 90 degree angle.

    But the Aria's vibration is more low level--not ringing, or metallic. The Aria screw-through attachment would probably be improved with a lock washer, but that's not really the issue.
    Correct. Gibson's higher end archtop bracket glues on.

    Is a Pickguard on Archtop Necessary?-bracket-jpg

    Other models (Les Paul, etc) use the screw-on type.

    Is a Pickguard on Archtop Necessary?-bracket2-jpg

  33. #32
    The glue-on design must be a modern improvement. Mine looks like it uses Crazy Glue, which is pret-ty strong, but was not around in the old days, I take it. Anyway, it takes care of the loose nut issue.

  34. #33

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    I like the pickguard until it becomes troublesome. Like the OP, I also discovered buzz that could not be tightened away. The only thing I miss is visual, it doesn't affect my playing.


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  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    I think of pickguards as finger-rests. I'm playing exclusively fingerstyle these days, so a 1" wide strip of something securely braced would be adequate and largely superfluous, as I am striving for a floaty hand. And covering 2/3 of the treble soundhole always puzzled me. Perhaps it is the legacy of the archtop acoustic powerhouse projection device's need for an athletic strum. Still, a deco stair-step PG on a D'A or a Guild sets my heart a-flutter....
    +1 on a finger rest, and another +1 on the covering the sound hole.

    Some designs get it pretty right though.

    There's more than enough for a finger rest, it's aesthetically pleasing, enough protection for aggressive strummers, and no sound hole blockage. Seems most makers are asleep at the wheel.

    Is a Pickguard on Archtop Necessary?-fender_daquisto1-jpg

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    And covering 2/3 of the treble soundhole always puzzled me.
    This! (They talk pickguard at 12:40)


  37. #36

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    The pickguard on my Eastman AR 371 warped and had to be replaced. Eastman sent me a new pickguard but I had to have it fitted to my guitar. I had been thinking about playing with my hand floating, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to work on this. I used to anchor my hand with my pinky. A year and a half later, I had the pickguard fitted to the guitar. Now I forget it's there and rarely touch it.

  38. #37
    Just ran across some YT clips of Ed Cherry, a guitarist who is new to me. I really like his playing.

    He's also a member of the "no pickguard" club.

  39. #38

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    I am a pick guard guy with conditions. I play with my thumb for single notes and part of that approach uses the pick guard as a rest/anchor point and while com[ing I use it as a pinky anchor. I had a Godin 5th Ave with a factory pick guard that was so flexible it provided absolutely no resting resistance ( I replaced the Godin pick guard with a Gibson ES150 replica to resolve the issue) so the condition is if there is a pick guard it has to be stiff enough to provide support. My D'angelico Exl-1 MIk has the vol and tone on the pick guard I like that ease of access so another condition. While I recognize that quite probably D'angelico designed the stepped pick guard for aesthetic rather than functional reasons the stepped lower profile lets me hook/anchor my i-m-a fingers in the steps/notches which is very hand and something I would not want to be without- so another condition . I like my pick guard even though I don't use a pick
    Will

  40. #39

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    For me they are. My Carvin semi came without one. I just finished making one for it.

    Is a Pickguard on Archtop Necessary?-carvinpg-jpg

  41. #40

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    Nice work, Woody Sound. Elegant.

  42. #41

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    I was a no pickguard guy until I started to seriously work on fingerstyle. The only archtop I have is my Bambino, and the finger rest on that is perfect.

  43. #42

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    I waffle. I tend to take them off, put them back on, back off, as the mood strikes me. I think the Bambino looks better bare naked, but I put the guard back on now and then. Benedetto's mounting method is perfect, because there is no evidence one has ever been installed if you remove it. When I remove the pickguard from my Epi ES175, there are ugly holes left in the body. It's less obvious on the Eastman, but still holes are there, and it's a PITA to get to the screws without scraping the finish underneath the pickguard. On the Bambino, it's a piece of cake, just remove three screws from the top, then put them back into the pickup rings with the guard gone.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77
    Just ran across some YT clips of Ed Cherry, a guitarist who is new to me. I really like his playing.

    He's also a member of the "no pickguard" club.
    Ed is a fine player. The first Time i saw him was in a Dizzy Gillespie Quartet at a Jazzfestival in Zürich in the early eighties. He was playing a brand new Super 400 but it was in a big hall and the soundpeople didn't do a good job. A few years back i saw him again in a small club in Bern and he was playing a Peerless JazzCity through a Fender Twin Reverb, i can't remember if with or without PG. All i remember that he got a great sound with it which i liked a lot.

  45. #44

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    I do rest my knuckles on mine.

    Perhaps players you rest their hand on the bridge or the strings rock style have less need of this.

  46. #45

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    Interesting subject, everyone. I've been concerned with this for years, on all kinds of instruments. Generally I think they add unnecessary mass and baffling, but I have seen some pretty mutilated tops from picks, as we all have. I had a small, clear guard installed on a beautiful, natural-topped instrument for my son about 20 years ago, and it still seems like the best solution I've seen.

  47. #46

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    I also like woody sound's guard on the Carvin!

  48. #47

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    I have 3 archtops. Two have pickguards, and my recently purchased PM2 does not. I have found that it makes no difference to me as I do not rest my pinky.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77
    The glue-on design must be a modern improvement. Mine looks like it uses Crazy Glue, which is pret-ty strong, but was not around in the old days, I take it. Anyway, it takes care of the loose nut issue.
    It depends on what you mean by "old days". My 1961 175 has the glue on design as shown in the photo above - and it's not a newer replacement since I have owned the guitar since 1973.

  50. #49

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    Wraps around the soundhole:

  51. #50

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    Cyanoacrylate glue was first sold commercially in 1958, although the patent for it was filed in 1942. It has been around for awhile.