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  1. #1

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    I'm new here and seeking advice/insight.

    I just purchased a 79 L-5 CES which was apparently cased for most of the last 40 years. As a result, the celluloid pickguard gassed out from heat, corroding the pickguard bracket, most of the pickup cover screws, pole screws, pickup covers, rings, etc. I'm working with a luthier and wanting to replace/restore these parts. The pickguard itself has this spiderweb looking effect on it where the gas was released which actually looks kinda cool. I plan on using it as it is completely intact and fine but would like opinions as to whether I should use it or replace it.. My guy measured from the center of the far left pole piece to the center of the far right pole piece and it measured 49.2. So as a result, I have several questions. My pickups both have the same patent number as one pictured by Brian B in another thread stamped 2737842 made six months apart. Looks just like this one previously posted:

    IMG]http://medias.audiofanzine.com/image...970-517696.jpg[/IMG]

    All I basically need to do is find two gold pickup covers and two archtop black rings to replace the melted ones.

    Is my guy measuring correctly from pole to pole to determine the right size? I've seen, 49, 50, and 52 size covers. The pickups both work and sound great. So keeping those. Although the bridge pickup was reversed when I bought the guitar. Store owner thinks this was a factory oversight since the one previous owner was a collector/non player and wasn't a tinkerer.

    I believe through All-parts I have found all the necessary screws, springs, bracket, etc to do this.

    Mainly I need a good source for the correct black archtop style pickup rings, and to know how exactly to determine the right size pickup covers to buy.

    Thanks for reading and to anyone who can help. I'm curious to know who else has encountered this gas off problem and how the dealt with it.

    Thanks, W.

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  3. #2

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    I have the same prob with an '81 L5. I bought it used, no pick guard! I have to also replace the p/u covers.

    I would not think that keeping that old p/g around would be healthy for your remaining, and new parts! Nasty stuff!

  4. #3

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    Mine measured 49.2. Do yours? Can't find PU covers to match that. If you do, please let me know.

  5. #4

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    Get rid of the pickguard they are hazardous materials. Will eat and destroy all in contact. They can actually catch fire but never seen it happen. If you need a replacement i can make they to fit with ABS plastic no more problems i have a variety of colors and patterns. I even have one already made for L5.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  6. #5

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    It plays great. Can you private message me with contact info about an L-5 pickup please? Thanks!

  7. #6

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    Warren: Here's some good news and some bad news, since you clearly need a bit of help.

    Good news:
    -it's not hard to find all the replacement bits you need to make the guitar reasonably shiny again. That includes a new pickguard.

    Bad news:
    -your pickguard caused the problem and is the problem. If you use it again, it will destroy the new parts. Put it in a paper bag in a well-ventilated spot if you want to keep it. Otherwise, toss it.

    -the case in which the guitar was stored has a fuzzy lining. This lining has absorbed the vapours from the gassing off pickguard for many years. The case is now toxic. If you store the guitar in it, the lining will slowly release these vapours and destroy all the shiny new bits you put on the guitar. You need to get a new case. Some people might advise "airing out the case." Sure. Just put it in a well-ventilated spot with plenty of direct light and leave it open for, say, five years. It should be good to go by then. Maybe. Get a new case. Or an old case - they are not that hard to find.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 05-27-2019 at 06:47 AM.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  8. #7

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    Had the same problem with a 78/79 ES 355 TDSV. Definitely replace the pickguard...
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    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  9. #8

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    I was really surprised to read that off-gassing can destroy the p/g mounting hardware too. I don't recall ever hearing this. How frequently has anyone seen this ?

    Just curious and thx.

  10. #9

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    Yes it can destroy many things and depending on the chemical make up of the stuff it actually is a fire hazarad and I heard can start a fire. I have never seen it but a chemist who I know plays guitar told me that. The stuff will rot binding and destroy the finish, hardware, and strings go bad very quick.

    The catch is that it happens slowly at first and then gets faster. One way to check at first is the strings. If you notice your strings start to get rusty or build up on them quicker than on other guitars then you can suspect the pickguard may be going bad. Not all pickguards are like this but seems to be a bad batch of the material at different times. Well known problem of D'angelico guitars in the 1950's. Some of the earlier ones have no problems at all. My 1937 New Yorker pickguard is perfectly fine and no deterioration. I had the 1953 Blond New Yorker and sure enough at about 40 years the pickguard started going bad. Got is off and made a duplicate. Should have caught it earlier but it did no lasting damage at all.

    I had a 1973 Johnny Smith though the started it and wow.........it went bad in a hurry and would blow out a new set of strings in weeks. The stuff I use now to make pickguards is ABS plastic I believe it does not have any nitrocellulose in it, that was the material causing the problem from what I read. I even have new batch of ABS plastic I got that is super nice. It is very thick like the orginal stuff and will not gas. It is far superior to even what they use on new GIbsons now. I find even the new pickguards are made too thin. They can warp from any pressure or change. I would replace them with the thicker stuff and keep the original if it were mine. It requires a bit more careful fit on a CES guitar but well worth the hassel.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    -the case in which the guitar was stored has a fuzzy lining. This lining has absorbed the vapours from the gassing off pickguard for many years. The case is now toxic. If you store the guitar in it, the lining will slowly release these vapours and destroy all the shiny new bits you put on the guitar. You need to get a new case. Some people might advise "airing out the case." Sure. Just put it in a well-ventilated spot with plenty of direct light and leave it open for, say, five years. It should be good to go by then. Maybe. Get a new case. Or an old case - they are not that hard to find.
    Darn, really? Case can be toxic? Oh boy..... so buying old cases can be tricky then! You never know if they didn't contain outgassing p/gs for many years....

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  12. #11

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    Well,

    That was my next question. First thing I did when I got this home was to thoroughly vacuum out the case. So that's just not gonna do it? There wasn't a smell of any kind before I started. It's been open ever since and still doesn't have an odor.
    But, better safe than sorry I suppose. This is all really good stuff. Thanks to all who have educated and offered their advice.

    This is a complete niche market opportunity that somebody should have taken advantage of already. Complete hardware set, PU covers, pickguard, etc for major heavy hitter jazz boxes. It would serve the worldwide guitar community as well as be a money making venture.

    Gibson was absolutely useless when I called them about this problem. "We don't sell those parts" and "We can't disclose our vendors". Shame on them and all manufacturers that KNOW they used these time bombs and don't have a fix for it.

    Last thing I need are gold PU covers that measure 49.2 pole to pole. What are my source options there folks?

    Thanks again, W

  13. #12

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    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  14. #13

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    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  15. #14

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    Thank you!

  16. #15

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    I found a local tech person who has successfully sealed off gassing pickguards since the 70's by coating both sides with four coats of lacquer. No one in any L-5 or jazz group I'm in had suggested this possibility. Possibly because they dont know it's possible. He says it totally seals the pores of the nitro-celluloid and actually strengthens the integrity of the guard. I'm thrilled that I get to keep and use the original guard. Will post pics after I get it back tomorrow. Yay!

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren C View Post
    I found a local tech person who has successfully sealed off gassing pickguards since the 70's by coating both sides with four coats of lacquer. No one in any L-5 or jazz group I'm in had suggested this possibility. Possibly because they dont know it's possible. He says it totally seals the pores of the nitro-celluloid and actually strengthens the integrity of the guard. I'm thrilled that I get to keep and use the original guard. Will post pics after I get it back tomorrow. Yay!

    Don't get too excited yet.
    I bought a guitar a long time ago that had nitro rot of the guard right where the pickguard block was glued underneath. Deterioration usually seems to start there, the glue used to attach the block seems to accelerate the process.
    This is also true on guards that have a reinforced strip glued under the straight edge.

    Anyway the guard I'm speaking of had been coated w lacquer right before I purchased it.
    It slowed the deterioration but eventually got worse and I had to remove the guard.
    Maybe you'll have better luck.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren C View Post
    I found a local tech person who has successfully sealed off gassing pickguards since the 70's by coating both sides with four coats of lacquer. No one in any L-5 or jazz group I'm in had suggested this possibility. Possibly because they dont know it's possible. He says it totally seals the pores of the nitro-celluloid and actually strengthens the integrity of the guard. I'm thrilled that I get to keep and use the original guard. Will post pics after I get it back tomorrow. Yay!
    Find another tech. Nothing stops gassing. You will be sorry.

  19. #18

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    Not sure if I will, but I do trust this guy's judgement. He's done it many times on his own guitars and others without a problem. Said mine was the perfect candidate for it since it wasnt deteriorating yet.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren C View Post
    Not sure if I will, but I do trust this guy's judgement. He's done it many times on his own guitars and others without a problem. Said mine was the perfect candidate for it since it wasnt deteriorating yet.
    well, if it's corroding all your hardware, it's well into deteriorating.
    It's just not falling apart yet, but give it time...

  21. #20

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    That's what I meant. Its fully in tact, binding and all.

  22. #21

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    you asked for advice here and several have given it , I've had a lot of experience w/ this issue as have others here like vinnie and deacon. you're just not going to stop the deterioration.

    but if you decide to go w/ your tech's advice keep a close eye on your high E string in the area next to the guard.
    uncoated steel will corrode faster than plated parts like pu covers, etc.
    if it starts to get rusty/corroded in that area, well, you'll know the reason.
    good luck.....

  23. #22

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    You're right, I did ask for advice here. I'm grateful for the responses and learned alot from going through this.

    Having said that, it's a very difficult choice between the advice of a trusted and well known local expert who's worked on guitars and amps since the 60s in my own home town and that of similar experts I don't know offering their advice on the internet.

    Not doubting anyone's expertise here at all.
    Time will tell if you or he is right. I'm ok with either result because at least now I know what to look for should you be correct.

    Not sure it's right though to be chastised for not heeding the advice given here. We all have to make our own choices and live with the consequences. He says he's done this many many times without a problem. You say it can't be stopped no matter what.

    I'm wondering, on the one you said that got worse despite the lacquer, did you store the guitar in the case or out in the open on a stand? Or does it matter?

    If he's wrong, I've got two replacements in the waiting. Neither of which I care for aesthetically at all. So it'll be quick work removing my old one should I have to.

    Thanks again for everyone's input on this.

  24. #23

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    If the pickguard is gassing it's much better on a stand than in a case. It will not eliminate the repercussions, but it will slow them down. I don't know about the case being affected in the sense that it will cause additional problems once exposed, and truthfully have my doubts about that, but have experienced gassing guards and they can cause a lot of damage. If it's gassing there is probably some warping or disfiguring. You can get an accurate L5 pickguard for as little as 60.00 if you can cut the pickup holes yourself. Just not worth the chance to mess with the old one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Warren C View Post
    You're right, I did ask for advice here. I'm grateful for the responses and learned alot from going through this.

    Having said that, it's a very difficult choice between the advice of a trusted and well known local expert who's worked on guitars and amps since the 60s in my own home town and that of similar experts I don't know offering their advice on the internet.

    Not doubting anyone's expertise here at all.
    Time will tell if you or he is right. I'm ok with either result because at least now I know what to look for should you be correct.

    Not sure it's right though to be chastised for not heeding the advice given here. We all have to make our own choices and live with the consequences. He says he's done this many many times without a problem. You say it can't be stopped no matter what.

    I'm wondering, on the one you said that got worse despite the lacquer, did you store the guitar in the case or out in the open on a stand? Or does it matter?

    If he's wrong, I've got two replacements in the waiting. Neither of which I care for aesthetically at all. So it'll be quick work removing my old one should I have to.

    Thanks again for everyone's input on this.

  25. #24

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    Bruce Forman replaced the nitrocelluloid pickguard of his 1970 L-5CES with a solid ebony one with a mother of pearl inlay. Looks great. I would replace mine from 2002 with a wooden one eventually.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  26. #25

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    Ebony certainly will work and do the job I just hate to use a nice piece of black ebony for the pickguard seems a waste or good ebony when thick plastic ABS will work. Ebony would be more expensive. The problem with the copies is most of the time the pickguards are too thin and I think they hold up better when thicker. I use stuff 1/8 that works very well but I also have some 3/16 and this is far better for pure acoustic because then you can add pickups and controls and will not warp or bend or gas too. To me they just work much nicer. I think the thicker stuff would work well on a CES too but have not tried one for that or had a request. I believe it would work just perfect as pickups already in the guitar so the pickguard just sits. Here are a couple of colors I use look great and other options for color too.
    79 L-5 CES Pickguard gassed out causing corrosion.-9509z-marble-l-235x235-jpg79 L-5 CES Pickguard gassed out causing corrosion.-9509-marble-l-235x235-jpg79 L-5 CES Pickguard gassed out causing corrosion.-9819-t-1-hibiscus-pearl-3_16-235x235-jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images 79 L-5 CES Pickguard gassed out causing corrosion.-9509-marble-l-1-64x64-jpg 
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  27. #26

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    The outgassing of the Pickguard is releasing volatile organic compounds that are destructive and poisonous. They are destroying your metal parts. Keeping it on a guitar is a mistake. Coating it is foolish. Did you ever see the micro scratches caused by a pick on a pickguard? How long do you think it will take before the gasses find there way out of those scratches? You don’t want to be near anything that destroys stuff.

  28. #27

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    To add to the advice above, I tried coating the pickguard of a 60s blonde L5CES with lacquer, to slow down the rot that had already turned the gold plating green. The pickguard had already crystallised, and coating it didn't work. Your case may be different, but I wouldn't expect it to work other than very briefly. Possibly submerging it in thick epoxy might work, but it's much simpler to buy a repro guard.

  29. #28

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    When a gassing pickguard begins to sweat it is like a powerful acid. One droplet onto the top it will burn right through the lacquer into the wood.

    If you don’t believe our advice call a expert like Frank Ford of frets.com or Joe Vinikow of archtop.com.

    Risking a L5 to save $100.00 ?

    Owning a L5 is a privilege and you are to be a good steward of ownership for the next generation it goes to.

  30. #29

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    One thing I realized is, I called it lacquer. It's really not that. It's varnish. The kind of varnish that can completely seal blue mold on a wall and stop it from spreading.

    It's a sealant designed to penetrate the pores if the nitro celluloid and seal it. Not that this will make any difference to any of you.

    Again, I appreciate all the input.

    79 L-5 CES Pickguard gassed out causing corrosion.-20190620_144800-jpg

  31. #30

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    Pretty L5 CES

  32. #31

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    I failed to realize - until reading this thread - that this was happening to my ‘76 L5.

    Pickguard removed and paper-bagged; seeking a replacement.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCM View Post
    I failed to realize - until reading this thread - that this was happening to my ‘76 L5.

    Pickguard removed and paper-bagged; seeking a replacement.
    Smart man.

  34. #33

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    Warren C: yours looks exactly like mine. "Tobacco Burst"?

    But my p/u covers are way more tarnished from the old PG.

  35. #34

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    Real Gibson pickguard brackets don’t have those acorn nuts. See my attached picture of a genuine Gibson bracket. I ended up buying vintage brackets on eBay when I needed them. Having said that, the bracket can usually be salvaged and re-used when you replace a gassing pickguard. A slightly tarnished gold one looks better to me than a shiny new one that has an acorn nut.
    Keith

    79 L-5 CES Pickguard gassed out causing corrosion.-94c38164-0bdc-4a5d-a207-182be425b604-jpeg