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  1. #1

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    I was recently given a 1930's Gibson pickup with a bad case of off-gassing (See picture). Normally I'd just pitch the pickguard but in this case the off-gassing seems to be located only on the inner edge where there is an extra strip of celluoid.

    I don't think I've ever seen this question addressed before, but if I trim down the pickguard so I remove all the visible parts of the off-gassing area, could I salvage the pickguard? Or does the off-gassing phenomena affect all areas of the pickguard -- even the parts that look unaffected?

    (Just to note, I don't know if I'd even use the pickguard after trimming away the off-gassing area. I wouldn't want to risk the finish on a guitar. I'm just wondering if anyone has any experience with this.)

    Off-gassing pickguard salvage?-img_6090-jpg
    Last edited by archtopeddy; 09-28-2020 at 11:13 PM.

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  3. #2

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    It's shot, some people think coating it w clear epoxy or similar stops the process but I'm not buying it. I bought a guitar once that had a guard the previous owner tried to epoxy and it didn't stop it.
    Usually glue speeds up the offgassing so it'll typically start in those areas like where the mounting block is attached and the reinforced strip, but if you look at your guard, the light area in the center is also offgassing.
    If you want to keep it put it in separate bag away from the guitar (not in the case) for sale down the line, though I don't know why you would.
    I've seen some people try to reuse the binding for a new guard and it works sometime, but occasionally it too has absorbed some of the chemicals from the nitro and you're right back to square one before long.

  4. #3

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    Thanks wintermoon, I was hoping you'd respond because I know you know your stuff. Your points about the glue speeding up the process is well observed on this guard since all the visible damage is where there is glue (under the reinforced strip). As for the appearance of off-gassing in the light area of the pickguard, I think that is just the lighter color part of the pickguard enhanced by the light colored tabletop it's sitting on. I don't think there is visible off-gassing there. I figure I have nothing to loose just trimming off the bad parts, putting the pickguard aside for a while and seeing if any further off-gassing spreads. Off course, if I do this, it could take quite a while before I know if anything changes. This is why I turn to you and other forum members for your experiences and opinions. Thanks for chiming in.

  5. #4

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    You're welcome eddy, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that light area is going. Offgassing usually begins visually as a lightening of the plastic, the visible rot typically follows. Old celluloid guards have a mix of light areas in the swirl pattern, but when you see a large area like that it's starting to decompose.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    Offgassing usually begins visually as a lightening of the plastic, the visible rot typically follows. Old celluloid guards have a mix of light areas in the swirl pattern, but when you see a large area like that it's starting to decompose.
    Again, thanks wintermoon. Now I understand what you're saying. That is very interesting and useful information to know.

  7. #6

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    Get rid of it the process has started no turning back. It will damage the finish not healthy. Chemical reaction won’t stop.

  8. #7

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    In my experience there is no way back once it starts. If you want to "preserve" it, wrap it in paper towels, put it in a zip lock and store in the freezer. That will halt the decay. However, as soon as you bring it out, it will start again.

    I've got two in my freezer with nice repros on the guitars. However one got broken when my son crammed a bag of frozen peas on top of it!

  9. #8

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    Thanks everyone for your responses. Sounds like the prudent thing to do is not to use it, and I will follow your sage advice!

  10. #9

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    Ed,

    My 1948 D'Angelico came to me with a Pickguard that was a tiny bit warped. It was a Gibson style, so it clearly was not the original guard to the guitar. I replaced it with an allparts Gibson guard and put the vintage one in a bag for "posterity". A few years later, the old guard started gassing out and burned a hole in the plastic bag. The hell with "posterity", that old guard got pulverized into dust and the dust went into a hazardous materials bin.

    Last year, I had our own deacon Mark make me a D'Angelico style guard to replace the Gibson style guard and now that guitar looks like she did when she left John D'Angelico's shop on Kenmare Avenue.

    Anyone needing a vintage style replacement guard should contact the Deacon. And Ed, that means you!

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Anyone needing a vintage style replacement guard should contact the Deacon. And Ed, that means you!
    Thanks Marc for your response. As the old joke goes, "I think I resemble that remark!"

    I know the Deacon does fantastic work -- I've seen a lot of glowing recommendations from group members here who know and understand quality workmanship. Hats off to you Deacon, and I'll be the first in line to contact you when I need a pickguard. In this case, I really do not "need" this pickguard (as it was just given to me) -- I was curious what people's experiences were regarding off-gassing and possible treatments.

    As noted earlier, I won't use this pickguard. I'll probably trim off the affected parts (since it will only take a sweep of a bandsaw), put it aside and see how it holds up -- away from any guitars and close to the hazmart bin just in case!

    Good to hear from you Marc -- stay well and let's hope to jam again in better days!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by old tube
    In my experience there is no way back once it starts. If you want to "preserve" it, wrap it in paper towels, put it in a zip lock and store in the freezer. That will halt the decay. However, as soon as you bring it out, it will start again.

    I've got two in my freezer with nice repros on the guitars. However one got broken when my son crammed a bag of frozen peas on top of it!
    there's no way I'm putting something caustic like that near food I'm gonna eat, yikes!

  13. #12

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    you obviously haven't experienced my cooking! Rotted out celluloid adds a unique piquancy

  14. #13

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    Eddie,
    The outgassing is ruthless.
    It will damage your paint, your metal parts and even your FRETS!
    It damage the fur in your case too!
    I can totally understand why you are asking. That strip seems to be the culprit. It is possible that the strip is ready to destroy everything in its path and the rest of it is not. There is no telling if the rest of the pg will ever start to rot. The law of average dictates that it will.
    I would have one of our guys use this pg as a template so they can make you an exact replica. Then I would get rid of it.
    Joe D

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    If you want to keep it put it in separate bag away from the guitar (not in the case) for sale down the line, though I don't know why you would.
    I did that about ten years ago, stored it in a closet, and did not look at it for a looooong time. Now I have a baggie full of tiny little pickguard fragments, most of which are the size of BBs. (I take this as proof that I got the guitar with its original pickguard. Too bad I had to find out this way. Doh!)

    IDK whether there really is any way to stop the degradation, but I had the idea that if I were to get a do-over, I might try something like a vacuum-sealed bag, like a FoodSaver bag. The idea would be to reduce the amount of oxygen (and therefore the amount of oxidation?) in the bag, and also to avoid creating a place where the offgas can accumulate. Does that make sense?

    If not accumulating vapors is a valid approach, does it make sense to put it in some sort of porous bag, while still controlling temp and humidity?
    Last edited by starjasmine; 09-30-2020 at 12:07 AM.