Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Do You Need A Pick Guard On A Guitar?

Pickguards are plastic plates attached or integrated near the pickup or soundhole of guitars. Although it may be spoken of little, it has a proper use-case scenario beyond aesthetics. Guitars never included a pickguard originally. They used to be integrated into the design of some eclectic guitars. The first acoustic guitar to house one was the Martin OM model from the 1930s.

The primary goal of a guitar pick guard is to protect the guitar’s top from being scratched when using a pick. The type of pickguard a guitar uses can also affect a guitar’s sound slightly. 

So, do you need a pickguard for a guitar? Let’s find out!

Why Do You Need A Pickguard On A Guitar? – At A Glance

  • Protects the paint or finish
  • Helps hold resale value
  • A way to customize a guitar
  • A comfort feature

Why Do Some Guitars Not Have Pick Guards? 

Although a pickguard has a specific use, some guitars can come without one. Manufacturers opt to exclude pickguards for a sleeker, more minimalist appearance. Without a pickguard in the way, the overall look of a guitar is more seamless. It is a question of style over utility for most manufacturers. 

On the other hand, guitars need pick guards depending on what type of guitar they are. For example, guitars designed for genres with a relaxed playstyle can omit one completely. Genres with more aggressive strumming patterns like metal or rock might come with one to protect the paint. pick guards on electric guitars are mostly cosmetic additions that do not affect the sound. However, in contrast, acoustic guitars with pickguards can slightly dampen the sound.

Why Do You Need A Pick Guard On Guitar?

Here are some ways a pickguard can benefit your guitar: 

  1. Protects The Paint or Finish

The primary role of a pickguard is to protect the guitar’s body from wear and tear from strumming. Most guitars have finishes that are both aesthetically pleasing and hard to achieve. Surfaces that are laminated have a glossy finish that is susceptible to scratches. 

Genres like rock, punk, or folk that have aggressive strumming can rapidly deteriorate the guitar’s top. Realistically when you’re in the groove you can hardly be vigilant enough to not hit the body making pick guards a great addition.

  1. Helps Hold Resale Value

If you own a premium or vintage guitar, most of its value lies in the condition it is in. With time all guitars have some wear and tear. When you want to sell it, the better the condition is the higher price the guitar will reach. The pickguard, therefore, can be a great investment you can make to protect your guitar. Collectors and enthusiasts often assess the quality of the finish to assess what a guitar is worth.

In some guitars, the pickguard is a visual identity for the brand. For example, the Sunburst Fender Stratocaster has a large, swooping pickguard. The Gibson Les Paul also comes with a subtle yet stylish scratchplate. They have been a part of the design for so long that they have become a part of the look of the guitar. 

  1. A Way To Customize A Guitar

Beyond its functional use, a pickguard can also be a medium to personalize a guitar. Attachable can come in different designs, colors, and materials. Many even incorporate artwork to add a unique touch. So if you want to add a personal touch to your guitar, you have a canvas to do just that. Pickguards also act as the perfect place to have a guitar signed by legends.

  1. Can Be A Comfort Feature

Pickguards can also make playing the guitar better in some aspects. The smooth and often glossy surface can be a measure for the player to position their hand  Having a pickguard can prevent the strumming hand from getting caught on the guitar’s body unnecessarily. 

Electric vs Acoustic Pickguard: What Are The Differences? 

For acoustic guitars, pick guards only serve their primary purpose, to protect the body. Other than that, they do not have many functional benefits. Raised pick guards can be a place to rest your finger during sessions or live performances 

In electric guitars, however, the pickguard has some function beyond protection. The pickguard is an electric guitar that can house different electronic components behind it. It holds the pickups, volume and tone knobs, and switch controls. Usually screwed onto the body, they make access to adjustments, repairs, or replacements simple. Many manufacturers can also pre-assemble these components on the pickguard. 

Is There Any Effect of Additional Pick Guards on Sound? 

The material and thickness of the pickguard can subtly influence the guitar’s sound. The effect is almost non-existent and is barely audible. As guitars are mainly made of wood, and the pickguards are typically plastic, they dampen the sound slightly. However, fitting a pickguard externally can hamper the sound if not done correctly.

 Wood is a great material that can soak in vibrations. The gaps and grains inside the wood give a guitar the sound it produces. This way, wood helps to increase the sustain and the depth of the tone, resulting in higher resonance. 

Pickguards, usually made from plastic, can dampen the resonance and sustain of a guitar. The plastic can restrict the vibration of the soundboard. However, this effect is usually so subtle that most guitarists do not notice a difference. This impact is low because the soundboard play does not play a big role in resonance compared to the back and sides. 

In electric guitars, this effect is even lower as the tonewood does not influence the sound quality. The pickups used are the main stars of the show. Yes, tonewood does play a role in durability but overall, the sound remains unchanged in electric guitars. 

Check out what Mr. Zager has to say about guitar pickguards

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Get A Guitar With A Pickguard?

If you are a beginner still learning how to play the guitar, you can opt for a guitar with a pickguard. On the other hand, if your guitar has a glossy finish, a pickguard can protect your guitar from accidental scratches. Other than that, if you are just a bit careful you can just choose to not get a pickguard overall.

Can You Play A Guitar Without A Pickguard?

Pickguards in all respects are purely a visual addition to a guitar. It is just an extra measure put in for your good. When you learn the guitar well, you will automatically program yourself to play with care.

Do You Want A Pickguard On Your Guitar? 

So do you need a Pick Guard On Guitar? It boils down to what you want at the end of the day. For some acoustic guitars, the pickguard is a part of the design, whereas some come without it. You can choose to buy additional ones to attach to your acoustic. But in the case of electric guitars, your choice may be limited!

For more information, visit  Sakak

Alena Sakak
Alena Sakak
Alena Sakak is a passionate wordsmith and puzzle enthusiast. With a love for language and a knack for problem-solving, Alena enjoys diving into the world of crosswords, finding solace in the daily challenge of the NYT Mini Crossword. When not unraveling word puzzles, Alena can be found exploring new books or indulging in creative writing endeavors. Join Alena on a journey through the world of words and puzzles.

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