The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73988   Message #1288397
Posted By: PoppaGator
04-Oct-04 - 01:20 PM
Thread Name: Flatpick problem
Subject: RE: Flatpick problem
You're right about the "sweet spot" being located well above where Martin places their pickguard. I use fingerpicks (plastic thumbpick + two metal fingerpicks), and I have plenty of scratches on both sides of the fingerboard, above the soundhole, on my 1969 D-18.

The way I look at it, one scratch on a pristine new guitar may be a disfigurement, but a few hundred scratches plus a couple of pits on a beautiful old instrument constitutes a patina.

Martin only makes one size pickguard, good for all models. They've recently added an "oversize" pickguard, but it is the same shape as the standard/original part and only slightly larger, making it a bit easier to overlap the "tan line" left by an old pickguard being replaced.

Slight thread drift: If your Martin is older than about 25 years, the pickguard was applied to the top *before* the finish was painted on during manufacture. This means that removing an old pickguard reveals an area of totally "raw" wood, recessed slightly below the surface of the top's lacquer finish. The regular-size replacement pickguard should fit precisely (and fairly easily) into this area.

(If you're thinking of removing the original pickguard on one of these babies and applying something larger, to protect a wider area, you'll have to build up layers of lacquer on the bare spot to bring it up to level with the rest of the finish. The area formerly occupied by the original pickguard will *not* visually match the rest of the top; this might affect whether you want to use clear plastic for your new larger pickguard.)

Martins made after 1980-something (sorry, I don't have the exact date) have their pickguards applied *over* the lacquer finish -- like most other guitars always have been made. Removing an old pickguard from one of these guitars will reveal a paler-colored patch under a smooth overall finish. The standard-size replacement pickguard would be relatively difficult to position correctly in these cases; use the "oversize" guard to slightly overlap the site of the old pickguard.

For more details, see Frank Ford's excellent guitar-repair website,