How to Remove a Strat Pickguard

Written by izzy moon
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How to Remove a Strat Pickguard
Remove your Strat's pickguard with a few simple tools. (strato03 image by diego cervo from Fotolia.com)

The Fender Stratocaster is an iconic guitar --- the ultimate shredder's axe. With its versatile tone and playability, it's a favourite among musicians of all genres. But with use comes wear. Over time, the pickguard may become scratched, or you may want to customise your guitar by replacing the pickguard with one that has a different colour or is made of a different material. To maintain the integrity, appearance and optimum performance of your Strat, it's important for the pickguard to be removed and replaced correctly.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Plastic or nylon guitar pick, heavy gauge
  • Hot washcloth
  • Towel
  • Small adjustable wrench

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove or loosen the strings. Pull the strings away from the pickguard.

  2. 2

    Remove the tone and volume knobs by carefully pulling them straight up. Pry off stubborn knobs by wedging a guitar pick under the knob, between the knob and the pickguard. Tilt the pick up gently, like a lever.

  3. 3

    Pull off the pickup switch tip. Use a hot washcloth to loosen a stubborn tip.

  4. 4

    Remove all screws around the perimeter of the pickguard. Lift the pickguard slightly and place a towel between it and the guitar body, to prevent damage to the instrument's finish.

  5. 5

    Angle/tilt the pickguard slightly off the guitar body. Place your hand behind the first pickup. Remove the tension screws that fasten the pickup to the pickguard, keeping your hand behind the pickup to catch it and the spring behind each screw. Lay the pickup in its place, inside the guitar body. Repeat for each pickup.

  6. 6

    Unscrew the pickup switch and lay it in place inside the guitar body.

  7. 7

    Remove each tone/volume control shaft nut with a wrench. Set each control in its place inside the guitar body.

  8. 8

    Lift off the pickguard.

Tips and warnings

  • Perform all steps slowly and gently to avoid breaking wires and/or scratching your instrument.
  • Measure your three pickup heights with the old pickguard on, before you start. Write down the measurements. Then, when you have the new pickguard on, measure them again. Adjust pickup height to the first set of measurements.
  • Replacing worn out parts with never-used old stock ("new old stock," abbreviated "NOS" in parts catalogues) or parts salvaged from same brand/year/model instruments helps retain your guitar's authenticity and value.

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