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How to Replace the Pickguard on an SG

Updated April 17, 2017

Tunes of Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison and Eric Clapton have all played from the Gibson SG Electric, the redesigned version of the first solid-body electric guitar designed by Les Paul. This guitar is characterised by its distinctive sound from its double humbucker pickups that rest on uniquely shaped pickguards. You can personalise your SG like a star by imitating those rock legends' solos or by simply changing the pickguard for a distinguishing appearance.

Remove the old strings by turning the tuners to loosen them. Cut them once sufficiently loose to avoid snapping and pull one half out of the tuning pegs on the SG head and the other half from behind the guitar.

Unscrew the small screws that keep the pickguard on the SG body with your screwdriver. The number of screws varies depending on the shape of the pickguard, but a standard SG uses 14 screws. Place these screws in a safe place and keep the different sizes separate from each other.

Pick up the bridge--the piece the strings were resting on--and place it to the side.

Remove the pickguard by simply lifting it up. Place it out of the way. The pickguard should come right off over the SG pickups, so there will be no need to remove those and fiddle with the wiring.

Clean the surface of your SG with a soft cloth. You may need to lift up the pickups gently to get under the surface they were resting on. You may want to clean the neck of your guitar at this time as well.

Place your new pickguard in the same spot as the old one. This piece should rest right over the SG pickups and the holes for the screws should be aligned.

Screw in the screws with your screwdriver in the designated holes. Tighten them as much as you can without damaging the new pickguard.

Restring your SG using your new strings. Be careful to not wind the strings too tightly before tuning your guitar.

Tip

Take your time to avoid damaging the surface of your guitar. Make sure your new pickguard fits an SG before buying it.

Warning

Be careful of removing the strings and restringing your guitar, as tightly wound strings can pop and cause injury. Do not remove your pickups unless you are changing them, as fiddling with wiring can cause changes in sound. Keep all pieces in separate piles on a clean surface to avoid losing small parts.

Things You'll Need

  • New pickguard
  • New set of strings
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Peg winder (optional)
  • Small Phillips screwdriver
  • Soft cloth
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About the Author

Annelies de Groot was first published in 2007. She has contributed to local east coast papers and has worked for environmental and educational nonprofits. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John's College in Maryland.