How to Stop Stratocaster Pickguard Crackling

Written by eric linkenhoker
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How to Stop Stratocaster Pickguard Crackling
Static build-up causes pickguard crackle in Stratocasters. (James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The tone and feel of Fender Stratocasters works well for players of many styles of music, but many of these guitars make a crackling sound when players touch the pick guard. The crackle mainly occurs when the guitar is not being played but sometimes affects sound while playing. Static build-up between the pick guard and the guitar body causes the crackling sound. Adding some metal shielding solves the static noise problem.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Spray adhesive
  • Copper or aluminium foil
  • Razor knife

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  1. 1

    Remove the strings from the guitar to access the pick guard. Pull up on the tone and volume controls to remove the knobs.

  2. 2

    Remove the nuts holding the tone and volume controls in the pick guard. Use an adjustable wrench, being careful not to slip and scratch the pick guard.

  3. 3

    Remove the screws holding the pick guard to the guitar. Gently lift the pick guard from the guitar body. Do not pull the wire out of the guitar output jack.

  4. 4

    Remove the screws that hold the pickups and the pickup selector switch to the pick guard. The electronics are now free of the pick guard. Pull the pickups and volume/tone controls from the back of the pick guard and carefully lay the electronics beside the guitar body.

  5. 5

    Lay the pick guard face down on a flat surface. Spray the back of the pick guard with spray adhesive.

  6. 6

    Lay heavy aluminium foil or copper foil across the back of the pick guard. Allow the adhesive to dry.

    How to Stop Stratocaster Pickguard Crackling
    Copper or aluminium foil prevents static. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  7. 7

    Turn the dried pick guard over and cut the foil from the pick up, selector switch, and control knob holes with a razor knife. Trace the edge of the pick guard with the knife to cut away the excess foil.

    How to Stop Stratocaster Pickguard Crackling
    Use a razor knife to cut the foil. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  8. 8

    Spray small sections of foil with adhesive and mould them glue side down into the guitar cavities. Apply foil to all the cavities and any surface concealed by the pick guard. Allow adhesive to dry.

  9. 9

    Reattach the pickups, selector switch and the control knobs to the pick guard. Screw the pickups and switch in place and reattach the controls with the nuts.

  10. 10

    Screw the pick guard back in place on the guitar body and push the control knobs back onto the controls. The screws will pass though the foil in the screw holes and further shield the electronics by connecting the two layers of foil.

  11. 11

    Restring the guitar. The pick guard and guitar body now resist static build-up because the foil shields the electronics.

Tips and warnings

  • Wipe the pick guard down with a dryer sheet to get rid of static charge temporarily.
  • Be careful not to damage any wire connection. Use a soldering iron to reconnect any wires that come loose. See a wiring diagram for help.

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