Replacing and insulating a Jazzmaster pickguard

Jazzmaster owners often switch out the stock pickguards. Here's how to do that and foil insulate a cheap replacement.

01 November 2015

As you can see, I’ve already switched out the stock toggle switch top for an amber one, and I think it looks a lot better. The first thing to bear in mind about Jazzmaster pickguards is that JMs have a number of subtly different shapes and specs. Mine is a P-serial Crafted in Japan (not Made in Japan, or MIJ, another common point of confusion) from the tail end of the 1990s, and just finding the pickguard was a bit of a pain. Allparts say that their pickguards for JMs are essentially to a CIJ/MIJ spec, but given that MIJs and CIJs have (to my knowledge, anyway) a subtly different spec, that’s not super helpful. Got a AVRI or MIM? You’re out of luck.

In the end, after some deliberation I bought the allparts parchment guard and found that it didn’t quite fit; the guard was able to settle on the body but it caught on the saddle holes for the bridge assembly and the screw holes didn’t line up. I wasn’t really up for taking a drill to my (from my perspective, anyway) new Jazzmaster, so I ended up buying another off eBay - link - that did fit. Finally!

Unfortunately, the factory pickguard is plated (if a bit flimsily), and I didn’t want to half arse the job, so I purchased a roll of gold foil insulating tape off Amazon for about £5 ($8-10). Then it was just a case of cutting and sticking down the strips, taking a craft knife to the holes and edge, and attaching the new guard. The only thing I perhaps foolishly didn’t consider was how sharp the tape would be; I cut my fingers up quite badly and then couldn’t get into the office at work due to its impractical fingerprint scanner. Lesson learned, I suppose.

The Jazzmaster at the beginning

With the strings off

The new plate

With foil

After cutting the foil

The finished guitar

There’s still some more things that needed doing to it from those pictures that I’ve since done; most importantly, putting a Dimarzio Cliplock strap on it and then changing the strings. At the moment I’m favouring light tops and heavy bottoms, but that might change.

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