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-   -   Removing pickguards....? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=368927)

Paultergeist 12-22-2014 06:36 PM

Removing pickguards....?
 
Greetings,

I have an older Yamaha nylon-string cut-away (NCX700?). It has a solid spruce top, and laminate back and sides. It was somewhat styled to be conducive to flamenco guitar, and thus has both a (typical) pickguard on the treble side of the top as well as a "tap plate" on the bass side.

All things considered, it has been a decent guitar, and I have gigged with it. I have modified it slightly by putting in a different pickup system than stock.

Compared to my other nylon string guitars, this one feels pretty heavy and dense -- sound-wise. It is not particularly inspiring to play acoustically. I have been contremplating the notion of trying to get the guitar to "open up" acoustically. My first instinct is to try and remove the clear plastic guards/pickguards described above; the rationale being that the top might gain a little more resonance or vibrational freedom. As I am of the suspicion that the guitar was *overbuilt* -- such that it could get bumped around in a music store and still look good -- I may eventually try my hand at stripping/re-finishing the top and/or back, but I am getting ahead of myself. The first step would seem to be to remove those clear guard plates.

I realize that there may be some cosmetic consequences to these actions, and I do not want to destroy the instrument, but I am willing to sacrifice some looks for performance, within reason.

I was hoping that some of the more knowledgable members might be able to offer some guidance as to the best method for removal of the plastic guards?

To any others who may have already done similarly to their guitars, was there a significant improvement in sound quality upon removing the plastic from the soundboard?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Ned Milburn 12-22-2014 06:59 PM

Classical and flamenco guitars are a particular area of my specialty. Yamaha classical guitars tend to be built heavily and rarely offer superior power of tone acoustically. I don't think you will notice any discernible difference in tone by removing the golpe plates. My flamenco guitars (in fact, all my guitars) are universally described as being very powerful and loud, and I have noticed no difference at all before applying the plates and after.

If you are really stuck on removing the golpeador, you can use a hair dryer to heat it slightly and then with some form of soft plastic scraper, work off the plastic bit by bit. You may notice a "ghost" shape remaining due to a difference in patina underneath the pick-guard.

Paultergeist 12-23-2014 02:16 PM

Hi Ned,

Thank you for the kind reply. Your assessment of the guitar having been "built heavily" is exactly how it sounds.

On one hand, maybe it is not worth the time and effort to try and make it sound any better. On the other hand, I have owned the guitar for some time, and I do not expect it would be worth much money were I to try and sell it (to buy something superior). It is a bit of a debate in my mind, and I confess that I wonder if I should be really bold and strip the finish, sand the top and back, and try to put French polish on it....?

Paul

Ned Milburn 12-23-2014 07:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paultergeist (Post 4280521)
Hi Ned,

Thank you for the kind reply. Your assessment of the guitar having been "built heavily" is exactly how it sounds.

On one hand, maybe it is not worth the time and effort to try and make it sound any better. On the other hand, I have owned the guitar for some time, and I do not expect it would be worth much money were I to try and sell it (to buy something superior). It is a bit of a debate in my mind, and I confess that I wonder if I should be really bold and strip the finish, sand the top and back, and try to put French polish on it....?

Paul

If you are up for a project, a challenge, and some fun, then by all means. You may wish to thin the top somewhat (near the edges of the lower bout) and thin (taper) the rear of the fan braces, too. I don't think you would get significant enough sound difference to feel that it had been worthwhile just by changing to French polish.

Paultergeist 12-29-2014 11:06 AM

Hi Ned,

Thanks for the continued information and guidance. I just wanted to follow up with you after having completed this project:

With the judicious use of heat from a hair dryer and a fingernail to lift an edge, I was able to remove both golpe (tap) plates from the top of the guitar. The remaining adhesive was stubborn, and not wanting to necessarily destroy the top finish at this point in time, I wanted to try to be careful. I ended up using a product called "Goof Off," designed to remove adhesives, etc. It took multiple applications, lots of paper towels (once a paper towel has some of the "gummy stuff" of old adhesive on it, it must be scrapped), and considerable time, but the golpe plates are now gone. There is no discernable difference in color to the top where the plates had been. There were some ultra fine scratches where a pick or nail might have left the golpe plate and contacted the actual finish, but a little automotive polish made short work of those. In all, the top looks great.

As to the sound......well, it has made maybe a very minor "opening" of the bass tones, but this might just be a subjective wishful-thinking on my part. It is not a bad guitar in many respects, but the acoustic tone, volume, projection, sustain -- it just feels constrained. All of this is probably a direct consequence of the guitar essentially having been over-built.

So......I am not yet sure where I am headed with this instrument, but I wanted to give you a final report. Thank you again for all of your support.

Paul


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