#1
Last night, I added a beautiful tortoise shell pickguard to my white MIM Tele, and it looks sexy as all hell. I love it.

But I swear, it sounds better! I don't know why, but it sounds more like a vintage Tele, or maybe an American standard I played at Guitar Center. It might just be my mind tricking me because I enjoy playing it more, so perhaps it translates to better tone in my brain. But even my dad, who is an audiophile, said it sounds different even before I said anything out loud about it. I can't put my finger on it, but it seems to have increased mids and a bit of a hotter sound. Note: I didn't touch my amp settings before or after adding the pickguard.

I didn't change the pickup height, except for very slightly on the neck pickup, but I'm talking about the bridge pickup mainly. Could it just be the resonance of the new pickguard?

Have you ever had any experiences with changes in tone when adding cosmetic parts?
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#3
I know exactly what you mean man, i changed the pickguard on my MIM tele from white to black and I could of sworn it made it sound better. It was cheaper than the Fender branded ones as well.

Weird huh?
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#4
Quote by divinorum69
Once I changed strings because my strings got all black and dirty. These new strings were sooo shiny. I swear that they sounded so much great, plus they looked sexy as hell.

Wow, that's pretty amazing.

I can't tell if you're an idiot or just sarcastic..
#6
Quote by james4
you probably just want it to sound better, so thats what you're hearing

p.s.
white tele + tortoise pickguard = sexy

Well my dad even said it sounds different before I mentioned anything. I don't know, it's probably just in my head. But I think there is a slight change.

P.S. hell yes it is
#7
Quote by foob85
Wow, that's pretty amazing.

I can't tell if you're an idiot or just sarcastic..

I'm 99% sure he's being extremely sarcastic.

Imo, it's all in your head. If something is more appealing visually, it automatically becomes more appealing in other ways.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
#8
Quote by bv310

If something is more appealing visually, it automatically becomes more appealing in other ways.



same applies to girls.
#9
:L for anyone who has studied psychology, TS is experiencing the halo effect over his guitar.
Quote by WtrPlyr
Quote by alans056
Maybe the price tag is clouding your judgment ?
yeah probably. Or the circuits.
#10
Quote by foob85
Could it just be the resonance of the new pickguard?
Discuss, and share stories!

It could be feasible, why not? Pickguards made with different material types and constuction methods whould result in possible tonal changes right down to the way the components are mounted. Maybe the original pickguard wasn't screwed down as tight as the new replacement. Same for mounting the pu to the guard. Little changes can make a difference. Although you stated it sounds like the mids in the bridge pu are affected? Did you totally restring the guitar or loosen them to make the component change? Interesting subject.


Quote by foob85
my dad, who is an audiophile, said it sounds different even before I said anything out loud about it.

'nuff said right there.
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#11
Quote by PussyPunk182
:L for anyone who has studied psychology, TS is experiencing the halo effect over his guitar.

Just studied this in Psych today.

Quote by blazzingroach
It could be feasible, why not? Pickguards made with different material types and constuction methods whould result in possible tonal changes right down to the way the components are mounted. Maybe the original pickguard wasn't screwed down as tight as the new replacement. Same for mounting the pu to the guard. Little changes can make a difference. Although you stated it sounds like the mids in the bridge pu are affected? Did you totally restring the guitar or loosen them to make the component change? Interesting subject.

I disagree. With electric guitars, the magnetic output won't be affected by subtle differences in material. If he had done a drastic change (like plastic to aluminum) then I'd believe it. If he did mount the pup to the guard, then there would be some difference there.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
#12
Quote by blazzingroach
It could be feasible, why not? Pickguards made with different material types and constuction methods whould result in possible tonal changes right down to the way the components are mounted. Maybe the original pickguard wasn't screwed down as tight as the new replacement. Same for mounting the pu to the guard. Little changes can make a difference. Although you stated it sounds like the mids in the bridge pu are affected? Did you totally restring the guitar or loosen them to make the component change? Interesting subject.

I didn't even change the strings. I meant to wait until I had a new set to put the pickguard on, since it's obviously alot easier without strings, but I wanted to see it on the guitar. It was tough, but I got the pg on with the strings still on. I did loosen the strings, but I tightened them back up to Eb right after. But that couldn't affect the mids.. if anything, stretching the strings out like that would reduce treble, right?

P.S. I am most definetly NOT complaining about the tonal change; it sounds better! I'm just trying to solve this mystery :p

Quote by bv310
I disagree. With electric guitars, the magnetic output won't be affected by subtle differences in material. If he had done a drastic change (like plastic to aluminum) then I'd believe it. If he did mount the pup to the guard, then there would be some difference there.

I mounted the pup to the pickguard, but that's just how Tele's are built.
Last edited by foob85 at Dec 2, 2009,
#13
The Bridge pup? Not on the teles I've seen.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
#14
Telecaster bridge pick ups are literally mounted to the bridge. The metal of the bridge is very important in the teles sound. Pretty sure this is what gives it such a cutting tone.
Quote by WtrPlyr
Quote by alans056
Maybe the price tag is clouding your judgment ?
yeah probably. Or the circuits.
#15
Quote by PussyPunk182
:L for anyone who has studied psychology, TS is experiencing the halo effect over his guitar.


dammit i wanted to say that >=[
i don't even do psych, i just have lessons in that room and look at the posters... there's one of cheryl cole
#16
Quote by bv310
The Bridge pup? Not on the teles I've seen.

Oh, I thought you meant the neck pup
#17
Ya, I was shocked the first time I switched out a prickgaurd and noticed how much more resonant my guitar sounded.

Makes sense though because different materials have different acoustic values and differing densities can have a dramatic effect; also the amount and type of sheilding on the back can make a difference as well for electric playing.
~JP~
#18
Yep, Im sure you are right on track. A plastic pickguard of one ply sure does sound worst than a 3 ply plastic pickguard with a different color.

Come on, im sure its all in your head. I painted my guitar like eddy van halen and it looks so much better now, but im 100% sure it sounded the same after paint, and Im talking about a re paint. Im sure that if someone swapped your guitars body for one piece body, instead of a multipiece body like your telecaster sure is, you would never notice the difference.

enough said,
some people imagine things. And this is a whole different level, up to which point we can trust our perception, what our eyes want to see, what our ears want to hear?
#19
Sometimes, I feel better about my guitars when I've changed something cosmetic, then I play differently. From that perspective, they sound different afterwards, but only because I'm more enthusiastic or confident with my playing.
#21
well, after I scalloped my bullet I thought it sounded like it resonated better, but I'm not really sure. I would think that taking a little wood off the fretboard wouldn't make much difference, but maybe it did. it's more plausible than tonal differences of pickguards
#22
^I've noticed that mine has an almost reverb-ish sound when it's unplugged. Very cool.
Did you keep the same strings? If so, how the hell did you do that? If you did change strings it might be the strings.
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#23
Quote by divinorum69

enough said,
some people imagine things. And this is a whole different level, up to which point we can trust our perception, what our eyes want to see, what our ears want to hear?


And some people just can't hear it...

On a Stratocaster different pickguards definitely make an acoustic difference because of the transference of vibrations.

Metal pickguards sound different than plastic pickgaurds and there are slightly less obvious acoustical differences between different density plastic pickguards.

I'm sure the color wouldn't matter, but if you paint your guitar with too thick a coat of anything you will take away from the resonance; don't you think it might deaden the tone and volume of a nicely aged Gibson acoustic by laminating it? hmmm?

Enough said...
~JP~
Last edited by Jammy Pige at Dec 3, 2009,
#24
Quote by Jammy Pige
And some people just can't hear it...

On a Stratocaster different pickguards definitely make an acoustic difference because of the transference of vibrations.

Metal pickguards sound different than plastic pickgaurds and there are slightly less obvious acoustical differences between different density plastic pickguards.

I'm sure the color wouldn't matter, but if you paint your guitar with too thick a coat of anything you will take away from the resonance; don't you think it might deaden the tone and volume of a nicely aged Gibson acoustic by laminating it? hmmm?

Enough said...


No. You know, I swear you cant hear the difference between a single ply pickguard and a 3-ply pickguard. Metal was never mentioned, that might be more plausible because metal can act as a grounding shield. Of course changing paint was my whole point, because changing paint is much of bigger difference than changing pickguard, still it is not THAT different as changing pickups or so.
Im sure that people who claim that can hear difference in changing a pickguard are full of BS, probably the output of the pickup through the amp before new and old pickguard its still the same, therefore no sound has been made. Perception is fooling you
#25
When i was younger i covered my pickguard in a layer of newspaper clippings, and it changed the tone of the guitar. I didn't notice at the time, but when i go to play it now, I can kinda hear the dullness of the pickguard.
Understandably, i don't play it a lot now.
#26
My squier sounds louder and have better harmonics after i repainted it :x Used same layers of paint so nearly nothing is changed in the body.
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#27
^you re-painted it..

which means you took everything off, painted, then put everything back on.
did you use new strings? ..maybe you set it up different when you put it back together

..theres so many variables..

the finish does change the qualities of the guitar tonally, but the differences in a case like this are so subtle, I wouldn't credit the volume and harmonics to a re-paint
#28
There's an awful lot that goes in to how a guitar sounds, and a lot of little things that can be underestimated in how they affect the physics of the vibrating system. This however, I would not be likely to qualify as one of them.

The psychological effect on how you feel about the instrument is not insignificant at all though. The guitar probably does sound better now, but not as the direct result of any physical changes to the instrument. When you feel better about something, it's often going to sound better because you will often play and sound better. Call it placebo effect if you will, but there's something to the argument that if the sugar pill makes you better (and does no harm), why not take it?

Few people will argue that a meal served in a wonderful restaurant with fine lighting, music, service, and company, will not taste better than the exact same meal eaten out of a styrofoam box in your car. No reason to expect our experience of playing and hearing and instrument should be any different.

Independent listeners can often hear the improvements as well, even if unaware of what aesthetic changes you may have made. This is because the change is not all in the perception of the listener, but also in the spirit and enthusiasm of the player, whether consciously aware of it or not. This is why so many "blind" comparison tests I hear about should be considered invalid in my opinion. Even if the listener is unaware of which sample they're hearing, unless the player is equally unaware of any changes made, it's not truly a blind test.

Of course there can also be little changes you weren't aware of, like the pickup heights being adjusted slightly different, or the new pickguard material being slightly more or less stiff than the old. It's most likely a change in the attitude of the player however, which can play a much more significant role in changing the tone than many other variables.

So more power to you, and enjoy the new tone. Even if it originates from a psychological effect on the player, if the change is real, by all means go with it.
Collins Luthiery
Last edited by David Collins at Dec 3, 2009,
#29
Quote by divinorum69
No. You know, I swear you cant hear the difference between a single ply pickguard and a 3-ply pickguard. Metal was never mentioned, that might be more plausible because metal can act as a grounding shield. Of course changing paint was my whole point, because changing paint is much of bigger difference than changing pickguard, still it is not THAT different as changing pickups or so.
Im sure that people who claim that can hear difference in changing a pickguard are full of BS, probably the output of the pickup through the amp before new and old pickguard its still the same, therefore no sound has been made. Perception is fooling you


Dude, there are cavities and routings under the pickgaurd and spring plate of stratocaster and the strings are directly above it; the material does make an unplugged>>> (((acoustic))) difference. And yes that was mentioned.

And the metal does make an electric difference due to sheilding effects. I know this for a fact as I have swapped parts and put together a trillion guitars in my life.

And metal was never mentioned???

I said (((different pickguards))) and (((different materials))) and (((different densities))); what more do you want???

Changing a pickguard may not make a big difference for some, but it's not always just an asthetic effect... you are changing materials and different materials vibrate differently>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>period!

The question is can you hear it? And I can or at least have noticed it several times.
~JP~
Last edited by Jammy Pige at Dec 3, 2009,
#30
Quote by David Collins
There's an awful lot that goes in to how a guitar sounds, and a lot of little things that can be underestimated in how they affect the physics of the vibrating system. This however, I would not be likely to qualify as one of them.

The psychological effect on how you feel about the instrument is not insignificant at all though. The guitar probably does sound better now, but not as the direct result of any physical changes to the instrument. When you feel better about something, it's often going to sound better because you will often play and sound better. Call it placebo effect if you will, but there's something to the argument that if the sugar pill makes you better (and does no harm), why not take it?

Few people will argue that a meal served in a wonderful restaurant with fine lighting, music, service, and company, will not taste better than the exact same meal eaten out of a styrofoam box in your car. No reason to expect our experience of playing and hearing and instrument should be any different.

Independent listeners can often hear the improvements as well, even if unaware of what aesthetic changes you may have made. This is because the change is not all in the perception of the listener, but also in the spirit and enthusiasm of the player, whether consciously aware of it or not. This is why so many "blind" comparison tests I hear about should be considered invalid in my opinion. Even if the listener is unaware of which sample they're hearing, unless the player is equally unaware of any changes made, it's not truly a blind test.

Of course there can also be little changes you weren't aware of, like the pickup heights being adjusted slightly different, or the new pickguard material being slightly more or less stiff than the old. It's most likely a change in the attitude of the player however, which can play a much more significant role in changing the tone than many other variables.

So more power to you, and enjoy the new tone. Even if it originates from a psychological effect on the player, if the change is real, by all means go with it.


All true (and really well written I might add), but in this particular case there is no way to conclude placebo since he really did change the pickquard... that would place him in an experimental group and we would have control problems with the pickup adjustments anyway.

It would be nice to know exactly what differences (other than asthetics) there are between the original pickguard and the new pickguard... if they were exactly the same materials and we could control for extraneous variables then we could at least hypothesize placebo effect.
~JP~
Last edited by Jammy Pige at Dec 3, 2009,
#31
as david (and a few others) said, it's purely psychological. there is no mystery. i'm closing this now because i'm tired of seeing it at the top of the index. enjoy the new tone, ts.