Guitar Graphics on the Cheap Part 2: Vinyl Pickguard

Picture of Guitar Graphics on the Cheap Part 2: Vinyl Pickguard
A cheap and easy pickguard. Works great for basses that don't come from the factory with a pickguard.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You'll need:

Self-adhesive vinyl sheet (mine was about $1 at Hobby Lobby)
Exacto knife
Cardstock or file folder (optional)

Step 2: Design

Picture of Design
Figuring out a design that fits your guitar and style can take a while. It took me a week or two to finally decide on one.

I started by copying a picture of my bass of the internet and drawing over it in photoshop. Then I took that design and drew it on paper. Getting the pickups and volume/tone knobs to line up took a lot of trial and error. It helps to place the paper on top of everything and tracing where things are located. I went through at least a dozen different paper templates.

I recommend using heavier paper after you get the design down, as it's easier to keep it steady as you get all of the details to line up.

Step 3: Cutting the vinyl

Picture of Cutting the vinyl
Before going any further, you should cut out a small strip of the vinyl and stick it to the back of the guitar body. This is to make sure the adhesive won't damage the finish.

Use a pencil to trace the paper template onto the vinyl. Cut the outsides with scissors and use an exacto knife for the insides. Cut out slots for the pickups but not the volume/tone knobs.

After making sure the slots line up with the pickups, check where the knob shafts are. Mine shifted a bit between tracing and cutting, so I had to redraw the holes before cutting.
LIAR! This isn't a guitar its a bass guitar.
dude, a guitars a guitar
its technically still a guitar
acidbass5 years ago
is that an ibanez bass
dinstruct15 years ago
I did something very similar many years ago when rebuilding an old guitar. I cut a pick guard out of a vinyl floor tile. In one case , I traced the original guitar pickguard and overlaid it with a tile cutout.
Kelticfox5 years ago
If you want to to make it easier to apply the Vinyl do this: 1. Clean the area with Alcohol (Isopropyl Alcohol). This removes dirt and finger grease 2. Spray the area with washing up liquid and water (bog standard spray bottle) 3. Place the peeled vinyl on the soapy water and move it into the correct position (called Floating the vinyl) 4. Squighy the water out using a felt (or soft side of velcro (loops)) wrapped piece of wood with constant pressure to remove the water. Start at the middle and work to the edges. 5. If any air bubbles are present try working them out with the squighy thing or using a brand new scalpel blade pop them (using the very tip) then use the squighy thing to flatten it out. 6. Dry it off (from the water). That how professionals apply vinyl (I used to be a designer for a Sign Making company and used Vinyl daily)
m00n3r (author)  Kelticfox5 years ago
Thanks. I will put that in the application step.
Sparrow40k5 years ago
I thought Vinyl was like a paper type material, how can it be a pickguard?
m00n3r (author)  Sparrow40k5 years ago
It's meant for basses that aren't really played with picks, so it's more of a cosmetic thing really. Also vinyl is more of a plastic than a paper.
lonerayven5 years ago
I own a company with a huge large format printer and cutter, we can do really cool and complicated and custom vinyls for your guitar, and it's easy to apply. I'm not trying to advertise, but if anyone is interested I can make some if you email me at And I'll make my own instructable on how to apply them.
I like it!