Guitar Gurus - What's under that pickguard?

My GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) got the best of me last week and I purchased a Gibson Faded SG Special guitar on EBAY.

It wasn’t really what I wanted. I did very much want to try a stopbar equipped guitar as my little cheapo Strat just bled away any attempts at sustain through the tremolo piece that I never used. And I really like the look of the Gibson SG style but I preferred one that didn’t have the gawd-awful batwing pickup guard.

I’d rather have the small pickguard shown on models like the Gibson SG '61 Reissue or none at all as demonstrated by this guy.

But fate and bargain hunting put this one in my lap and playing it is just a little taste of heaven for me.

So guys and girls before I grab my screwdriver and remove the pickguard, What’s underneath?

Are all SGs routed the same way? Is there a nice smooth body between the pups or does that nasty batwing cover hide a routed channel for the pup leads?

Do the pups require the batwing piece to either hold them in position or on the guitar? If not, will the absence of the thickness of the cover mean that I will have to “reset” the pups height?

I’d like to know before I commence to modify it.

I’m not certain, but I believe your SG may be front routed, meaning that if you remove the pickguard you will see the route for the pickup wires. However, some SGs have the route in such a position that the smaller style of pickguard would cover it.

You may as well just take off the guard and have a look really!

Without your ‘batwing’, you’ll need pickup rings like this:

I think you’re probably out of luck. I expect you will find a Strat type open slot joining the pickup routs, why else would they have used that stonking great scratchplate?

And, the pickups are mounted on the scratchplate so the whole assembly can just be dropped into the rout rather than individually fitting pickups and their surrounds. Saves a bit of manpower I guess.

By the way, BubbaDog, if you don’t already know of it, here is another great forum for this kind of stuff:

Agreed. Disassembly of this sort is easily reversed; pop it off and take a look-see. What you’ll probably find (as above) is the pickups are attached to the pickguard and there’s a big ugly route for both them and the wiring.

ETA: also, the wood is probably not finish quality under the pickguard.

Hey guys - I am just back from a week away for the 4th of July holiday and swamped at work, so I can’t reply long. But I think **squeegee **is right - I haven’t had a batwing pickguard off of an SG so can’t state whether it is routed differently from a small-pickguard SG. I am inclined to think it is not routed differently and you can just swap in a small guard and be left with a few screw holes to fill if you want - but I could be wrong and that 'guard may cover up a swimming-pool rout which could accomodate different pickup configs…let us know!

Well, I’m hoping that you are right but I suspect that **squeegee’**s guess may be the correct one. This model is the least expensive SG that still bears the Gibson Name.

If they grind a trough into the body then the electronics can all be pre-mounted onto the picguard and dropped en masse onto the body making assembly faster. Without a trough the pup leads would have to be threaded through a bored channel or troughed in the back of the body. There’s no cover plate on the back of the body so obviously no back trough.

I suspect that the batwing may be the result of Gibson’s attempt to provide an SG quality guitar with a lower labor cost.

I’ll let you know what find out. It might be a few days before I peek under the pickguard. I’ll give this thread a chance to catch the eye of a few more SG owners and maybe get a ruling. Also, any time that I spent tinkering with it is time that I’d rather be playing it.:smiley:

I do agree that the SG looks better with more wood/less pickguard; you should see the ugliness that is my '71 SG’s Les Paul-style wing-guard + knob-guard, sheesh.

Aesthetics aside, there is an upside to a swimming pool route: you can just get another black batwing and mount different pickups on it – soapbars, two buckers and a single coil, whatever – and still be able to reset the guitar back to original by dropping in the old pickguard and soldering a couple of connections.

Strangely, my '08 American Deluxe Tele, a single-coil axe at the high end of Fender’s Tele line, also has a swimming pool route under its pickguard, with what looks like room enough for two humbuckers + the single-coil in the bridge plate (I haven’t popped off the bridge plate; there may be room for a third humbucker under there for all I know). I’ve toyed with the idea of doing what I said above – get another pickguard and mount different pickups on it, just so I can experiment with the sound but be able to easily swap it all back to original with minimal fuss.

Found an open picture of my style here

Looks like the batwing pickguard stays on.

Funny thing about this is the seller in the ad has a price about $60 more than I paid for my whole guitar. My guitar was built in Feb of 2008 so there’s little time value difference between the two. It would be interesting to see if he gets a bite - the buy-it-now feature hides the results.

There ya go. Jeez, now you pretty much have to follow **squeegee’s **advice - assuming you can get an aftermarket batwing pickup routed for any size pickguard (I would assume you can) - you totally should consider checking out a couple of P-90’s in that guitar. I bet you could dial in a solid Pete Townshend Live at Leeds tone - yum.

Yeah, that looks close to what I’d expect. Interesting that there is extra depth for the pickup height adjustment screws, rather than routing everything the same depth. I guess the body is thin enough they were worried about weakening the back.

Be aware that routing can change from year to year, so it would still be worth popping off the pickguard to see. (If you do, be careful to get the Tune-o-matic back to the same height with the adjustment screws facing the same way.) Having said that, your guitar is very likely identical to that picture.

FWIW, here’s a discussion of someone wanting a different pickguard on his SG, and the work that entails. Do make sure to catch the discussion that’s linked to here, regarding a truly strange refinishing job on an SG. Not really all that helpful, but interesting nevertheless.

Late addition:

You know, you could also embrace the battiness of the pick guard and do something like this. I find that style deeply weird, but still very amusing and even cool.