My Casino came without a pickguard. A lot of people take them off and then they get lost. I wanted mine to have one, for two reasons. One, when I finger pick I tend to anchor my hand on my little finger. I am a little sloppy finger picking, and this helps tighten things up. However, without a pickguard, the body of the guitar was a long way down. I ended up putting my finger on the bridge pickup, which was a bit far back.
The other reason was that I thought a cherry red guitar would look awesome with black pickups, black top hat knobs, and a black 5-ply pickguard. See what you think:
It turned out that finding a pickguard that would fit was a bit tough. In fact, the whole process was a journey, which I will recount here for anyone else who goes down this path.
Casinos have changed over the years and have been made in different factories in different countries. A lot of places that custom make pickguards want the buyer to send a tracing of the old pickguard, but I didn’t have one. According to the serial number, my guitar is Chinese, made in 2006. I finally found an ad on Ebay for a pickguard made for a 2007 Casino, from a source recommended in internet discussions, C-Rocker Guitars. It turned out to fit perfectly. Excellent customer service too.
Now I needed the mounting bracket, which was also a search. The pickguard brackets that are generally available fall into three categories: generic Les Paul type, generic big archtop (these have a double bend), and Gibson ES-335 style, which is fancier and requires that you glue the pickguard onto a plastic block. The Gibson style would work for a Casino, but I already had a pickguard with a screw hole in it. The big archtop bracket would probably work if the second bend were flattened out, but these have two screw holes to attach to the body, so I would have to drill another hole in the guitar.
I ordered a Les Paul type bracket through Amazon, but it turned out to be coming from Shanghai and it got stuck in customs in L.A. I got impatient and ordered from a different source on Amazon. This one arrived quickly, but was too short. I contacted Epiphone, who gave me a part number (PPB-110), but no one had it. I went back through the available Les Paul types and looked carefully at the specs. I found that some were about 1/4″ longer than others. The pattern seemed to be that the ones that were rounded on the end were shorter than the ones that were square on the end. I ordered a squared off one. At this point I had ordered three brackets, between $5.00-$8.00 each.
Yesterday, the one that had been stuck in customs arrived. From the specs on the listing, I had already given up on this one because it seemed to be too short, but when the actual item arrived, it turned out to be one of the squared off longer ones, and it fit. Then I needed a screw for the end of the pickguard near the neck. That turned out to be a #4 3/4 inch screw. I used a couple of neoprene faucet washers as spacers under the pickguard.
Adjusting Pickguard Height
At this point, I recognized another limitation of the Casino’s 1950’s design. Because of the design of the dogear pickups, the pickguard rests on top of the lower dogears. That means that the height of the pickups determines the height of the pickguard. Pickup height on a Casino is not easily adjustable because you do it with spacers, not adjustment screws.
The Lollars came with round head screws rather than flat heads and the pickguard was resting on the screws. It was a bit too high. The five-ply pickguard was quite thick, so I took out a drill and eroded away two plies where the screws made contact with the pickguard. This actually helped a lot.
The end result is quite nice, but it was an adventure getting there. On Friday, the last, now unnecessary bracket, will arrive. Anyone need a Les Paul pickguard bracket? I have two extra ones.
Great article, John! Thanks for educating guitarists on the pit falls of ordering a pickguard. Thanks for the Kudos…
Lovely blog you havve here