Nitro Pickguards Specs

Original Spec Nitro Cellulose Strat Pickguards

These guards are authentic reproductions of the original cellulose pick guards sourced and installed by Fender in Stratocaster guitars manufactured between 1959 and 1965.

They are made from now obsolete and difficult to find cellulose nitrate plastic. Every detail is correct from the thickness of each of the three layers to the colour. It even smells like nitro cellulose because it is nitro cellulose. Lets look at the details.


In original pick guards sourced by Fender, all three layers are the same thickness and all are made with cellulose nitrate. Same here.

This authentic 1962 pick guard here shows .995 inches under the calipers. Actually they will vary plus or minus .005” or so:
Nitro Pickguards Specs

Here we see the repro guard which, regardless of the cut, measures .100 inches. The consistency of these guards seems to be a bit higher than the original guards:
Nitro Pickguards Specs

Here’s another view, this time of the edges. Repro guard is on the top:
Nitro Pickguards Specs
Note that in the picture above it appears that the top edge of the authentic guard is thinner than the repro. This is an illusion as the top edge of the authentic guard is a little rounded from wear and the repro is not.

Aged Guards: Available on Request


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The Tricky Part

First we see the same original pick guard from a 1962 Stratocaster on top of a repro ’62 guard. Note that the top is somewhat more yellow on the original. This is due to the natural accumulation of gunk that appears with time.  Notice that where the tone knob protected the pick guard the colour is lighter and closely matches the repro guard below.
Nitro Pickguards Specs

This shift from the original colour to a more yellow tint as it ages is not, as often believed, due to the bleeding of the middle black layer into the other layers. If this were true then the bottom layer would become the same colour as the top. Real Stratocaster guards are never seen like this.

See for yourself.

Here’s a comparison of the original guard, our repro guard, and a modern imitation guard manufactured from pvc plastic.


Here it's much easier to see how close the colour of the celluloid repro guard is to the original. The pvc one comes close to matching the top but doesn’t quite get it right either. Note the yellowed edge on the authentic '62 guard caused by air contamination. The top colour discoloration extends from the top over the edge to the underside until it reaches the aluminum shielding mounted underneath the guard.

So why invest in a Celluloid Nitrate reproduction? They are much more expensive than a modern pvc one.

Well the difference is that the nitro guard will age. It is the correct material and is the correct original spec. Ten years from now it will be impossible to tell the difference between our repro guard and an authentic original guard.

And, if you can’t wait for time to do the work, celluloid nitrate takes many dyes and stains quite well. PVC does not. The only way to get a pvc guard to look right on a vintage or reproduction vintage guitar is to paint it. If you own a relic guitar with a repro coloured pvc guard you will see how the aging wears off and your beloved relic guitar looks a little funny with its grimy “aged” pick guard that wears clean instead of dirty.

If you have a real early 60’s Stratocaster with a replacement or a damaged guard well…

Not much choice really. A pvc guard won’t take dye and a real 60’s era nitro guard will cost thousands. At least until these guards get a bit older. Hmmmm.

Discounts available for orders of 6 or more.