The Making Of
Celluloid Nitrate Strat Pickguards

Putting to rest the myths of the nitrate pickguards used on the Fender Stratocaster 1959 - 1965.

The coming photos are of a genuine 1963 pickguard sacrificed in our color match efforts. The guard was wiped with solvents to remove the top layer oxidization and a slice sawed off to reveal the fresh inner Celluloid. Not only did we do this to nail the color match for our celluloid repro guards but we expose some of the false assumptions that have been made regarding the "mint" hue and how guards age.

Celluloid (Cellulose Nitrate) is a plastic made from the same basic materials as nitro cellulose lacquer. It was a breakthrough for its time but due to instabilities, Celluloid was replaced by "safer" plastics. Today guards are almost always made of PVC. Celluloid gives vintage Strats much of their character as it ages with the guitar, unlike modern plastics. This is due to Celluloid's inherent instabilities, which causes them to shrink, crack, warp and grow brittle. Many damaged Celluloid guards were replaced with ugly modern PVC. You cannot have a vintage strat without a celluloid pickguard  - it just looks wrong. This is why we produced replacements EXACTLY as the originals.

Lets start with the "MINT" aspect of the guards. 1959-1965 Strat guards have a slight mint hue to the white layers. There has been all kinds of speculation as to why. The most popular myth is the black layer bleeds into the white layer giving it a greenish hue. This is false. As our photos will demonstrate the pickguards white layers were always a little "off white" with a slight (very slight) green hue. As they age, the exposed parts yellow and the mint green effect intensifies. This aging is from the TOP DOWN not from within. The easiest way to see this is to simply flip the guard over and notice the massive difference in color between the top exposed surface and the bottom. Very obvious. To demonstrate further, we clean the many years of smoke, oxygen and other elements off the surface with acetone. As we gently rub off the top layers we expose the inner (fresh) celluloid and its much lighter color. We also sliced off a chunk of the guard to expose completely fresh inner material. You can plainly see the black layer has not bled into the white layers at all. All the aging is from the top down. One can age Celluloid to taste by simply exposing it to UV and other elements (smoke, oxygen, pollution)

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Stratocaster®, Strat® are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corp. Lashing Guitars is in no way affiliated with FMIC and no Fender® warranty applies.