Guitar PickGuard

My friend has a guitar shop and wanted me to engrave this. Has anyone done these? I have no idea what material it is and it looks like its 3 layered? Can it even be done and if so, does anyone have settings?


Without knowing what material it is you would have to test it. Look up the Beilstein test. If the material contains chlorine you do not want to laser it.


i’ve always made pickguards out of my own 1/16" acrylic. they don’t have the beveled edges, and if you want inset screws, you need to use the right kind of bit on a drill press, but i never have to worry about the material in the existing pickguards.


You should share a pic of that wonderful engraving you did.
That was very inspiring!

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Since I have a guitar I have thought about this a lot.

tl;dr It’s more complicated than you are hoping.

StewMac says the solid black and white pickguard material I found is PVC, which unfortunately is not safe to engrave.

They do not say what the pearloid and tortoiseshell pickguards are made from. I suspect it is also PVC. You’d have to get a material data sheet from the manufacturer. Wherever you get pickguards from, it’s really important to verify what kind of plastic you have before you let 'er rip. PVC combustion will harm your machine, and maybe you too!

Even if it was safe to engrave a 3 layer pickguard, it might not look great. The middle layer is really far down in terms of laser engraving. To reveal black you’d be chewing deep marks in the material and I think it might look gross. You’d want a shallow engrave that was filled in with some kind of paint, but it’s actually pretty hard to do that on plastic in a way that makes the edges of the artwork laser-sharp.

But here’s some good news. They do make 2-ply 2-color acrylic that is made for exactly that kind of engraving. Cut out your own pickguards. Have your buddy the luthier bevel them.

Unfortunately this stuff is not the same as pickguard material… Different thickness, not as glossy, and the top colored layer is very thin, so it won’t look like the classic 3-layer sandwich. It’s a really cool material though. In fact, I made a custom tremolo cover plate for my guitar with it, replacing the super ugly factory version.

So, check out multi-layer acrylics at Inventables,, and

Lastly, maybe you guys can come up with some other ideas for adding something to the top of the pickguard. Trotec (and probably Gravotech) makes some very thin engravable materials. Trolase Thins are 0.5 mm thick and conceivably, you could engrave that with anything you wanted, and slap that right on top of a factory pickguard. That could look really cool, like it was stock. (Trotec has even thinner materials but they basically look like stickers, not awesome.)


Trotec will send you samples, probably Gravotech too.

Of course, adding a layer means you need the exact shape of the pickguard in your design software, which will be a chore to do… and it needs to be adhered. Solvent welding would work, but is hard to do well without drips. I’d probably start with 3M 467MP ultra-thin double-sided tape.

Good luck!




That brings a smile everytime I see it!

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Man that might look awesome with some rub ‘n’ buff to give it some more metallic sheen. Really cool.


Pretty sure that’s what’s on it.

I have all the R&B colors, great stuff!

That is gorgeous.


Trotec also usually gives you the option to add the 3m when you purchase the material. I think it’s usually 2 extra dollars for a quarter sized sheet.

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not just trotec. if you buy on JPPlus, you can add 3M to any sheet as well. and you get an option of several different kinds of 3M.

lots of good rowmark options for multicolor acrylic from JPPlus. i’m a big fan of the rowmark.

also, if you sign up for rowmark’s mailing list, every couple of weeks you’ll get an email highlighting a specific product and you can request a sample. they’ll usually send you two pieces around 3x3 or 4x4. i have a stack about 12" high now of 1/16 and 1/8 acrylic samples now.


I think I saw that before but didn’t end up signing up and requesting a sample yet.
Just requested now :slight_smile: