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I have both classical and steel string guitars and I love the purity of the top on a classical - just wood and rosette. I think the speckled pick guard on my Taylor detracts from it's appearance and, since I play fingerstyle, I've been thinking heavily about removing it (or having it removed). BUT it would KILL me if I damaged my top in any way. I did some reading and some people say heat (which scares me) will do it while others say adhesive remover (which scares me even MORE) will do it.

So, is there a safe way to do this, and of so, how, where and by whom?

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Replies to This Discussion

I've heard heat too, but since it is a Taylor you should just call them and ask them the best way to do it without damaging your guitar. I've called them on a couple of occasions and they were helpful.
I've discussed this with a luthier friend a few years ago. It was a project he wouldn't touch because of the potential for damage, unless the old was being replaced by one of equal or larger size (so that any damaged or marred areas would remain hidden). The biggest problem is the heat or chemicals not being uniormly applied, resulting in different levels of adhesion while trying to work the guard free.
I simply pulled a pickguard off a Seagull (guitar not seabird) but it was a real cheapo flexi plastic affair
Some pick guards do use a pull-off adhesive, but not all. I would contact Taylor and ask them...
I'll go with the hydrochloric acid suggestion. If it doesn't work, I can send the bill WHERE ...?

I asked a licensed Taylor repair guy a while back (my neck got warped and I had it replaced) and he wouldn't do it. Neither would my luthier friend. I LOVE my guitar and would never think of getting rid of it - so I guess I need to learn to love my guitar no matter what it looks like. Kinda like being married when you get older...

Oops! Gotta run. Wife just walked in!
You're a brave man.
I don't care for them either. Besides the risk of damage to the top I also expect that the wood color will always have that "shadow" of uneven color showing the pick guard's old location. I'd rather leave it there than have the top look worse than with the pick guard.
I would take the guitar to a luthier. He can remove the guard and refinish the top.
Only take this guitar to a licensed Taylor repair center for pickguard removal. I've removed them in the past without damage, but there is a chance of damaging the finish. Make sure that the Taylor center you take it to can refinish your guitar to Taylor specs (Not all service centers can). The finish on a Taylor isn't a standard acoustic finish. The finish only hardens under UV light and cures within 25-35 seconds! Other finishes won't work correctly and could cause issues with clouding, cracking, and chipping.
If you feel brave enough, try peeling up one small corner SLOWLY. If this goes fairly easy, you can slowly continue until you feel the pickguard coming free. Work very slow and slow down even more when working the larger areas of the pickguard. I've removed some guards that took an hour to get off of the guitar. Never get in a hurry with pickguard removal.
Heat can be cause some problems if it's not an even LOW heat. I wouldn't recommend this technique if you have never done it before.
Avoid adhesive removers! This is not a standard practice with acoustic guitars. Sure, it can be done... but, just like some men can lift a full size pickup truck, that doesn't mean you should give it a go! One mistake and you could not only ruin your finish, but you could destroy a guitar if it comes into direct contact with the wood.
Call Taylor directly and have a chat with one of their techs and see if they can direct you to a method and/or shop that can help you.
I know I didn't say anything too different than everyone else, but that is the best advice I can give you. Hope that helps.
Thank you all for the advice. I would certainly never attempt it myself after reading all your admonitions, especially since any damage I would do wouldn't be under warranty. I was initially thinking if the finish was even across the top and the pickguard was just stuck on afterwards and relatively easy to get off and wipe off the adhesive residue, I'd just do it. But it seems like it's meant to be a fairly permanent part of the guitar. PLUS I hadn't considered Barry's point - I've seen my spruce top age from a light pale yellow to a muted orangey-tan over the last few years. To take the risks of removing the pickguard, only to reveal a pale yellow ghost underneath would kind of miss the point of removing it to begin with.

That pickguard is looking better to me every day!

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