The world of guitars is incredibly exciting to explore, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t complicated. Purchasing your first guitar is hard enough as it is, but then you’ve got to consider tons of additional things such as add-ons and modifications. This only gets more confusing when you are working with a specialist guitar, such as a left-handed guitar, a 12-string, or a jazz bass guitar.
That last mention of jazz bass guitars remains particularly – it can be a nightmare finding the right products for such a specific instrument, a problem that I recenmtly encountered when searching for a new pickguard for my instrument. There wasn’t nearly as much information online as I had hoped, and what I could find was scattered all over the place.
Well, I don’t want you to have the same experience when searching for the best jazz bass pickguards, so I’ve decided to compile what I learned throughout my research into one simple guide. I’ll explain what jazz bass pickguards are and why they are important, and I’ll even provide some recommendations for my favorite jazz bass pickguard finds. Read on to find out more!
Bottom Line Up Front: Jazz bass pickguards are great guitar accessories commonly used to protect the body of guitars and as a means to customize the color of a guitar and range from cheap and customizable products such as the Musiclily 10 Hole pickguard to high-quality pickguards such as those available officially through Fender. Budget options work fine for cheap beginner guitars, but I’d recommend splashing the cash if you’re going to modify an expensive long-term guitar!
What is a Pickguard?
If you’ve stumbled upon this guide and are wondering, “what the heck is a pickguard?” then let’s clear the air first. Pickguards are pieces of material that are located on the body of a guitar, just under where the guitarist’s strumming hand would hit after a downstroke. Some are made from plastic, whilst others use more expensive laminated materials, and they come in a variety of colors to spice up the aesthetic of guitars. Take a look at some pics online – I’m sure you’ll recognize it instantly.
Whilst it’s undeniable that pickguards look pretty cool, they also hold a specialized function – guarding the guitar against your pick! You might think that’s strange considering that guitar picks are only small and plastic, but try telling me that after you’ve had a proper guitar sesh! It’s so easy to get carried away and strum carelessly when you’re “in the moment,” and these fast-paced and repetitive scrapes can quickly chip away at your guitar finish!
If you’re scratching your guitar with a pick regularly, you need to improve your technique because you really shouldn’t be hitting the pickguard plate, but it’s certainly handy to have. However, pickguards become even more important to bassists and classical guitarists who use their fingers instead of a pick, often combined with long nails that can scrape guitars even worse than a guitar pick!
Overall, pickguards are great accessories to modify and guitar with for two reasons: they look cool and protect your guitar body from sharp nails and plectrums. Sure, you might not need one if you’re a professional electric guitarist, but the vast range of pickguard styles makes it a fantastic customization opportunity!
What’s Different About Jazz Bass Pickguards?
We’ve got to the bottom of what pickguards are, but let’s get back to the original question about jazz bass guitars. Are pickguards for jazz bass guitars different from those found on standard guitars? Well, sort of – they’re pretty much the same, consisting of a plate that is attached to a guitar, but they are specially designed to work with jazz-styled bass guitars.
Take a look at any jazz bass guitar online, and you’ll quickly realize that jazz basses are larger and differently shaped than electric or acoustic guitars. The main purpose of a pickguard is to protect your guitar, and that won’t be very useful if your jazz bass pickguard was designed for a parlor acoustic! This is why it’s important to search specifically for jazz bass pickguards if that is what you are looking for, as alternatives will not fit.
Another thing to note is that most jazz bass pickguards are wider in size, usually being laid across the strings, pickups, and bridge on both sides. This differs from most pickguards that tend to only be laid where your strumming hand falls after a downstroke.
This is because jazz bass is played in a very different way from the electric guitar. People will often rest their thumb or other fingers on the upper space by the low-E string, which can wear away material over time. The slapping string technique can result in the bridge area receiving more abuse than usual.
Ultimately, jazz bass pickguards have been designed to consider all of this. They are larger, shaped accordingly to the instrument, and they protect the guitars from the alternative techniques of the bass guitarist. They also look damn cool, just like any other pickguard, but due to the jazz-bass style, they usually feature in more vintage and retro color schemes and finishes.
What To Look For In the Best Jazz Bass Pickguards
Now that we’ve cleared up exactly what jazz bass pickguards are and why they are so common let’s take a look at what you should be looking out for when shopping for these pickguards.
Take a quick google online, and you’ll quickly see that countless jazz bass pickguards are available on the market, so finding the right one can feel tricky. Hopefully, this will give you some inspiration and help you wean out the losers!
Shape and Dimensions
When you see a jazz bass pickguard online that you’re considering purchasing, the absolute first thing that you should do is check the shape and dimensions of the pickguard. You should take some time to become familiar with your bass guitar model and how much space you have to work with.
Measure it up if necessary, and then compare your findings to the dimensions of the pickguard you are interested in. There’s no point even considering a pickguard before this because what’s the point in having one if you can’t fit it on your guitar!?
Even if the size of the pickguard seems like it will fit nicely, you should still have a closer look at the shape of the pickguard itself. How is it designed to fit? Does it only protect the downstroke area or the upper stroke too? Is the area where you place your thumb a lot protected too?
Depending on your playing style, tons of different areas will need additional attention, ensuring that every one of these is covered. Obviously, if you play fairly statically, you won’t have to worry about this too much, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
It’s all very well telling you to compare the size and dimensions of a pickguard against your guitar, but this can be challenging to get right. Another way to figure things out is to check out all the online reviews for this product – they will almost always feature people telling of how their pickguard fit perfectly with X guitar or didn’t fit Y jazz bass guitar. It’s worth reading, as you can learn a lot from the variety of guitars people write about applying pickguards to.
Now that we’ve got the boring stuff out of the way, it’s time to choose a color and style! There’s no denying that the protection of a pickguard is its prime feature, but choosing a funky style that fits you comes in at a close second – I just love customizing my guitars this way! Personally, I’ve always appreciated the classic vintage ‘90s finishes that you tend to find on jazz bass guitars – the genre fits the style perfectly, and many people love it.
However, I know quite a few jazz bass guitarists who feel held back by this style, as if they are expected to bust out a slap solo with Bootsy Collins at any given moment. Eager to break the stereotype, many jazz bassists have begun customizing their guitars to have the same jazz tone and feel, yet with a redesigned aesthetic. I’ve even seen some jazz bass guitars that look like they belong in the hands of a death metal band!
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to picking the best pickguard style. Only you can answer that, and I would recommend following your heart. Don’t just buy a classic ‘90s vintage jazz pickguard because it’s considered “normal” – consider what you want and try to find it; there are tons of options out there!
Last but not least, think of your guitar pickguard as a tattoo – you need to think hard about it and commit before you buy it! Whilst removing the pickguard of a guitar is almost always possible, it can be a huge pain in the butt unless you have a lot of DIY experience, so I think it’s wise to think of your pickguard as pretty permanent. If you’re tempted to buy a wacky pickguard with cartoons on it or something, I’d recommend taking a step back and considering whether you’ll still like the style in a year to come!
Material and Value
The next thing you should think about when purchasing a jazz bass guitar pickguard is the material it is made of and the budget you have. Now, if you’re on a budget, I don’t think this should be your priority – even the cheapest pickguards made from plastic can be pretty good, and I don’t think there’s any need to splash out on more expensive alternatives.
However, there are a ton of alternatives if you are willing to pay for a cooler look and feel. The most common alternatives I have come across are acrylic glass and wood, but I’ve even seen metals and fabrics used for pickguards – all of these are relatively cheap and, when applied tastefully, can work nicely. One jazz bass guitar I came across at an auction years ago boasted a mother-of-pearl pickguard, and it was the coolest darn guitar I had ever seen, but it came at one heck of a cost.
Whether you go for a fancy material or a budget plastic product, there’s one thing you can do to always ensure that it is of high quality – read the reviews! People love to post about their positive and negative experiences with an online sale, so if someone found their plastic pickguard to be too uncomfortable to use, they would post about it.
Reading through pickguard reviews is a great way to ensure that people are happy with what they bought and that it’s probably a reliable vendor to shop with.
My Top Jazz Bass Pickguard Recommendations
OK, now, for the moment of truth – I’m going to provide you with some of my top jazz bass guitar pickguard recommendations! Whether you’re on a budget and looking for a basic pickguard or looking to splash out on something fancy, I’ve ensured that there is a high-quality and well-fitting jazz bass guitar pickguard for you. Read on to find out which pickguards I chose!
I mentioned earlier that I wanted to ensure that I provided a recommendation for every budget, so I have decided to kick things off with the Dopro Jazz Bass pickguard. Give this a search, and you’ll see why – it’s so cheap to purchase and is available in a ton of different colors.
Whilst the material that it’s made from isn’t perfect, the fact that you can get a brown, green, yellow, or any other colored pickguard for just over ten bucks is an amazing opportunity for customization, and I’d encourage anyone to grab one even if it’s to gift someone!
However, checking the reviews, I found somebody complaining as the product did not fit their fender of squire jazz bass. This is slightly concerning as the product is advertised as suitable for Fender jazz basses, but it’s also hard to know how trustworthy that review was. From what I know, he could have been using an unusually shaped fender jazz bass. It’s a great reminder that you always check the specs of each pickguard and do your research to avoid disappointment!
- Great option for small budgets
Available in tons of colors
Decent quality plastic
- The plastic might seem a bit tacky on more expensive guitars
- Does not fit Fender of Squire jazz basses
The next jazz bass guitar pickguard that is on my list of recommendations is quite possibly my favorite product on this list – Musiclily’s jazz bass pickguard for Fender basses, with a gorgeous tortoiseshell finish. There’s something about this finish that works perfectly for that vintage ’90s feel, although other colors are available if that isn’t your style.
The material quality looks smooth and comfortable to use, and it’s got that signature jazz style shape. Most importantly, though, this product advertises itself as suitable for Fender jazz basses, and it has had much more positive reviews than the other option. So, I would use this as a prime example: whilst it’s only a few cents more expensive, this product can be trusted more!
- Seriously good value for money; it’s so cheap!
- Available in other finishes if tortoiseshell is not your cup of tea
- Highly rated for fitting Fender jazz basses
- At such a cheap price, the quality is inevitably going to be lesser than more expensive options
The next jazz bass pickguard on my recommendation list is one for any hippies out there looking to brighten up the vibes of their jazz bass guitar – it’s Vbestlife’s Jazz J Bass Pickguard. I think the psychedelic finish is vibrant and groovy, yet it isn’t overpowering, and I appreciate that, although that might just be my taste.
The product has a perfect review rating on Amazon, which is positive, although it’s only been reviewed three times. However, I’ve followed Vbestlife’s products on Amazon for a while, and they have a good reputation for quality, so that I wouldn’t worry about the lack of reviews here.
It’s a slightly more expensive option sitting at between fifteen and twenty bucks, but one that I think is well worth considering if you want to add some psychedelic charm to your jazz bass. Whilst there are tons of finishes out there, I haven’t seen many like this before so that it could be the perfect opportunity!
- Groovy psychedelic finish
- Still a pretty cheap price for such a cool product
- Slightly more expensive, despite using similar average-quality plastic
- The psychedelic finish might be too much for the light-hearted
This list of recommendations simply would not be complete without an official Fender jazz bass pickguard – it’s a stunning-looking scratchplate made by a brand with an incredible reputation for attention to detail, so you just know this one is going to be comfortable and pleasant to use. The product is made from a synthetic white pearl that adds a glistening disco feel to any jazz bass and is as smooth as possible.
The only downfall with this product is that it is expensive compared to most options available online. However, you must remember that you are shopping with Fender here, the kings of the guitar!
If you’ve got a cheap $100 guitar, I wouldn’t even dream of putting a pickguard like this on it. However, if you’ve splashed out on an expensive jazz bass that you can see yourself playing for years, it’d be rude not to let it shine with such a beautiful pickguard!
- Fender has an excellent reputation for producing all things guitar-related
- Fender produces jazz basses, so knows exactly what is needed for a jazz bass pickguard
- Gorgeous synthetic white pearl material
- Great for replacing damaged Fender jazz bass pickguards
- It’s expensive, particularly when compared to alternatives
- Designed specifically for Fender jazz basses, which may be differently shaped
We’ve covered a ton of information throughout this guide, so why don’t we take a moment to recap what we’ve already covered to avoid information overload? We’ll get a few of my most frequently asked questions answered for you, and hopefully, this will help you walk away without any burning questions!
Question: What Is a Guitar Pickguard?
Answer: Guitar pickguards are thin plates of material that sit on the body of a guitar under the downstroke area, protecting the guitar from being scratched by nails, plectrums, or dirty hands.
Question: What Makes Jazz Bass Guitar Pickguards Unique?
Answer: Jazz bass guitars are generally of a different shape to other guitars, being larger and more complex in shape to fit the unique shape of jazz basses whilst protecting key areas around the bridge.
Question: How Much Do Jazz Bass Pickguards Cost?
Answer: It should be easy for anyone on a budget to find a jazz bass pickguard for as low as ten bucks, but officially products by brands such as Fender will reach $100 or more!
Question: Do All Jazz Bass Pickguards Fit Any Jazz Bass Guitar?
Answer: No – as annoying as that is, many jazz bass pickguards are designed for specific dimensions and, therefore, will not fit correctly on your guitar. This is why you must do your research, measure your guitar, and compare it to products online to avoid disappointment.
Well, that brings us to the end of this comprehensive guide to finding the best jazz bass guitar pickguards! Whilst they may seem like a small thing in the grand scheme of things, pickguards are essential to protecting your bass guitar’s body and allowing you to express yourself through color and style!
Anyone can do it, too, as is demonstrated by my favorite product, the Musiclily 10 Hole J Bass Pickguard for Fender, although if you have the cash to splash and need an official Fender J Bass Pickguard, the extra $100 might be worth it! Whichever you choose, I wish you the best on your jazzy base journey!