Tortoloid Pickguard Material

  • 26 Reviews
  • Write a review

The look of vintage pickguards!
Make your own pickguards with the look of vintage tortoise shell.

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Tortoloid Pickguard Material Antique tortoise

Antique tortoise

Item # 2093
In stock, ready to ship!


3 or more $25.41
Tortoloid Pickguard Material Red swirl

Red swirl

Item # 2096
In stock, ready to ship!


3 or more $25.41
Tortoloid Pickguard Material Amber tigerstripe

Amber tigerstripe

Item # 2097
In stock, ready to ship!


3 or more $25.41
Tortoloid Pickguard Material Red tigerstripe

Red tigerstripe

Item # 2098
In stock, ready to ship!


3 or more $25.41
Quantity Discount Prices apply when you buy multiples of the same item number.
Total: $0.00
Quantity: 20


Tortoloid pickguard material

Dan Erlewine demos Tortoloid. Like natural tortoiseshell, every piece of Tortoloid is unique.

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The look of vintage pickguards!
Make your own pickguards with the look of vintage tortoise shell.

Tortoloid is a handsome pickguard material developed and handmade by luthier Mario Proulx. Poured resins and dyes reproduce authentic tortoise shell patterns: tigerstripe, tortoise, and swirl. Tortoloid is a popular choice for making vintage-style guitars look even more vintage. Unhappy with modern "printed" pickguards? Tortoloid is a great alternative.

Each Tortoloid sheet is individually made. Just like natural shell, no two have exactly the same pattern. The highly durable material is 0.025" thin, flexible, and resists shrinkage.

Supplied in a 4-3/4" x 7-1/2" x 0.025" (120.65mm x 190.50mm x 0.64mm) sheet. This includes sufficient usable material for cutting most traditional pickguard shapes.

Available in these vintage styles:

Antique tortoise
When the pickguard is installed on a typical spruce guitar top, the color and 3-dimensional depth closely match actual antique Hawksbill tortoise shell used by Martin in the '30s. (Antique guitar picks were used for sampling the colors). Semi-transparent amber areas intensify the color of the soundboard to complement your guitar's appearance. Antique tortoise is also available in vintage Dreadnought shape.

Red swirl
The look of early-1940s Martin celluloid pickguards, with red-browns replacing the amber.

Especially for Gibson acoustic guitars. Amber for soundboards with a light sunburst or natural finish, and red to complement typical darker sunbursts.

Tortoloid cuts easily with scissors, but to avoid chipping the edges, warm the material in hot water or with a hair dryer first. The cut edges can be sanded and polished, or beveled with a razor blade (work at room temperature for a sharp bevel, or warm the material for a rounded edge). Bending is easily corrected by placing the material on a flat surface and warming it.

Note: You may notice small abrasions on the underside of the material. These are from the manufacturing process and will become invisible after installation with our Pickguard Adhesive Sheet.

Trade Secrets! Newsletter

A shrinking pickguard cracks the guitar top!

In Dan Erlewine's shop: This Martin D-35 has a cracked top due to the pull of a shrinking plastic pickguard. Dan fixes the problem and shows how to keep this happening from happening again.

Ratings & Reviews

Tortoloid Pickguard Material

  • Based on 26 Reviews
Displaying 1 of 3 1 2 3
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Tortoloid Pickguard Material

By from Athens
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I was able to cut and apply this in less than 30 minutes using the 3M adhesive sheet. Key learnings, keep it warm, I sat it in a plate of hot tap water before cutting. It cools quickly so put it back in the warm water frequently. I sanded the edges to get them smooth. Looks great.

Awesome Vintage Pickguard

By Lord Myatt Luthier from Brentwood, Tennessee
(Customer's Reviews) Tuesday, May 06, 2014

After restoring my 1941 Gibson J35 with a tobacco sunburst finish top I used the Tortoloid Pickguard Material from Stewart MacDonald to create the very close to original red tigerstripe pickguard. I simply traced my pattern with a fineline sharpie and as Dan showed in his video I softened it with a hair dryer. I then cut it out precisely with my xacto knife and with the 3M adhesive sheet from Stewmac I applied it to my finished guitar. Stewart MacDonald is truly a perfect example of a great American Company.


By Freddy Gabrsek from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
(Customer's Reviews) Friday, December 20, 2013

There was no way I was going to put that on a guitar. I sent it back.

Looks good scratches easily

By Dan-o from Houston, TX
(Customer's Reviews) Thursday, December 12, 2013

I used the dark brown material to replace a couple of awful printed tortoise pickguards that came on vintage reissue Martins. The material cuts easily with scissors and looks great on the aged tops of the Martins. My complaints are that the material scratches fairly easily. It really could use a protective plastic layer like nearly every replacement pickguard you can buy. Also, it would be nice if it were self-adhesive, BUT I suppose that gives you the choice of which side you want to use for the top in case the pattern looks better one way or the other.

Great product, but use with care

By Steve West from Colwich, Kansas
(Customer's Reviews) Tuesday, April 09, 2013

This material makes excellent pick guards. It is easy to work with and nice to look at. The material comes in a sealed plastic pouch. As I was tearing the pouch, the material flexed just enough, snapped, and broke in two. So, I had to order another piece. At $29.90 (plus eight bucks shipping), this is going to be an expensive pick guard.


By Simon P from Kansas City
(Customer's Reviews) Monday, February 11, 2013

Well, it took me two tries, but I'm reasonably happy. On my first try, I did not heat enough, and the material snapped during cutting. I found it best to heat the pickguard repeatedly with a hairdryer during cutting. I heated it enough for it to become slightly pliable and bendy. I practiced on my first ruined piece, and with decent heating (so the material is rather pliable), I found I could cut almost any shape. Once I had made all the cuts, I reheated the piece and pressed it flat between two books to get out any wavers and bends. I was slightly annoyed by the unsightly backside. Like many have said, there are scratches around the edges. It does seem rather expensive (especially since I was forced to re-order), but over-all I am pleased.

Dark Brown Tortoise Pick Guard

By Norml from Sonoma, CA
(Customer's Reviews) Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The material is very nice looking and easy to work with. I traced an outline of the stencil I made on to the tortoloid sheet. Instead of using a hair dryer, I used very warm water to heat the material. I just put the sheet under the faucet until it became pliable and cut with sharp scissors reheating a few times. I finished the edges first with a razor blade and the buffed with very fin grit sandpaper. I used the 3M adhesive sheet also sold by StewMac to apply it and viola.

WAY TOO EXPENSIVE for such a small piece

By CWaggs from Illinois
(Customer's Reviews) Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ruined my 1st attempt to cut a solidbody pick guard for a custom electric I just built. Now the question becomes: is it worth another $30 to try again? The material is gorgeous, but not too great to work with for a fairly intricate pattern. I guess it was intended for simple acoustic pick guards.

Tortoloid Pickguard Material Amber/Brown Tigerstripe

By Steve Forehand from Alexander City, AL
(Customer's Reviews) Thursday, August 23, 2012

The pickguard material is fairly easy to cut after warming with a hair dryer. I didn't notice many scratches on the back of the material as some reviewers have mentioned. I was able to shape the pickguard, bevel and polish the edges easily. The biggest problem is the application of the adhesive. The pickguard material seems to bubble after heating to cut it, so the adhesive doesn't stick evenly. When I applied the finished pickguard, there were air bubbles underneath that were clearly visible. I had to remove the pickguard and the adhesive (major PIA) and start over. Luckily I was able to heat the material and press it flat with a slab of Corian. Reapplication was more successful but I still see a small bubble or two. The tigerstripe pickguard is beautiful on a Gibson WM-45 but I'm not sure it is worth the effort (well really does look good). If I use Tortoloid again, it will probably be the finished pickguard with adhesive pre-attached.

Easy to Create a Nice Pickguard

By CherylW from Saint Augustine, Florida
(Customer's Reviews) Monday, June 11, 2012

I just finished making and installing a replacement guard out of Tortoloid. I chose a sheet of 30's Martin swirl. I have prior experience with Greven and Deep River Vintage guards but I thought I would try this new material since it is thinner and Deep River Vintage is no longer made. I used my old ugly black guard as a template and used a hairdryer to warm the material as I cut. After I cut about three inches or so, the material would cool and harden again so I warmed it again, cut some more. It cut easily and cleanly with no chipping. I cleaned off the old adhesive from the guitar with a soft cloth and naphtha. I used very fine wet/dry sandpaper to neated the edge on the new tortoloid guard and then used a razor blade at about a 33 degree angle (on the edge of a wooden board) to make my bevel. I started conservatively and gradually went 1/8" further into the guard working gradually around and going back to where I needed to take more off to make it uniform. When I was satisfied I used a rotor tool buffer with some cleaner. That was all I could find for a polish around the house. It worked very well at relatively low speeds, with a lot of motion and with only slight pressure. Higher speeds caused the material to get too hot. I also buffed the edge carefully. After a careful cleaning, I applied the 3M adhesive sheet from StewMac to the polished guard. After making two cross-points with masking tape on my guitar's top, I carefully laid the guard down in place and rubbed it with a wadded up piece of cloth out from the center to the edges to avoid any air bubbles. This material had seemed a bit light until I laid it on my guitar top (which is very amber from age) and then it really looked very close to the 30's guards I have seen. The 50's swirl would have looked just as good, I think, but I am very satisfied with this guard and would buy this material again.

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