Vinyl LP Pickguards- give these a spin!

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Vinyl LP guards! It’s the vinyl countdown!

 

bibio-sunbursting-vinyl-record
Bibio with a copy of his ‘Sunbursting’ EP- which features artwork we helped create!

When the 12″ LP was first introduced by Columbia Records in 1948, few people realised the extent to which the ‘long play’ would revolutionise music.

For the first time, an entire symphony up to 45 minutes could fit onto a single recording format- making it also popular as a medium for film and musical soundtracks.

As the format caught on, artists started to make the most of the extra time available and develop albums specifically for LP format- rather than just release single tracks, they were able to develop collections of multiple songs with an overall theme or overarching narrative- a massive bonus for both artists and consumers.

This eventually blossomed into the ‘album era’ as the album as a format was born, and the music industry as we know it changed forever.

Album cover of 'In The Wee Small Hours', by Frank Sinatra (1955) IC- Wikipedia
Album cover of ‘In The Wee Small Hours’, by Frank Sinatra (1955) IC- Wikipedia

Two separate facets of the industry in particular; suddenly the ‘album cycle’ was born, and starting with Frank Sinatra’s 1955 album, ‘In The Wee Small Hours‘, the idea of albums as collections of thematically linked songs began to form.

This eventually blossomed into the ‘concept album’, with grand studio projects like Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys, 1966) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles, 1967) giving way to concept albums like Tommy (The Who, 1969), The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (David Bowie, 1972), Dark Side of The Moon (Pink Floyd, 1973), Joe’s Garage (Acts I-III) (Frank Zappa, 1978), and Misplaced Childhood (Marillion, 1985) to name but a few of hundreds of fantastic albums from the era.

Albums like Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper also welcomed the era of the studio being used as an instrument itself, and new recording techniques and use of handpicked session musicians working on creating albums that would be physically impossible to tour.

Brian Wilson’s recording outlook was perhaps most keenly emulated by Donald Fagan and Walter Becker of Steely Dan, which culminated in their albums Aja and Gaucho which pushed recording technology and the session players of the time and often beyond- Gaucho in particular was so expensive to produce as a result of the use of 42 different session musicians and the development of an experimental new drum machine, that MCA put up prices on all subsequent albums by their most successful artists.

Album cover of 'Aja', by Steely Dan (1977) (IC- Wikipedia)
Album cover of ‘Aja’, by Steely Dan (1977) (IC- Wikipedia)

The album cycle, which still persists today, is the process whereby an artist releases single tracks to promote an album, and then tours to promote album sales… the difference being now, that album sales make nowhere near as much as touring any more with the current landscape dominated by streaming and illegal downloads. Indeed, in 2024, we’re now back at a point where physical LP records sold at live shows are starting to become the most popular merch item, though now a large proportion of those buying records at shows don’t even own turntables- they simply want a souvenir from their experience.

As the industry grew, many fans felt that this process disconnected them from their favourite artists- particularly in the 70’s, bands like The Eagles would release expensively-made albums to huge critical acclaim and commercial success, tour massive stadiums, and then seemingly vanish off the face of the earth until the next album was announced.

If you’ve read any rock autobiographies(I’ve just finished The Dirt, by Motley Crüe- a cracking, if visceral, read), you’ll know it was hard on the bands too- life consisted of months in the studio under pressure to create massively successful albums, followed by months in tourbuses and hotel rooms as they promoted their work. It’s little wonder that the rock and roll lifestyle as we think of it today developed- putting anyone under that kind of pressure and stress would have consequences!

The downfall(or at least, the biggest challenge to) the vinyl LP was introduced as early as 1982- the Compact Disc, introduced by Sony and Philips as a way of digitally storing recordings in super high fidelity. Folks today talk a lot about the warmth of vinyl, but in truth that’s actually a form of harmonic distortion caused by limitations of the storage medium- digital files by nature hold much more data than the grooves on a record, so are indisputably, objectively a more accurate representation of the recorded sound… but that doesn’t stop many people preferring vinyl, myself included.

However, the convenience and fidelity of the CD lead to vinyl sales to decline massively until their lowest point in 2006… after which something of a resurgence started to happen and folks started to get back into physical media again as a response to the intangible nature of downloads. As of 2022, Midnights by Taylor Swift was the first album to outpace CD sales since 1987, when CD copies of Bad (Michael Jackson) and Appetite for Destruction (Guns n’ Roses) became the first to outsell their vinyl counterparts. Vinyl is back, baby!

short scale telecaster vinyl LP pickguard
short scale telecaster LP record scratchplate

 

A major disadvantage of vinyl however is the relative fragility of the medium- it has to be handled with care as it can easily scratch, warp, or shatter given the slightest opportunity to do so, and the cardboard covers wear out or water damage easily. This means there are a heck of a lot of records on Discogs with damage, or missing sleeves, which can be purchased for next to nothing… and that’s where we come in!

LP record jaguar pickguard
LP record jaguar scratchplate

We can convert any record into a stunning, bespoke, unique guitar scratchplate just for you! Some guitar pickguard designs are of course too big for a 12″ radius LP or single to cover, but we can either edit the shape, or come up with a second part if needed to cover any missing bits… it’s all possible, just have a chat with us about your requirements and we’ll get you sorted!

 

 

What could be more personal than making your favourite song into a pickguard for your favourite guitar?! Even undamaged records are often cheaper than using any of our regular materials too, so although this is perhaps the most personalised option we offer it’s also potentially the cheapest!

Four Year Strong LP Record Telecaster scratchplate
Butchered/immortalised LP record we made for a telecaster
Chvrches Clear Vinyl Pickguard
We made a truss rod cover, switch plate and floating pickguard for an Harmony H77 by sacrificing a Chvrches LP

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