Back in the 90s, when teenage angst and grunge music were alive and well, stickers were a part of the guitar look. Not because of the way it looked per se, but because of what the musician believed and stood for.
The instrument was a tool used to make a stand for something. Sometimes even if that was never realized. It was fine to put stickers on a guitar. But is it still fine to do so?
In most cases, it’s completely safe to put stickers on a guitar. The sticker may leave behind some residue when it’s removed. But the more common guitar finish will not be affected unless it’s scratched off. Nitrocellulose guitar finishes, however, will be damaged.
To some people, putting stickers on the guitar is simply not acceptable. To them, it makes the instrument look bad. Some will even say it will ruin the finish, without really knowing if it’s true or not.
But a sticker on a guitar is fine if it isn’t a delicate surface and is another way of expressing yourself as an artist.
It’s best to verify that the surface is a polyurethane or polyester finish. If it’s a delicate or sensitive coating, you may want to keep the stickers off this one.
Is It Bad To Put Stickers On Your Guitar?
There are plenty of stickers that are harder to remove than others. If they sit for an extended period of time, they seem to become part of whatever they were stuck to. You know the type I mean.
But even these stickers are removable when done with the right compounds.
It’s fine to put stickers on your guitar. It will not affect tone to a noticeable degree, but it depends on how you treat the exterior finish.
The truth is, a sticker will help protect the finish underneath it. This can be good or bad. If it’s left on for a long period of time, at some point as the guitar begins to discolor, the area under the sticker will not.
Then there is the wear and tear the guitar will see with normal use. The area under the sticker will be protected from scratches. And so what you will find is that when the sticker is removed, the outline will remain.
The protected area will not be scratched or faded and will look like new, while the rest of the surface will not. If, however, your finish is something out of the norm, there is a chance that it could be ruined. There are a lot of guitars out there, some have sensitive and delicate tops.
Nitrocellulose finishes are sensitive to stickers and will be damaged. So if you have an older instrument, make sure to find out if it is nitro or not.
Is It Ok To Put Stickers On A Guitar?
It’s ok to put stickers on a guitar, but we also need to make sure the instrument has the finish to support removing them. If it will be damaged, then you need to proceed at your own risk.
Can You Put Stickers On An Acoustic Guitar?
Putting stickers on an acoustic guitar is perfectly fine. The sound will only be dampened if the entire guitar is covered in them. But even then it won’t be incredibly noticeable.
The resonant chamber or body of your acoustic guitar is what projects the sound. This is due to the shape and wood that is used to make it.
If the body is full of stickers, it may have a slight effect on the volume and tone. But the guitar will still play just fine. The only thing you should be concerned about is the finish. If it’s somewhat delicate, the guitar could be damaged when it comes time to remove the stickers.
This would mean it may need to be re-coated, which could be a difficult or expensive process. If you are not really concerned with how it looks, then that is irrelevant.
Should You Put Stickers On An Electric Guitar?
With an electric guitar, stickers will not affect the sound in any way. Because pickups are used to transfer sound from the electric guitar to an amplifier. There is no resonant chamber. This means that stickers will not dampen any vibrations made by the guitar body.
If you like the finish and want to preserve the electric guitar, then you need to be careful with where you put them. If the external finish on the body is delicate, it could be damaged by the sticker. When the guitar fades over time, but the area under the sticker does not, this will be seen once it’s removed.
How To Take Stickers Off a Guitar
This depends on the type of adhesive used, and the amount of time it has been on the guitar. It should pull off when done slowly. This of course depends on the type of sticker it is as well.
Paper stickers will be a bit tricky and might tear as you try to remove them. The decal type might be more rigid and remain intact as you lift it off. But you might be successful in just using your nails. Stickers that are more problematic will require a better solution, but can come off.
We have a few suggestions that might work and have helped others. But the risk of damaging your finish increases. So proceed at your own risk.
Wet Cloth Technique
First, you may want to try simply a wet cloth. Put it over top of the sticker and let it soak the paper. Sometimes this is all you need to remove it. Give it the proper time to saturate the sticker and try your luck again with your nail.
For some people, this is all that is needed to get the sticker and adhesive off. For others a bit of scrubbing with a damp cloth, one that will not scratch the finish, gets the job done.
Goo Gone Technique
I suggest you try Goo Gone adhesive remover for the stickers and adhesive that just won’t budge. This is some powerful stuff, but won’t ruin the finish of most guitars.
For any finish that seems very sensitive or delicate, you are proceeding at your own risk. If you truly feel your guitar top coat is very sensitive, you might want to consult a tech or luthier for advice.
We have used Goo Gone to remove stickers and have had good success. Some are more stubborn than others, but this stuff got them off. There are many other people who have been successful when using it as well and have had good results.
Stickers That Are Safe For Guitar
When choosing to put stickers on a guitar, we suggest you look more towards vinyl or decal type. You will want to make sure they are fairly rigid and hold together well.
Testing the glue on a sticker is also suggested. If you have a double and can leave it on something for a few days. This can also help you decide if this sticker is a good idea or not. If you are looking at paper stickers, you may want to make sure that they will come off well later.
There are some on the market that you can apply to your fretboard. They can help you with note memorization in conjunction with the dots or inlays. These stickers are made of vinyl and have glue that is easy to remove. These are the ones that we can get behind, they have a huge benefit when it comes to learning the notes on a fretboard.
They nicely tuck under the strings and are not affected when you play. This is a very handy tool when you are learning how to play.
If you need to stick something to your guitar, look into these learning the fretboard note map decals!
Where To Put Them
The truth is, you can put stickers anywhere you like. Most people want to have them visible and some do not. If it doesn’t matter much to you, then we suggest putting stickers on the back.
If your guitar has a pick guard, you may want to put it on there. With a pick guard, it can be easier to get them off later.
In most cases, people place stickers on the front where they can be seen. And this is fine, again, just make sure your finish can handle it when taking them off.
How Many Stickers Can I Put On a Guitar?
Are you are putting stickers on an acoustic guitar? Then you will want to know that too many of them can in fact affect the sound. Because the acoustic body is a resonant chamber, stickers can impact it negatively. Now, this is very minuscule, but it’s something to be aware of.
Do Stickers Affect the Electric Guitar’s Sound?
If the guitar is electric, then you don’t have anything to worry about. The signal sent to an amplifier is created electrically. So cover it with stickers if you like. It will not have a negative effect on your sound.
Can you put stickers on a bass guitar?
Yes, you can put stickers on a bass guitar. If it’s a solid body electric, it will not affect the sound at all. But, If it’s an acoustic model, it may slightly dampen the sound depending on how many stickers you put on. But it’s negligible and only really a personal choice.
The only real concern is how will they affect the exterior finish. Will the stickers hurt the paint or coating? If you are not concerned with that, then it is fine.