Can you put stickers on an acoustic guitar? In a word: yes. Do stickers affect acoustic guitar sound? No, the average sticker will not affect the instrument’s sound in any detectable way. However, if you decide to get rid of them down the road, you may be in for a pain-in-the-butt experience. Removal won’t trigger an acoustic change, but the glue can leave residue or affect the guitar’s coloring over a long period.
Stickers and Guitar Sound
Do stickers affect acoustic guitar sound? It’s a question we field frequently, and the simple answer is “no” — unless they’re placed directly on a part that vibrates, like a string.
But we should add a small caveat. Putting anything, even a feather barb, on a musical instrument will micro-audibly change the sound. The change, however, is imperceptible to the human ear and modern recording equipment. So, effectively, you can plaster an acoustic guitar with stickers to no material effect.
Will Stickers Ruin a Guitar’s Finish?
Will stickers ruin a guitar’s finish? It depends on what you mean by “ruin.” Some people don’t consider a bit of fading to be a bad thing; others see it as a catastrophic deal-breaker.
And fading is exactly what happens when you leave stickers on a guitar for any length of time. Think of it as a reverse tan. When you lay out in the sun, the skin not covered by clothing becomes darker. On a guitar, the opposite happens. The finish and paint not covered by a sticker may become lighter. As such, if you ever decide to remove them, the spots where they sat may appear darker than the rest of the instrument.
Another thing to worry about when you put stickers on a guitar is the glue, which can cause a host of headaches.
Depending on the adhesive’s strength, removing it may not be possible without ruining the guitar’s finish.
How To Remove Stickers From Acoustic Guitars
We’ve answered the question, “can you put stickers on an acoustic guitar?” Now, let’s talk about removal. How can you rid a guitar of stickers you’re no longer feeling? The basic process is simple: pour a cleaning chemical on a rag and rub it on the sticker until it comes off. Ultimately, which cleaning product to use is the real question — and the answer depends on your instrument’s finish.
Naphtha, aka lighter-fluid, is commonly used to remove stickers from guitars. Professionals typically go with naphtha when tasked with stripping decals. It may seem counterintuitive to use a flammable liquid on an instrument, but it evaporates quickly. Just keep any open flames away when working.
WD-40 may be the most versatile chemical on the American market. It takes a bit more time than a naphtha solution, but many folks already have it in the house, and it works!
Nail polish remover — alternatively known as acetone — is another option for guitar sticker removal. Like naphtha, it’s highly flammable; like WD-40, it takes a bit longer to work. Also, before getting started, make sure your finish can withstand it.
Guitar Body Polish
Guitar body polish is a mixed bag. Some people swear by it. Others claim it doesn’t work to remove sticker glue on guitars. The truth is somewhere in the middle — and its efficacy largely depends on your instrument’s finish.
Famous Guitar Players and Their Stickers
Can you put stickers on an acoustic guitar? Well, a lot of famous musicians did, including Woody Guthrie, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Tom Morello, and Paul McCartney.
If all these famous guitarist are putting stickers on their guitars, that’s a good indicator that stickers do not affect the sound of a guitar.
Some people credit Woody Guthrie for being the first musician to decorate a guitar when he slapped a sticker on his ax that read “This Machine Kills Fascists.” But Polynesian guitars dating back to the 1920s feature flower decals, rendering the Guthrie assertion apocryphal. Regardless, the folk singer’s instrument-based protest is a piece of American musical history.
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughn slapped SRV stickers on nearly all his guitars. Ironically, many of today’s musicians adorn their instruments with decals of the “Pride and Joy” singer.
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello is a huge fan of guitar stickers and decorations. It’s rare to see him strumming something that’s not aesthetically enhanced in some way. But beyond the guitar stickers, did you know that Morello graduated from Harvard before breaking into the music world?
Before Paul McCartney was a household name and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, he had a guitar decorated with a “bassman” sticker on it. Unfortunately, someone stole the instrument before the Beatles became famous, and it was never seen again. Imagine how much that guitar would be worth if it surfaced today!?
So what’s the bottom line regarding stickers and guitars? Decals aren’t necessarily bad for acoustic guitars, and they won’t affect the sound in any perceptible way. Use either naphtha, acetone, WD-40, or guitar body polish to remove stickers. But be careful to keep open flames away when working.
Stickerbomb A Guitar
Stickerboming is a style of decorating various objects in everyday life. It involves ABSOLUTELY covering the guitar in stickers.
This is stickers to the extreme, and while it isn’t my taste, the results are pretty cool.
Acoustic guitar stickers
Now you know a little more about stickers and how they’ll impact or not impact your guitar. Sound is an important factor, but you can rest assured that stickers will not largely impact the sound.
The glue from strickers may damage the finish of your guitar, or leave a fade spot where the sticker used to be.
None of these things are all too concerning any won’t shorten the lifespan of the guitar, it comes down to personal preference, so what do you think?