Stickers are a controversial topic when it comes to guitar bodies, and one of the major arguments is how they affect guitar sound. But is there any truth to this claim?
Stickers do not affect guitar sound when applied to the body of the guitar, regardless of the guitar type. Paying attention to sticker placement and considering the visual implications of the sticker should be done prior to adhering it to the guitar. Still, there is no need to worry about altered sound.
Keep reading as we look at where you can place stickers on a guitar and what happens when you remove them. Understanding the full process ensures you know what you’re getting into when putting stickers on your guitar.
Where Can Stickers be Placed on a Guitar?
You can put stickers virtually anywhere on the body of the guitar, including:
- Front of body
- Back of body
Because pickups use magnets to transfer the sound, you can even put them over the area without worrying about interference.
Just be mindful about how the sticker will affect the appearance of the guitar, particularly if or when you remove it, and make sure you’re okay with that possibility.
Stickers on the Back of a Guitar v. Front of a Guitar
The difference between placing stickers on the back versus the front of the guitar is visibility.
The back of the guitar is a great option if you like the finish on the front of the guitar and aren’t looking to show the sticker off. Most people will not see the sticker unless you set it down or they get their hands on it, so putting a sticker here is less of an issue.
While putting the sticker is more inconspicuous, the front is the route to go if you want to attract attention.
You’re better off putting the sticker in the corner of your guitar body, ideally away from the soundhole and where the pickguard is/would be to prevent damage to the sticker.
Can You Put Stickers on Your Fretboard?
Putting stickers on the fretboard is more challenging. You need to loosen the strings enough to push them to the side and put the sticker on the fretboard.
This is a great way to mimic inlays without paying the price, but it’s not the most practical position.
Stickers work better on acoustic guitars or for rhythm players. Slides and bends will undermine the adhesive, and the sticker gets in the way over time.
Should You Seal Stickers on Your Guitar?
Stickers are too thick to seal properly on your guitar. If you are worried about protecting the appearance and do not mind the permanence, you can seal decals on your guitar.
This is easiest on the headstock because it is such a small area to work with.
When you try to seal the body of the guitar, there is more pressure to do a good job. You need to ensure the sealing layer sits evenly on the surface. You should avoid using a thick sealant, as this can affect guitar sound.
What Happens When You Remove Stickers from Your Guitar?
Despite your initial thoughts, there is always a chance you will want to remove a sticker from your guitar.
Understand the implications beforehand to avoid being blindsided by potential effects. This usually goes seamlessly, but there are a few risks.
Will Stickers Ruin a Guitar’s Finish?
Stickers are unlikely to ruin a guitar’s finish.
You are more likely to damage the finish trying to remove the sticker than the adhesive itself doing the damage,
The main issue with the sticker itself is that it blocks part of the guitar body from wearing out evenly. While other areas may yellow, darken, or fade, the area under the sticker remains the same. Expect it to leave behind a silhouette.
How to Get Sticker Residue Off Your Guitar
The key to getting sticker residue off your guitar is removing the sticker with patience.
Carefully turn up a corner, then slowly peel it from your guitar’s surface. If the adhesive splits, work from another angle.
Once you have the sticker up, go back with a soft cloth and use gentle circular motions to ball up any leftover adhesive so you can easily pluck it off.
Use a guitar body cleaner to pick up any leftover residue and anything you cannot see. It’s best to avoid adhesive removers, but you can try to use Goo Gone Original on a cotton swab for stubborn stickiness.
How To Safely Remove Stickers From A Guitar [Video]
Stickers may not affect guitar sound, but you should be mindful of where you place them, how many stickers you use, and the future implications the stickers may cause.
Always assume that you will want to remove the stickers one day. That day may not come, but preparing for it ensures you don’t create a larger issue by piling too many stickers in one area or sealing stickers to the guitar’s body.
Removal should go smoothly without using a cleaner, but persistent adhesive requires patience and careful application. If it comes down to it, defer to a professional guitar cleaner to ensure that the process does not affect the integrity of your guitar.