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This isn’t strictly a music question but I think it’ll fare better here than on the DIY / Home Improvement exchange, so hopefully that’s okay!

My wife and I got all our guests to sign and draw on an acoustic guitar at our wedding, using Sharpie markers. We’d like to put it up on the wall, but I’m worried that the Sharpie will rub off or be damaged / smudged. Note: I don’t really ever intend to play the guitar (though who knows, it’s a 3/4 sized acoustic so it might be nice to teach kids on some day!)

What kinds of options do I have for protecting the guitar, to ensure that the Sharpie marks remain there permanently? Some kind of coating, sprays, etc., perhaps?

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If you are just hanging it on a wall and not playing, then don't worry about any of the acoustic properties and give it a couple of coats of spray lacquer or acrylic.

Just spray the body - necks don't do well with lacquer - very difficult to avoid it cracking or rubbing off. So if it is just the body that had been signed then mask off all hardware and the soundhole, and spray the body. Similarly for the headstock.

If you do plan on playing it, and it's a good quality guitar, don't paint it, just in case.

  • Nah it’s just a cheapy 3/4 sized nylon acoustic, no intention to really play it much, perhaps until kids come along and need something smaller :) Acrylic sounds like a great idea – could I spray the whole guitar or should I mask off the neck, etc.? – Luke Jan 5 '15 at 9:22
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    @lukech if it was me, I'd try a clear laquer used on cars, available in spray can in Halfords for about £5 (if you're in the UK). It's really tough and fairly easy to get a nice finish. Try a little bit on the back of the guitar first to make sure it sets nicely and doens't react with whatever's on there first (which it could - whatever you try, use a bit somewhere non-visible 1st to check for reaction). Bet that's a great thing to have hanging up :-) – user2808054 Jan 6 '15 at 10:38
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I imagine you could use a clear acrylic coating on the body of the guitar if you aren't planning on playing it. Even then, it shouldn't affect the sound too much.

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I would check with a local luthier, he surely knows the right materials for both the guitar body and the signs so that none of them will be damaged.

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Have you considered putting it in a case instead? That way it is protected from dust, dirt and damage - nobody will be tempted to grab it and it will also look nice "framed" this way.

You can also test the smudge risk by putting a small dot on the back with the same pen, leaving it a few hours and then seeing if it does actually smudge when you rub it.

  • I have, but it’s a really nice centrepiece to a room and we’d love to have it out on display somehow. – Luke Jan 5 '15 at 9:21
  • I did mean like a glass/perspex case, just to make sure that was clear. But I can see the attraction to have it not 'locked away' – Mr. Boy Jan 5 '15 at 9:23
  • That’s probably a little bigger space-wise than we can fit in the house, unfortunately :( – Luke Jan 5 '15 at 9:24

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