Elixir® Strings Tips & Tricks

Saving Autographs



I regularly get questions like, "I won a guitar that's covered with autographs of famous players. How can I keep the signatures from being worn away?" Recently, two acoustics showed up at Mod Squad Headquarters in need of an autograph fix. One was from Nashville, and it featured autographs of Clint Black, George Strait, and other Nashville cats. The other belonged to a friend of Chelsea's who didn't want her handpainted acrylic designs to wear off any further. Chelsea sealed both instruments with several light coats of clear gloss aerosol guitar lacquer. Here are her pointers for doing this job yourself.

“The Mod Squad’s Chelsea holds the two acoustics whose images and autographs she saved with savvy applications of paint, pen, and lacquer. Yeah, the balloons are a little weird, but they kept the lacquer out of the soundholes.

To keep lacquer out of the soundhole, blow up a balloon inside of it.

On her friend's guitar, Chelsea carefully cleaned the finish with a damp rag, and then used acrylic paints to touch up the areas that had already begun to wear. She matched the hues with her "magic" eye for color.

On the "Nashville" guitar, George Strait's signature was right on the pickguard, and it had already started to disappear. Chelsea found his autograph on the Internet, studied it, and restored it using a silver marker. As this guitar only needed lacquer on its face, she masked off the rest of the body and neck with light-tack drafting tape and paper.

For spraying lacquer, Chelsea conducted tests with four popular brands on a trashed Gibson flat-top to determine whether the lacquer would damage the autographs or acrylics.“Never spray lacquer on wet ink because it will run,” she says. “Hold the guitar away from yourself at an oblique angle so that the spray hits the guitar, coats it lightly, and then bounces away, rather than bouncing back at you. If you hold the guitar vertically you might get a runny coat. Spray successive light layers, and you’re done.”