9 Different Ways to CUSTOMIZE Your Guitar Almost for Free!

Hey good people! My name is Alon, I'm 27 and I play mainly the guitar, piano, and harmonica. In the last few years, I traveled through four different continents with my guitar while performing and teaching music. Currently, I am based in sunny Tel Aviv, Israel. The GuitarHippies mission: To get you to enjoy your musical journeys to the fullest. Cheers!

  • Originally posted in May 15, updated December 17.

Tired of your guitar's looks? Do you want to give your guitar a custom face-lift that will also increase your motivation to pick it up and play it more? Wanna take an average guitar and turn it into a jaw-dropper? You're in the right place my friend. Everything about custom and customizing your own guitar in the next minutes!

My attitude here is very simple – let's not pretend, looks are important! The guitar is your baby, and the prettier your guitar is, the more you'll want to play it. The better your connection will be. The more it will “wink” at you from the guitar stand, and eventually the better player you'll become since you'll play it more often and you'll be fueled with more joy and motivation.

So let's go ahead and turn your guitar into an art piece!

I have made some customizations myself on my three guitars and here they are, before and after. For a grand total of less than 20$ I now have three guitars that look gorgeous and are way more fun to play! People refuse to believe that my acoustic Washburn WD-10 had cost only 300$ since these cosmetics are usually reserved for at least a 1000$ price tags.

My electric guitar is the hot, Swedish, cherry red & very jazzy Hagstrom Viking which I am also very thrilled with to this day, 4 years after I bought it in London. The third guitar is a Taylor 12-string that rings like heaven – the 150e that I got not long ago.

customize your guitar

My Hagstrom Viking – customized with a set of fretboard inlays.

customize your guitar washburn

My Washburn WD10SCE – customized with a set of fretboard inlays, a pickguard and abalone bridge pins.

customize your guitar custom

My Taylor 150e 12 string – customized with a set of fretboard inlays, abalone bridge pins and headstock sticker. (shown in customization number 4)

Anyway, so here are the different options you can choose from:

9 Different Ways to Customize Your Own Guitar:

1 – Custom Fretboard Inlay Stickers

These custom guitar inlays are my favorite. On my custom acoustic guitar, no one believes that they are not real since they are so thin and high quality. They cost about 10$ and give an instant “bling” that is also useful because you don't have to struggle anymore with trying to spot on which fret you are, as you would have with the default tiny dot fret markers.

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This store right here is the biggest one on Amazon for guitar customizations and offers every inlay you can think of, from Gibson crowns to those huge “tree-of-life” ones, and all with very high quality. They ship from Japan to all over the world for as little as 5 bucks. I have had mine for 4 years and they show no wear, and since then got them on two other guitars and still no probs.

They are easily replaceable so I might eventually switch them when I get tired of this Gibson's crown look. On this page you can see some more examples from other customers who used these inlays to jack up their guitar looks. Simple installation instructions.

Customize your own guitar

A closer look on my custom pickguard and inlays.

On the Jockomo store you can see hundreds of different kinds of inlays that can beautify your guitar easily.

On the Jockomo store you can see hundreds of different kinds of inlays that can beautify your guitar easily.

2 – Pickguards

The red pickguard you see in my guitar's picture above was my first customization and I absolutely love it. It lasts forever as well. There is a huge variety you can pick from on the link when you click the picture.

This is more for relevant for guitars that do not have a pickguard yet. If yours came with a pickguard that you don't like, it's possible to remove but I think it can be a bit risky to do in terms of cosmetic damage. Never tried it myself though.

customize your guitar 5

customize your guitar

Notice the difference with and without the pickguard.

3 – Custom Tuning Pegs

Tuners can come in a lot of different colors and can add a special twist. I like these gold ones below that my friend got. They are pretty cheap, a decent set starts at about 10$. Installing them is a breeze, all you need is a screwdriver.

customize your guitar

If gold is your thing – a set of these can add some flashy bling to your acoustic / electric!

customize your guitar

4 – Stickers

With a good sticker like the one I have on my Taylor and you can see below, it's very hard to notice that it is not actually an original inlay. You can find any kind of sticker for any part of the guitar you want to put it on – the headstock, the bridge, the body.

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You can even order a custom headstock sticker with your name on it if ya wanna feel like you're Elvis or Johnny Cash…

This is the Jockomo headstock sticker that I added to my Taylor twelver.

Notice the headstock sticker that I added to my guitar.  a small nice touch.

custom guitar

5 – Bandannas

That's a funny one. You can tie it on in a few different ways and feel like a total redneck. I had this USA bandanna on my guitar for a pretty long time. I have seen similar setups with colorful bandannas that also looked neat. BTW, the pick in the pic was made with a Pick Punch out of a hotel door card.

customize your own guitar bandanna

6 – Bindings

Another interesting option. For me they seem like “too much” so I haven't tried adding shiny bindings myself. They are actually very popular on some metal style electric guitars and on… ukuleles!

customize custom guitar
7 – Sharpies Art Designs

This one is for the more adventurous and only if you can draw. If not, you can post on craigslist (or any of the like) that you are looking for lets say, a drawing of Hendrix' face on your guitar, and easily find someone who'll do that for you for cheap. (remember you can easily erase drawings you don't like with some alcohol) Here you can see a lot of examples of such drawings on guitars.

Below is my friend's guitar that we got for 30$ in a pawn shop in Idaho while traveling coast to coast in the US. Every time we met fun people on our way we handed them a bunch of sharpies and asked them to draw something. By the time we got to California the guitar looked like this:

customize your guitar

custom acoustic guitar customize sharpie

8 – Get A Good Looking Strap

This is more of accessories than an actual guitar customization but you can still do wonders to the overall look of the guitar when you attach an interesting strap on to it. Straps also make for original music gifts for friends when you are shopping for one.

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I just purchased a high-quality Levy's strap this past summer (the one in the pic below).it was rather expensive at 25$ but I thank myself every day I wear it. It's the fine details that make a product feel good and comfortable when you wear it, unlike the cheaper Chinese guitar straps I used to own.

customize your own guitar straps

My Levy's Canadian strao is lookin' great, serves me very well and feels like a premium product unlike the cheaper guitar straps I used to own. A good investment.

My Levy's Canadian strap is lookin' great, serves me very well and feels like a premium product. A good investment.

9 – Custom Bridge Pins

There is a common saying that bridge pins that are made of bone, like the ones that come on some expensive models, resonate better and have a longer sound sustain. I don't know if it's placebo or not, but what I am sure about is that a set of bridge pins with abalone dots are one of the cheapest and most gorgeous looking customizations you can add easily.

I ‘ve changed the default black pins on my Taylor into a set of white + abalone mother of pearls and here they are:

The white-abalone bridge pins.

The abalone bridge pins on my 12 string guitar.

Jammin' in Austin, TX. Travis' Taylor have the default black pins that you cannot notice. My guitar is on the right.

Jammin' in Austin, TX. Travis' Taylor guitar has the default black pins that you cannot notice. My guitar is on the right after I went from black to abalone.

These brass bridge pins also seem like a sleek choice.

These brass bridge pins also seem like a sleek choice.



That's it! I have made this article since I remember that back when I was in the market for some guitar add ons and customizations, it was hard to find good stuff around the internet regarding the topic of DIY customizations, so I hope you find this helpful and I'll appreciate if you post a comment with your takes on guitar customizations, and even links to pictures of your own customizations.

And now go for it! Pick your favorite blings and get them now. Customizing your own guitar is so much easier than you think, it will make you love your guitar much more, and therefore also increase your motivation to play more and become better!

It's much more than turning heads with your beautiful guitar – it's a win-win.

I hope that gave you some ideas, and if ya got more cool customization ideas to share (and maybe even post pics of) – please do so in the comments!



•Originally posted in December '14.

A fancy capo can also add some unique bling. Check out this review of the Thalia capos.

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18 comments for “9 Different Ways to CUSTOMIZE Your Guitar Almost for Free!

  1. Tishaan
    December 25, 2017 at 5:29 PM

    What if i don’t want to use sharpie onto the actual guitar

    • Alon Cooper
      January 2, 2018 at 3:39 PM

      Then don’t do it… Free country isn’t it?

  2. Kel's
    July 28, 2017 at 2:24 AM

    Is there another company that’s making good inlays besides Jockomo? I can’t seem to find an inlay by them that I really like.

    • Alon Cooper
      July 28, 2017 at 4:48 AM

      Hey, I haven’t tried other company’s inlays since I liked all of the Jockomo stickers I’ve got (that have also been holding perfectly for over four years now) but I know that if you google “guitar inlay stickers” you’ll find a couple of other options. Still, it seems like Jockomo have the biggest choice and biggest number of customers.

  3. Kevin
    October 5, 2016 at 2:59 AM

    This is the shit that always want to do but i never do. You just inspired me to do a blog or a guitar web like yours, you´re the man bro.

    • Alon
      October 8, 2016 at 7:02 PM

      Kevin you just made my day man, keep us posted with an address when your new blog will be up! All the best.

  4. Deeksha
    September 2, 2016 at 9:32 AM

    Very informative article! But won’t the sharpie wipe off?😁

    • Alon
      September 3, 2016 at 4:58 PM

      Thanks Deeksha. Yeah, over time I saw that some sharpies drawings can wipe off, but the good ones never seem to do so unless you try very hard intentionally to remove them. So get the expensive sharpies and you’ll be fine.

  5. Nova Shaí
    July 5, 2016 at 11:31 AM

    Amazing Job! You nicely expressed your love for Guitars etc. Sounds like you live a cool lifestyle in style..
    😉 keep up the great work, in keeping Music alive!
    Jehovah’s Blessings To You

    • Alon
      July 12, 2016 at 6:40 PM

      Thank you very much Nova!! Glad you enjoyed.

  6. elle
    May 27, 2016 at 5:49 PM

    It’s really helpful. Thank you Alon!

    • Alon
      May 31, 2016 at 7:14 PM

      You’re welcome Elle! Cheers.

  7. Phil
    March 13, 2016 at 7:58 AM

    What about changing the volume nobs into dice?

    • Alon
      March 13, 2016 at 9:13 AM

      Thanks for the idea Phil, I actually didn’t know about it but when googling “Dice Guitar Knobs” or “custom guitar knobs” you really do run into some cool stuff. Cheers

  8. Joe
    March 5, 2016 at 3:45 PM

    Great article

    • Alon
      March 7, 2016 at 11:20 PM

      Hey Joe (It’s an awesome song too BTW…), thanks!

  9. Tracey McC
    January 11, 2016 at 4:12 AM

    I’ve seen some really amazing painted guitars too. Thanks for the info!

    • Alon
      January 13, 2016 at 12:30 AM

      You’re welcome Tracey!

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