- 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.
Anyway, so here are the different options you can choose from:
9 Different Ways to Customize Your Own Guitar:
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.
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.
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.
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$. Installing them is a breeze, all you need is a screwdriver.
With a good sticker like the one I have on my Taylor and you can see below, it's very hard to notice that it is not actually an original inlay. You can find any kind of sticker for any part of the guitar you want to put it on – the headstock, the bridge, the body.
You can even order a custom headstock sticker with your name on it if ya wanna feel like you're Elvis or Johnny Cash…
That's a funny one. You can tie it on in a few different ways and feel like a total redneck. I had this USA bandanna on my guitar for a pretty long time. I have seen similar setups with colorful bandannas that also looked neat. BTW, the pick in the pic was made with a Pick Punch out of a hotel door card.
Another interesting option. For me they seem like “too much” so I haven't tried adding shiny bindings myself. They are actually very popular on some metal style electric guitars and on… ukuleles!
This one is for the more adventurous and only if you can draw. If not, you can post on craigslist (or any of the like) that you are looking for lets say, a drawing of Hendrix' face on your guitar, and easily find someone who'll do that for you for cheap. (remember you can easily erase drawings you don't like with some alcohol) Here you can see a lot of examples of such drawings on guitars.
Below is my friend's guitar that we got for 30$ 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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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