Guitar in general

How to apply a waterslide decal to a guitar

I recently put one of these waterslide Fender decals on one of my guitars, which is basically an easy job that does not take very long. However, I remembered that I heard of even a luthier who got big problems with it. The mistake he made was that he left the decal too long in the water. If the decal loosens from the paper and swims around in the water, you are lost. So here is in very short how to do it:

1. Sometimes you must cut out the decal first with a pair of scissors. Normally – like with the “official” stuff from Fender – this is not necessary.

2. Put the decal into water and leave it there just a few seconds. Do not wait until it starts to loosen.

3. Take it out of the water and wait for some time – something like 1 – 4 minutes – until the decal starts to loosen. Try very carefully to move it on the paper to check if it has loosended everywhere.

4. Simply slide it directly from the paper to the position you want it to be on your guitar. The surface must be smooth by the way, which means a clean and dry laquered surface.

5. If there are wrinkles, try carefully to smooth it with a wet finger. Normally it can be moved for some time on the guitar surface.

6. Carefully wipe with a soft cloth over the decal to remove any water. Do this very lightly so that you do not destroy the decal.

7. Wait until it has dried.

8. If there are any small bubbles (which is normall not the case) you can use a needle to open these.


That’s it. Again, the important trick is to take it out of the water and then wait until it starts to loosen, never leave it in the water so long.

3 thoughts on “How to apply a waterslide decal to a guitar

  1. Ingo, this is Fletch from the MKguitar forum & dayey1272250 from youtube – your blog is inspirational buddy, the video on Eastbound Train and the Memphis Scale particuarly helped me – i`d buy you a beer anytime… If you want another one, pls visit Australia & we`ll have a Jam and a few drinks! Thank You

  2. Jude, you can find such decals on ebay. However, sometimes these are home-made copies printed with a colour laser printer on a special foil, and thus of inferior quality. The “real” decals are still available from Fender, but normally only for repair shops or luthiers.

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