I have a scratch or dent in my guitar! Now what?!

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  • Durch Erik Bogaards
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I have a scratch or dent in my guitar! Now what?!

Of course you are careful with your guitar, but a scratch or dent can happen to the best of us. How to fix them?


A Scratch


According to some, a scratch adds a bit more 'mojo ' and character to your guitar. So we completely understand why people love our relic guitars so much. But if you prefer a guitar in 'mint condition’ then it’s better to do everything you can to prevent scratches in the first place. These tips might help:


  • Belts, zippers and jewelry are a danger for your guitar. So don't put on that jacket with a zipper and take off your jewelry and belts before playing.


  • Always clean your guitar with a cloth after playing. This will make your strings last longer. The sweat from your fingers is acidic, which might affect the finish on the neck in the long run. If you keep your guitar clean you prevent future problems, but be aware of what type of cloth you use. Be especially careful with paper towels and tissues, because paper might appear to be soft, but can be coarse. A lint free cloth is best. 


  • Ever so often we hear guitarists say that their guitar just slipped from their hands. Or a pet pushed it from the couch. A simple guitar strap offers extra security and a good stand provides any guitar with the footing it sometimes needs.


  • Halfway in its case… You know, you’re playing, and you take a short brake. So you put your guitar halfway in its case and leave it open. And then your case gets a little nudge, just enough to make the lid come down. Including those sharp locks. OUCH! Put your guitar in its case. Or take it out. Not something in between.

Despite all these tips, we also know that when guitar is being played, you get scratches. Light scratches are really unavoidable, which is why there is a pickguard on most guitars. Would you rather see wood than such a pickguard? More and more brands offer attractive invisible solutions.


But what to do if there are some light scratches on your guitar? A great way to get rid of them is by using a polish, like the one from Nomad. Inexpensive, easy to use and your guitar will love that showroom shine.


Deep scratches and dents


Deep scratches, which are easily recognizable due to the white stripes in the paint, require a different approach. Putting on some of the polish might help somewhat, but usually does not fix deep scratches.


It’s good to know, that even a deep scratch or dent, will not affect the sound of your guitar. Nor will it fall apart. You could just play on and see if you can get used to it. Does it keep bothering you? More often than not, something can be done to fix it. Online you will find a wide array of tips and tutorials to fix scratches. We came across suggestions like light sanding with very fine (wet) sandpaper, followed by buffing and polishing. We also saw toothpaste advocated as a means of careful sanding.


Our advice when it comes to fixing scratches: don't do it yourself! Not with sandpaper and certainly not with toothpaste or any other abrasive. There is a good chance that you will get a larger, dull 'stain' instead of a scratch. Don’t start messing around with the paint or lacquer layer on your guitar. Just turn to some professional help. Why? Because there simply is not one piece of advice that works for all scratches on all guitars. For example: which lacquer was used initially? Nitrocellulose or polyurethane or something else? The paint and lacquers used differ strongly per guitar builder and even per model. Which one do you choose?


Furthermore: how deep is the scratch? Where is it located? Which type of wood is damaged? All of these factors play a part in finding the right solution. To perform such repair jobs on your guitar you need special equipment and some experience. Both are amply present in our workshop.


The same can be said about even deeper dents. Online the ‘ironing’ trick is heavily promoted. You do so with a wet cloth and a hot soldering iron. Put the wet cloth on the dent, warm up carefully and the steam from the cloth will put the wood back in shape and remove the dent.


Our advice: Do. Not. Do. It.


You may get the dent out, but the heat might also damage the paintwork around the dent. If you consider fixing a dent, we strongly urge you to get some advice from an expert guitar builder or one of our luthiers first.


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