9 Different Ways to CUSTOMIZE Your Guitar Almost for Free!

Hey there! My name's Cooper, I am discovering the world while running my online teaching business, playing venues with a band / solo, and trying to learn with the most inspiring musicians wherever I go. In the last 8 years I've spent long periods in Australia, northern Europe, the USA, Sri Lanka and more. Originally I am from Tel Aviv, Israel. I hope I can be a helpful friend on your musical journey. 🙂

(Last Updated On: June 3, 2019)
  • Originally posted in May 15, updated in June 19.

Hey all. So – are you a bit bored with 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 with it – the more it'll “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 four of my 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$, since these cosmetics are usually reserved for at least a 1000$ and above price tags.

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My electric guitar is the Swedish, cherry red & very jazzy Hagstrom Vikingwhich I am also very thrilled with to this day, seven years after I bought it in London. The third guitar is a Taylor 12-string that rings like heaven – the 150e that I got in Austin, Texas in 2015, and the fourth one is a random bass guitar that I've got for a lease last year and ended up keeping it.

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 a headstock sticker. (shown in customization number 4)

My bass guitar, with the added block inlays.

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 playing, as you would have with the default tiny dot fret markers.

On Amazon you can find any inlay that you can think of, from Gibson crowns and PRS birds, to those huge “tree-of-life” ones. I have had mine for 3-7 (on different guitars) years and they show no wear at all. I recommend getting your inlays from “Jockomo” – they are the largest company in this market, and the one that I have good experience with.

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 link.

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.

2 – Pickguards

The red pickguard you see in my guitar's picture below 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.

Custom pickguards are not only popular with acoustic guitars, but also for some electric models, particularly for Fender Stratocasters.

With acoustic guitars, this is more relevant for guitars that do not have a pickguard yet. However, if yours came with a pickguard that you don't like, it should be possible to remove and replace, but I think it can be a bit risky to do in terms of cosmetic damage, and I'm sure that it will leave some marks that you'll want to fully cover with the new pickguard.

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Acoustic guitar pickguards examples.

customize your guitar

Notice the difference with and without the pickguard.

Brad Paisley style Stratocaster pickguard.

Here are some examples of many different inlays you can find online, both for acoustic or electric guitars.

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. Installing them is a breeze, all you need is a screwdriver. (and new strings of course – while you're at it)

Here you're messin' with a functional, important part, so make sure that you don't get the cheapest ones. I have read some bad stories about tuners that are barely holding the tuning, or just feel very cheap – which is never a fun thing to use.

Also – while tuners mostly have a universal fit, make sure they fit your guitar, because for example Fenders usually need specific tuners.

customize your guitar

If gold is your thing – a set of these can add some flashy bling to your guitar.

Bronze pegs.

customize your guitar

This black set is currently #1 on Amazon for best-selling tuners.

4 – Stickers and Decals for the Body / Headstock / Bridge etc.

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 headstock 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… (;

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

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

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Vine body stickers.

Roses for the ladies.

5 – Custom Knobs and Washers (for electric guitars)

Another affordable way to breathe some new life into your electric guitar, and this one takes less than a minute to install.

Different examples.

Many electric guitars also have a washer part around the pickup selector, which you can replace with an interesting one.

Another example of a washer.

 
6 – Sharpies Art Designs

This one is for the more adventurous fellas – and only if you can draw, or if you want to find someone who can. If not, you can post on relevant Facebook artists groups in your area (or any of the like) that you are looking for, let's say, someone who can draw Hendrix' face on your guitar, and easily find someone who'll do that for you. (remember you can 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:

After a few months some of these drawings were getting a bit washed, so if you want it to last – I suggest making sure that you're using high-quality sharpies.

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custom acoustic guitar customize sharpie

Some examples from around the web.

Click on the pic to see a cool time-lapse video of an artist drawing up on this Strat.

7 – Truss Rod Covers

The truss rod is a metal part that goes through the neck and makes sure it is stabilized from all the pressure that the strings put on it. Most acoustic and electric guitars have one.

Now – some of the truss rods can be adjusted through the guitar soundbox (in this case – if you take a look inside, towards the neck, then you'll see it), while on others the adjustment bolt is accessed through the headstock, and it's usually covered by a truss rod cover.

It's a part that is often “forgotten”, but if your guitar has one, it can offer a nice option for customizations. Below you can see some examples. Remember to make sure that it fits your guitar.

Remember to make sure that it fits your guitar.

Carved wood truss rod cover.

A “Rolling Stones” cover.

More examples.

You can also get a custom one with your name on it.

8 – Custom Bridge Pins

There is a common saying that bridge pins and a saddle 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 this set of bone bridge pins with abalone decorations is one of the most affordable and most gorgeous looking customizations that I've had. (although I haven't noticed a different in the sound)

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. My friend's Travis' Taylor guitar has the default black pins that you cannot notice. My guitar is on the right with the added white-abalone touch.

These brass bridge pins also seem like a sleek choice.

Brass bridge pinsmight seem cool – but a guitar tech that I trust told me that they shut all the resonance, so I'll take his word on it and stay away.

The rosewood option also seems to be popular on Amazon.

Black + abalone.

9 – Get A Sweet Looking Strap

This is more of an accessory than an actual guitar customization, but you can still do wonders to the overall look of the guitar when you attach an interesting strap 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 35$, but feeling the high quality and seeing how sleek it looks makes it a worthy investment.

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.

Leather straps are very popular and usually I find them to be comfortable as well.

When you browse your way to your next guitar strap you'll be surprised at all the cool options that the internet has to offer…

 


 

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 that you found this post helpful.

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 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!

Peace,

Cooper.

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

Hey there! My name's Cooper, I am discovering the world while running my online teaching business, playing venues with a band / solo, and trying to learn with the most inspiring musicians wherever I go. In the last 8 years I've spent long periods in Australia, northern Europe, the USA, Sri Lanka and more. Originally I am from Tel Aviv, Israel. I hope I can be a helpful friend on your musical journey. 🙂

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

  1. Dua Zia
    April 14, 2021 at 8:49 AM

    Great ideas! Keep it up, Cooper.

  2. June 22, 2020 at 6:42 AM

    I like this website very much, Its a very nice office to read and incur information.

  3. June 22, 2020 at 6:40 AM

    I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.

  4. Liam
    November 28, 2019 at 4:56 AM

    A word of warning as it were… Sharpies not so much, but paint or anything else on an acoustic top with impact the tone and sustain, and not in a good way. I don’t even like clear on my tops, just rubbed oil and wish I could skip that…

  5. Matt
    June 15, 2019 at 11:08 PM

    I like changing my guitar straps out to match the venue theme.

    • Alon Cooper
      September 14, 2019 at 8:47 PM

      That’s an awesome idea I never thought about.

  6. Kelsey Austin
    November 28, 2018 at 10:08 PM

    I’m a big supporter of customizing your axe in any way you see fit. Anything that makes you feel proud about your guitar is worth doing. I love to customize, especially with push/pull pots and locking tuners. Not only does it look better, but they both add another layer of functionality to the guitar.

  7. Joel
    October 26, 2018 at 11:49 AM

    Great stuff dude!

    • Alon Cooper
      October 29, 2018 at 1:10 PM

      Glad you loved it (:

  8. Devin Belgard
    October 14, 2018 at 11:36 PM

    This has helped me tremendously thank you!!

    • Alon Cooper
      October 15, 2018 at 10:45 AM

      You’re welcome Devin!

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

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

    • Cooper
      January 2, 2018 at 3:39 PM

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

  10. 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.

    • 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.

  11. 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.

    • Cooper
      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.

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

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

    • Cooper
      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.

  13. 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

    • Cooper
      July 12, 2016 at 6:40 PM

      Thank you very much Nova!! Glad you enjoyed.

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

    It’s really helpful. Thank you Cooper!

    • Cooper
      May 31, 2016 at 7:14 PM

      You’re welcome Elle! Cheers.

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

    What about changing the volume nobs into dice?

    • Cooper
      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

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

    Great article

    • Cooper
      March 7, 2016 at 11:20 PM

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

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

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

    • Cooper
      January 13, 2016 at 12:30 AM

      You’re welcome Tracey!

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