Having your very own guitar for the first time is an incredible feeling! You can take it anywhere, practice whenever you want, and even customize it however you want. Some guitarists like to choose a unique guitar strap to personalize their electric guitar, and others get colored strings or tuning pegs. I’ve put together a list of my favorite cool fretboard guitar sticker ideas, so read on to get inspired! I’ll be assessing them both in terms of their visual aesthetic and their practical uses.
One of my favorite ways to customize my guitar is to apply stickers to the fretboard. Whether you have an electric or acoustic guitar, you can do this, and it’s cheap and easy to do.
Take Some Precaution
Before you read this guide and go online to buy some cool fretboard stickers, I recommend you be really careful. Years ago, I bought some cheap fretboard stickers from an online retailer, and they were rubbish. Some of them wouldn’t stick properly, and some of them stuck too much to the point that I couldn’t take them off.
Stickers use glue to stick to your fretboard, and this can potentially be damaging to the material, especially if you plan to take them off at some point. For this reason, you should always ensure that you read the reviews of the stickers you plan to purchase, making sure that people have a good experience with them.
Finally, I would mostly recommend using fretboard stickers for budget or
De-Stringing Your Guitar
Applying stickers to a guitar fretboard isn’t as simple as just sticking them on – think about it, you would need to somehow slide a sticker in between the six strings in order to place them. It would be very difficult to pull this off, so I really do not recommend it.
Instead, you will simply need to remove your guitar strings. This is pretty easy to do, but it can be pretty daunting if you are a
If you are not confident with what you are doing, call a local guitar retailer such as Guitar Center, and they can destring your guitar for you, teaching you as they do it. Who knows, they might even help you apply the stickers!
If you instead choose to destring your guitar yourself, consider waiting until you actually need new strings. It’s generally best to leave a set of strings off of a guitar once you’ve removed them, so the best practice would be to destring your guitar, apply the stickers, and then restring it.
It’s generally a nice thing to do anyway, as not only will your guitar have fresh fretboard stickers, but it will also have shiny new strings! With all of that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the coolest guitar fretboard sticker ideas!
One of the hardest parts about learning how to play the guitar is learning the notes. I always felt like learning the notes of a piano was really intuitive, but there’s something about the number of frets and strings on a guitar that makes it so much more difficult. If only there was a way to see the notes as you played them.
Well, there is! It’s actually quite common to put stickers of note names on an instrument. I’ve seen it tons of times on keyboards and pianos. You can absolutely do this with your guitar too. It’s an excellent way to help you memorize the notes.
However, let me give you a quick tip – don’t have a sticker on every single note. Not only will this take forever to apply, but it could also reduce the effectiveness of the stickers. I would recommend simply applying the stickers to the areas of the guitar that you use the most.
Perhaps you generally play open chords on an acoustic guitar, in which case you only need to use stickers on the first five frets. If you’re an electric guitarist, maybe you should just use them to outline the power chords.
Finally, don’t become reliant on them. These stickers are super useful, showing you exactly where to put your fingers and helping you to understand the notation system, but you will need to learn without them eventually. Consider taking stickers off the notes that you have memorized, perhaps moving them up a few frets to help you learn more.
- A practical way at helping you learn every note
- Online shops list them in many different colors, sizes, and quantities
- Can be used on any string, at any fret
- It would take forever to apply these to the whole fretboard
- A lot of stickers are needed for even five frets, and they can start to get in the way
- They can cause you to become reliant on checking the stickers as opposed to learning them
- They don’t look too cool!
If you’re a more advanced guitarist and already know the fretboard notes like the back of your hand, you might be better off without the note stickers. They’ll only get in the way when you’re trying to learn new scales, but you could instead use them to outline these scales.
Perhaps you are still yet to learn the major scales, or maybe your pentatonic scales need work. You could either use note stickers or number stickers to outline where your fingers should go, moving them to different scales as and when you learn them.
I was always pretty good at learning scales, but I could never get the hang of learning modes for some weird reason. They’re basically scales but in a different order, yet I could not wrap my head around it. Using stickers to aid this massively boosted my confidence, and I’ve been showing off crazy modes every since.
- A practical way of learning scales and modes
- A better alternative to using a sticker for every single note
- Can be removed and re-applied upon learning a scale
- They can be quickly wasted if you learn a scale fast
- They don’t look particularly cool
Guitar inlays are visual markings on a guitar the help guide your hands towards the correct notes. Unlike note stickers that specifically show that you are playing a certain note, inlays are merely visual guides and aim to aid general hand placement as opposed to specific notes.
Most commonly, inlays are shown on the 12th fret of acoustic guitars as two dots, indicating that it begins the second octave. Other inlays will be marked more declaratively, such as two eagles, marking the 7th, 9th, or other frets.
Inlays are really useful tools even to professional guitarists as it helps encourage awareness of where your hand is on the fretboard. However, they are generally built into the guitar and even engraved in some cases. If your guitar doesn’t already have one, you can simply use stickers for it!
The best thing about this idea is that the stickers act as visual cues as opposed to listing a letter or number. This means that you can literally use anything that you want – a sticker of a mustache, a flame, an eagle, you can really get creative with it. Then, when you are playing the guitar, you will instantly know where your hands are due to the inlays indication.
- Helps you find your way around the fretboard
- A great opportunity for imaginative decoration
- Many inlay stickers to choose from
- They simply do not look or feel as good as engraved inlays
Harmonics and Decoration
Guitars are incredibly versatile instruments, being capable of producing all sorts of unique harmonics and decorations depending on the technique you use. There’s note bending, pinch harmonics, natural harmonics, but not every note supports them.
Generally, guitars have specific frets that work best with techniques such as natural harmonics, with the 7th and 12th frets being particularly effective. However, pinch harmonics, bends, and other decorations can sound different and more effective on different frets across different guitars.
Your Squire might produce huge pinches on the 5th fret, whilst my Fender might sound better on the 17th fret. It all depends on the fretboard, bridge, pickups, and other parameters.
I’ve always thought about using stickers to identify these “sweet spots.” I’ve never done it, but you could apply different stickers to different techniques, using symbols that look similar to the way that the guitar sounds.
The best thing about this idea is that there is no specific note or number to use – you can really get creative with the stickers, yet they wouldn’t just be good for visual decoration but musical decoration too.
- It’s a great way to remember the best frets for different harmonics and decorations
- It doesn’t involve notes, so you can use any sticker that fits
- As long as you’re subtle with the stickers, it can look really cool.
- It’s pretty easy to remember the best frets for decorations, so these stickers can be made practically redundant pretty easily
Purely Decorative Stickers
I’ve always thought it’s really cool how you can help yourself learn the guitar faster by using stickers, but stickers don’t always need to have a purpose. Most stickers in the world are applied simply because they look cool, and you can do this with your guitar too.
There are tons of stickers produced specifically for fretboards such as flames, swords, and birds, but you could get really creative and make your own. You could have your favorite band names listed between each fret or write lyrics across an octave.
The world really is your oyster when it comes to purely decorative stickers, but I want to remind you again to be careful. You should look closely at the stickers you are buying, especially if they are not actually designed for fretboards. The last thing you want to do is cause damage to your guitar simply because you wanted to make it look cooler.
- They can massively enhance a plain-looking guitar
- There is an insane variety of guitar stickers to choose from
- You can express yourself and your music through the sticker placement
- Decorative stickers can be hard to remove
- Cheap stickers may not stick properly or could leave a mark when removed
- It can look a bit tacky if it isn’t done tastefully
Whilst fretboard stickers can look very cool and be very useful. They can sometimes be a bit of a pain. They’re sticky, hard to remove, and sometimes feel clumsy when playing a guitar solo. It would be so much nicer if the image could just be a part of the guitar itself.
Believe it or not, this is absolutely possible. There are tons of guitars out there that have fretboards that have been engraved with a design, such as a guitar pick on the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets. However, there are also companies that sell bespoke fretboards with any engravements that you want!
It must be said that this is a significantly more expensive option – it costs a ton of cash to get a customized and engraved fretboard. It’s also essentially permanent considering that the art would be a part of the fretboard itself, so there’s no going back once you’ve had the job done.
However, this is actually a very appealing option to many. I’ve got an old electric guitar covered in some really cool guitar stickers but they’re fading away, and I have considered getting them engraved onto a new fretboard to preserve them in their entirety.
It’s definitely a safer option when it comes to customizing your fretboard, but it really is expensive. Before you even think about it, get this done by a professional, and don’t try to engrave it yourself. You could end causing serious damage to your guitar!
- It looks much cooler than stickers
- Engravements or built-in designs are professionally done and have no risk of being problematic when playing guitar
- They can greatly increase the value of a guitar
- Custom fretboard engravement is very expensive
- A guitar with pre-engraved designs will be more expensive purely due to its appearance
Before I round up my thoughts into a conclusion, I thought I’d run over a few frequently asked questions that I receive. Hopefully, they will help you too.
Question: Are Fretboard Stickers Only for Decoration?
Answer: Absolutely not – there are tons of ways you can use fretboard stickers to help you learn to play the guitar, such as through notation stickers.
Question: Are Engraved Designs Better than Stickers?
Answer: It’s undeniable that engraved inlays and designs look and feel better than stickers, but you’ll pay a serious price for custom fretboard engraving!
Question: Should You Use Fretboard Stickers on an Expensive Guitar?
Answer: As a general rule, fretboard stickers are best used on cheaper guitars, as they could potentially damage your expensive guitar if you try to remove them.
Question: What Do I Need To Do Before I Use Fretboard Stickers?
Answer: Before you use fretboard stickers, you will need to remove your guitar strings and assess the quality of the stickers, ensuring that they will fit between the frets.
Overall, purchasing some guitar fretboard stickers can be a great way to decorate your guitar and learn something new within the same package. You could use them to practice guitar scales or to identify the best places for harmonics and decoration, all whilst making your guitar look more impressive.
It’s difficult to choose my favorite on this list as I am judging the ideas based on two categories – visual aesthetic and practicality. When it comes to practicality, I would have to choose to use note stickers for learning scales and modes.
I’ve been playing guitar for over 15 years, yet I am still learning new modes every week, and it’s always good to practice. It must be said that it doesn’t look particularly good, but you can always remove the stickers before a big gig!
However, when it comes to visual aesthetics, I genuinely believe that engravement is your best option. Designs that are applied to a guitar professionally always look so much better, and you can be sure that it’s not going to cause a defect on your fretboard.
You can even get custom fretboard engravements these days, with some suppliers even supporting multiple colors.
Stickers for decoration can also be great fun if you are using a cheap
Whether you choose to use them for decoration or practicality, you should always ensure that you purchase fretboard stickers from reputable stores such as Guitar Center, or at least check the reviews online.
- Dave Grohl Guitars and Gear Comprehensive List - February 7, 2023
- Best Blank Guitar Fretboards Guide - February 6, 2023
- How to Find the Best Electric Ukulele - January 11, 2023