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How to Get Rid of Pick Scratches on Guitars

Errant picking scratches can damage a guitar's finish.
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Playing guitar with a pick increases volume and creates bright tone. Unfortunately, picks also scratch the surface of the instrument. No matter how carefully you play, a pick will inevitably leave marks on your guitar. Pickguards protect guitar finishes; a scratched pickguard may make your instrument less attractive. Some guitars don't have pickguards and picking scratches damage the instrument's finish. Superficial scratches to pickguards and a guitar's finish can be repaired , restoring your instrument to a like-new appearance.

Things You'll Need:

  • Clean Cotton Cloths
  • Guitar Polish
  • Plastic Polish
  • Polishing Compound

Inspecting Scratches

Polish the guitar with a high quality guitar polish. Spray polish on the guitar surface and wipe with a clean cotton cloth. Turn the cloth over after wiping the polish away and wipe the guitar again to remove any residue.

Gently run the tip of your fingernail across any scratches on the guitar. Listen for a clicking sound as your fingernail passes over scratches.

Take the guitar to a professional to have the finish repaired or the pickguard replaced if you hear clicks; the pickguard scratches are too deep for simple repairs. If there are no clicks, you should be able to fix the scratches yourself.

Removing Scratches from Pickguards

Purchase plastic polish from a hobby shop, automotive supply store or hardware store.

Place the guitar on a clean, well-lighted work area. Good lighting makes scratches easier to see.

Dampen a clean cotton cloth with water. Apply plastic polish to the cloth and rub the polish onto the pickguard. Rub across scratches at a 90-degree angle, applying pressure to the pickguard. Don't press too hard, you risk breaking the guitar top.

Allow the polish to dry to a dull haze. Remove dried polish with a clean, dry cloth. Turn the cloth over and rub the pickguard in small circles to buff away any residue.

Repeat the polishing process if scratches remain in the pickguard.

Removing Scratches from Guitar Finish

Obtain polishing compound from a hobby shop, automotive supply store, or hardware store. Polishing compound is also referred to as scratch remover.

Place the guitar on a clean, well-lighted work surface.

Apply polishing compound on a clean, dry cloth. Gently rub the compound onto the scratched surface, making small circles over the scratch.

Allow the polish to dry to a dull haze.

Wipe away dried polish with a clean cloth. Rub the cloth in small circles, until the polish is gone. Turn the cloth over and buff the finish with the clean side to remove any residue.


Use the highest quality polish and scratch remover. Go to a repair specialist if scratches remain. Old cotton t-shirts make good cloths when cleaned and cut into 6-to-8 inch squares.


  • An instrument's original finish brings the highest resale value, even with scratches. Buffing too deep into the finish will remove the finish and leave wood bare. Refinishing a guitar can cost hundreds of dollars.
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