Autographed guitars can be cherished keepsakes or hot items to sell to collectors, especially when the signature is that of someone quite famous. However, it may be easier to get the signature than to preserve it. Depending on what ink is used or what type of guitar you have signed, attempts to preserve the signature can result in destroying the signature, the guitar or (worse) both.
Follow the right methods to keep your autographed guitar looking pristine while still preserving the signature.
If you haven't yet had the guitar autographed, make sure to have the autograph signed with an acrylic pen. Acrylic ink won't fade or bleed when sprayed with the protective clear coat.
Spray a fine mist of acrylic clear coat over the autographed area. One coat of the protective spray will work fine.
Allow the clear coat to dry before playing or moving the guitar.
If the guitar has already been signed with a permanent marker or sharpie, use a clear nitrocellulose lacquer to preserve the signature. However, you will want to test this method before spraying the lacquer on the actual signature. Make a very small mark on the guitar with the same type of marker or Sharpie that was used to sign the guitar. If you have another guitar made of the same material, make a very small mark on that.
Spray a fine mist of the clear nitrocellulose lacquer over the mark and allow it to set.
If the mark does not bleed and the finish of the guitar is not affected, spray the clear nitrocellulose lacquer over the signature. Allow it to set. One coat should do.
Store the guitar in a guitar case in which the surface of the autograph will not rub up against anything.
Keep the guitar out of direct sunlight if put out for display.
If you have children or pets, keep the guitar in a home storage center where it will be out of direct sunlight and will not be moved around.
The value of your autographed guitar will lessen if you use any of the lacquer or clear coat methods.
If you don't have an acrylic pen on hand and must use a Sharpie or permanent marker for the autograph, make sure the ink is blue in color. Black ink will eventually fade to brown, while blue will not.
Always test the lacquer spray first before using it on your guitar. Depending on the type of marker you use or the finish of your guitar, it could easily destroy both the ink and the guitar.