Removing dry transfer decals

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by Telechamp, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. Dirtymug666

    Dirtymug666 Synchromatic

    Mar 10, 2011
    Muskogee, Oklahoma
    Did you try your saliva yet?
  2. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Meh...I've removed dry decals with a buck knife...keep at it, only apply enough pressure to move the blade from side to side, as perfectly perpendicular from the surface as you can.
    You want to scrape the decal. Too much downward pressure and/or angle on the blade and it will start to cut, which is what you'd want to avoid.

    Also, not all nailpolish/remover is aceton based. Read the small print guys, or ask the wife! :D
  3. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay

    OK, guess I'll give it another shot with the knife, but I'm kinda paranoid about carving out a "niche" in my headstock..

    Will check the ingredients in the wife's nail polish remover, too..
  4. nadles

    nadles Country Gent

    Have you tried masking off the surounding headstock area and carefuly sanding the decal? should remove the vinyl and get you down to the adhesive layer, then maybe very fine grade paper to polish out the adhesive.
  5. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay

    Sounds too risky for my sanding "talents"...
  6. jbcallender

    jbcallender Gretschie

    Nov 21, 2010
    San Antonio, TX
    I may take this as a Gretsch Challenge. I may go buy some decals and put them on something just so i can figure out how to get them off.....
  7. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay

    Well, when you do, get back to me!
  8. JLoud

    JLoud Synchromatic

    Nov 7, 2011
    Blue Grass State
    How about duct tape?
  9. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    Good call Telechamp. These aren't like conventional decals. The dry transfer is very thin and pretty much any abrasive that would remove it would also abrade the paint.

    How about just rubbing it with your fingertip? That's about the mildest abrasive out there but it does work. They actually use this technique when polishing mirrors for telescopes.
  10. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay

    Yeah, that's what I was thinking, too, Synchro. I'm afraid I'm going to scratch it up with a knife.

    I have actually tried to scratch it off with my fingernail, but it doesn't seem to budge.

    But I may try the fingernail polish IF it doesn't have acetone in it.
  11. jaycemumford

    jaycemumford Country Gent

    Jan 2, 2011
    To prove a point to myself i went and rubber the crapper out the poly on my 5120 with GP Thinners..

    I jave already wetsanded with 1500 to get rid of the horrible gloss..

    I did it on the serial number which is on the orange stain and under the clear. That way if it fudged the clear coat you could tell.

    Acetone is a whole different monster.. Maybe try Shellite which is Naptha.

    Attached Files:

  12. spellcaster

    spellcaster Electromatic

    I'm late to the party but I have a couple of suggestions.

    If you prefer a chemical solution, try mineral spirits. It's safe on poly and if you soak a small section of paper towel and let it dwell over the edge of the decal, it will likely lift.

    If you prefer a mechanical solution, heat is the key. Gentle heat from a hairdryer (not a heatgun) will soften the adhesive. When it gets warm enough, the adhesive will reactivate and can probably be peeled. An automotive supply will have plastic razor blades which are a good way to start the process of delaminating the decal. I'm an auto detailer by trade and I do lots of this stuff. I use the plastic razor blades on clearcoated paint to remove old dealer stickers and they haven't caused any damage. Gentle heat is your friend.

    One other solution that hasn't been mentioned is an item used by detailers and bodyshops called a Magic Eraser (no relation to the Mr Clean foamie by the same name). The Magic Eraser (sold at auto supply shops) is a yellow rubber wheel on a shaft that mounts into the chuck of an electric drill (Don't use air drills-they run too fast). By running the wheel against the sticker, it's simply rubbed off. Generally, on the painted surface of a car, there's no visible signs afterward, but compounding the clearcoat with a fine abrasive (toothpaste or Brasso) will remove any scuffs. This is the best last-resort tool for this type of job.

    Once the decal's gone, the residual adhesive should clean up with mineral spirits. Some of the other products mentioned like Goo Gone are also good for this. WD-40 is great for some things (like removing tree sap off your car) but I don't use it on guitars.
  13. montereyjack66

    montereyjack66 Country Gent

    Feb 29, 2012
    Have you tried contacting Seal Team Six?

  14. pilgrim

    pilgrim Country Gent

    Jun 15, 2010
    When you applied the decals their adhesive formed a chemical bond with your guitars finish. Therefore when (if) you remove the decals the shape will still be in the finish.
    This is not a problem like taking decals off a car, it is a chemical bonding problem that cannot be reversed by peeling off the decals.
  15. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay

    Well, now that I hear this, I'm glad that I just gave up trying to remove them....
  16. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay

    Well, thanks for the suggestions, Spellcaster, but see my reply to Pilgrim above..
  17. Alan6122

    Alan6122 Electromatic

    Apr 29, 2012
    Certainly running out of ideas, but there is one as not yet mentioned: Scotch 700 Adhesive Cleaner & Solvent. Comes in a spray can, available from art or picture framing supply outlets. Unlikely to damage any lacquer finishes (try in a blind spot first), evaporates very quickly so might be necessary to soak some cotton wool with it and place in contact with stickers. If you can then tease a corner up, use the extension nozzle and keep up a light spray between the decal and surface whilst gently lifting with a fingernail or Q-Tip soaked in solvent (don't use a metal blade in case the solvent softens the finish a bit whilst moistened).

    I've used this stuff on anything from photographs through hard plastic to lacquered finishes, and while it may slightly soften some finishes while working, it dries without blistering or altering the surface finish or sheen provided the surface isn't rubbed or scratched while so softened.
  18. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay
    Well, guys, after all this, you are not going to believe this...

    Guess what took the dry transfer decals off - easy as pie?

    SIMPLE MASKING TAPE!!!!! :eek:

  19. NickGretsch

    NickGretsch Synchromatic

    Aug 30, 2011
    Cornwall, England
    WOW congratulations!!!!!

    Been following this thread with interest, thought you might have to resort to Mr Setzers overlays but hey, well done.
  20. nadles

    nadles Country Gent

    Well done - any damage/marks on the guitar?
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice