I recently was perusing the internet and found a post in a forum from some guitar owners expressing their dissatisfaction on white decals for dark surfaces, they weren’t our decals that were mentioned but the facts are the same. I felt compelled to answer the post and this is generally what I ended up posting:
I actually may be able to shed a little bit of light on the white decal situation. The problem with waterslides is that currently there is no economical way to print in white so opaque decals are achieved by printing on white paper. It is possible for manufacturers of waterslide decals to die-cut their waterslides, but they would be much more expensive to produce. As everyone knows the more expensive something is to manufacture, the more expensive they are for the consumer. The manufacturer of the decals you purchased have some nice images and though they are a tad more expensive than we are, their pricing structure is not out of line at all.
The great part about waterslides is that they are very thin which makes them great if you will be lacquering over them… no prominent ridge. That having been said, it is not necessary to lacquer over waterslides, even Fender’s custom shop does not lacquer over their waterslide decals. The rule of thumb for waterslides is… water on, water off. Since most of you will not be placing your guitars into situations where they will come in contact with water, it is a safe bet that your decals will be safe unless they are in an area that will be getting a lot of surface friction. A few years ago we did a great project for Gibson Guitars for their limited edition Steve Jones Les Paul and I do know that they did coat over the decals, of course they did quite a relic job on our decals as well. So, if ever you see a limited edition Steve Jones Les Paul, just know that that cute little record girl pinup decal and well as the ukulele cowgirl pin-up decal are ours.
If I might also make a few suggestions if your guitar is dark and you do need to order the white decals. When we have customers who contact us and let us know they will be placing the pinups on a dark surface.
First, we do recommend that they stay away from images that have thin objects protruding beyond the body of the image. We have a number of decals that have bow strings or fishing poles or lettering and these are difficult to trim and many times not all of the image survives the transfer. Though waterslides are pretty durable once they have dried, they are pretty tender when being applied.
Second, we actually recommend very sharp scissors and not an xacto knife to trim the decals. Save the Xacto knife to trim out any tight little corners that you couldn’t get with the scissors.
Third, to get rid of that prominent white around the edge of the decal, go to your local office supply store and purchase a marker similar in color to your guitar. Once your waterslide has dried, carefully trace around the decal and then wipe off any excess from the guitar.
Look at it this way, you have a well loved piece of equipment that you want to dress up a bit with a decal, that decal whether you clear-coat or not is probably going to last you for years to come. Take your time and do it right. I know it isn’t fun to trim those decals, but even if it were to take you several minutes look at what you have once it is finished. With a sharp pair of scissors I can generally trim any of my white waterslides in less than 5 minutes.
I do hope some of this helped. I went ahead and uploaded a cigar box purse that I did with one of the white decals. The box had a dark finish so I had to use the white. I did end up lacquering it but I did NOT use the marker method that I recommended in this post. I don’t really think it looks bad.