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Guitar Dent Repair

In this post I will show you how I fix dents on guitar tops.

Guitar dent repair Guitar tops are made of soft woods that dent easily. Here are is a couple of nasty ones in a spruce top. This guitar is finished in french polish, but the steps are similar for other finishes.
striping the finish The first thing I do is strip the finish on the damaged area. In this case I am using high proof alcohol. I need to get back to bare wood.
the dents are now exposed The alcohol has done it's job and has even started to pop the dent out.
steaming out the dents Now comes the fun part. I use a soldering iron and paper towel dampened in distilled water to steam out the dents. The steam enters the wood re-inflates the compressed wood. I don't recommend using printed paper towel in your shop as the color can bleed. I have tested this particular brand ahead of time and am sure that the ink is color fast and is not going to transfer to the guitar, but as a general rule it is best to avoid the printed verities.
steaming dents Now I repeat the process on the second dent.
time to dry Once the dents are gone the wood needs to dry.
sanding the area when I am sure the wood is dry I will do a bit of sanding to smooth out top and help blend the coming finish touch-up. I'll start with 120 grit on a block.
Next I use 220 grit Next I use 220 grit
final sanding And I finish up with 400 grit feathering out the edges. All and all I remove very little wood. I don't want anyone to ever see or feel that worked here.
french polish time Touch up time. In this case it's my favorite finish, french polish, so out comes my pad with some matching blond shellac.
fp looking good The first coat looks good. I think the color is spot on, so all I need to do is body it back up to the original thickness.
The final result And there you have it. No more dents.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to review my post.  I hope you all found it interesting.  I don't recommend trying this at home, as you can easily make a bigger mess than you had.


4 thoughts on “Guitar Dent Repair”

  • Jean

    That was amazing!

  • Kevin

    Is this possible with a polyurethane finish?

    • Andrew

      I'm sure it is, however I have no personal experience with repairing poly finishes. I would imagine that with a polyurethane finish one would have to respray the entire top in order to make it look good because poly doesn't melt into itself the way lacquer and shellac do.

  • Ihatemeforwhativedonetomyguitar
    Ihatemeforwhativedonetomyguitar November 30, 2014 at 4:24 am

    nice, got two big dents from my Shadow SH 1000 fingertrainer, it fell out of my hand and attacked my concert guitar, it has already a few before but these two are very big.
    now i know what i have to do to get rid of them thank you very much

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