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Thread: removing sharpie autograph

  1. #1

    Default removing sharpie autograph

    Saw a very nice newer Gibson mandolin for sale.

    It is in great condition, except for the back of the headstock.
    The headstock is finished black and the owner, for some reason, thought it would be cool to have a musician autograph it in silver sharpie.

    I would probably buy the mandolin, if there was no autograph, as it's a model I've been looking for used.

    Is there any way to remove the autograph, short of getting the back of the headstock refinished?

    I contacted the seller and he confirmed it was done with a sharpie.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Wouldn't meth's do it if you wipe it softly?
    I never fail at anything, I just succeed at doing things that never work....


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  3. #3

    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Quote Originally Posted by G7MOF View Post
    Wouldn't meth's do it if you wipe it softly?
    I'm assuming you mean denatured alcohol.

    I'm not sure if this would work?
    I'm wondering if the ink could've bled into the finish.

  4. #4

    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Wouldn't meth's do it if you wipe it softly?
    This may belong in the thread recently where the differences between the British version and the American version of our common language was discussed. Meth has a rather different meaning in the U.S.

  5. #5
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Well, there's a difference between "meth" and "meths".
    The removal of the sharpie signature might not be too miserable, at least it's on the BACK of the peghead instead of the middle of the top and, it's black.
    You could simply have someone overspray it with black or, try alcohol.
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  6. #6
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    If it's a lacquer finish you can try alcohol (don't try it with a varnish finish). Normal black sharpie is alcohol-soluble, but the silver might be some sort of paint(?). If that doesn't work you could probably have someone sand it off and buff it out.

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  8. #7
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    ...but the silver might be some sort of paint(?)...
    That's what I've been told. If I assume that the person who told me that the silver Sharpie is a paint marker is correct, and if whatever paint it is does not react strongly with the underlying lacquer, and assuming the mandolin finish is lacquer (...whew, so many assumptions...), then I suspect the paint could be scraped off and the finish lightly sanded and buffed.
    If any of those assumptions is not correct, then I should have remained silent.

  9. #8

    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    If it were me, I would first try paint thinner (known in Canada as "Varsol") as it will not damage lacquer or most varnishes. If that doesn't work well, I would then go to Naphtha. It's a little stronger than paint thinner but still shouldn't hurt most finishes. Of course use sparingly and gently with a soft cloth.
    Alcohols, ethyl, methyl or isopropyl can affect finishes if left in contact for too long. To long depends on the type of finish. On soft/tender finishes, I would also have a concern that alcohol would potentially drive the ink deeper into the finish, so instead, it might be better to carefully scuff sand the ink off with some dry lube paper, 600 grit or better, then buff the finish out with polishing compound such as McGuires #9 swirl remover.

    I have never had to remove sharpie ink from a finish myself so this is just what I would do based on my knowledge and experience.
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  11. #9
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    I tried to remove black sharpie autograph on top of a Flatiron mandolin and found that the black penetrated quite deep into the lacquer. I tried sanding lightly with 400 grit but couldn't get rid of it completely and didn't want to go deeper, I was not comfortable with sanding away finish, thickness of which was unknown to me.
    Silver may be more pigmented paint and not sinking too deep... And it's simple to overspray back of headstock if needed.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Get a quote for the re-finishing of the back of the headstock and suggest that the seller deducts this amount from the price. If you can remove the signature by other means, you're in profit.

    One of my Gibson mandolins had a signature across the front (somebody called Monroe; as evidenced by the Mandolin Archive). It was removed by a previous owner and now there is no evidence of it whatsoever.

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Try an abrasive toothpaste. After the marker/paint is removed, use Meguiar's cutting compound to buff the finish, if it needs it.

    You could try acetone or rubbing alcohol, but it may damage the finish, so try it on a small spot first

    Also try Fels-Naptha soap on a wet rag, but again depends on the finish

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  17. #12
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    It would help to know whose autograph it is...
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    No one has mentioned this yet, I think, but regardless of the solvent that you choose to try (alcohol, naphtha, paint thinner), be sure to TEST it first on some tiny spot, to see if it reacts with the actual finish, before trying it in a more general application to remove the signature!

    Also, unfortunately, silver paint is much nastier and harder to remove than black ink. It usually contains microscopic particles of aluminum metal to give it that "silvery" luster. Even after 99% of these particles are removed, the residual 1% will still sparkle annoyingly. It is almost impossible to get all of it out, since the particles themsleves are not soluble in any organic solvent! They're simply adhering to the finish itself, often deep inside microscopic crevices. Your only viable approach may be to overspray the affected area with a dark coat of paint or pigment, to cover up the residual silver particles, then top it off with some lacquer finish.

    When vandals REALLY want to do a number on your car, they spray-paint it with a metallic paint (silver, gold, bronze), not just a 'normal' color. Don't ask me how I know.

    Good luck!!

  20. #14

    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
    It would help to know whose autograph it is...
    The initials CT will probably suffice.

  21. #15

    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Lacquer finish.

    Gibson Gold Rush.

  22. #16
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Is that a less-than-high-gloss ("satin") finish? If so, forget about buffing. As it turns out, a gloss finish is easier to work with and to repair than a less-than-high-gloss finish. Respraying a less-than-high-gloss finish is no problem, but getting the degree of gloss (or lack thereof) to match the rest of the instrument can be a challenge.
    Still, assuming it is a paint marker and the paint/color has not penetrated into the lacquer, sanding the paint away with sandpaper of a grade that leaves a more-or-less matching gloss might be the answer, if the finish is thick enough to allow that. Otherwise, sanding away the paint and overspraying with flattened lacquer is about the only real fix I can think of.

  23. #17
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Honestly if it were me looking for that model, I wouldn't let the signature discourage me from purchasing. As John and others above have discussed, the worse case is sanding away the signature and overspraying. Best case is removing it with alcohol or naptha, but "dabbingly" with a Q-tip.

    Actually the very best case is leaving the signature as is and the signer becoming extremely famous. Did I notice a C... T... in that signature?
    -- Don

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  24. #18
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Quote Originally Posted by oliverkollar View Post
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  26. #19

    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Personally I would leave it. It is like the guy with the Stradolin signed by Johny Gimble. It adds rather than detracts.

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  28. #20
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Just use a black marker and cover over it. since it is a satin finish rub it slightly before it dries so it won't be glossy.

    Sorry I couldn't resist.
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  30. #21

    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    You could try this. Watch on Youtube and there is a brief explanation in the write up.

    Bill Snyder

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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Quote Originally Posted by oliverkollar View Post
    The initials CT will probably suffice.
    CHARLIE TALIAFERRO! Man, I went to school with that guy.

    Really nice guy too, and then he got into the meths and it was a downward spiral from then on. He finally got arrested & sent away for vandalizing the backs of stringed instrument pegheads by illegibly scrawling his name on them.

    Sigh. Ol' Charlie ...

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  33. #23
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    I got Dawg to sign a past mando of mine, the signature might be worth more than the not quite gold tone.
    Knowing what I know now of mandolins, I'm surprised he didn't tell me to buzz off. Good luck undoing the graffiti!
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  34. #24
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Well,i just marked a piece of varnished wood with a Gold 'Sharpie' & then used Lighter fluid to wipe it off. It removed it totally. Try Lighter fluid on a cotton wool bud on a tiny part of it to see if it'll come off before you blitz the whole area.

    One point re.Silver Sharpies - I have a pair of very high quality loudspeakers attached to my PC. One speaker has the volume & tone controls on it,they're black 'plastic' of some type,none of them had a mark on them to show what setting they were at,so i used a Silver Sharpie to put a mark on each - it ate into the plastic !,

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  35. #25
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: removing sharpie autograph

    Pocket knife blade can take care of any finish issue!
    Just see what it did for Ol' Bill!
    Ok, off to my corner!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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