Framing a guitar


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Feb 19, 2002
Was on a local radio station today to help promote an auction and while off air one of the DJ's asked if we could frame a guitar signed by Van Halen. Told him sure we could...

Has any body done a gutar before and is there any special mounting device that is specifically used for a guitar? Stacking moulding to get the box is no problem just needing ideas for mounting the guitar.

Thanks for your help
Jim Miller just wrote a good description of how
such a thing can be done in Picture Framing Magazine, Nov. 2004.

If it is to be removable from the frame, I suggest Gravity Groove frame construction, and bent-rod mounts. The "Saxonet" in the Picture Framing Magazine article was mounted that way, as Hugh Phibbs mentioned.

If it is a non-removable display, I suggest building supports into the mounting surface, to control movement & support most of the weight, and then mounting with clear film straps.

Gemini Moulding/Showcase Acrylics has standard mounts that might work, or they can fabricate acrylic mounts designed specifically for your project. There's a guitar on display in their lobby, which they also take to trade shows.

In any case, an acrylic-box frame is the way to go. That would allow the best view of the guitar.

If you're going to WCAF in Las Vegas, the two-part lecture/workshop class, "Complete Guide to Shadowboxes and Framing Objects" will be presented there. It would help with jobs like this one.
. I built one for my shop. If I get time I'll post pictures but I think (purely opinion) they should all be removable. I would want to take it out and show it off occasionally. Not to mention that because of the expense (of the box not the guitar) most guitar collectors have more than one piece they want to show off. I used a 2" shadow box profile with a 1 1/2 extender. Then I hinged the two pieces with a lockable latch.

As a collector the only thing I wouldn’t use is rubber. There are some hangers that hold the guitar by the headstock. Some of these are made of rubber that has burned the finish after a while.
I agree with Jim on the bent rod mounts. You can cover them with heat shrink tubing available from Radio Shack and most home stores that carry electrical supplies.

Jim, what is "Gravity Groove" frame construction? I didn't make it to Atlanta this year for your workshop and I don't think I am familiar with that construction term. (Or else y'all decided to share it with everyone but Framerguy!)

Is it used on shadowboxes that must be accessible? How does it work compared to rare earth magnets?

Music shops sometimes carry wooden supports for displaying guitars that can be screwed into your backing material. I framed one using these. To keep the wide end in place I used a decorative L bracket that went underneath the guitar and fastened it to the guitar strap screw. I also used fishing line to keep it from moving. Removability is one thing, but a priceless guitar broken at the bottom of a frame trumps that. IMO.

BTW, I used a plexi box.
Originally posted by Framerguy:
...Jim, what is "Gravity Groove" frame construction?...
It's an acrylic box construction that uses inner & outer frames to hold the box in place by gravity. No hardware; the acrylic box just lifts off the wall. But in order to make it work, you must recite the secret Gravity Groove Chant during fitting. :D
Uh oh, I had a feeling that question was gonna cost me money!

OK, Jim, how much for the secret chant?? I already know that I don't stand a prayer of making one of these work without it.

Originally posted by Framerguy:
...OK, Jim, how much for the secret chant?? I already know that I don't stand a prayer of making one of these work without it.

The Secret Chant is revealed only at meetings of Shadowbox & Object Framers Anonymous -- a Secret Society, of course.

The next three secret SOFA meetings will be held at the WCAF show in Las Vegas January 23-24, the Complete Framer's Supply event in Ft. Lauderdale February 4-5, and the PPFA annual convention in Orlando February 21.

But it's a secret, so be sure to whisper when you tell your friends.

Bring your fingerpaints, your shadow, and a secret to share. We might have refreshments.

I've owned guitars since I was 3 and any guitar that will not be played for a period of time must have loose strings... tension will warp the neck.

I've never framed a guitar (yet) so I can't give much advice as a framer, but as a guitar enthusiast, I can say: whatever mounting you choose, make sure the neck and/or headstock isn't being stressed.
Erin's concerns raise some interesting issues.
Since this is a modern guitar, it is likely to
have a surface coating that is based on a synthetic polymer and that should be protected
with UV glazing. Keeping the UV out may also help
keep the lignin in the woods from changing.

When I finish necks I lay them in direct sunlight for many many weeks. It gives the wood a nice yellow/tan color instead of that blonde "new" look. Go figure!