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Brass Side Markers (With Pictures!)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by amusicalperson, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. Hello all, I know this is a sometimes controversial topic but I wanted to share with anyone would has thought of the idea to help show them some results. I had my local luthier install some brass side markers on my Upright. I'll include why I chose this under but I think they came out really well. We used a 1/8" brass rod and he covered them with a thin layer of some sort of laquer to keep the brass from getting too tarnished. I tried to include a picture to show that they are perfectly flush with the fingerboard. You could run your hand across and not feel a thing. Pictures really don't do them justice, it came out beautifully, even better than I ever imagined it would have!

    Attached Files:

    RedMoses likes this.
  2. To anyone wondering why I chose to do this: Firstly, I live in South Louisiana, Cajun music is a BIG DEAL here, especially traditional Cajun music. It is taken very seriously so, because I play Upright, I get called for a lot of gigs. Unfortantly, a lot of these gigs are in less than ideal conditions for an Upright player. I am usually overpowered (even amplified) by everyone. Majority of the regular places we play do not even have monitors but hey, the money is REALLY good. To combat never being able to hear myself I purchased some of those stick on, friction dots. Unfortantly, after a few gigs they started to wear off so I got the idea to have some permanetly installed. I at first decided to go with wood. I thought a slightly lighter wood than ebony would have been a very nice choice. After looking everywhere online and locally, I could not find any wooden dowels that were 1/8". (The stick on dots were 1/8" and I thought they were the perfect size so we went with that.) I eventually found a 1/8" dowel of some cheap wood at a local hobby store. I had decided I had no other choice but to settle on that but fortunatly, my local band shop's instrument repairer (is that a word?) had a 1/8" brass dowel! Figuring brass would look WAY better than that hideous wooden dowel I had settled on so we went with it. Overall, I am very pleased with how it came out!
  3. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    If I played upright I would have that done.
    Looks very nice
    amusicalperson likes this.
  4. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    The problem with the brass is that after a couple of fingerboard planings you will have to spring for a new board rather than have it dressed again. Brass isn't exactly plane-friendly material.
    amusicalperson and james condino like this.
  5. In sticking with one of my favorite mottos: "I'll cross that bridge when I get there." I guess thinking of this beforehand would have avoided this but what's done is done.
  6. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    It would have been something for your luthier to discuss with you. Wood or plastic, pearl or abalone would have been more appropriate materials.

    I say this not to bag on you but for future readers of this thread. :thumbsup:
    amusicalperson likes this.
  7. what the pluck

    what the pluck

    Oct 13, 2010
    Wouldn't those positions change with different strings, string height, position of bridge etc? I dunno.
    Jake deVilliers likes this.
  8. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    I wonder if they could be removed with a screw extractor the next time a board dress is needed, like the kit that stewmac sells? It would leave 3/16" holes to be filled with new dots, but would be preferable to scrapping the board.
  9. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
  10. It would, but not by much unless you made drastic changes in bridge position or string gauge. I figure OP has a pretty constant preferred setup since he's one of those brave stage-souls. Even if something goes awry, the player can still compensate by adjusting while still using the markers for reference, so it works out! Happens to me when I change tunings on my fretless electric and the intonation shifts a bit
    amusicalperson likes this.
  11. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    string height will affect it also
  12. vanderbrook

    vanderbrook Some days, I miss frets...

    Aug 21, 2001
    Denver, CO, USA
    I think it looks great. I just use wood-tone vinyl labeling tape, cut to a small square shape -- cheap, and looks vaguely like a wooden inlay, from a distance -- but your solution looks very nice. And FWIW, I had my last bass for 12 years, IIRC, and I never needed a fingerboard dressing.
    amusicalperson likes this.
  13. what the pluck

    what the pluck

    Oct 13, 2010
    I think I would prefer a pencil mark
  14. Indeed it would be a good idea for any future readers to realize the complications with putting brass instead of a more plane friendly material!
  15. I appreciate the compliment. I've been passing all the compliments on to my luthier and he appreciates them all. The majority of my Upright playing is 1-5 in open positions so I don't think a planing will be in order for a while, thanks for the insight though!
  16. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    It looks to me like at least 3 mm would have to be planed off before you started hitting the little brass pieces. How many years and how many planings would that take? I was under the impression that most of the time fingerboard planing involved just a hair off here and there (if the fingerboard was good when the markers were installed).

    That said, I put my octave position markers on the front surface of the board between the G and D strings and between the E and A strings. Markers on the side had way too much parallax for me to line up with. (The markers are tiny little dots of white-out.)
    amusicalperson likes this.
  17. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    My other concern would be that brass does not expand/compress the way wood does. While Ebony is pretty hard/dense and you would notice seasonal/climate shifts in say the spruce top much more than the fingerboard, depending on how tightly fit the brass makers are, could they split the board if it got particularly dry and shrunk a bit? I do not have experience with something like that and don't want to be too alarmist, but maybe someone else could chime in if that is an actual concern? They look nice and I'm assuming they were fit with a bit of wiggle room to allow room for the adhesive, (likely epoxy) but I would hate to wake up one morning to see the board had split as a result.
  18. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    The Ebony is going to be pretty dry and dense, I don't have any knowledge about how it moves but I would think that's unlikely.

    I use a colored paint pen on my bass. Harder for the audience to spot and you can put it on the middle of the board. Side dots are less effective to me but can get three job done.

    You can also just drill holes into the bass and fill it with clay or somesuch like they do on some guitars.

    It doesn't hurt to check with the forum before you do something like this next time.

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