Custon Inlays

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by A Rock, Jul 31, 2001.

  1. A Rock

    A Rock Guest

    Mar 18, 2001
    New Haven, CT
    how would one go about gettin custom inlays for a bass?
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Find a luthier who does inlays and be prepared to pay mucho money.
  3. foolfighter24

    foolfighter24 Guest

    Apr 22, 2000
    By deleting one part of the double post you made. Other than that, I don't know.....
  4. Like embellisher said, many luthiers do their own. The one making my custom is. Unless they're very ornate, the process is said to be fairly easy to learn.

    If they don't do their own, they send the work out to someone who they have a working relationship set up with.

    All you have to do is use a search engine. Robinson inlays are incredibly beautiful and intricate. would give you a start.
  5. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    i had the same question about 2 years ago. I had just gotten a new (used, new to me) gibson SG. I have this thing with stars so i wanted to get star inlays put in. Simple enough right. Well to get the frets ripped out, inlays put in, neck binding put in, and frets reinstalled it would cost me $500. I think that this would of been worth it but i just didnt have the money or time to be away from my guitar. Just giving u a heads up oh how expensive it would be. i also looked in to getting LED's retrofitted on my spector. That was $600 for the real thing. good luck with your inlays.
  6. TheBassPreacher

    TheBassPreacher Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    White Deer, TX
    Fretlay alternative.... instead of actually inlaying, they send you self adhesive perloid.... so you just stick them on between your frets, and bingo looks like a $1000+ job... anyway check it out. I dunno I've never used them, I'd be worried about buzz, but its something to think about.
  7. Fretware

    Fretware Guest

    Aug 11, 2001

    There's no need to worry about fret buzz with our products. Especially when we're talking bass guitar (except, of course, fretless bass). There is plenty enough clearance between a bass guitar string and the fingerboard to use fretware without worry. In fact, you don't even have to take the strings off. I did a bass for a friend about two weeks ago and it took me about five minutes. And yes, it DID look just as good as a 1000 dollar inlay job. He couldn't have been happier.
  9. agyeman

    agyeman Member

    Mar 6, 2001
  10. Fretware

    Fretware Guest

    Aug 11, 2001
    Keep your eye on ebay. I often post blocks on there with a discounted price. That's where I send my web-aquaintances for discounted stuff. Just do a search for "abalone 4" in quotes and you should find some stuff. It's not always running, but alot of times it is.

    We've actually had some folks in the past ask if we had ever considered offering pre-cut hologram paper. To be honest, I don't know why inlay artists have not started using it for traditional inlay either. It does look cool on a fingerboard. Something a little thicker than the cheapo hologram paper (like a real hologram with a wide interferance pattern) would look awesome. The hobby holographic paper is usually just a kind of reflective material. But imagine an actual hologram that looks like a jagged, broken hole in your fingerboard. Too cool! Or even better, a hologram that covers the entire fingerboard that shows hands fretting different patterns or a skeletons arm or something encased inside your fingerboard. The possibilities there are endless! Making holograms would be a whole lot more expensive (making one requires a damping sandbox in an anti-shock room, and up to a couple days time), but the right ideas would look killer! Maybe one day....

  11. What ARE the inlays that come on a standard guitar/bass? Are they stuck on or embedded in the wood? What are they made of?
  12. I also got a brilliant Polaroid hologram sticker for £2.50 of a 3D glowing skull that changes to show a cross-section revealing the brain - I'm going to put it on the body of my all-black Dearmond Jetstar Special.

    now if something that good could be scaled down (this one's about 8cm square) to fit on a fretboard-
  13. If the description of the instrument doesn't proudly mention that the inlay is made of abalone, mother-of-pearl, paua, or some other beautiful natural shell, you can bet it's made of a synthetic/plastic/mother-of-toilet-seat/pearloid/Ivorine (sp?).

    There is a material named Ablam which is laminated sheets ultra-thin shell and is more figured and easier to cut than a whole slice of natural shell.

    About anything can be used as long as it matches the density and hardness of the surrounding fingerboard material and can stand up to the grinding of the strings against it. The legend about vintage Fenders with "clay dots" stems from when it was said Leo was having new flooring put down in the office and used the clay tiles that were being replaced for fretboard marker dot material.

    Usually, for fancy inlay, the inlay artist traces around a pre-cut form and a pocket is cut into the wood where the inlay material is LAID IN the pocket with some glue/epoxy.

    As you've probably seen, it can be simple dots or stunning art comme ca -

  14. Fretware

    Fretware Guest

    Aug 11, 2001
    Tried to post to this last night, but it wouldn't work. My connection has been bad lately. Rick makes a couple of valid points above, and also posts one of my personal favorites when it comes to inlay artists. That pic of the inlayed zebras is a piece of work by Larry Robinson. Probably the most noteworthy inlay artist of our time. So far as getting HIM to do work for you, take a number!

    In response to the herder's question, traditional inlay actually is both. It is stuck on AND embedded in the wood. Hence the term "in"lay. Basically, the luthier takes a "fingerboard blank" (the wood of the fingerboard before it is rounded (radiused) and fretted) and routes out a cavity where the inlay material will go. The cavity could be in the shape of a block, a dot, a vine, or whatever. Anyway, he then inlays the material that has been cut to fit (approximately) this cavity with expoxy underneath it (to bond to the wood) and then fills any remaining open areas with a wood paste and sands the wood and inlay material down flush with each other. After the inlay work is done, the fingerboard is cut to final shape, radiused, and slotted for frets which are then added.

    The inlay material itself can be many things. Usually, you'll see a form of seashell as an inlay material (mother of pearl, abalone, snail shell). This is traditionally used because of it's "nacre", the shiny, luminescent material that the organism is composed of. But inlay artists have used just about anything you can think of to inlay an instrument or any other piece of wood. Ivory, gold, wood, gemstone, amber, bone. I once saw a commode lid that used manure as an inlay substance (heavily laquered over thank god). Anything can be used. Rick mentions "clay dots". One cool thing about working with clay, or mortar, is that you don't have to actually "cut" the inlay material to shape. You simply route, and smear the material into the cavity while it's in unhardened form. Then it hardens and you sand it down flush. Also important to note, is that on a guitar, the strings should not be "grinding against" any part of the fingerboard at all. The frets should be high enough to keep the string suspended above the actual fingerboard. This is what makes Fretware possible.

    What fretware does is skip over the routing process. We've created a method whereby we can cut extremely thin pieces of abalone to create a useable "overlay" which just adheres to the surface of wood rather than be inlayed into it. There's much less shell involved, so the price in materials is less. And since they can be applied AFTER the frets are already on the guitar, they can be enjoyed by the guitarist themselves, as opposed to only the guitar-builder.

    Hope this helps,
  15. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    these stick on things are so cool! i really want to do this! thanx.