Decals as fret marker application?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by eb0248, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. eb0248

    eb0248 Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2011
    Wellington, FL

    Disclaimer: I in no way consider myself a luthier, I've been a synth player back in a past life (With a gajillion synths in house, prob put my kids through college if/when I sell them), past few years got into basses/guitars, thought it would be fun to try my hand at putting them together; nice avocation, beats balls of yarn or heroin...

    Fast forward a couple years and six or so basses/guitars each later (for my own use), a coworker asked me to make a Jazz bass for his son. Flattered, I agreed. He wanted, however, diamonds as fret markers...couldn't find a neck with such inlays, and I dont have the expertise/tools/money/time to do it myself. I've used decals for headstocks, never for the fretboard, although I have seen some pretty amazing examples.

    Question: I've Tru Oiled the hell out of the neck, spoke with the decal company (Simon at Rothko Frost is a great guy), who recommended placing the decal on the Tru Oil, then spraying urethane over it. Should I use that, or just place another 6-12 thin coats of Tru Oil over it, or something else? The kid is getting a tad bit impatient, as he wants to play it at a thing the first week of October.
    Any/all advice is welcomed/appreciated.

    Thanks in Advance,


    PS I don't think I'll be making another for someone else again...too damn stressful...kinda defeats the purpose :)
  2. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    I've used a decal as a fret marker before, on what used to be my main bass I have a block with xii as the twelfth fret marker. I did one coat of wipe on poly then stuck the decal on and put on a few more coats. It's holding up well no visible wear.
  3. The "inlay stickers" sold on ebay are nice and thin. You shouldn't have problems putting a couple more layers of finish over them. I would probably use more tru oil. They really don't need covered, so it would just be for looks.

  4. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I wouldn't trust an oil finish to protect the decal honestly. I would take the advice of the decal makers and spray a coat or two of urethane over the decal so they are buried under a hard finish
    INTP likes this.
  5. If you go with a regular decal I would follow Hopkins' suggestion. My comments are only directed at the specialized fake inlays that are sold expressly for use on fingerboards.
  6. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    yep -

  7. eb0248

    eb0248 Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2011
    Wellington, FL
    Turns out I'm using some item from a company in Japan called Jockomo, they're stickers, not decals. The Royko Frost decals I used for the headstock, as usual, worked fine. First time doing fret markers. Anyone have any experience with Jockomo stuff?
  8. Those are the ones I was originally talking about. I have a friend that uses them often from that same seller. They seem to be quality products. You will be able to tell from up close that they aren't inlays, but they look pretty good and more importantly you can't really feel them.

    eb0248 and Will_White like this.

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