Position Marker Templates

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner [DB]' started by BobKay, Jan 5, 2020.


  1. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I have a luthier friend (not DB luthier) who has been asked to inlay some position markers on a DB. He asked if there are templates available to show where the markers would go. I explained the different possible scale lengths, which he already had considered.

    Are there any templates available for 41", 41.5" or 42" string lengths? Or, is there a reliable formula for calculating for the DB?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
     
  2. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

  3. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    Before doing anything, I confirm that the bridge is in the correct position.

    I put them on the harmonics. For a 42” mensure, the octave is 21”,10.5” is where the C on the G string is. The high D harmonic is at 28” and half of that at 14” is the D at the heel. Halfway between the G harmonic and the bridge is high G.
    I tune the bass and confirm the locations through measurement and ear, marking the fingerboard with pencil, centering them between the strings. I have also put them in the edge, although they are most helpful up in thumb position.
     
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  4. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    Thanks for the quick responses. Very helpful.
     
  5. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    I think it's important to consider how the player wants to use them, as well as the string height. If you want guides for grabbing harmonics, then the ideal position is correct; to play a note more or less in tune, you'll want to compensate for the stretching of the string when fingering it, which will vary with height.
     
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  6. zootsaxes

    zootsaxes Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 6, 2015
    Memphis TN
    I marked up my bass a couple weeks ago with white colored pencil on the G, C, and high G (G string) and have found my upper register playing infinitely more deliberate (especially on tunes with awkward changes that I'm not necessarily familiar with) ... I'm thinking really seriously about embedding 3 nice classy looking position dots on my La Scala (no intention of ever re-selling) ... I saw someone a while back on the facebook luthier forum who took it a step further and made whole step lines (G-A) (C-D), etc, but that might be out of my skill set (but maybe worth upping my in-lay game to accomplish?) I tried stickers but hated the feel when my fingers slid over them - drove me nuts. Someone talk me out of it, yeah? I figure if Edgar Meyer uses them, there's no shame at any level having them on your axe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
  7. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Whatever method you choose, it will only be good for "approximate" landing spots. There are enough variables with DB that often the exact pitch won't align exactly with the marker.

    I use the same G,C,G as you do, but only to get me in the neighborhood on long shifts. I let my ears be the final arbiters. Where do you put your stickers? Mine go on the bass edge of the fingerboard and I've never had a problem with "feel."
     
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  8. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    A few things to remember (from someone with inlaid chromatic side markers)... I'm sure you know this already, but here it is.

    1) Markers probably will never be 100% accurate, and because of string height, your visual perspective while playing also makes an accuracy difference, so it's always best to use your ears to select note position when possible.
    2) Changing the setup or the type of strings being used may make markers less accurate.
    3) Some maintenance and repair work may make the markers less accurate and/or may actually remove them.
    4) Even inlaid markers are temporary; when the fingerboard gets replaced, the markers are gone too.

    I find my side markers most handy for estimating where to begin playing on the right note, especially if there is a lot of competing noise. My side markers are little inlaid rhinestones; in dark situations they are reflective and tend to show up with minimal light, plus I can feel where they are inlaid, so can locate them by touch when needed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
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  9. zootsaxes

    zootsaxes Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 6, 2015
    Memphis TN
    I was thinking about inlaying them between the G and D strings. This is where I had the stickers, but like I say, the feel was no bueno. Hadn’t considered putting them on the low side, but that does make sense… Dhergert, sweet talk you into posting a photo of your rhinestone inlays? Thanks ya’ll.
     
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  10. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    This was very shortly after installing them. A little freshening of the fingerboard with light almond oil made the holes cleaner and the rhinestones a little more prevalent.

    I've also changed some of the strings since then, which is why I'm aware that accuracy changes with different strings.

    full.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
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  11. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    I would suggest a dot between the A & D strings at the octave. And a smaller dot at the D harmonic and the G harmonic (2nd octave) on the G string between the D and G strings.

    Just because you’re not selling the bass doesn’t mean someone else isn’t gonna end up with it… unless you intend to take it with you when go. ;)
     
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  12. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    The last time I inlaid them I put them between the A and D strings and they are much easier to see there. Between the D and G, the D string can hide them (at least for me). I like them at the octave, Then D and G (G string). I put one at the D (fifth) on the Rodier because it’s an Eb neck.
     
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  13. Just make dots with white-out between the D and G strings (not under the strings). For students I mark for A on the G string, for G and C on the E/A strings (could be on the side of the f'board), C D octave G and second octave D on the G string. If the dots wear off they leave a trace to easily re- mark. I mark where the finger lies, not the harmonic, because string heights are for orchestra, arco not jazz. After tuning carefully I use open G as my reference note or D for tuning the A (a 5th). IMO stickers give too wide a target for good intonation.

    For myself I have dots on the side of the f'board beside both G and A on the E string, and octave G and second octave D on the G. As an orchestral player I am so rarely playing in the "Himilayas" these days !!
     
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  14. Papageno

    Papageno

    Nov 16, 2015
    France
    Same for me. White-out dots are so easy to add and remove that I would not bother with inlays that (1) would cost some money, and (2) might make the bass more difficult to sell (not everyone wants to have markers).
    I have white dots at the 5th (harmonic D) and at the octave, located on the E-string side of the fingerboard. I am the only one who sees them. The parallax error is something easy to accomodate with practice. Anyhow, markers dots are not there to tell me exactly to put my fingers; I use them for the overall orientation on the fingerboard.
     
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  15. zootsaxes

    zootsaxes Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 6, 2015
    Memphis TN
    image.jpg 09A87D67-FB73-4FF8-8BD6-FD86FD7EE1AB.jpeg Well, I went ahead with it. I summoned all my patience and OCD super powers, got some 4mm abalone dots off Amazon and went to town. Measured and tuned about a zillion times, marked with white colored pencil, made a tiny poke hole with the end of a needle file, watched a couple videos, drilled, epoxied, and placed them in. After a light sanding and they were smooth to touch.

    Good call on putting them between the A&D strings - I suspect the lack of symmetry having them between the D&G would have driven me nuts. As it stands, I regret nothing!

    Thanks for your help as always, gang. I’m happy with this bass never getting another string change (Spiro Mitts and Stark Perpetuals for life!), staying 41.25” scale length, and the action staying 7mm high at the end of the fingerboard @ G string. Now … to practice!
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
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  16. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    Any slight variance in intonation can be nullified by good ears. Enjoy the crutches but don’t stress too much. They look great!
     
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  17. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Absolutely beautiful job!!! Congrats!!!
     
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  18. zootsaxes

    zootsaxes Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 6, 2015
    Memphis TN
    Hey - Thanks guys! So much more confidence with the crutches! I’m finding my lines exploring places on the neck I’ve always tended to avoid without thinking about it. Oh man, and my chordal stuff is on point now! I’m able to grab 1/7/3 and 1/3/7 voicings in tune all the way up the fingerboard without the guess work - like it’s a guitar! Great fun!
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
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  19. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Shhhh. Don't tell anyone! :D
     
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