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Will Celtic Knot Inlays (or any other delicate inlays)Survive Round Wound Strings?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jim T., Apr 3, 2004.


  1. I want to have Celtic Knot inlays done as "block inlay"-ish position markers on my short scale six's fingerboard.
    I'm concerned that roundwound strings will chew up the inlays or at least "crater" their ebony filler pieces over time.

    Do I need to worry or will I get 10 or more years out them, tapping, slapping, bending, etc.?

    I play fingerstyle primarily and pretty gently, using my amp for volume ala the Gary Willis school of thought...

    Any experiences good or bad with YOUR delicate/complex fingerboard inlays over the years? How about those who have block inlays (solid) or Spector bow tie inlays. How're they holding up?

    I need to order my inlays soon so this feedback is needed kind of urgently. I've posted a similar thread in the luthier's corner hoping to get as many responses as soon as possible.



    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    sorry, i've no solid answer for you but wanted to plug into this thread cuz i think it's a good question that never occurred to me. i have a vine inlay on my fretless acoustic, and it's currently strung with roundwounds.

    if you're talking about a fretted bass, i can't imagine the strings damaging the inlay - unles you bend them all the time and play super hard with your fretting hand. the strings don't have much wear on the wood, only the frets.
     
  3. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    Jim

    I've read the other thread you had going and posted Keith's Benavente 219B knot by Larry Robinson.

    I'm not sure I understand and Joe hit on it.

    Is this bass a fretted or fretless?
    Its Fretted, the string's will never touch the inlay!
    If fretless, Yes, it will chew the inlay up pretty fast.

    You could try covering the board and inlay with epoxy which will give you a little different tonality to the instrument as a fretless, but it will last longer and maybe help the inlay last as well.
     
  4. Hambone and team, I've deleted the duplicate thread post as I'm always willing to help out a moderator. :) Sorry for the transgression. I decided to keep it on "basses" as I'd likely get more reports from players. Hope that was ok.

    Joe and Brian, Thanks. My inlay artist told me that on frets one through seven or so, (it's a fretted) that the strings COULD touch the inlays at least minimally, especially if I bend strings or play very agressively but that up the neck, above the 12th for sure, they'd not be likely making any contact. So...I became concerned before proceeding with the inlaying. I DID figure that if after several years of playing that if the inlay areas got worn, I could always get 'em repaired and or filled and then coat the fingerboard or go fretless with a coating...

    Any reports from folks who've played their delicately inlayed boards for years and years-just to be absolutely sure?

    Thanks again guys.
     
  5. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    Nto sure who is going your inlay, but I've seen inlays from Spector and Alembic from the 70's that are perfect. I've seen Benavente, Fodera's, and a ton of other builders with inlays that never had a problem.

    Maybe I'm just not understanding the problem.

    But if the bass is fretted and your inlay guy knows what he's doing and the frets are good and not worn flat where its close to being fretless I wouldn't worry about it.

    Thats from my experience, others might have something to help with.
     
  6. Hi Brian,
    Well that is certainly reassuring!
    Actually, Larry Robinson is also doing my inlays! He's the one that told me that string bending (I bend for vibrato and some blues crying) will scratch the inlays and that there would be some string contact between the first and seventh frets. He thought that using higher/wider frets would be the best choice. I was planning on using banjo frets/thin vintage Fender-ish size, but I may now have to reconsider. Mandolin frets would seem to now be out! I was planning on thinner frets for that short scale low B to get the best intonation possible...

    The Celtic Knot inlay you're referring to was the large single mother of pearl one right? I didn't realize that was Larry's!

    I'm excited to have some of his work. I've been a big fan of his for a long time.
     
  7. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    Larry is a master when it comes to Inlay's, no questioning that. He does all Benavente inlay work that is beyond something Chris will do or has time for.

    I guess the only reason I can see Larry saying this is because of the fear of the small frets and how quickly they might ware over larger frets.

    As I mentioned, I've never seen any problem with string to inlay ware, but maybe I haven't seen what your trying to do.

    Sorry, I guess I'm not much help. Hopefully someone else will be able to help more then me..........


    Good Luck,
     
  8. Yeah, Larry's work is right up there with the masters of the past few centuries. His book of inlay techniques and examples of his and other's work is in my library.

    Did he inlay the Benavente that went to Japan? Burled top with maple or gold m.o.p. block inlays? Did he do the pick up covers or was that Chris' work. That's a gorgeous instrument-probably my favorite overall of Chris'. That blue one that someone posted here with all the abalone binding is my second. Did Larry do that work also?

    I'll have to weigh fret sizes again, now. I wanted banjo/vintage thin for intonation (esp. on the short scale low B) and I don't want decoration to dictate how I'll play too much, but I've got months to scope that out and get other feedback and look at wear on older instruments in shops, I guess...

    I'll get to meet you one day Brian. You've always been SO helpful and encouraging with everything.
     
  9. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Even on a fretted, the strings are going to hit the wood in the upper frets. Take a look at any played 70s bass and there will be a string impression to about the 5th fret. This marking is stronger under the E and A strings.

    Don't know how it would affect an inlay though since I suspect that the inlay would be tougher than the wood. I would *expect* that, at worst, it would stratch it but not wear it away.
     
  10. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    The Japan SC 6 is Mesquite Burl block inlays to match the top of the bass. All that binding around the Blocks and the pickup covers and finger board is all Chris's work.

    Lowell's 219B is the one your talking about and thats actually all Chris's work as well!!

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