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1 Simple Trick To Take Your Guitar Inlay To The Next Level

Guitar Inlay QT No Play

1 Simple Trick To Take Your Guitar Inlay To The Next Level

Welcome to this episode of Luthier Quick Tips – Guitar Inlay: Color Matching! Today I want to share a simple tip that has helped me improve the cohesiveness and beauty of my guitar inlay and has contributed to the elegance of the overall guitar design, my hope is that it will do the same for you and your guitars. Watch the video below to check it out!

Video Transcript

Guitar Inlay – Color Matching

Here on the Art Of Lutherie it’s about the ART of this right? So here’s a little artistic type of detail that is important to me, although most people probably wouldn’t notice it…at least consciously anyway. But I see it when I look at guitars that haven’t had this particular treatment to it.

Okay so, I know that this guitar is going to have a finish on it that is going to be a french polished shellac, but I am going to use some darker colored shellac. Like maybe a Thai seedlac, or a light pure button lac that will have a fairly strong color and will be sort of a brown and maybe a little bit of gold color in it.

Because of that, I want to be sure that my mother of pearl guitar inlay will look cohesive, and match color wise…how they reflect the light and everything…

If I were to put the white mother of pearl into the headstock, and then do white pearl on the fingerboard. Then put my yellow/gold finish over the headstock – it’s going to look like gold pearl when I’m done, but the inlay on the unfinished fretboard will still be stark white.

So what I’ve done is use a gold mother of pearl to inlay the fretboard because there won’t be a finish here. I think looks kind of interesting anyway because of the color variations which make the inlay pattern look really cool. What it also does, is it makes it so that the color of the inlay on the fingerboard will match the headstock.

These are white MOP on the headstock and when they get the golden colored finish over them they will look like the same material as the fretboard inlays.

It’s just one more way to bring that cohesiveness and that artistic approach into these other details. Some people might not notice it consciously but I think overall, the subconscious impression and the way they might look at the guitar and say “wow!”… the impact it has on them emotionally is influenced by the sum of all the little details.


Learn how to do guitar inlay and engraving, check out the Luthier’s EDGE video course: Click Here

About the Author

TomTom Bills has been hand crafting one of a kind custom guitars for the top players and collectors around the world since 1998. Tom is also the author of the guitar making book/DVD set - The Art Of Lutherie - published by Mel Bay, and has written for and been featured in may publications both in print and online as well as several television and film spots. You can view and learn more about his guitars by visiting his website: tbguitars.comView all posts by Tom →

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