Fret MarkersProject Guitar

First let me say thanks to Bri­an John­son from Project Gui­tar for the inspi­ra­tion for this post — this is not an orig­i­nal Gui­tar Inlays Head­quar­ters idea. In fact as I was snoop­ing around the Inter­net look­ing for some new ideas and inter­est­ing things to write about, I found a bunch of great resources on cus­tom gui­tar inlays at Project Gui­tar, and Bri­an’s post was just one of sev­er­al fan­tas­tic arti­cles over there. Here’s a link his orig­i­nal post on Project Gui­tar.


The Problem

So basi­cal­ly Bri­an’s prob­lem was that he was try­ing to come up with some sim­ple and wal­let-friend­ly way to do fret mark­ers that would pose lit­tle risk to the inlay work he had already done on the rest of the fret­board.

In his own words:

I want­ed to come up with a sim­ple and eco­nom­i­cal way to make posi­tion mark­ers with lit­tle chance of destroy­ing the work I had done up to that point.

The Answer

So what did Bri­an come up with?

Gui­tar picks + Hole Punch + Drill = Fret Posi­tion Mark­ers. 1..2..3..Bam! You’ve got uber cheap and easy cus­tom gui­tar inlays. It’s a pret­ty sweet lit­tle trick because it’s very cheap, very easy, and you can use gui­tar picks of any col­or to match the style of what­ev­er project you’re work­ing on. It’s not quite as cool as these high-tech cus­tom gui­tar inlays that we wrote about which light up in sync with music, but hey — we’re on a bud­get here!

Custom Fret Position Markers

Installing Fret Markers

You’ll need to pre­pare the fol­low­ing:

  • 1/4″ flat­head screw dri­ver
  • 1/4″ drill bit and drill
  • 1/4″ hole punch
  • A bevy of medi­um gauge gui­tar picks

Accord­ing to Bri­an, the best way to start is by using a 1/4″ drill bit to drill very slow­ly into to fret­board. He empha­sizes that these holes do not need to be deep. Once you’ve drilled in a bit (no pun intend­ed, although I admit I did chuck­le after I wrote it..), take a 1/4″ flat­head screw dri­ver and clean out the hole. The best way to do this is by insert­ing the head of the screw­driv­er into the cav­i­ty as straight as pos­si­ble, and just spin­ning the screw­driv­er around in cir­cles, as though you were screw­ing or unscrew­ing some­thing. If the screw­driv­er and drill bit are both exact­ly 1/4″ size (which they should be) then the screw­driv­er should be a nice tight fit inside the cav­i­ty. Spin­ning the screw­driv­er around in cir­cles with­in the cav­i­ty will then smooth out the side edges and the bot­tom, as well as loosen up any dust in the cav­i­ty.

Once we get all the extra­ne­ous rem­nants out of the hole and we have a nice clean cav­i­ty, we’ll need to ready our gui­tar pick discs. Basi­cal­ly, you use a reg­u­lar 1/4″ hole punch (the same kind we used back in grade school) to punch a hole in a gui­tar pick, and we’ll use that lit­tle gui­tar pick donut-hole as the inlay. Bri­an men­tions in his post that he’s had luck with medi­um gauge gui­tar picks, but believes that heav­ier gauge picks would also work well.

Once we have our gui­tar pick discs all punched out and ready to go, I rec­om­mend using a touch of super glue as an adhe­sive. Just a drop or two on the back of the disc should do it, and then we can put it into the cav­i­ty (adhe­sive side down, of course). Bri­an warns that it should be tight enough that you’ll need to use the head of your screw dri­ver to push it in all the way, but you can also use a bit of super glue over the top to full in gaps. And of course in the end don’t for­get to sand things down (try start­ing with 120 grit, then 220, then 400, and so on).

And that’s pret­ty much it. Just a hand­ful of steps and you’ve got a set of ghet­to-fab­u­lous DIY fret mark­er cus­tom gui­tar inlays.

Think this is a good tip? Or is it shite? Let me know in the com­ments!