If you are a typical guitarist, you may be able to shred on your instrument, and you probably know how to perform basic maintenance, but you might not know how to deal with some of the more complicated aspects of guitar building and customization. Sometimes you need to know how to perform some more advanced guitar maintenance. For instance, guitar inlays, which are often located on the fretboard, can sometimes get cracked or chipped. When this happens, the instrument suffers cosmetically, and the guitar can end up being difficult to play.
You could certainly take your axe to a professional luthier or guitar shop to get fixed, but you will probably be charged an arm and a leg, plus they might not take care of your precious guitar the way that you would. Luckily, the job of replacing or installing inlays on a guitar is one that you can do by yourself. Following are some tips on how you can properly install inlays on a guitar fretboard.
Assuming that you have chosen the guitar inlays that you would like to use, the first step is to secure the instrument's neck. You can do this with a vise. Use a dissolvable glue to adhere the inlays where you would like them to be. Next, use a scribe to draw closely around the inlays. Score the fretboard as carefully and as close to the inlays as possible. Dissolve the glue and remove the inlays before moving on to the next step.
After donning a pair of goggles, use a rotary tool to cut around where you have marked the fretboard. Be very careful doing this, since precision is the most important aspect of this step. The depth of your cut should be less than 0.11 inches, ideally. Next, use a router to remove wood from within your inlay outlines. Once the coarse work is done, use a ball nose cutter to remove all excess wood.
Finally apply some wood glue to the guitar's fretboard and place the inlays where they belong. Sand down any inlays which rise above the surface of the fretboard, and fill in any gaps with additional wood glue. Once the glue has dried, use a 600 grit sandpaper to make sure that the fretboard is as smooth as possible, and that the inlays are flush with the rest of the fingerboard. When you are done, you can take pride in a job well-done. Also, you can say that unlike many guitarists, you know how to replace your guitar inlays.
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