Guitar Making Tip Number 789 is about inlaying and guitar making. Inlaying is very common part of guitar making, however this is at the basic levels. Inlaying is a completely different skill than making a guitar. Here is how treating inlaying differently can help you.
Inlaying and Guitar Making
Most guitar making facilities have different areas for different parts of the craft. Most of the people that are making certain parts of the guitar rarely make others. Also, most of the inlay work that is not done by a machine is done by hand.
The more interesting thing is that the person doing the inlay work typically does not know how to make a guitar. Also, the guitar maker that hands over the instrument doesn’t know how to inlay at the higher levels.
As a new guitar maker, it can be tempting to take a look at a really nice inlay and want to do something similar on your guitar. My recommendation is to treat inlay work and guitar making as two separate skills, especially if you are destined for the higher end of the craft. This helps you for a couple reasons…
Inlay Work is Frustrating
If you think a guitar takes a long time to make, try a complex inlay. A really complex inlay, done well, can take a very long time. The work is tedious, slow, and time consuming. It’s also super stressful at first.
The goal of a good inlay is to make a person look at the work and be amazed. You know that if you produce a poorly cut and poorly fitted inlay that your experience is going to be less than the awe you are hoping for. This is where it causes stress.
As you are cutting away your cavities and creating your pieces, you can really start to stress out in the beginning. However, here is something that you can do in order to make this an easier and more fun part of the guitar making process.
Aim a Little Lower With Your Inlay Work
My best piece of advice for inlay work is to treat it as a separate skill. Don’t just assume that because you are a guitar maker that you can do a huge tribal abalone inlay across the entire fretboard. You can with practice, but it will probably not turn out well on round one.
If you aim for something that is more in your talent window in the beginning, you can still get the practice you need, but you can also ensure a less stressful task. It may not have the same pop as a mother of pearl dragon, but that’s part of practicing.
When you have a few of these smaller works under your belt, you are in a much better position to tackle the bigger jobs in the future. As time goes by, you will increase your skills as a inlay artist as well as a guitar maker.
Practice Without Consequences
If practicing on the real thing is going to drive you nuts, then practice on a piece of scrap wood that you don’t care about. Buy a scrap of the same species that you will be inlaying on, and then use it as a test piece.
Perform the inlay just as you would with the real guitar. Use the same materials, the same techniques, and don’t skip anything. Treat that scrap like gold, and attempt to execute the inlay perfectly.
You are going to make some mistakes, and that’s ok. They are consequence free, since you are working on a scrap. Complete the inlay, and you will be in a much better position to execute the real thing when the time comes.
1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners
Tip No. 789 is from my book, 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners, which has a thousand more great tips to get your first few builds on the right track. There is no secret to guitar making, just a lot of small things that you need to get right. These tips will help you.