Clay dots...Why can't anyone get em right?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by mrbungel, Jan 25, 2008.


  1. mrbungel

    mrbungel Member

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    Relics, aged necks, Fender Custom Shop, GVCG, Revelator, K-Line, Warmoth, Allparts, shoe polish.....on and on...Purple, blue, yellow, blinding white. I haven't seen one single Fender Custom Shop Relic that has the right color "clay" dots, and that's the first thing I look at. Am I color blind?
    In Fender history, it's only a period of 5 years, 59 - 64, but it's critical to the era of pre BS rosewood boards.
    Why can't anyone get the proper "Linoleum" material, or whatever, to make clay dot inlays look like finely aged Fender dots? I've seen and owned a shitload of vintage Fender clay dot necks. Yeah, I know, they weren't very dark when they were brand new. But how do you get the proper 45 year old color? Pix are always welcome.
     
  2. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    If you find out let me know. The best I have seen are the Musikraft aged clay. They are about a 20 year headstart. Real clay and was more of a grayish material like the callahams but clay is resistant to everything I have tried.
     
  3. guitarfish

    guitarfish Member

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    Sounds like there's a business opportunity here just waiting for someone...
     
  4. doublee

    doublee Member

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    Major!
     
  5. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Rumor has it the originals are from asbestos floor tiles.
     
  6. soldano16

    soldano16 Member

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    I have NOS tiles if anyone is interested. :crazy
     
  7. guitarfish

    guitarfish Member

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    Old growth tiles have the best tone.
    :D
     
  8. flyingvees

    flyingvees Member

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    I have clay dots in my new Chapin that look killer...Dont know where he got them but I will post a pic when I get it.
     
  9. Drew816

    Drew816 Supporting Member

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    I have a Callaham Custom Tele with proper clay dots, he walks out back of his shop and scoops it out of the ground (so I've been told); they've been in the neck for 13 years now and look great. A little pre-aged but also a naturally darker tint of clay to begin with. I'd also had Bill install clay dots in at least one Strat that I had him refret years ago (maybe two) and they looked great as well. Not 100% sitting side by side with say a '63 Strat but freakin close and they beat the HELL out of BRIGHT WHITE!

    Someone should do this as a service, send in the neck and they install true clay dots; Bill would only do this at a re-fret (to insure they were perfect, smooth, etc and obviously easier to work with at that point) but if someone came up with a way to do this without messing with the rest of the neck in the meantime I'm sure there'd be quite a line up of customers waiting. I had an aquiantance practice this on a Warmoth neck with some old stock pool que' clay and it came out 'ok' but not great...

    My most recent attempt to mimic the colouration has been to use Stew-Mac Medium Brown tint on the USACG neck that came on my K-Line; ahh, they look better then they did but still not great. The Vintage Amber tint didn't seem to do a thing, but 5 days on the dots and a 'light wipe down' with the Med Brown and they're at least dulled a bit.
     
  10. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    It's a little fancy for a Fender, but gold mother of pearl looks great on my rosewood necked Hagstrom. As for the imitation clay dots on new guitars, a little pigmented laquer with an artist's brush can dull them down, but you have to shoot for a mottled look since it's hard to get an even coat of color on there.
     
  11. LZ_69

    LZ_69 Member

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    I do have a box of old floor tiles that look like the same stuff...
     
  12. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Part of the reason they are probably so difficult to get "accurate" is because it can be hard to define what "accurate" is. Look at a few dozen clay dot necks, and though there is not an enormous difference, there can be a noticeable amount of variation in color from one to the other.

    Years back at a seminar we were hosting, Yasuhiko Iwanade told me that Leo Fender told him that the clay dots were white vulcanized fiberboard. Makes perfect sense, Leo being the cheap business man that he was, to buy white forbon from an already existing supplier. Plus it's an incredibly simple material to stamp dots out of (I'm actually surprised Leo didn't just switch to white pickup bobbins so he could use the holes punched from those). Being a fibrous material that they were, they simply absorbed resins from the rosewood and turned to what we call clay dots today. They never actually used clay of course.

    I'm not a vintage Fender expert, but Yas certainly is. So I'll admit that this info is only as accurate as my recollection. I should see if I can find any notes before I preach this as gospel, but that's how I recall his account.
     
  13. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    Well that makes perfect sense David, easy and cheap, very Leo.
     
  14. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    Leo comes to mind when someone says, "Yankee ingenuity."
     
  15. mrbungel

    mrbungel Member

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  16. KennethC

    KennethC Member

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    I don't have those, but I do have tiles with old growth. They sound as gd? :D
     
  17. mrbungel

    mrbungel Member

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    Yep, that old growth mold gives the tile an aged,
    mellow tone.
     
  18. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    Musikraft does have it closer than anybody I've seen. Comparing them in an A/B next to original Fender stuff, and they're pretty right on.
     
  19. bismark

    bismark Member

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    Warning: Clay dot markers of the wrong color will ROB the tone of your Fender. :bong
     

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