Mother of pearl or abalone

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by jjp, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. jjp

    jjp Senior Member

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    Greetings, I am looking for a source for mother of pearl or abalone as I want to replace the plastic trapezoid shaped inlay on my LP Traditional. Can anyone recommend a source?
    Thanks.
     
  2. whoismarykelly

    whoismarykelly Oh look! This is a thing I can change!

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    Stewmac sells prefabbed inlays for this sort of thing. Note that you will need to remove the frets, install the inlay, level the board, and refret the neck to do this project right.
     
  3. scott

    scott Member

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    It's not worth it unless your going to do a refrett
     
  4. jjp

    jjp Senior Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I have found several, and Stewmac is one. Why do you say that it is not worth it unless you are going to do a re-fret? I have a wide range of prices, and likely abilities, though all of them are highly recommended. One guy said $100 roughly if I supply the pre-cut inlays, another was $250 (same with the pre-cut), another was around $600-700, and another was $100/hr. The latter two are well established businesses in Toronto, and both mentioned, as well as the guy charging $250, that it would be more time consuming leaving the frets in. Is this what you are referring to Scott?
     
  5. scott

    scott Member

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    Leaving the frets in is just a Mickey mouse way of doing it. You'd never get the fretboard level and they would never feel right IMO. Imagine sanding the inlays to radius and flush with the frets on. Especially between the higher frets. It's would in essence be kinda scalloped. I wouldn't do it but that's just me:)
     
  6. jjp

    jjp Senior Member

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    Thanks for the heads up on that. I'll ask these luthiers and see what they say. What you are saying makes sence. Is there anything to be concerned about refretting? I know that two of the four mentioned would deliver nothing less than 100% on the job satisfaction scale. The guy that charges $250 was referred by another well know tech in the city. He said that if he had a vintage LP from the 50's he would send it to the $250 guy. His name is Mike Spicer from Hamilton, Ontario. I googled his name and there are many accolades about his work. If I can get away without doing a refret - that would be my preference. The guitar is quite new, and so the frets are in top shape, and the guitar is set up nicely.
     
  7. Ron Thorn

    Ron Thorn Gold Supporting Member

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    Chances are you will not find a supplier for pre-cut inlays that match yours perfectly. Gibson has changed the shape and corner radius so many times, it's a long shot.
    So, to do it right, find someone who can measure your existing inlays and cut new ones that match out of real mother of pearl or abalone, which ever you prefer. I strongly suggest using a minimum of .060" or 1.5mm thick material. A 12" radius and .050 material will get very thin on the outside edges of the higher fret inlays. The pearl may even become semi-transparent being sanded that thin.
    Like Scott said...the right way is to pull the frets. It'll be difficult to sand down the inlays flush with the board, with the grain, and not slightly scallop the board or hit the frets.
    Good luck,
    Ron
     
  8. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    Aesthetically, Abalone just looks wrong to me on a Gibson. Makes 'em look like a Samick..:messedup
     
  9. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Once you sand through outer edge of the abalone to radius is, you're left with a much lower grade of color. You might get away with it on a dot but I think MOP is generally a better choice for large inlays that will get sanded away.

    Just my opinion.
     
  10. jjp

    jjp Senior Member

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    Ron, Sweetfinger, and John, thanks for your input. everything that you are saying makes sence, and I don't want a ****** job. I was 2nd guessing my decision to use the abalone. It is REALLY stunning, but I think that it is not quite right on a traditional cherry burst LP. It might be a bit "loud" or ostentatious. But WOW is that Paua abalone beautiful. I agree, MOP is a better choice for a LP. So do I want to go for a full refret? Are there risks with a refret, i.e., weakening the fret board where the frets were replaced??

    Thank, Jared.
     
  11. dougk

    dougk Silver Supporting Member

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    How about the Historic Makeovers inlays? They are made from the original mother of toilet seat and you can scrape them down with a razor blade between frets. They'll look more vintage correct.

    Still would rather pull the refrets and level the board at the same time.
     
  12. theaxedoctor

    theaxedoctor Member

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    A re-fret should not have any adverse effects, if the luthier know what he is doing. If a fret is not removed carefully, the tangs on the fret can pull out some wood on either side of the fret slot. This can be remedied by heating the fret before its removal.

    Personally I'd wait to replace the fret marker inlays until you need a re-fret, so you will save money. It really not worth replacing them unless you are going to have them replaced properly.
     
  13. jjp

    jjp Senior Member

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    I think that after careful consideration, I have nixed the idea of replacing the inlays. It's not worth it.
     
  14. meangene

    meangene Member

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    Wise choice, some things are better off left alone. Nice to see you have a great advisory board of fine brethren chiming in all with some serious skills.
     

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