Guitar Inlay Project

When I was a teenager I wanted to grow up to be a badass guitar player. I took my beat-up old classical guitar on a trip to Europe, and discovered the joys of traveling alone with an instrument for the first time. I traveled in Scotland, England, France and Spain… and my little trip to the town of Granada (where Flamenco music supposedly originated) changed the course of my life. I met a guitarerro at the base of the Alhambra castle… and he told me that if I learned the trade of working on guitars then I could one day return to Spain and he would help me build one.

I found an apprenticeship at Amazing Grace Music in San Anselmo, and worked there for three years. At the end of my time there, as I was preparing to leave for Boston and Berklee College of music, I got it into my head that the best guitar for me would be a small Martin instead of a fine classical guitar. I finished about 70% of the work on this Martin 00028 kit guitar while I was still working at Amazing Grace… then left town… and the unfinished project has stayed in closets and storage units ever since. The problem is, I had a very ambitious inlay design, and this slowed down the project quite a bit!

Since I am relocating to Germany, I’ve decided to make renewed efforts on this old project during my California visits. I really want this little Martin, she’ll help me write good songs, and she’ll inspire my accordion playing… my special bass system was crafted to emulate guitar power chords, after all. John Pedersen generously offered me a bench space and the chance to use his tools to put the project together, also instructions on the steps to take. I finished filing the letters down their final shapes, glued the abalone shell design to the guitar peghead with hide glue, then traced the outlines with an exacto knife, removed the shell pieces, and carved the design with the router. And then, all my time was used up and I got on a plane back to Germany. I took a few photos of the inlay process so you can see where I’m at. I got a nice outline for the top of the design… then went a little wider for the tail at the bottom because I had to free-hand that part.CAM00201 CAM00202 CAM00203 CAM00204 CAM00205 CAM00206 CAM00207

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2 thoughts on “Guitar Inlay Project

  1. did you rout that freehand, using the dremel router in the photo? That’s good stuff. I have never got the hang of using that dremel router, maybe I’m inspired to try it again.

    1. I did most of the design with the router in the photo that has a table/guide… also John ground the tip of the dremel bit down on his belt sander so it would cut a 90 degree angle (instead of having a beveled/drill-like tip.) I had to free-hand the tail part of the design (look ma, no table guide!) because the little router table got hung up on the fingerboard.

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