Installing Fretboard Side Dots

Those position dots on the side of a fretboard are sure handy to have. In fact, if given a choice, I would rather have the side position markers rather than the MOP position markers located in the face of the fretboard.

There are some material choices in choosing your side position markers.

Extruded Plastic Dot Material: In selecting plastic dots, you can select from plastic material, which can be either black or white and this depends whether you have a bound or unbound fretboard. This material is manufactured in an extruded round bar from 1/16″ to 3/32″ in diameter.

MOP or Abalone Dots: These dots are pre-cut in 3/32″ diameters and are available in White MOP, Gold MOP or Abalone. They are sold in sets of 10 usually, which should be enough to do one guitar with a few left over.

Tools and Materials:

Brad Point Drill Set
Hand Drill
Scratch Awl
Duco Cement
Adhesive Sandpaper 80 Grit
Adhesive Sandpaper 120 Grit
Adhesive Sandpaper 220 Grit
Abalone or MOP Position Dots
Plastic Position Dots

Mark the Dot Locations:

Start by striking lines with a sharp pencil to locate each position dot in the side of the fretboard. With an unbound fretboard you will do this upon completing the fret installation and final sanding of the fretboard. If the fretboard is to have wood or plastic binding, you should make sure that it is installed and sanding prior to installing these dots.

Next position a sharp Scratch Awl at each cross-line and put a fairly deep depression where the dot is to go. This will give a good starter hole for the tip of the brad point drill bit.

Drilling the Dot Holes:

Chuck up a 3/32″ brad point drill bit in a battery operated Hand Drill. I prefer to use the hand drill as I can control the drill much better than in a drill press. Either place a depth stop on the bit or wrap some masking tape on the bit shank to mark the depth of drilling clearly. If you are going to use shell dots, drill just short of the MOP depth. If using plastic, you can make the hole any depth you desire.

To setup to drill set the drill in place on the dimple. Now check that the bit is perpendicular to the fretboard and is aligned vertically as well. Carefully drill the hole without much downward force. Complete each dot hole.

Plastic Installation: To install the Plastic Dots, simply apply some Duco Cement to the end of the plastic tube and install in the hole. Just let it set for a couple of minutes and then take a sharp fret saw and cut off at or near the surface of the fretboard or binding. When all are glued, scrap level with the side of the fretboard or binding with a sharpened scraper and finish with fine sandpaper.

MOP inlays: To install the MOP or Abalone Dots, you can apply Duco Cement to the dot hole and insert the dots into place and wait for the cement to dry. You can then sand or file flush with the fretboard side or the binding. Finish with fine sandpaper.

Be sure to visit Georgia Luthier Supply for all of your guitar building needs! If you need more guitar building tips, check out our guitar construction manual!

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