Need Recommendations/Inspiration

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Kabrijj, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Kabrijj

    Kabrijj Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2016
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    I picked up a new project recently: a 1950s Gibson BR9 lap steel. Or, to be more accurate: the carcass of a BR9. It came with the bridge and nut, and that's it.

    Ordered some repro Klusons and retro bushings, so I've got tuners... all I need now is a pickup (which I think I have a source for) and a fretboard/bridge plate, which brings me to my question for today:

    I'm going to make both out of rosewood. Now, everything I've read about lap steels says that knowing where you are on the fretboard (fingerboard) is pretty important, so what should I do to mark the fret lines?


    My original thought was use something small, like toothpicks maybe, and just do simple dot inlays, maybe on both the treble and bass sides... that way the positions are marked, and the rosewood grain is still prominently displayed.

    Then I thought that might not be sufficient, so maybe small triangle inlays on the edges? Or, maybe I cut full length fret slots but fill them with epoxy and turquoise dust? Kinda similar to this technique:

    But there's gotta be a better/cooler way, right? I really want to let the cool grain of this rosewood be on display, but I'm open to suggestions, and turn to the collective creativity of this forum for ideas.

    FWIW, here's what a stock BR9 looks like:

    It's nice, but I want to do it better.
  2. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2017
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    Virginia, USA
    I've always hated the BR9 fret markers. You know, with beautful wood I think I'd fret it with jumbo Dunlop and do your turquoise via small abalone dots to let the wood shine through.


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