How to Install Pearl Inlay Dots

Written by anthony king
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How to Install Pearl Inlay Dots
Mother of pearl inlay dots can be used for guitar fret markers. (strato01 image by diego cervo from

Each guitar neck has different markers to correspond to specific frets on the fretboard. Generally, the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, 12th, 15th and 17th frets will have inlays which act as quick visual references for the guitarist. These inlays can take many shapes, such as rectangles, trapezoids, or custom images, but the most common fret markers are dots. Standard black is used for most inlays dots, however, higher end guitars or custom necks use dot inlays made from mother of pearl.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Brad-point drill bit
  • Super glue
  • 220 grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Mark the centres of all the frets, except for the 12th, to show where the dot should be placed. To do this, separate the fret vertically and horizontally, then mark where the two lines intersect. The 12th fret will be slightly different, as it will have two dots instead of one. To mark where the 12th frets dots will go, separate the fret vertically so that the fret contains two symmetrical boxes. From there, separate each box vertically and horizontally and mark where the two lines intersect. The centre of each box is where the inlay dots will be fastened.

  2. 2

    Insert the Brad-point drill bit into the drill. Starting with the point of the drill bit on the centre point of the fret, make a shallow circular impression into the neck, deep enough so that the pearl dot will sit just barely raised from the fretboard.

  3. 3

    Put a small drop of super glue into each impression and insert all the pearl inlay dots into their place on the fretboard. Let the glue dry overnight before continuing with the project.

  4. 4

    Sandpaper over the inlay dots, using 220 grit sandpaper, until they fit flush with the fretboard.

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