Making and Installing Position Markers for Your Guitar - by Brian Johnson
edited by Dragon
Here's a simple and economical way to make fret position markers with little chance of destroying you work. I am sure that someone else has probably done this before, but since I haven't seen it yet, I will offer it to you hoping that you can use it on one of your projects.
All you need to get started is a 1/4" flat head screwdriver, a drill with a 1/4" drill bit or 1/4" router bit (I use a dremel 1/4" router bit and dremel router plunge base with an edge guide attachment), a 1/4" hand held hole punch (like kids use in school for their paper), and a handful of medium or heavy guitar picks in whatever color(s) that suits your project. I like heavy picks the best since it makes for easier installation with less mistakes in case you drill too deep...
Start by simply punching holes in the guitar picks with the hole puncher. You should be able to get at least nine or ten fret markers from each pick. I have had no problem at all punching heavy guage picks with a kids hand held school paper punch, but that isn't to say you could not use lighter gauges if you desire. The thickness of a heavy guage pick allows more room for error when drilling or routing the holes in the neck or fret board, and you can't see through them if sanded down too much.
Take your drill or router using very high speed so as not to chip the edges of the hole (if using a drill bit, use a chisel point bit!), and s-l-o-w-l-y drill a small indention in the fretboard where you want the marker to go (hopefully you have already laid that out on the board). You do NOT have to drill very deep. Just drill to the thickness of the pick or slightly less. You can always double stack the pick dots so they are thicker if you drill too deep.You can always check the thickness and depth, and drill deeper. I allow a bit of the dot to stay above the fretboard since it can be sanded down flush.
Once the hole is deep enough, take your screwdriver and gently clean out the hole so the marker will sit flush (if required). Using whatever adhesive you like (I use super glue gel), place the marker in the hole. The fit should be snug enough that you will have to use the handle of the screwdriver to press the marker into place.
Sand flush to the fretboard surface if required and make sure the dots are drilled exactly between the frets by marking the with an 'X' from the corner edges of the fret, and make sure that the hole marks are perfectly centered before drilling. An edge attachment on a router base works great for me for getting the dots entered on the width dimension of the neck.
Experiment on scraps first! Here is a neck I did using 'pearl' type Fender heavy picks since it complimented the Macanudo box on this particular CBG. I have used evey color imaginable. I like the pearl type, white, abalone, gray, etc...
Practice neck with hole puncher, abalone, pearl and grey pearl picks
Router plunger base (for Dremel) with edge attachment