fretboard dots

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Alan Bates
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:16 pm

fretboard dots

Post by Alan Bates »

I am looking for a posting or discussion about position of dots of fretboards. I ask because I made a banjo for my partner and mistakenly put a dot on the 9th fret and discovered that banjos seem to have that dot on the 10th fret. Guitars seem to be at the 9th fret. Mandolins seem to have it at the 10th. What gives here?

Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: fretboard dots

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

Greek bouzoukis have the dot on the 10th fret. The Greek bouzouki is tuned CFAD (low - high) so the 10th fret is C.

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Pete Halliday
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:50 am
Location: Canton, MI

Re: fretboard dots

Post by Pete Halliday »

Turn it into a tree of life inlay ;-)

Clay Schaeffer
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: fretboard dots

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

If the wood is ebony you have a fair chance of hiding the repair. other woods you have to match the color and grain orientation and hope for some luck. Sometimes you can rout out the surface of the board between the two frets and inlay a matching piece of wood between them.
Tenor banjos were tuned in fifths between courses as were mandolins and violins. Guitars are tuned in fourths (and a third) between courses which may account for the difference in position markers. Why a 5 string banjo would use markers similar to a tenor - I have no idea!

Bill Raymond
Posts: 359
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:37 pm
Location: Red Bluff California

Re: fretboard dots

Post by Bill Raymond »

Selmer guitars, and I believe also some other guitars of European provenance have the dots at the 10th fret and not the 9th. American guitars seem to be consistent in placing the dot at the 9th fret.

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Dan Smith
Posts: 332
Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 9:33 pm
Location: Texas

Re: fretboard dots

Post by Dan Smith »

Been there too.
Fairly easy to inlay a piece as suggested.
Ever-body was kung fu fight-in,
Them kids was fast as light-nin.

Alan Carruth
Posts: 947
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: fretboard dots

Post by Alan Carruth »

It may have to do with the tuning. Guitars are tuned with strings at intervals of 4ths and one 3d. Banjos and mandolins are normally tuned in fifths.

Todd Stock
Posts: 394
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: fretboard dots

Post by Todd Stock »

If the board is well striped or a uniformly black ebony, the rout can be stopped just clear of the inlays instead of going all the way to the edge of the board...use some dust and epoxy to adhere and fill, using a naturally dark line as a boundary. With strings on, even a bad match is much tougher to see than you'd think - and better than having to endure the endless string of "You do realize that..blah, blah." comments.

This is also a common repair technique on arch tops with bad truss rod anchors, and a good reason to save fretboard end off-cuts...I have a dozen plastic shoeboxes of species-specific scraps for this sort of thing. As Alan mentioned, 5ths versus 4ths on the 10th versus 9th fret marker. Don't forget to change the edge marker out...DAMHIKT.

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