View Full Version : no dots on side of fret board!

Jun-23-2006, 7:55am
anyone find it annoying when mandolins don't have dots on the side of the fingerboard?

and suggestions?

Jun-23-2006, 8:17am
Yes, I simply installed them on my 1936 Kalamazoo KM-11. I've got $107.00 into it and it's historical significance is greatly outweighed by my utilitarian need for a mandolin to play at lunch time at work. On the other hand, I'm assuming you are talking about your snakehead and I don't know if I would have desecrated one of those. There's an article on frets.com (http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Luthier/Technique/Structural/InlayDots/dots1.html) that describes the process.

Jun-23-2006, 8:17am
I had a luthier put 5 on mine for $50. Looks like it came from the factory that way.

Jim Garber
Jun-23-2006, 8:20am
I have a few vintage bowlbacks that don't have side dots. I realized that it was very annoying -- much more so than the fret markers on the fretboard. It esp is disorienting when i shift to the upper positions. On the other hand if you are quite at home with that one instrument, you can find those notes by feel which is prob better anyway.

Other than that, if it is not a vintage instrument have a good luthier put in the dots. You can get the material from Stew-Mac. Otherwise maybe small pieces of masking tape?


Tom C
Jun-23-2006, 8:29am
-OR just make a dot with a silver or black sharpie

Jun-23-2006, 9:01am
Why do I suddenly see images of a vintage Martin guitar I bought one time with the letters EADGBE scratched on the top next to the neck and on the headstock?

Jim MacDaniel
Jun-23-2006, 9:25am
-OR just make a dot with a silver or black sharpie
...or with a wax pencil so that it is more easily removed if need be. (Drawback: it might rub off and need frequent refreshing.)

Jun-23-2006, 10:03am
I added dots by using "Liquid Paper."

Jun-23-2006, 11:02am

i'd like something obviously easy to take off but not that i'd need to constantly reaaply.


Jim Garber
Jun-23-2006, 6:19pm
It is not your snakehead, is it? I thought all Gibsons except maybe Orvilles had side dots. Especially 1920s ones and later.


Jun-23-2006, 10:01pm
Of course, a complete lack of dots is the status quo on classical guitars. You get used to it. Now, when I take up a guitar with dots, I find it very confusing.

Jun-24-2006, 8:31am
Sharpie works fine but will wear off with time so you may need to reapply from time to time.

Jun-24-2006, 10:03pm
I second the sharpie. I had to use it in the studio. green too

Jun-26-2006, 9:14am
third vote for the sharpie...mine are still there after a long while and they will come off by just rubbing with your finger for awhile if for some reason ya didnt like them. I used silver for a upright bass and they lasted about a year. I think your 2nd and third positions won't get wore off until your becoming used to "finding" the right spot by muscle memory anyhow. 1 Sharpie = lots n lots of dots! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jun-26-2006, 4:30pm
The 21 A was sidemarker less, got it done right. #white dots, got my wee Leo done at the same time.
DIY; the plastic rod of stuff isnt too costly, an eggbeater hand drill, sharp center-punch point, so drill wont wander about, and a exacto razor saw. #
measure to find right place.. twice, then again..

The Fender catalog had one model they put tiny rhinestones in for #edge markers.
said the light reflected off of them and made the positions really easy to see,
#in the #back of a darkened, #spotlighted stage. #
The spotlight on the #front guy with the #embroidered, rhinestone studded ,
satin shirt, #I guess.

Jun-26-2006, 4:36pm
I also find it annoying. I had the dots added to my 1925 Snakehead when it was in to be refretted - before anyone throws anything know that this mandolin has cosmetic "issues" and is strictly a player (not a collector).
Glad I had it done. In fact, unless someone is VERY knowledgeable about mandolins you would think that it came out of the factory that way.

jim simpson
Jun-26-2006, 6:58pm
mandroid is right, the rod isn't too expensive. I bought 2 sizes at a local shop since I wasn't sure which I would like. I had to re-bind a fingerboard thus the need to re-dot!. I wondered how brass rod might look instead of plastic.

Jun-26-2006, 9:55pm
I read somewhere that Bob Taylor actually used brass brazing rod for side dots on something. That would be ok as long as you were going to refinish the side of the neck. If you're trying not to disturb the finish plastic would be easier to install.

Jun-27-2006, 10:31am
I have come across a lot of old instruments with what looks like nail polish dots- yes red. They seem to last a long time but I could get them off with a razor blade. I don't think I would try nail polish remover as it might take off more than I want.

John Rosett
Jun-27-2006, 1:16pm
i added side dots to one of my electric guitars by drilling tiny holes and filling them with white acryllic paint. 10 years later, they're still just as bright as when i added them.
i have a '13 A with no side dots, and i really don't need them on such a short necked instrument.

Jun-27-2006, 2:15pm
If you are replacing your fingerboard, it wouldn't take much work at all to put little LEDs in for dots. Run a ground wire to one leg of each LED and the ground post of a watch battery, one leg to each fret, and the positive side of the watch battery to the tailpiece. Then, when you fret the note, the corresponding LED will light up.

Or is that just too 1980's for you? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jun-27-2006, 3:49pm
That would be better for the fret markers on the fret board. It would mesmerize the audience in a dark club. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jul-08-2006, 10:02pm
I was just chatting about that with my mandolin teacher - she's a Russian and says it's an American thing to have the dots.


Jul-08-2006, 10:30pm
I was just chatting about that with my mandolin teacher - she's a Russian and says it's an American thing to have the dots.

Russians have dots, but never like to discuss it in public.


Jul-09-2006, 9:24am
All I know Jen is that Bill Monroe had dots and by God I'm a gonna have them too. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

I added dots to my '35 Kalamazoo and it's now a joy to play. I didn't realize how much I missed them.

Next time I'll shrink the image file size (sorry)

Jul-09-2006, 2:25pm
Yeah - and dots you shall have!
I checked out my 100 year old Washburn bowlback. Dottless -


Jul-09-2006, 9:21pm
See, that's why Washburn doesn't make 100 year old bowlbacks anymore. People wanted dots. It's the latest rage don'tcha know.