Shell inlay is a style of embellishment that has been used on musical instruments for hundreds of years. In keeping with tradition, our inlayed art is created applying the same techniques used on some of the most beautiful antique instruments the world has ever seen. Rather than computer cutting and laser fitting, our inlay work is drawn, cut and set by hand. Because each piece is custom, we can enjoy nearly limitless design possibilities, with an extremely close attention to detail. Each particular piece, whether a shell, wood, stone, or metal, is specially hand selected in order to lend its own unique qualities to the artistic and musical integrity of the instrument. In doing this, we can ensure that each inlayed instrument will charm its player sonically and visually for a lifetime.

Materials

Inlay work can be done with a wide range of materials including:

Mother of Pearl
white, gold, and Tahitian black and bronze

Abalone
red, green, paua and heart material of the same shells

In addition to those more common materials we have a full palette of colors in exotic and burl woods, sea snail shell, stone, opal oyster, precious metals and a variety of man-made materials.

Placement

Fingerboard and headstock inlay, as well as inlayed purfling is most common, although inlay can conceivably be done anywhere. We typically avoid inlays on the middle of the top and back of the instrument, as this interferes with the tone, function and structure of the instrument.

Design

Our design process for inlay work is as follows:

1. Initial ides are discussed

2. A rough sketch of inlay is submitted to the customer

3. The sketch is refined and drawings incorporating placement are submitted

4. Final cutting plan is approved

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