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Luminous Fret Markers


Leonard Smalls

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Following on from a gig where I completely messed up a bass intro due to not being able to see the dots on the side of the neck (used to playing my Wal where things are in a slightly different place), I'm thinking of getting some luminous dot things - Glowtec or similar.

Anyone used 'em, or similar? How long do they glow for? Presumably they don't get in the way as they're on top of the neck? And how removeable are they?

And don't suggest LEDs - I'm not tearing apart 5 bass necks!

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I am having a couple of basses built at the moment, both of which will have luminlay fret markers which would be significantly easier to install than LEDs. I have previously used Glowtec Starglow Fret Finders, easy to remove, no residue, will last you over a gig but ultimately leave you wanting a more permanent solution.

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I switched to maple fingerboard instruments which made it easier when stage lights were dim, but then I got some sheets of glow in the dark stickers from a pound shop and cut them down to use as dots on the side of the neck. 
 

Very cheap DIY solution but it worked 👍

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In our band, we tried all sorts of stick-on solutions for the guitars and basses and a number of them worked for a reasonable amount of time.  However, eventually, all of them shifted or fell off and so I started replacing the side dots with luminlay ones and have since fitted them almost all of my new-builds.  There are alternatives, and Luminlays aren't cheap for what they are, but I have always found them the easiest and neatest solution.

 

You 'charge them up' before the gig with a UV torch, just a few seconds for each dot - they glow brightly for a few minutes and then dull down quite a lot.  But in low light, they are visible for at least an hour (sometimes more).  We used to give them another zap at the break.  The good thing is that they make perfectly decent dots in daylight too.

 

They are not difficult to fit, but it isn't really a DIY job unless you are handy with a drill and scalpel.

 

You basically drill out the existing dot.  Drill 3-4mm deep at the luminlay diameter (there are various sizes), pop a drop of CA onto the end of the luminlay 'stick' and push it firmly into the hole:

kEQNzqKl.jpg

 

Then cut off with a razor-saw or similar and clean flush with a single-edged razor or scalpel:

XEWL8Z4l.jpg

 

They do larger diameters too for the top of the fretboard, but we found the side dots best for use and un-intrusiveness.

 

I'll try to find a retro-fit photo if I can.

Edited by Andyjr1515
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I've got Luminay on 3 basses and never had a problem.

@Andyjr1515 is spot on with the way they function and I've never had a problem getting through a set with them. 

I tried the Rothko and Frost ones but they were nowhere near as good as Luminlay.

If you do decide to go that route, the UV charger they sell is worth buying or get some cheap ones from eBay.

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1 hour ago, Leonard Smalls said:

Luminlay looks best... However, with my relatively meagre woodworking skillz I'd probably be wise not to take my powerdrill to the neck of any of my basses, specially not the Wal or ACG!

Anyone got a vague idea how much a luthier would charge for side dots?

Well Alan, ACG, is well used to fitting them as 2 of my Luminlay basses are ACG's.

1 was a retrofit and I just detached the neck and sent it to him.

Have a word with him. Sure he'd be delighted to do the Wal as well.

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16 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Alan is the luthier's luthier

Aye - my Recurve is a beautiful thing!

However, as I'm a bit worried about taking the neck off (never done it before - have terrible thoughts it will be like the time I took the side off my Yammy TR1 engine and there was a wormgear and host of springs came bouncing out) and in the spirit of Shop Local I've contacted my Friendly Local Luthier - Manton Guitars...

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8 minutes ago, Leonard Smalls said:

Aye - my Recurve is a beautiful thing!

However, as I'm a bit worried about taking the neck off (never done it before - have terrible thoughts it will be like the time I took the side off my Yammy TR1 engine and there was a wormgear and host of springs came bouncing out) and in the spirit of Shop Local I've contacted my Friendly Local Luthier - Manton Guitars...

Yup - Manton are great too ;)

 

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This thread is great as I now only play fretless and the gig I did a couple of weeks back was on a dark stage. So the thought of finding a way to see the side dots crossed my mind.

Do any of the fluorescent dots actually work, even temporarily or are they a waste of time?

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34 minutes ago, Linus27 said:

This thread is great as I now only play fretless and the gig I did a couple of weeks back was on a dark stage. So the thought of finding a way to see the side dots crossed my mind.

Do any of the fluorescent dots actually work, even temporarily or are they a waste of time?


The Luminlay certainly works very well.

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1 hour ago, Linus27 said:

This thread is great as I now only play fretless and the gig I did a couple of weeks back was on a dark stage. So the thought of finding a way to see the side dots crossed my mind.

Do any of the fluorescent dots actually work, even temporarily or are they a waste of time?

As above...

On 28/09/2021 at 12:48, Andyjr1515 said:

You 'charge them up' before the gig with a UV torch, just a few seconds for each dot - they glow brightly for a few minutes and then dull down quite a lot.  But in low light, they are visible for at least an hour (sometimes more).  We used to give them another zap at the break.  The good thing is that they make perfectly decent dots in daylight too.

 

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