How To Inlay a Guitar Headstock – With Master Inlay Artist Craig Lavin (Episode 1)

How To Inlay a Guitar Headstock – With Master Inlay Artist Craig Lavin (Episode 1)

Master inlay artist Craig Lavin joins us and demonstrates the fundamentals of guitar inlay. In this 3 part series Craig will show you how to install a custom headstock logo into your guitar. We show you step-by-step everything you need to know to design, cut, and inlay a custom pearl inlay into your next guitar build.

00:00 Introduction
0:50 3 Critical steps to a good inlay
1:05 Logo selection / design
6:54 Material selection
9:40 Prepping the logo to be cut
14:12 Setting up your saw
17:22 Cutting and shaping the pearl
29:02 Removing the paper pattern
31:03 Getting ready to locate the logo for routing

Items used in this series:

Ebony Peghead Overlay Veneer
https://www.stewmac.com/item/0991

Pearl Cutting Saw
https://www.stewmac.com/item/4611

Pearl Cutting Jig
https://www.stewmac.com/item/5194

Abalam Inlay Blank
https://www.stewmac.com/item/4444

Pearl Inlay Blanks
https://www.stewmac.com/item/0950

Pearl Fretboard Side Dots
https://www.stewmac.com/item/0964

StewMac Super Glue
https://www.stewmac.com/item/0010

3M Stikit Sandpaper
https://www.stewmac.com/item/5772

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50 Comments

  1. Renegade on September 18, 2022 at 12:25 am

    Kinda comical, But there’s more than one way to skin a cat.I appreciate all the instruction,My skills must lack because i routed and glued the Abilone shell to the Headstock and did an overlay,Thank you,I wouldn’t have even attempted such precision work without Thanking you for inspiring me to attempt it! An overlay gives you a second chance,and after it is glued up and sanded Down is Definately good enough for me!

  2. SCISM MUSIC on September 18, 2022 at 12:28 am

    how do you spell the material you mentioned as Keranite? I know that’s not it – I can’t locate anything even similar to that spelling and don’t see that masecraft supply has it listed? Thanks. Great video and I’m on to watch the second and third video

  3. Blues guitar tips/lessons on September 18, 2022 at 12:28 am

    Fantastic tutorial. Thx so much.

  4. StewMac on September 18, 2022 at 12:28 am

    Thanks so much Craig for sharing your decades of experience with us on this video series.

  5. Saxo Fonista on September 18, 2022 at 12:29 am

    Wear a mask, that dust is very harmful.

  6. R Eliot on September 18, 2022 at 12:29 am

    Greetings Craig, I like your work. I got a lot out of the materials portion of this series. Kirinite!… Yea! I process most of my inlay material from whole shell or scale scrap. Here’s a tip back. For all who love inlay work a Taurus Ring Saw is an amazing tool.

  7. artofnoly on September 18, 2022 at 12:29 am

    Excellent stuff. Many thanks.

  8. Stefan G. Bucher on September 18, 2022 at 12:31 am

    Considering how much effort goes into doing inlays, make sure you spend an hour of design for every hour of production. I see so many gorgeous guitars—even from celebrated luthiers—where they just use terrible typography or lettering and then position it so poorly. It kills me.

  9. Ted Schoenling on September 18, 2022 at 12:31 am

    This is its own little circle of hell for me… mad props to anybody who can do it.. it is just tooooo fine of work for this old man

  10. Andrew Mazurkiewicz on September 18, 2022 at 12:32 am

    A thin piece of model aircraft plywood glued onto the back of the pearl will help reduce part breakages and can be removed by soaking in a jar of acetone overnight. Cheers Andrew

  11. Sam Denton on September 18, 2022 at 12:36 am

    Great teacher…

  12. Sam Bowman on September 18, 2022 at 12:37 am

    WOW ! Your the first I’ve seen explain in such a way , that it makes it sooo interesting and obtainable ! great great teacher and vid. !

  13. eFcomovil on September 18, 2022 at 12:40 am

    I’ll never work with inlays, but man your video was amazing. Thanks for sharing all this knowledge, and I have to say, your workshop looks like a very fun place to be/work!

  14. marmelaki on September 18, 2022 at 12:41 am

    I don’t do inlays, but this was very interesting to watch. What’s more, sharing your artistry in such great detail is very generous and cool. Thank you!

  15. Mikah on September 18, 2022 at 12:41 am

    You would make a good surgeon.

  16. guitar man joe on September 18, 2022 at 12:46 am

    We’re can I get kyronite

  17. KBorham on September 18, 2022 at 12:46 am

    Extremely usable information! I wish I would have seen this several inlays ago! I would like to add to the StewMac saw I have, where can I get a pearl saw like the one you were using?

  18. Cratecruncher on September 18, 2022 at 12:47 am

    Nice tutorial Craig. Good to see someone that likes to do detail work. You should mention the Opti-Visor you are using to see those tiny parts. I’d be lost without mine.

  19. Merlyn Schutterle on September 18, 2022 at 12:47 am

    Wouldn’t it be easier to have it cut with a lazer?

  20. Terry Kori on September 18, 2022 at 12:48 am

    I am not sure I even know how to properly "thank you", Craig Lavin! This video is a gift, pure and simple. Offering your kindness, manner, and expertise is extraordinarily generous of you. As a Master Class, this is quite likely my favorite-ever presentation.

  21. battlehrfred on September 18, 2022 at 12:49 am

    wow. now this is a experienced man with talent!!! just wow with detail and expertise 100-100

  22. D Rapp on September 18, 2022 at 12:50 am

    Fantastic video. Very clear and easy to follow. Thanks Craig and StewMac for making this!!

  23. Lovely on September 18, 2022 at 12:50 am

    I never realized how in depth and complicated putting a logo on a guitar is.. it’s very interesting and now I have a new found appreciation every-time I look at the logos on my guitars haha

  24. Shadowcruise99 on September 18, 2022 at 12:50 am

    Thanks, Craig!

  25. Harry Fonseca on September 18, 2022 at 12:52 am

    Shouldn’t it be two empty frets at either side of the two doted fret?

  26. Tim Fields on September 18, 2022 at 12:54 am

    How lucky we are that a master inlay artist is also a master instructor! Craig covers all the bases here, and I’m sure I’ll return to this series quite a few times as I encounter new challenges. I was dumbfounded by the simple tape flag on the router bit as a blower — worked like a charm! Very smart to repeat warnings across the 3 videos (if you can smell the CA you aren’t doing it right), knowing some won’t watch all 3. Fortunately, I’ll never know how much time and wasted material Craig has saved me. Thank you!

  27. kathymatsushita on September 18, 2022 at 12:56 am

    WOW, Craig!!! I just stumbled upon this tonight — this is GREAT!!! Probably one of the best tutorials on doing an inlay I’ve ever seen! So many practical tips/techniques I’d never heard before…wish I’d known about these earlier when I was doing my instrument inlays! THANKS!

  28. the 0% Liberal show on September 18, 2022 at 12:58 am

    Driftwood guitars brought me here.

  29. Kevin Manuele on September 18, 2022 at 12:59 am

    Can someone clarify the material "kironite"?? Spelling? Suppliers? I don’t see this in a ‘net search so my spelling is likely wrong.
    Thanks

  30. Sam Aitcheson on September 18, 2022 at 1:00 am

    This video is such an inspiration! Thanks so much!

  31. senor hedvoycez on September 18, 2022 at 1:00 am

    Great video. Seems like a laser would save so much time.

  32. John Nasta on September 18, 2022 at 1:01 am

    Thanks for the video. You cover a lot of information without ever being boring. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to do this, but considering the tiny size of the drill bit I think I’d be unhappy about the amount of wobble in the chuck.

  33. Vapertainment on September 18, 2022 at 1:01 am

    At the chance of never getting answered, could you not do say a logo backwards so the face is in less danger of getting compromised during the template removal?

  34. incogNeko5 on September 18, 2022 at 1:02 am

    Wooooaaaah Black Betty 8:24

  35. Dex Dixing Xu on September 18, 2022 at 1:03 am

    holy cow this is truly master work

  36. noamhemsky on September 18, 2022 at 1:06 am

    this is gold.

  37. EbonyPope on September 18, 2022 at 1:08 am

    How to dissolve the glue when you can’t use acetone?

  38. conscience commenter on September 18, 2022 at 1:09 am

    Wow Craig, that is most interesting and nerve racking as hell. That is a true art to hand cut the pearl or any of the materials and i’m sure takes many tries to get good. Well explained vid for head stock inlay.

  39. guitarzleo on September 18, 2022 at 1:10 am

    Wow…!😮
    Craig is an amazing tutor.
    So much detail and precision. And patience!!!👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  40. Dobaolam Do on September 18, 2022 at 1:10 am

    how to tune a saw :>>>

  41. John Savarese on September 18, 2022 at 1:13 am

    Nice marchetry. Have you ever seen the work of the late Phil Petillo?

  42. The Gee-tah Guy on September 18, 2022 at 1:15 am

    Thanks so much for this great video. I’ve done some inlay work using pre cut geometric pearl shapes and other shapes from SM. Never had the confidence to cut my own, but years ago I was given some old beautiful pearl sheets that now I may try cutting. I was told how dangerous it is the breathe in the dust. G10 is used heavily for knife making which I am also familiar with. I also do engine turning like you see on the plates of an old pocket watch. I always wanted to a engine turned guitar inlay.

  43. Gary Johnson on September 18, 2022 at 1:15 am

    too many commercials

  44. JoshL117 on September 18, 2022 at 1:17 am

    20:32
    "I don’t want my blade b r e a k i n g…"
    That little head move that he does shows ages of hurt from blades breaking and ruining everything.

  45. jim bayerle on September 18, 2022 at 1:17 am

    You gents rock!

  46. Adrian Lewis on September 18, 2022 at 1:18 am

    Thanks Craig. Three amazing episodes. I took a risk and did my inlay on an existing headstock. It’s turned out great. Not sure if I can share a picture ! I’ve gone for a logo that references a cocktail I quite like and think Bette Davis drank them as well !

  47. Brian on September 18, 2022 at 1:21 am

    Can you imagine how long it takes to earn this much experience and expertise??

  48. conscience commenter on September 18, 2022 at 1:21 am

    Cant you get a laser machine that could do that more precise so as not to waste expensive materials .

  49. Grizelda on September 18, 2022 at 1:22 am

    This guy is awesome

  50. hph081000 on September 18, 2022 at 1:23 am

    I would follow a channel about this stuff religiously. Amazing!

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