Stick-on Fingerboard Markers (Temporary Inlays, side dots)
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DON'T BUY THESE!
Okay, I'm joking... maybe you might want to. I've often been asked about putting inlays on the side of fingerboards, as a visual aid to mark where the notes are. Just know that some teachers recommend against them, as they feel that using a visual crutch like side markers can actually delay your progress on the bass. The idea is to NOT use your eyes, but rather your ears - and develop your muscle memory, so your hands simply go to the right place without help from your eyes. This leaves your eyes free to read the music, connect with your bandmates, or flirt with the hottie at the table by the door.
Regardless, I do understand that sometimes folks feel more confident and comfortable with a little help nailing down the positions on the fingerboard, especially those making the transition from a smaller scale bass guitar - which usually does have handy dots on the fretboard. You also might play in a loud stage situation, or have to make large jumps up the fingerboard, and want the confidence to know that you'll land in the right place. No judgment from me, folks.
And of course, these would be useful - even for a seasoned player - if you're playing in a "room from hell" where you can't hear yourself well enough to judge your intonation; the visual reinforcement would certainly be helpful in that case!
Regardless, I always recommend NOT doing something permanent, like real inlays. For one thing, it could hurt your bass' resale value... and you eventually will develop your ear, at which point you won't want the markers anymore. But if they're permanent... Oops!
Anyway, here's the alternative, which is wonderfully temporary. You get a total of 18 white or maple-colored vinyl stick-on "fake inlays" - 12 "dots" and 6 "lines" (see photos) You can use either one or the other, or mix and match, or use them on a couple different basses if you want. Whatever makes you happy!
And when you've grown tired of them, simply peel them off. No harm, no foul.
"Bright White" (right) is a high-visibility set, which - especially against a dark ebony fingerboard, would be the most visible on a dark stage or in an orchestra pit. The "Warm Maple" (left) is a bit more subtle; as you can see, it looks similar in color to the maple neck of the bass, and looks almost like a wood inlay - better if you still want the visual markers, but don't want them to be as noticeable to others.
The photos illustrate the vinyl dots and lines alternated in a couple of different patterns on our Estle Louis laminated basses. They are just possible arrangements; you can also go "all dots," "all lines," or any of a huge number of other variations.
The custom-cut vinyl stickers arrive in a nice reclosable bag with an insert card with instructions, and including 12 dots and 6 rounded lines. This should be enough to do 2-3 basses!You have 18 stickers to draw from - be creative!
Suitable for use on upright basses of all sizes (3/4, 4/4, 1/2, 1/4, etc.) as well as all electric upright basses.
Dimensions: Dots are approximately 3/16" in diameter, lines are approximately 3/16" tall by 3/8" long.
- They're simple stickers. Peel and stick! Try not to contact the sticky side with your fingers, the oils in your skin will make them less sticky.
- The easiest way to place them accurately is by using an electronic tuner; make sure the open string is in tune, then finger the notes you wish to mark. Adjust your finger until you have the note perfectly in tune, then apply the sticker there.
- There are also sites which host "fretboard calculators" which you can also use to measure out where the markers go - but you'll need to measure your scale length to use them - and the tuner method, above, is easier.
- I recommend placing only on the side of the fingerboard (as shown) - putting them on the face of the fingerboard, bass-guitar-style, will get you funny looks from other bassists and musicians.
- Stickers peel off with little or no residue; if they leave anything behind, a little lemon oil should remove it (and not damage your fingerboard.)
A helpful aid for lots of situations. Beginning players, playing loud venues, etc. Their appearance is discrete and they do not leave any sticky residue.
You will eventually play that venue ...
... where the noise level increases until you can't hear yourself to intonate well. Or you'll get your dream gig right when you've been away from your instrument for weeks. I put these on after the former happened to me. I refer to them only when needed but then they're a lifesaver. They look attractive but don't draw attention to themselves.
I bought the warm maple colour. They are attractive and useful, better than homemade options. Inexpensive. Helpful tip, the border of the stickers can be cut into square dots and give you an extra 20+ stickers in addition to the visible 18 dots.
Helpful little items when re-learning the URB
I played electric bass exclusively for many years before coming back to the doghouse, and as expected my hand positions and intonation were lacking. Using these little dot stickers helped me to get back into the swing of things (pun intended). After I felt that I didn't need them anymore, I simply took them off with no visible damage done to my bass.
Buy em, use em....play on!
Being a session player there are times you juggle different basses, styles and performances. It's great in a perfect world to pick up a bass and grab your "center" and rip. However, with different tunings I find it SOOOO easy to take 10min and dot the damn thing and play on. May be a crutch to some but I dont have the luxury of "almost".