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Glossary

Because the work we do encompasses multiple industries, we decided to put together a glossary of common (and not so common) terms.  If you’ve got one we haven’t listed or another definition for one of terms, let us know!

Abalone Shell material used commonly in inlays, come in a rainbow of colors and can appear to change color when viewed from different angles
Banding Veneer cut into narrow strips and applied to create a decorative effect, usually found around the edges of tables and drawer fronts
Binding A protective strip made of wood or plastic that is placed along the outer most edges of the top, back, neck, fingerboard and some times headstock. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as purfling, purfling actually refers to inlays along side of the binding and not the actual binding itself; Binding protects the guitar from nicks and dings.
Bone A material often used for bridge and end pins. Bone is dense, stable, and produces good resonance, sustain, and tone in the open strings. It is relatively easy to shape using hand tools, such as files. Bone is typically unbleached cow bone.
Bookmatch A term in veneering, where successive pieces of veneer from a flitch are arranged side by side. A properly done bookmatch will resemble a mirror image of the opposite side.
Bridge pin Bridge pins press into the bridge and help to anchor the strings in place, usually made of tapered pegs made of plastic, wood, bone, ivory or other hard material
CNC CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled, an electronic cutting/routing process with a low margin of error, that enables us to cut and shape guitar parts, with much greater precision than is possible working by hand alone.
Ebonized stained or painted wood to give them the appearance of Ebony
End Pin raised button, usually metal, seated in a hole in the middle of the “butt,” or outside tail-end of the guitar, to which a guitar strap can be fastened; if the guitar is outfitted with a pickup, the end pin also can serve as a “jack” (entry hole) for the plug on an electrical cord.
Fiber Strip Fiber is a wood product while most often found in black or white, it can easily be dyed in bright colors, often used in purfling
Fiddleback A decorative wood figure caused by wavy grain. Fiddleback veneer is prized for it’s character and often used for musical instruments.
Fingerboard (see fretboard) This is the surface of the neck that contains the frets.  The fingerboard is generally the thin piece of wood that forms the smooth playing surface of the neck, and which features saw-cut slots that hold the frets; ebony, rosewood, and other dark hardwoods are commonly used; sometimes also called “fretboard”. Note there are also some guitars that are “fretless” but the fingerboard is still used without frets
Fret File file used for shaping and leveling frets
Fretboard (see Fingerboard) This is the surface of the neck that contains the frets. Sometimes also called “fingerboard”.
Furniture strips a piece of marquetry for accenting the face and edge of furniture, comes in many patterns, sometimes called inlay banding
Headstock Describes the part of the guitar where the strings attach to the tuners; logos are usually inlayed here
Herringbone Pattern In veneering, a hearing bone pattern is formed when successive layers of veneers are glued up so they form a mirror image. Usually this pattern slants upwards and outwards, like a herringbone.
Inlay (see marquetry) decorative designs on the fingerboard, the peghead, and/or the body of a guitar; usually, the patterns are cut into the wood and filled with such materials as abalone, mother-of-pearl, plastic, light metals, other woods, etc.
Inlay banding (see furniture strips)
Ivoroid Imitation ivory used as binding or other trim on stringed instruments.
Ladder pattern an alternating horizonal pattern
Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials, and is typically used for industrial manufacturing applications; works by directing the output of a high power laser, by computer, at the material to be cut
Laser engraving practice of using lasers to engrave or mark an object. The technique can be very technical and complex, and often a computer system is used to drive the movements of the laser head
Luthier A guitar maker and guitar repair expert
Mammoth Ivory Fosilized tusk material that comes from extinict mammoths, does not threaten living species
Marquetry The art of wood or other natural materials, inlaid piece by piece into a wood surface in an intricate design or pattern and veneered to another surface, especially of furniture, for decoration.
Marquetry inlay see Marquetry
Mother of Pearl (MOP) the natural iridescent inlay material that comes from a variety of mollusk shells.
Pickguard A thin covering, usually plastic, glued or mounted to the top of an instrument to prevent scratching the top with a pick (or your fingers) when playing; also called a scrathplate
Pickup bobbin plates top and bottom of a pickup; pickups help transform string vibration into an electronic signal for amplification
Purfling a thin decorative inlaid border, found commonly on fretted instruments
Rope pattern a repeating diagonal pattern in the same direction
Rosette A decorative strip or inlay found around the soundhole.
Soundhole Hole in the top of the body of a hollow body guitar.  May enhance sound of be simply for looks.  An F-Hole is a type of sound hole.
Veneer thin piece of wood
Wormholes Holes and channels cut in wood by insects
Zipper pattern alternating diagonal pattern, forming a repeating ‘w’ or ‘z’ shape along the length