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Michael Smith
09-16-2011, 09:07 AM
I have a uke on the drawing board that I would like to do some inlay with square sterling silver wire. I plan to shellac the inlay channel and lacquer over. Has anyone on the forum done this and will the silver tarnish over the years if sealed in lacquer?

Thanks in advance.

Tudorp
09-16-2011, 09:13 AM
What causes silver, or any metal to oxidize (or rust) is oxygen. If it is sealed or lacquered over, I would say it wouldn't tarnish at all assuming the chemicals in the lacquer doesn't do weird stuff to it. Not saying or suspecting it will, but ya might want to shoot some lacquer on a piece of .925 and see what it does.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-16-2011, 09:34 AM
I've inlayed silver occasionally, both sheet and square wire, with no problems.

DeVineGuitars
09-16-2011, 01:28 PM
I had a customer ask me to inlay gold purfling on a guitar one time. I told him I thought it was a bad idea because surrounding the paramater of the top with a material that does not vibrate could have a negative effect on the sound. Just a thought.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-16-2011, 02:07 PM
I had a customer ask me to inlay gold purfling on a guitar one time. I told him I thought it was a bad idea because surrounding the paramater of the top with a material that does not vibrate could have a negative effect on the sound. Just a thought.

That's good advice and not a good idea to inlay anything on a resonating surface IMO. I was assuming the OP was referring to headstock or fret board inlay.

hmgberg
09-16-2011, 02:13 PM
I don't know if he's ever used it in building an instrumetn, but I'm aware that Pete Howlett knows a thing or two about silver.

Rick Turner
09-16-2011, 02:26 PM
I did my first silver wire inlays about 40 years ago into ebony; it's a really beautiful technique. Stirling square 16 gauge which is close enough to 1/16" to use a bit that size. You don't have to shellac the channel if it's in a fingerboard. Do put a good scratch pattern on the bottom and two sides of the wire, and just wick superglue around it after pressing or hammering the silver into place. I also did some rectangular 18 gauge by .250" silver fingerboard and body top binding on some electrics.

BTW, silver tarnish is NOT oxidization. Silver tarnishes because of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere; it's air pollution that causes it. http://www.blitzinc.net/category/info.how_why_silver_tarnishes/ Whoops, there I go making corrections again. My bad. So sorry. It'll never happen again...

Rick Turner
09-16-2011, 02:30 PM
See? Google is great. All I did was type in "Silver Tarnish", and I instantly became a real expert.

Actually I knew this from having been a silversmith's assistant in another lifetime, but I did the Google thing just so I could refer to an authoritative site. The answers to so many questions are right at your fingertips; all you have to do is ask the right question in the right place and you may get better information than you get off the tops of people's heads here... It's called doing your homework, and I prefer doing mine before I post answers to questions unless I've already done it...

Oooohhhh, there I go again! Bad Rick, bad Rick... Snarky on a Friday afternoon...

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-16-2011, 02:37 PM
I've done ship's rigging with sheet sterling silver in an ebony headstock before. I think the gauge was probably 22 or so and cut into strips about 1/8 wide. The inlay was done in the veneer itself before it was glued onto the headstock. After my major inlay pieces were in and level sanded, I drew where the rigging was supposed to go and cut on the lines with a jeweler's saw. The kerf was the perfect width for the silver I was using. Simply cut the silver to length and fit it into the slots, glue and level. I found that sheet silver, stood on edge, is much easier for me to use in this way if you need to make very thin lines, as opposed to wire which I'm likely to sand through on complex inlays.
I have a jellyfish inlay that I'll be doing soon using this process.

Liam Ryan
09-16-2011, 03:12 PM
I told him I thought it was a bad idea because surrounding the paramater of the top with a material that does not vibrate could have a negative effect on the sound. Just a thought.

Can you please expand on this a little Eric. I would have thought that relative to the rest of the top and by virtue of it's attachment to the linings and sides, the perimeter would vibrate virtually not at all.

Rick Turner
09-16-2011, 04:04 PM
That would be "perimeter", I believe.

I don't necessarily see the mass of silver hurting tone in that particular place. It wouldn't be a whole lot different from inlaying abalone shell as a purfling. As a rosette it might be a very different case.

I very deliberately went with a decal for my Compass Rose uke rosettes. The decal adds virtually no weight to the top, nor does it have to be inlaid into the top and then backed up by anything. It's as acoustically neutral as you can get. I consider it a high performance aesthetic touch. Uke tops have precious little actively vibrating area as it is. Might as well get the most out of what is available. And decals have a wonderful history on ukes. The ones I use are not cheap; they cost close to $8.00 per, so you know I'm not saving money. I just think they look good and work well on all levels.

maclay
09-18-2011, 12:26 PM
I'm actually designing a rosette with aluminum in it right now. I don't expect it to negatively effect the tone, but only time will tell. As Rick said, why would it be that much different than shell?......as you know, pearl and abalone are widely used on tops.

Rick Turner
09-18-2011, 12:57 PM
That would be aluminium for our Brit and Aussie pals, Jake!

And yes, a good choice. Virtually indistinguishable from silver under finish. Just lacking in certain bragging rights. In Napoleon's time, aluminium, with or with out the second "i" was more valuable than silver or gold because of how hard it was to process from bauxite. Took lots of nasty chemical processes and later a lot of Leyden jars!

http://nautilus.fis.uc.pt/st2.5/scenes-e/elem/e01310.html

DeVineGuitars
09-18-2011, 03:34 PM
Can you please expand on this a little Eric. I would have thought that relative to the rest of the top and by virtue of it's attachment to the linings and sides, the perimeter would vibrate virtually not at all.
A good example of how important the perimeter of the soundboard is, is to take a uke body and tap it. Now route away the channels for the binding and tap it again. You will notice that the tap energy goes down to almost nothing because the rim is not sufficient enough to sustain the vibration. Now, the idea of adding metel to the rim of the top is a little different than cutting away the edge completely, but it shows you how influential the rim is and by adding a material that basically absorbs vibration could very well reduce the quality of the sound of the uke.

olgoat52
09-18-2011, 04:01 PM
Lots of pool cue makers inlay with silver wire. Of course they use some really bullet proof finishes on par with automotive. Now days this is getting to be a very expensive practice for them. I will have to ask one of them if they have consider Alum. (Finish spelling anyway you like).

To my knowledge, it has not been used much in cue inlay. I suspect it does not polish out prior to finish as nicely as Silver. But then, who knows.

Rick Turner
09-18-2011, 04:06 PM
Or adding material that reflects vibration energy back into the top could be beneficial. I've done guitars with carbon fiber binding. It works.

ksquine
09-19-2011, 08:16 AM
I'm actually designing a rosette with aluminum in it right now. I don't expect it to negatively effect the tone, but only time will tell. As Rick said, why would it be that much different than shell?......as you know, pearl and abalone are widely used on tops.

One of the coolest rosettes that I saw was with copper wire. It started with a wide rosette channel in which he wound thin gauge copper wire. Then filled with channel with black epoxy and sanded back to reveal the wire coil in black epoxy. It didn't seem to have any bad effects on the tone. Its not a very active area of the top anyway. Now if I just had no shame so I could copy it.

Rick Turner
09-19-2011, 10:50 AM
I don't agree that you have to give up on any area of the top as far as vibration goes. It depends on what you do to it...or don't do to it.