Are large inlays a bad idea for exotic woods?


Junior Member
A lot of preference here in the end, but I've been going back and forth on this personally and I'm curious what other people think.

Essentially... I've been considering getting a canary neck for an upcoming (fingers crossed) build or perhaps something more modest but with a wenge fretboard. The point of these selections would be the feel of the neck & board as much as the look. I also like the look of some of the larger inlays: I've never had a guitar with big chunky block inlays, and I'm diggin' the black-block inlays on a lighter neck.

But I can't help but wonder, if you take away so much fretboard surface area for inlays, does that sorta defeat the reason for an exotic selection? All my daily drivers have simple dots, which leaves a lot of wood under the fingers.

Anyhow, just a bit curious what thoughts are around this.
It’s personal preference. Myself, I don’t really care for the looks of Wenge as a fretboard, so I’d have no issue with blocks. Not sure I’d go black though.

As I have an all Canary neck, it looks midway between Maple and roasted maple in darkness and black inlays work on it well.
Lol ... just to be consistent with the spirit of the unofficial warmoth board .... to me wenge feels greaaat! Has a nice oil content and a slick feel ... looks great. But as a fretboard wood with block in lays I’m not so sure. You see it has, or can have a significant grain pattern of dark and light stripes. Be a waste to hide it under blocks. You want darkish exotic with blocks go with something that is subtle like a plainish zicote, bloodwood, Purple Heart, plain ebony etc. As to black inlays in a black board, I don’t know .. but if you got that itch ... scratch it Man, just do it.
And if you want something light with black inlays that canary is an awesome choice. A plainish goncalo board would be great too. Black on light is a great combo.
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My opinion:
If I’m getting an exotic fretboard, say like Flame Maple or Birdseye Maple, I will opt for dot inlays for the exact reason you mention. A large block inlay on a Flame Maple fretboard just takes away a lot of real estate of gorgeous flame.
Plain Maple - blocks galore!
With Wenge, either Pearl dots or none at all.
It's all personal preference in the end.

No inlays at all can look good on a dark board or figured maple, for example. Then again, block inlays can look good, but to me, unless the neck also has binding, something looks missing with block inlays regardless of the wood used.

(This should be in general discussion as it is more design related rather than about wood itself).
No harm bouncing ideas off others. Especially before blowing a chunk of money. Even though its your guitar and your choice, just talking about it can help us sort things out.

There was a story in college about a computer science class and before you asked the TA for help you had to explain your problems to a giant teddy bear outside the office.

Because so many times people come up and say... my program does this, but its supposed to do this and it's almost like ... never mind