I've heard/read conflicting information about Richlite. Anyone have the straight dope? Can the fingerboard extension be heated off with a lamp and a hump over the body leveled with sandpaper? Bridges removed and glued with what glue?


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I just re-read this answer and felt compelled to state emphatically (and in as friendly a tone as possible) that Black Richlite cannot be treated and worked like Rosewood and Ebony. You are courting disaster if you proceed as though it can!

If it's possible to edit the above answer, I think it would be a real disservice not to. I'd hate to think a novice would take it as gospel and potentially ruin a guitar. Because, as one who ruined a customer's guitar, I can state the price can be quite high. It hurt my wallet only a little, but my pride a lot! :)

Learn from my mistake!

Deleted & done. Good advice, Mark. I appreciate it.

Perhaps the most prudent advice we can give to an owner of a Richlite FB Martin instrument (which needs FB profile mods) would be to take it only to an authorized Martin Service provider.  It's only fair that Martin should have to deal with their poor choice of materials for their instruments. This is especially applicable to Formica Martins.  ESPECIALLY since (according to the former thread), Martin treats their info as "trade secrets".  Just a thought.

Thanks again, man. :)

is richlite the black material martin uses on fingerboard and bridges?  it looks like ebony from a distance.

if it is, then you cant totally treat it like ebony or rosewood because if you leave a heatlamp on it for too long the material bubbles and pops.  you also cant sand it that much or you hit different layers of the material.  you can reglue the bride the same though, with hot hide glue.  

I looked at the previous discussions and got ,

"never heat it over 175 degrees."

"heated it to 350 with no problem."

"work it the same as ebony"

"don't sand it"

"call Martin"

"Martin was no help"


That's why I posted the question.

I have e mailed Martin but no response yet.

To those who have dealt with it, how did/would you eliminate a hump over the body if you can't sand it?

Two things I can tell you from my experience. If you sand it, you will regret it, especially if you are trying to eliminate some kind of "hump". The upper layer is paper-like, about .015-.020" thick. It doesn't sand at all like wood. Once you go through the top layer, you are into layers that simply turn fuzzy when you sand them. 

As to temperature, if you get it too hot it will bubble, never to regain it's original shape. My max temp is 175 as measured with an infrared thermometer. It may not be the actual temperature of the material, but it's a number I've found to be a good reference for softening the glue under the extension.

Good luck!


After re-reading that thread, I have to agree that it ended without a solid resolution.

I wish more posters would update their posts with 'and here's how it turned out' summaries. It would have been especially useful in this case. It does seem, though, as if Mark Kane has a lot of good info and practical experience with it. He'll hopefully chime in again.

Our member, Hesh Breakstone, works in a Martin Warranty Service approved shop so perhaps he can also contribute & bring us all up to date.

Sorry for the wild goose chase, man :)

Thanks Paul,

I know what your saying but now I'm guiltily wondering if I posted  outcomes to questions I've asked in the past. I always intended to but..........

If I wind up doing the work  I'll make sure and report back. No really!

Don't ask me how I know but it's a bad idea to put Howard's Feed-n-wax on one of these boards... ;)  Fool me once.... etc.

Mark A. Kane, Thanks for the heads up. Between you and Heshe's experiences. I think I'm going to have to punt on this one.

 The plot thickens.

I got Martin on the phone.

They said proceed as normal. It's a homogenous material all the way through. Same w/ heating it off.

Mark, is there any way you can think of that would square what they told me w/ your experience?

Could it be you had an early version of the material or something? Did you contact them after your disaster?

Stay tuned.

Unless something has changed, I stand by my advice. I was in contact with Martin about it (my shop is a Martin warranty repair center) and handled the situation with their help.  BTW, the guitar was about 5 years old.

dave, don't sand it.  learn from all our mistakes, and don't over-heat it.  it will bubble, for sure. you can heat it with a heat lamp, but there is a point that it get s too hot and it pops.

I'm a martin warranty shop,  ill try and give martin a call later today and get to the bottom of it.  but for real, listen to mark and me and anyone else on here that has had a bad experience with it


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