I've just received a Martin Auditorium 000C-16GTE for repairs. It's the first instrument that I've seen with a MICARTA fret board and bridge. Many factory guitar makers now leave 1/8" of finish (to save on the production costs?) around the top plate's (bare wood) gluing area which gives the appearance of a lifting bridge. With less bonding area, the bridges often do begin to lift. Having little experience with this man-made substance (MICARTA), I am wondering what characteristics it has:

Does heating (for removal) warp or melt it?
What glues are compatible with this?
What are the working characteristics as a fret board or bridge?
(I have found that bridge pin holes are harder to ream)


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Bowling balls hold up pretty well/ebonite,ebonol whatever! I wouldn't want it as a fretboard.Replacing guitar making materials w/synthetics takes bits if life out of what could have been a better instrument IMO. Also in '66 Walter K. Bauer once remarked that the bowl back Ovations
struck him as having no life, referring to my Ova.classical. ser.#00025.That made me so uneasy I got rid of it.I wonder what it's worth today?
WOOD has been called the most sympathetic material to man, quickly warming to the touch, it serves as the best building material for most of our needs. I recall a study back in the 50's where the best building material for silos was made (per weight, cost, strength, workability, and longevity against the acids in silage. Better than stainless steel, bricks or concrete, WOOD came out on top.
I have to use 4 shooter's sandbags to stabilize an Ovation to work on it. Most plastics literally weaken a person when in contact with them...even LOOKING at plastic has this effect (check KINESIOLOGY: muscle testing).
No need to apologize for expressing opinions about this, because musical expression is subjective.

If you are going to work on environmental issues (spend several years as an organizer in the early 1980s) you owe it to yourself to learn a bit more about materials science - "Bakelite" - formica plastics - were the very first totally synthetic materials produced (as opposed to nitrocellulose which was an altered natural fiber) so any thoughts of safety - for users, workers, suppliers, disposers, - were far, far in the future. We were still soldering cans together with pure lead for food purposes and sprinkling "Paris Green" - lead asenate" - on our tomatos, strawberries, and grapes. Formica is that old.

Do some reasearch on early materials - fascinating!


Sorry to revive this old topic.

I have a Martin 000cxe with micarta fretboard for a refret.

Can you tell me if there are differences in working with micarta than rosewood, ebony, etc. for this job?

This revived post is a good example of why more of us may want to exercise the option of "closing" our posts when they come to a natural conclusion (like this one that 'ended' 2 & 1/2 years ago)..

Additionally, starting a new post could cause less confusion as has been evidenced with this post.  We're all more knowledgeable now than we were 2&1/2 years ago and our previous comments may no longer be relevant.

Just something to think about (:

Definitely use care in heating micarta. It's a layered material kind of like slate. overheating will lift the upper layers away. As for fretting go with about a 5 thousandths undersized tang from the fret slot measurement to prevent back bow or t-rod function. Micarta is super dense!!


+1 on the fret size and heating. I heat bridges to around 225f over a period of about 15-20 minutes to remove them. I've bubbled a fingerboard from using the kind of heat I normally use on wood, and it's a real bear to fix. I've had occasion to cut some apart and it's really just highly compressed paper interleaved with resin. If you try to sand it, you'll just go through the glossy "finish" layer and expose the paper. At that point you're done for. There is no getting the gloss back.

I'm afraid that this is where I draw the line. The art of the luthier is that of WOOD working and the applied knowledge of the various species and characteristics of each in how they may be used together to produce musical instruments. We must not abandon the natural materials which keep us in touch with the world we live in and our relationship to it. Woods are a renewable natural resource which need to be propagated as well as harvested. Man-made materials typically reflect a bottom line of profit rather than quality, which takes time, a long time in most cases. With dwindling supplies, we see hollow plastic bridges, bodies, fret 'boards' and instruments that are made more and more non-repairable, which says to the owner that this has no future built into it ~ and pretty much reflects our policy toward the Earth we live on if we do not abide by the laws of nature.

   Plastics are not user or luthier-friendly. My policy is to replace the artificial parts with natural, not to attempt to repair that which was designed to fail. A respect for nature is all a self-respecting human being has. We're not here to help waste what we've been given but to use to the very best of our abilities those gifts we have.

Thank you all for your answers.

Try this link for info about Micarta;

Best Regards,


Epoxy is a very last resort since it remains somewhat flexible and such things tend to absorb and deaden sound vibration .Anything that sacrifices sound does not belong on a musical instrument.

Epoxy is used by some of our high end makers such as Collins to glue on fingerboards and it can hardly be described as "flexible" (relative to other luthier glues other than the dead animal stuff)  as it exhibits very little if any creep and forms a rigid bond (by specification - West systems for instance is used for laminating wooden boat hulls etc).  Similarly, it is an accepted practice to grain fill acoustic guitars with an epoxy slurry to give a hard reflective surface.  Not my bag but these are current practices and applications.  Rusty.


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