What is Micarta?

Hi there,

             I am a newbie and getting ready to purchase my first guitar.  I have selected a Martin D-16GT.  I think it is a thing of beauty.  I have one question though.  What the heck is black Micarta?  The fingerboard and bridge are made of it.  I know it is supposed to be a substitute for ebony, but I hear rumors its just plastic or something.  I am just wondering how it will affect my overall experience and if maybe I should just downgrade to the Martin D-1 which has a rosewood fingerboard and fretboard.  I have been reading your site and I like the answers I find here. Keep up the good work.


(White) Micarta, similar to Tusq, is man-made ivory and has been used for saddles for years.

Bob, Gman ( o )==#

I don't exactly know what to say about the Micarta stuff.  Martin claims to be using it to be conservative and to be well on top of the situation when woods run out.  Fact is, that woods can't run out for lutherie.  Maybe some species, but not all of 'em. Anyhow,  Micarta is perfectly solid and strong, and may make an ideal fingerboard.  It can be refretted without incident, and it is really stable.  The one thing I don't have a clue about is longevity when glued to wood. Maybe not an issue at all, maybe a problem in the very long term.

20 or more years ago, Stelling made their banjos with Micarta fingerboards, calling the stuff "Ebonal," or something like that.  I don't know why, but after a couple of years they abandoned the practice.  So, I don't really have much of a problem with the use of synthetic material for fingerboards and bridges, particularly on moderate instruments.


Frank Ford


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