Larry Robinson started as a guitar builder in 1972, and did his first inlay project in 1975. The biggest difference between now and then is the vast variety of materials available: “Traditionally we had abalone, silver and mother-of-pearl; we were stuck in that pattern for over a hundred years. Now there’s Recon stone, plastics… people are much less resistant to using odd materials to get the effect they want.” He’s done projects ranging from putting a customer’s initials on the fretboard to the Millionth Martin guitar. With the mix of materials and the time involved in hand-cutting, “it’s not hard to do an inlay that ends up being worth more than the guitar,” he says.
He relishes the freedom that comes from being one of a handful of dedicated inlay artists: “My boss is my customer; every day I have a different boss. They allow me latitude to use my imagination to come up with something that will be pleasing for them to look at many years down the road. That being said, I’m also leaving somewhat of a legacy. I’m 10 to 12 years out from the end of my inlay career, so I try to work to the utmost of my ability, since I know these guitars are going to be around 200 to 300 years from now.” Written by Gayla Drake for Premium Guitar.