Fretboard Woods

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by Matthew Marsico, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    Mexican....not even close! Well, maybe steak, but that works in Mexican, so.....
     
  2. Mozzi

    Mozzi New Member

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    Personally, I like to see 'darker' woods on a neck/fretboard - especially with light coloured (Abalone, MoP etc) inlays a they stand out far more than dark inlays on a light fretboard. I had the chance of buying a Custom 24 with Maple neck/fretboard but I didn't like the look of it. The darker woods, especially with darker bodies just look so much better to me.

    I know 'tone' is more important than the way it looks but I have never struggled to find a guitar that I like the look of and deliver the tones I want/expect from it. Maple has a reputation for being brighter but I can find some guitars to be too 'bright' for my preferred taste. As long as a guitars fretboard is 'dark' and shows off the inlays, feels 'good' under the fingers and delivers the tones, the feel and playability I want, I am happy. I don't go chasing every possible combination just to have it - Various different Custom 24's - each with a Maple, Rosewood, Katalox, Ebony etc fretboard just to have at least 1 of each.

    Ebony and Ziricote are quite brittle woods so not easy to make Fretboards out of without breaking them - both quite similar though I believe but different colours.
     
  3. merciful-evans

    merciful-evans New Member

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    It's due to my poor technique and also my physiology. I never took lessons so developed bad habits.

    I wear deep scallops in rosewood by bending strings downward. This brings my nails in direct contact with the wood. My nails slide over ebony but rosewood suffers scrapes. Yes I do trim my nails; it makes no difference. Also ruts in rosewood grain occurs over time. It looks like the wood has been in water for years. I assume my body chemistry is responsible. It takes about 20 years of my playing to wear out a fretboard.

    When I had only two electrics (some 40 years), I kept one for gigs and used a cheaper one at home for practice. The last practice one was a Washburn GT5. I had to scrap it after 20 years of use.
     
  4. WeFixFlats

    WeFixFlats Respect The Clave

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  5. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc The pullout king.

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    I could eat Mexican food everyday.
     
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  6. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    You-n-me both, brother!
     
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  7. Eddie kim

    Eddie kim New Member

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    Speaking of fretboard wood, does any guitar manufacturer used purplehart as fretboard? I just love the color of this wood. Use to have some billard cue made out of purplehart.
     
  8. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    I have a couple of purple heart necks, but no fret boards. It’s certainly hard enough.
    I’ve seen the trees growing in Belize.
     
  9. veinbuster

    veinbuster Coming of age

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    I was pretty sure you had some, but I couldn’t remember where you used it.

    About fretboards: I am a big fan of ebony. I usually pick rosewood for electrics though (except when I go maple, which I consider to be a different beast). I have been very happy with African Blackwood, which I have on 2 electrics.
    I really think PRS using mostly rosewood is because it is available, and people don’t think twice about buying an electric guitar with a rosewood board.
     
  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Ebony is definitely a harder-surfaced wood.

    You’re probably a fine player, as so many self-taught players are; so I won’t suggest getting some lessons and working on improving your technique - if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. ;)
     
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  11. Tonart

    Tonart Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?

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    It should be fair to say that the harder the wood, the more technically suitable it is for a fretboard, since it’s the part of the guitar most subject to wear. Provided it’s not overly brittle and unstable. The rest are aesthetics.

    I love African Blackwood. It is high on the hardness index and is said to be more stable and less brittle than ebony. In fact it is considered as the ‘original ebony’ in ancient times, per wood database. Not many people know that it’s classified as a rosewood (Dalbergia Melanoxylon), so do watch out for all that CITES brouhaha if you buy it. Any guitar with African Blackwood now requires export (and maybe import) permits for international shipping.
    http://www.wood-database.com/african-blackwood/

    I also think Katalox has great promise. It looks like ebony and has high hardness too. It’s in fact number 2 out of 10 in wood database’s best woods you’ve never heard of. No CITES issues whatsoever. It’s problem? It doesn’t have a sexy name. How shallow we are.
    http://www.wood-database.com/katalox/

    http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/ten-best-woods-youve-never-heard/
     
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  12. RaySachs

    RaySachs New Member

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    I’ve always loved ebony and maple, had some really poor experiences with rosewood boards and thought I didn’t like it. But I think it may be because they were on crummy guitars and it wasn’t the material per se. In the past year I’ve found rosewood boards I really dug on some lower end Ibanez semi-hollows, then took a chance and loved the rosewood board on the 594, then even ordered a strat with rosewood, which I’d never been open to before, and it plays great. All other things being equal, I’d still rather have ebony or maple, but rosewood doesn’t scare me off anymore. I currently have three electrics, an Ibanez with ebony, strat with rosewood, and tele with maple - all three feel and play great. The strat with RW probably the least great of the bunch, but it’s my favorite guitar of the bunch, so it’s not like the RW board is bothering me. All other things being equal, harder and smoother is my preference and ebony and maple are generally harder and smoother than rosewood. It’s just that all other things are never equal and lately I’ve had rosewood boards hard and smooth enough...

    On acoustic, I’m a lot less picky, BTW, I’ve always been fine with rosewood and I’m fine with “richlite” or whatever other synthetic they’re using these days.
     
  13. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenführer

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    I know this is racist, but I prefer maple. :eek::oops:;)

    Hey, the plant kingdom has races, too, you know!
     
  14. Jock68

    Jock68 New Member

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    Ok, Fire protection now all in place.... Can people tell the difference?

    I have had Ebony, Brazilian on my previous PRS guitars, I now have Rosewood on my SC58. Perhaps my ears are damaged but I really struggle to hear the difference. I have Richlite on my J45 and even this to me does not make a sound difference. Yes, I do love the look of Ebony and perhaps I think that it sounds better because it looks better. I have seen so many posts on forums about people asking if they have a Braz board on their guitar, so perhaps I am not alone in not knowing the differnece.
     
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  15. Tonart

    Tonart Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?

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    If it’s an entire neck, there’s still a chance I can hear a difference. Just the fingerboard? No way I can.
     
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  16. Tonart

    Tonart Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?

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    I hate peas.
     
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  17. RaySachs

    RaySachs New Member

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    I have no idea if I can hear a difference - there are so many variables that determine a guitar’s sound that to isolate the neck, let alone the fretboard, is waaaaay beyond my pay grade. But I can sure FEEL the differences. That’s where my preference comes from. Rosewood CAN feel softer and rougher, kind of grippy. Maple and particularly ebony feel hard and smooth, like you can slide around on the stuff.

    Some people like to feel some friction under their fingers, some don’t. I don’t - I like to feel like I could ice skate on the fretboard. I like it to feel fast. I don’t play fast - I don’t know why I prefer that feel, but I always have. That said, I’ve played some rosewood necks recently that feel just about as fast and hard as maple and ebony, certainly fast and hard ENOUGH. That wasn’t my experience in the past, so maybe I was reacting to something other than just the fretboards and didn’t realize it.

    But it’s all about feel to me, not about sound... Although I love the sound of my current rosewood fretboard strat so much I’m really hesitant to swap out the neck for a maple one in case it DOES make a difference...

    -Ray
     
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  18. alantig

    alantig Sassyless pants

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    Yes, but they're really slow. It's like they're...you know what's coming...it's like they're rooted in place!

     
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  19. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    I like maple and ebony for the harder, slicker feel. For that reason, I also like Brazilian Rosewood, but that is harder and more expensive to get - I have just one Brazzy FB guitar.

    But I also like what RW (Indian RW or otherwise) brings to the table - my Limited Special Semihollow 22 has a rosewood fretboard, and it feels great!

    I think like anything there are lower quality version of IRW that probably just feel (and maybe look) awful, whereas perhaps ebony, because it is used less often, tends to always have at least a "good" quality rating.

    I would love to try some of the less-commonly used woods, like Katalox or Cocobolo (really a RW).
     
  20. goat-n-gitter

    goat-n-gitter Dismembered

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    I've had ebony, maple, Indian rosewood, Brazilian rosewood, African blackwood, and even pau ferro (on a bass).
    I love the feel of ebony and African blackwood the best, for some reason the maple board I used to have on a Tele never blew me away, I've played other maple boards I liked just fine. I can't say I have a preference feel wise between Brazilian or Indian rosewood, they don't feel as slick as ebony or blackwood. My least favorite was probably the pau ferro. It seemed to have a very coarse, almost abrasive feel.
    Tonewise, who knows? The closest I've come to a scientific test was playing my 30th anni. CU24, which has maple neck/African blackwood board in pattern regular, back to back with my buddy's 30th anni. CU24, mahogany neck/IRW board in pattern thin, both through my rig. I was hard pressed to honestly say I could hear any difference. Maybe mine had a bit snappier attack, or maybe I just heard it that way because I expected to.
     

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