Maple vs Rosewood Fretboard - Please Explain

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Komodo, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Tommy Biggs

    Tommy Biggs Tele-Afflicted

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    Noob...

    I always thought it was as you say. Science seems to indicate otherwise, and I'm cool with that. (after reading 80,000 'debates on the topic here ;))

    I own RW on a Strat and Maple on a Tele and prefer those guitars that way - BUT if I was going to buy another of either I'd abandon that filter and just play them. That's how I buy anyway but I'd be more conscious of staying open minded.
     
  2. Bluetelecaster

    Bluetelecaster TDPRI Member

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    I don't have enough experience with the electric guitars to say one way or the other, but I do have about 43 yrs experience with banjos. Fret board material makes a fairly significant difference in tone. But then again that's a whole nother ani mule.
     
  3. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Holic

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    I really like ebony fret board:)
    I have a guitar w/maple and one w/rosewood, and guitar with the rosewood gets the most gig time.

    Each guitar is a sum of parts and construction techniques all contribute to the sound. Personally I think pickups and bridge are the largest factors in tone of an electric guitar.
     
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  4. Matthias

    Matthias Tele-Afflicted

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    Without even getting too far into the debate of tone woods, in most cases your fretboard material's look and feel to the fingers are the defining factors, IMHO. Wood species is (at the very least) much less of a concern to tones than hardware, set-up and the *actual* rating of the components (tolerances are often a whopping 20%).

    But you can build the body and neck of an electric guitar out of almost anything strong enough, and they still sound pretty similar, so...





    I bet that last one is well shielded... :D
     
  5. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    This has been debunked. There is no audible difference between fretboard woods. The only reason to choose one over the other is appearance, feel, or if you think there's a difference in sound and there's no changing your mind.
     
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  6. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Tele-Meister

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    But which tires are better, Michelin or Goodyear?
     
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  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

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    If the question is WRT "how could this be true", one could look at how the material the string is anchored to effects the sound.
    At the bridge we find that the saddle material effects to sound enough to hear, and also that the bridge plate thickness and material changes the sound.
    So the idea would be that if the tiny mass of fret is anchored in a softer material vs a harder material, it would be similar to swapping from brass to aluminum saddles, or from a thin Tele bridge to a thick effectively harder steel bridge plate.

    Of course the pickups and resistance/ position of the vol and tone controls are the biggest contributor to the guitar sound, but within that range of you chosen pickups and your controls full up, changing other parts of your guitar can change the amplified sound.

    Emphasis on changing other parts of your guitar, as opposed to comparing off the rack guitars with the different parts you want to compare.

    Most agree that two same model electrics sound a little different, though there are some who insist that the body and neck cannot possibly influence the amplified sound.

    Evidence suggests these folks have probably not repeatedly swapped body and/ or neck with the same electronics many times.

    I do not consider maple vs RW boards to be an issue in terms of any tonal or response change, but I do find that an ebony board can make certain guitars too harsh, where I tend to like very clear bright pickups.
    Again though, it's impossible to swap just the board, and a thin mahogany neck with ebony board might not sound as harsh with bright pickups as a huge maple neck with ebony board.
     
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  8. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

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    I wish I knew the answer. A couple things I do feel confident in:
    -acoustically a maple board will sound a bit different.
    -For electric the maple board on my one Strat is almost not discernable from the rosewood board on my other Strat when plugged in. Both are electronically identical.
    -The louder you play, the less guitar material matters. A good example might be Eric Clapton, he plays mostly maple boards, but his tone is creamy "woman tone" I seriously doubt you would hear any difference if his fretboard was rosewood.
     
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  9. howardlo

    howardlo Tele-Meister

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    Some effect? That would make for a far, far greater difference in sound than the fretboard wood. They would both have to be identical and have the same pickups and pickup height to have any chance of evaluating the sound differences in the neck wood.
     
  10. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have both. When I play the rosewood fingerboard I sound just like Steve Cropper.
    cropper.jpg

    When I play the maple board, I sound just like Don Rich.

    DonAndBuck.jpg

    That's pretty much the size of it. Any other questions?
     
  11. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    [QUOTE="Komodo, post:My question is: how would the different material actually affect the sound that comes out of my speaker? And what physical property of these woods would make them sound this way?[/QUOTE]

    The short answer is that it doesn't. The long answer is a bottomless rabbit hole that I no longer go down.
     
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  12. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

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    Rosewood is the harder wood ... Wouldn't it sound brighter ???? Just a thought ... Most people assume maple is harder ... It is not ...
     
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  13. Muinarc

    Muinarc TDPRI Member

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    The fenders with solid rosewood necks are a bit brighter. With just the fret board, not so much.
     
  14. xgritzx

    xgritzx Tele-Meister

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    maple necks for light colored guitars and rosewood (or similar) for dark colored guitars. this is how life should work. and more painted headstocks. lol
     
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  15. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten TDPRI Member

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    I hear the difference (at least on my Strats). Unplugged it's a clear difference & plugged in it's subtle (more poppy). I mean it also depends on what you're doing. High gain, high volume no difference. At home through a clean Twin Reverb, it's there. So with a band or lots of drive? Nope. In the studio? You'll hear it but no one else will. Maple shines on the couch.

    I've come to prefer maple on my Strats & have no preference for the sake of sound on other guitar styles. In general, I prefer the look & feel of Rosewood or Ebony, yet the majority of my Strats end up getting Maple necks eventually. The only Strat I have that still has a RW board is my 62 MIJ RI because without RW it's not really a 62 RI & that's one fantastic feeling neck.

    Alternatively, the only Tele I have with a Maple neck is a 72 Thinline-ish body I made from scratch & that is purely for looks because I have 57 Classics in that guitar & really doubt I'd pick out the tonal differences.

    I'm talking about the same guitars just swapping necks too, so there's no maybe it's the pickups or set up or whatever.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  16. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Agreed. I think I recall hearing him say his preference for maple boards was about ease of bends vs rosewood.
     
  17. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    We're all suckers for a good RW vs maple thread!
     
  18. JL_LI

    JL_LI Tele-Afflicted

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    Folks who believe there is a difference are right because they perceive a difference. Folks who don’t think there’s a difference haven’t found one. I have maple, rosewood, ebony, necks on electrics and rosewood on two acoustics. The differences I can feel are scale length, fretboard radius, and scale length. I like them all or I wouldn’t still have them. Sonic differences have more to do with pickups, construction, and construction materials than the fretboard. I’ve never found a measurable difference I could attribute to fretboard material. But that’s just me.
     
  19. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten TDPRI Member

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    Under most circumstances the sound out the speakers would be so close almost no one would hear the difference.

    One situation where you would hear a difference would be on Tele or Strat through an amp such as a Twin Reverb set clean & not too loud. RW is warmer & Maple sort of pops a bit. So in a studio situation you'd know the difference but I doubt anyone else would pick up on it in play back. Once in a mix, live or recorded you're back to not really being able to tell.
     
  20. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's all about aesthetics for me, when it comes to maple fingerboards versus rosewood (or richlite, or ebony, whatever).
    Some guitar bodies look better with the lighter maple, and others only look good with the darker rosewood or ebony.

    I can make a guitar sound the way I want it to, with my fingers, and with subtle adjustments of the amp and the guitar's volume and tone knobs.
    But it's got to look good and feel good.

    I have guitars with all varieties of fingerboard surfaces, and they all feel great, look great, (and of course sound great), or else I wouldn't have bought them.

    :oops:
     
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