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Elite Telecaster maple vs ebony fretboard

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by davidP7, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. davidP7

    davidP7 TDPRI Member

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    For those of you who have owned both and have played on both extensively, what are your thoughts about the maple VS ebony fretboards? Other than finish and slight tone differences, do they play/feel the same?

    I am debating a maple vs ebony fretboard for an Elite Telecaster body I picked up. For this guitar, the ebony fretboard could look nice, but I've never played an Elite neck with ebony fretboard. They don't show up ever anywhere near me.

    I love my Deluxe with a maple board (not the humbucker model - the previous model to the Elite). I've liked Elites too, with maple boards. The Ultra? Didn't dig those at all. Neither the maple nor the rosewood. Didn't like the D all up and don't the neck nor the finish (hideous IMHO). The Deluxe has a C neck profile and the Elite a C to D. The fretboard radius is 9.5" On the Deluxe and 9.5"-14" on both the Elite and the Ultra.


    Thanks.
     
  2. myteleplaysjazz

    myteleplaysjazz Tele-Holic

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    Does Fender make an ebony board for the telecaster? Or are you considering an after-market/third party neck?
     
  3. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    The only Tele with an ebony board I have played is the Phil Kubicki-made, pre-Custom Shop one I owned decades ago (and foolishly gifted to someone) when he was making one-offs for Fender. It was, hands down, my favorite Tele neck. It sounded great (for me; tastes vary) and felt incredibly nice. (The neck itself was birdseye maple and similarly wonderful). I'm not sure there would be an audible difference had it been hard, good maple; there's no way to know, but it was remarkable. It looked unreal as well, though I think purists would scoff since it's not traditional, and therefore intolerable -- even though it was better-made than anything, ever, coming out of the Fender shop!
     
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  4. SparkleFart

    SparkleFart Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I own both--my FSR tele has an ebony fb. Regarding the "play/feel" aspect you ask about, one observation I can offer (& it's probably a reflection of poor technique on my part), is that ebony seems to present less "friction" to my fingertips than maple boards. It sounds odd but does that make sense?

    It is a different look. This is my ebony FSR, which may be blasphemous in many ways to some folks but I love the thing. Best of luck on your quest!

    fsr1.jpg

    fsr2.jpg
     
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  5. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I have guitars with maple, rosewood and ebony necks. The differences playing them have much more to do with profile than fretboard material. I put teak oil on my rosewood and ebony necks once a year. I haven’t noticed wear on my maple neck but IMO relic maple fretboards look dirty and unappealing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
  6. OldDude2

    OldDude2 Tele-Afflicted

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    A few years ago there was an ebony board offered on a Fender stratocaster. One example showed up at a local GC and I couldn't wait to try it, so my impression was that the quality seemed lacking and it lacked "mojo" and I left very frustrated that when I arrived I was ready to throw good money at a poor excuse for a strat just because of the board.

    I wouldn't buy it until you can get a chance to play it. I've got a maple on my elite and it's awesome.

    Good luck,
    OD2
     
  7. JRtele

    JRtele Tele-Meister

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    I have Ebony on one of my Les Pauls. It feels very smooth to me compared to those with rosewood. I quite prefer it over the two types, touch and aesthetically.

    That said, all my telecasters have maple necks and fretboards. I would say they feel quite similar to Ebony (to me anyways).

    For myself in your position it would come to which would best suit the body it is being paired with visually.

    Good problem to have!
     
  8. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    Don’t think you’re being a little harsh on Lois there?

    :D
     
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  9. UPtele

    UPtele Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    I got an ebony elite neck on a partscaster, and it's great. I haven't tried the maple but I'm sure it's great too
     
  10. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's

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    The American Elite had the choice of ebony or maple board from roughly mid-2017 until they were replaced by the American Ultras circa November 2019. Fender changed from rosewood to ebony on American Elites when those stricter CITES regulations on rosewood went into effect in 2017. Of course those stricter regulations were rolled back on musical instruments so Fender went back to rosewood on the American Ultras.
     
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  11. TigerG

    TigerG Tele-Afflicted

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    Agreed! I've been playing on the three most common fretboard woods regularly for decades, and there's something about the feel of ebony I prefer. All other things being equal, I'd go with ebony every time.
     
  12. Cesspit

    Cesspit Tele-Holic

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    I can detect no difference in feel or sound but that's just me. Visually I like a maple neck with a dark coloured body and ebony or rosewood with a light colour. I've had all three over the years and honestly, it is down to looks for this old player.
     
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  13. The Birdman

    The Birdman TDPRI Member

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    I have American Elites with maple fretboards, and had one with an ebony fretboard. I found no difference in sound or tone between the two. I found I personally prefer the feel of a maple fretboard, so the ebony one was moved on.
     
  14. davidP7

    davidP7 TDPRI Member

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    I got this,..
     
  15. kplamann

    kplamann Tele-Holic

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    Ebony is my preferred fretboard material on both acoustic and electric guitars. It feels very smooth and provides for an elegant look.

    I am not convinced that it makes much of a tonal difference in itself. However, it does have a different feel than rosewood and certainly than finished maple. If you are really into maple fretboards I would not switch to ebony without having tried out a guitar with that fretboard material.
     
  16. Treynor

    Treynor Tele-Holic

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    I like both maple and ebony fretboards, and both play and feel about the same to me. I do love the chunky Warmoth neck with ebony that I used for one of my 2020 parts caster builds.

    upload_2021-4-14_6-10-2.png
     
  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Tuning stability. Mixing woods gives different temperature and humidity expansion rates. Plus maple fretboards get an additional sealing finish against humidity.




    There is also that nagging issue about using woods ripped from fragile rain forest ecosystems, global warming, and all that -- don't encourage the guitar factories to pull wood from there.

    .
     
  18. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    These ebony boards do not look out of place on a Fender neck because they remind a lot of old dark rosewood boards that got even darker with time. IMO it’s a GREAT combo on custom colors like fiesta red, olympic white or any kind of blue.
     
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  19. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have guitars with maple, rosewood and ebony boards, and don’t find any difference in feel or tonality coming from them.
    I think other features such as radius, profile, frets, contribute much more to “playability” than fingerboard material.
    For me the board material is more a visual thing.
     
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