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From Rosewood to Pau Ferro....

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Butch Snyder, May 7, 2020.

  1. Butch Snyder

    Butch Snyder Tele-Afflicted

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    When did Fender make the switch from Rosewood fretboards to Pau Ferro, and why? I have noticed several models that used to come stock with Rosewood fretboards, have been replaced by Pau Ferro fretboards.

    Curious as to why.
     
  2. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Rosewood is on the CITES list of endangered species of wood, so it is subject to international import/export laws. Many guitar makers in around 2017 made the shift away from rosewood on cheaper and imported/exported models.
    After a year or so of being difficult/costly to get a dispensation to import/export, the guitar industry was deemed to not be a major user of rosewood (as say, furniture makers are) and was again allowed to import/export rosewood.

    Hence pao ferro, laurel and other woods being used on guitars at lower price points or ones that moved from country to country.

    Guild has introduced a new series, the Starfire I, which is made in Indonesia and sells at $500-600. It is new this year and comes spec'ed with a rosewood fretboard. This is the first 'return' to rosewood on imported, inexpensive models that I am aware of, but that does mean it is/can happen.
     
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  3. FredDairy

    FredDairy Friend of Leo's

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    How's everyones experience with Pau Ferro? I've only held a few in Guitar Center and the quality control there is well less than desirable.

    My beloved '64 RI Telecasters from 2012-2017 I noticed changed a lot rosewood wise for the fretboards. The 2012 ones had an almost chocolate brown rosewood that had lots of gaps in the wood(very small but there nonetheless). I had a few 2017 models and those had really dark almost ebony looking boards.

    Sadly, neither felt or looked like Brazilian rosewood which would have been stock back when Leo was at the helm of Fender. I believe the rosewood we have seen since Brazilian was stopped being used is some form of East Indian. Honestly, its not the same as the old Fenders. Does Pau Ferro at least feel like an old Fender?
     
  4. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    Now that CITES regulations are being relaxed, I think you'll see rosewood boards make a big comeback.

    I've had necks with fingerboards made of rosewood, ebony, walnut, pau ferro, ipe (brazilian walnut), and maple. And while I might say I like ebony best, the others are all good.

    The only one I really don't like is glossy finished maple necks. I just don't like the feel of a finished fingerboard.
     
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  5. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    I am a rosewood board devotee, through and through. If you think there is no difference in woods, fine for you, but my experience says there is for me.

    I have two pao ferro now (and some ebony too--and one maple. one. but that's not the question here). I find it to be harder than rosewood and the notes to be a little less warm and wooly. Clearer note definition but less depth. So...not a fan, really. Reminds me more of maple in way, sort of halfway from rosewood to maple.
     
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  6. Butch Snyder

    Butch Snyder Tele-Afflicted

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    I do hear and feel a difference in rosewood vs pau ferro. Pau Ferro, to me, feels a little stiffer and is a little brighter than rosewood; kind of like maple, with a "stiffer" tone, if that makes sense.
     
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  7. NewKid

    NewKid Tele-Afflicted

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    I have Pau Ferro fretboards on my Jazzmaster and Strat. They are beautiful in my opinion and I can’t tell any difference in feel or tone from my other guitars of various fretboard woods.
     
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  8. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    This guitar has a pao ferro fretboard:

    Nonch.jpg

    I really don't know anything about the effect of wood choice on tone--my offhand opinion about that might run a bit Kirnish--but this neck has become a favorite of mine. The board feels more like ebony than like rosewood. The back of the neck is "goncalo alves", whatever that is, and the feel is great.
     
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  9. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Holic

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    Goncalo Alves, also known as Brazilian Tigerwood, is a hardwood from Central and South America in the genus Astronium. Some very early Martin and Coupa era guitars made in the late 1830s and early 1840s had tigerwood veneered on the back and sides.
     
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  10. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    I like pau ferro (aka Bolivian rosewood).

    It feels a little smoother and harder to me than Indian rosewood and maybe the tone is just a little snappier (but I'm sure I couldn't tell the difference in a blind test).
     
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  11. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Pau Ferro isn't too bad. It feels "soapy" to me. I've only had one though. Rosewood is definitely my favorite.
     
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  12. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

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    As long as it's a dark wood I couldn't care less what it is.

    I don't like maple boards, but that's just for irrational aesthetic reasons. I'm not buying into the 'tone' and 'feel' BS

    :)
     
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  13. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    A guitar either sounds and plays good, or it doesn’t. If it does, I don’t really care what it’s made out of.

    I get a kick out of the idea that Pao Ferro is somehow a compromise. It’s been stock on the SRV sig Strat since it was introduced.

    I don’t really care what anything looks like. It’s too red. It’s too brown. It’s too orange. It’s a freakin guitar. Just play it. I swear everybody’s mind would change about pretty much everything guitar related if we were all required to try out guitars blindfolded.
     
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  14. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    I've built numerous guitars with Pau Ferro fret boards, and several with Indian Rosewood boards, and others with Cocobolo boards. I can't tell the difference in terms of tone. The guitars sound different, but the differences are MUCH more attributable to scale length, different pickups, and different bridges. I have done a few blindfolded tests in which I challenged myself, and other musician friends to pick between a Maple neck Tele and a Rosewood board tele with Maple neck. They had the same hardware and same make/model of pickups and were run through an A/B box into the same amp and played back to back.

    My tests would indicate that when people (with good ears) got them right, they were lucky because the percentage of correct choices was right at 50%. Flip a coin, cause they don't sound different enough to reliably choose between maple and rosewood, let alone between Pau Ferro and Rosewood.
     
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  15. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    There are a few different types of wood which are known as Pau Ferro: the most common one is also known as Bolivian Rosewood, and Morado. This one (also known as Pau Rosa), however, comes from Southern Africa. It is hard and heavy, but can present itself with beautiful colors – reds, oranges and yellows.


    Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 1.38.23 PM.png
     
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  16. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well now, I can't swear to this but I heard about a guy who bought one of those guitars with a Pao Ferro fretboard and his hand broke out in a rash that doctors just couldn't cure. That in of itself wouldn't have been too bad, but one day, when he went to use the restroom at the Taco Bell, his dinkus fell of right there in the urinal. When he was later called upon in an email from Taco Bell to rate his recent experience with Taco Bell, he only gave them three stars, but he did clearly state that is was because of the restroom incident.
     
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  17. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Amen, brother.
    Now, I’m guilty as sin regarding my attraction to certain “looks”.
    The fact is that the gear is way less important than the gear operator.
    I had a first year SRV.
    It played like a dream, but I greatly disliked the Texas Special pickups.
    The Pau Ferro fingerboard was beautiful.
    Mick Ronson was right, Play Don’t Worry!
     
  18. ScribbleSomething

    ScribbleSomething Tele-Holic

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    Firstly I lean slightly toward maple fret boards. I have few rosewood boards and even a solid rosewood neck.

    I have a worn pau ferro strat neck. It’s real nice. I see it as kind of unfinished dark maple.
     
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  19. whoanelly15

    whoanelly15 Tele-Afflicted

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    FE1874A4-35F6-4DBD-8611-D7220F62CA2D.jpeg
    My Lacquer 60’s Jag has a Pau Ferro fretboard. Looks like nice, dark, rosy rosewood to me. I agree with others that the feel of it is “harder” under the fingers, but my ears sure don’t know the difference.
     
  20. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    The funny thing is pau ferro was used on some expensive custom shop guitars, and was well regarded. Then suddenly, when it became a requirement, it was looked at as a lesser type of wood.

    I'm sure there is some psychology behind this.

    If someone prefers the look of rosewood over pau ferro, I get that. The same way I like the look of Fender decals on my Squier headstocks. That's why I do it.
     
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