Richlite Curse

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Milspec, Jul 1, 2019.

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  1. MDent77

    MDent77 Tele-Afflicted

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    I am curious to how Rocklite Ebano performs as a fingerboard material. It certainly looks good. It's a different process than Richlite; basically appears using ground up wood and resin instead of paper and resin.
     
  2. idjster

    idjster VERY grateful member Silver Supporter

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    This is pretty much my position on it. While I appreciate the natural material and its use, when it is gone it is gone. What am I going to do, quit playing because I can't get a guitar with the desired material used in manufacture? (I'd like to see one made of trash cans and socks actually! :lol:)
     
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  3. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's Richlite. Gotta a problem with that?
     
  4. zipseattle

    zipseattle Tele-Meister

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    That line needs to be in a song...
     
  5. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Recycled paper never looked so sexy.
     
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  6. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    I expect savings in materials costs to be passed on to the client (me). Instead we get a narrative that it sounds great, save the rainforest and has more structural integrity. Fine, but I won't pay more for it, if it costs the producer less. I do not care to pay for their story.

    So my question is: is richlite cheaper in production (both as a material and the processes it entails to form a fretboard)? Does anyone know for fact?
     
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  7. KT89

    KT89 TDPRI Member

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    Any time I see a thread like this I just think

    "OK old man"

    This is more sustainable than destroying the earth and I'd like to still buy guitars in 50 years when all the rosewood trees are gone.

    Now I'll just put on my entitled millenial pants and go kill a few industries with the money I don't have
     
  8. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    Squier Standard rosewood on the left, Fretwire "engineered rosewood" on the right. The rosewood looks prettier but as for playing, either work for me.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    At a consumer level, a richlite fingerboard blank in the UK costs £15-20. Rosewood blanks I can get for anywhere from £10-25. Obviously factories buy in bulk and at trade prices, whether richlite or rosewood, but they could conceivably mill their own rosewood which would potentially bring the cost down. Then you'd have to look at labour and how richlite wears tools relative to roaewood, but my limited experience is there wouldn't be much of an advantage in that respect. Richlite wouldn't need drying time and climate control once it's in the inventory which is a plus and managing inventory would be easier as they won't need to buy in bulk to anything like the extent they do timber, wouldn't be so much at the mercy of currencies and wouldn't have to deal with CITES.

    When I visited Martin on a dealer trip a couple of years ago we spent a bit of time with the wood buyers and got a pretty good poke around in the wood stores. The stock holding they have of timber is staggering, a whole wearhouse covering the basics then a second section with very tight security holding the valuable stuff. I don't recall seeing any richlite at all - there was a load of the stratabond stuff they use for necks on the X series stuff (curious, because they don't use it in Nazareth) and attacks of ebony and rosewood fingerboard blanks but no big pile of richlite anywhere. I'm sure there was stock in there somewhere but it didn't seem like they were carrying big quantities. That's a big perk for a business - if you can buy a month's stock at a time, not have to worry about buying extra because the currency's good are the agent has a lot to unload.

    So on a basic one to one costing there's not much in it at all - it's weighing up the other bits that might end up making a difference, and sadly that's the bit where bottom feeders like me aren't going to get it out of them very easily!
     
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  10. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    You still have to cut trees down to make Richlite (but maybe you say it's recycled paper and you weren't the one to cut trees.) You just also get to drill for oil to make the resin since that's where it comes from. But if you're a guitar company you can just go buy the Resin and claim you're not doing anything with petroleum products since you're buying it. Or you just say you bought Richlite blanks and you don't know where it comes from. It's as weird as shipping rosewood guitars and saying you aren't cutting any rosewood trees down, you're just buying lumber that someone else already cut down.

    There is nothing wrong with Richlite just realize it is what it is. Any company claiming it's the environmentally responsible choice is just nutty, it's not a clearly better choice it's just a different choice. They should go plant some trees and tell their customers Rosewood will eventually be back but for now they have some other sustainable woods to offer.

    Taylor's got their Ebony supply. Eventually they will be harvesting Ebony in Cameroon that they helped plant. Going to take a long long time. They'll have the Koa plantation producing guitars relatively soon.

    It sounds like Rosewood only takes about 30 years to reach 100ft... it sounds like that's why EIR is not in the same situation as Brazilian Rosewood.. they got smart quite some time ago and just started plantations.
     
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  11. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    These threads never seem to say what Richlite weighs relative to familiar woods, or what its resonance and stiffness may be. Also, this notion that only solid black ebony is acceptable is nonsense, as it is totally easy for makers to dye ebony an even black if desired. And finally, nobody takes the Richlite claims seriously because Gibson poisoned the pot bu foisting it on people (ditto baked maple) when they blew their supply chain and just needed something to slap on there. It came across like cost-cutting and incompetence rather than honest engineering, so people were understandably and sensibly skeptical. Guitar makers have a an unattractive history of foisting poor-performing synthetics on buyers, so there's good reason to question performance, motive, and other claims.
     
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  12. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Richlite is the vinyl jacket and mdf coffee table of the guitar world.

    It's closer to a satin black finished plastic than ebony wood imo.
    The resin used and process of making it can't be good for the environment.
    They still offer ebony and rosewood, you just now have to pay more for it because they replaced all the lower priced models with synthetic substitutes that are cheaper for them to source. The marketing team even have a good percentage of their consumers defending this practice lol.

    So now the guy that works in another high pollution producing job has to jump in his car and go work another year to save for that inflated priced all wood guitar. Who benefits at the end of the day?

    Not to mention that the whole system we live under is geared around constant growth of population, production and profits. All of which are encouraged and promoted.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  13. KT89

    KT89 TDPRI Member

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    "With materials made from recycled content and pulp derived from responsibly harvested trees, Richlite’s goal is to achieve success while leaving behind a smaller footprint. Complete with FSC certification by the Rainforest Alliance and GREENGUARD accreditation, Richlite is committed to minimizing its impact by using sustainably-derived resources, through sound manufacturing and business practices, and by working with partners who share similar goals. Richlite’s openness is designed to hold the company and the industry accountable, and to create a dialogue on responsible manufacturing and distribution practices."

    "Richlite uses both ethanol and methanol as a solvent in the resin system. The choice to use a mixture is due to the low amount of energy required to burn off the emissions during the saturation process, as alternative resins require excessively higher amounts of energy. Through the process, called WE™ (Waste-to-Energy) Technology, essentially a closed-loop energy system, wasted resin is recaptured and used as fuel during the drying stage, minimizing Richlite’s natural gas usage by 83%."

    "Richlite began tracking emissions in 2005 using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), which was developed through a partnership between the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Richlite set a 5-year goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 30%. By 2005, Richlite exceeded the goal with a total 32% decrease of CO2 emissions."


    It took me like 5 seconds to find this on the richlite website. But sure yeah this is just as bad as deforesting a very specific kind of tree that takes generations to grow.

    Aristides uses richlite for their fretboards. Hell, they don't even use a single plank of wood in their guitars and I've yet to see anyone say anything bad about them. Very expensive though.
     
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  14. archtop_fjk

    archtop_fjk Tele-Meister

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    A while back I got some Osage Orange guitar back and sides from a local luthier wood dealer. They were/are spectacular but one of the sides split, so I'm going to use the wood later for some other purposes. Again, beautiful orange/brown patina and hard as nails.

    Persimmon would be my alternative fingerboard wood of choice. They used to use it to make old wooden golf drivers so you know it has to be tough (I believe it has properties similar to ebony). The down side is that it doesn't look like ebony or rosewood so you have to stain it first.
     
  15. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    No I am not...I am dreading the reality that even my favorite builders are making Richlite the de facto option going forward. There was nothing for you to "buy" in my posting.
     
  16. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    That only works on older models, not on new designs. Knowing that new models being introduced will have richlite boards means I no longer have the option of real wood in a fretboard if I want the new designs. That is what torqued me off, I like a new line that Godin is rolling out, but there is no option for anything except richlite.

    Now, if the builders offered the option of richlite or rosewood, great then everyone is happy, but they don't. At least Gibson has tried using walnut...at least it is real.
     
  17. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    Moses Graphite did a run or runs of Graphite necks w wood fingerboards that they had forced Epoxy into/thru. I got a Mahogany (the epoxy hardens it), Rosewood, and Pau Ferro. All the FBs sounded exactly like their wood they were made off w cheesy plasticy high end overtones added. I sold them all. Even w wood resin doesn't t cut it tone wise. Resin can be great as a " sound sealer " but it needs a tone to work with... I coated a Silvertone Ash solid body w epoxy and sand, because I had heard about crushed gem stones in Violin varnish. WOW !!! It made a $35 pawn shop guitar sound like a $2,000 guitar ; full rich Bass, clear defined Mids, smooth sweet treble. So I then made a bridge w it. Ice pick city. Sand tone. Maybe w the right wood it might work, but the Moses ones w 95% wood and 5% epoxy didn't t. I got some walnut shell powder to use as a filler. if I ever get around to that project I ll make something w just that to hear how it sounds.
     
  18. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    I’ve made a bunch of guitars with richlite boards. It’s great. It holds frets really well, looks like ebony, machines well, does not crack or split—it really has all the qualities you want in an ebony board. The downside of it is it’s relatively hard on feet saw blades

    The idea that you won’t sound good because of a richlite fingerboard is crazy. Practice man, practice
     
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  19. EspyHop

    EspyHop Tele-Meister

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    As a standalone material, Richlite might cost the same or more than ebony or rosewood, but it has to be significantly easier to prep and finish than the others. Ebony is notorious for easily splitting when cutting fret slots. I can’t imagine the same is true with Richlite. The savings are with labor costs, which are significantly higher than the actual costs of materials.

    I would probably have an issue with it on a $2000+ acoustic guitar. Beyond that, it and other alternative materials, like New Zealand pine from Ibanez, seem prudent.

    I’ve heard black locust has great potential for guitars, that it could be on par with BRW. I call BS only because I have to believe Martin would have done something like that by now.
     
  20. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    I have never made the objection of it not sounding good...just don't want a resin board on my instrument. No amount of practice can change it into real wood.
     
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