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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Injam, Sep 23, 2020.
Has anyone tried a guitar with a richlite fretboard? I’m looking at a Les Paul online that has one.
Have one on a kit guitar LP junior I built. Looks just like Ebony.
“Feels” the same too as far as I can tell.
But I still know. And hate that it isn’t Ebony.
I had one on a Gibson acoustic. It was nice. Certainly comparable to rosewood or ebony. Couldn't speak to its specific tonal characteristics...if a fingerboard can have such a thing, but it was comfortable enough to play.
I have a Mini-Martin that I believe has this material for the fretboard and the bridge. Other than the lack of grain, you wouldn't know it wasn't ebony. I DON'T know however, how it holds up to a refret, or if it can be refretted.
I have two guitars with it, including the P90 version of the guitar that you posted.
I like it fine. It looks great and feels great. It’s basically Bakelite, or something very close to it.
It doesn’t look or feel like ebony, so don’t consider it a replacement. But that doesn’t mean that it is not good in it’s own right.
I've built four guitars with black Richlite fretboards. It's a pretty great material for fretboards, and I think it has the feel and much of the look of ebony. You can polish it to a high shine and smoothness. It's a little hard on fret saws, but so is ebony. I like it as a fretboard material
I have a J45 with a Richlite fingerboard and bridge. It looks and feels like ebony, and it must sound like ebony because everyone that plays it loves the feel and tone of the guitar. This is the guitar (click on it to increasificate its size).
I've never heard of anyone who had an issue with it. Lot's of great Martin's out there with them. I'd prefer a real ebony board but in order to meet a lower price point they're just fine. I have a Martin D16RGT from the first year they were made (2001) with an ebony board. They switched to synthetic a year or 2 later and ended up with Richlite. I've played new versions of the same guitar with Richlite and didn't find anything objectionable. Real nice players.
I had a great Godin LP'ish gtr.
Sold to my gtr teacher.
Richlite is fine. Widely used for yrs.
Richlite has a whole lot of plusses besides simply being environmentally smart.
Sometimes ebony has a habit of splitting along the grain, and when that happens to a fretboard it can get you pretty excited because you spent $$$$ on a guitar that's supposed to be pristine.
Richlite won't split. And no need to apply any sort of goo to it like with ebony and rosewood.
It is super stable; it absorbs no moisture from the hands or from humidity, and it doesn't dry out in the winter. Set the truss rod and forget it's even there.
Fret sprout? Won't happen. Frets lifting? Nope.
I'm a fan.
I went to the Richlite website and the say it refrets better than ebony. The website says it is paper. Makes me wonder in seventy years will it hold up like wood.
It's hi-tech cardboard. If I found it in a Harley Benton, a Firefly, or even a Squier Affinity, I'd probably just shrug and be okay with it.
But in Martins and Gibsons? Next...
I have Richlite fingerboard and bridge on my Martin OMCPA4. As far as I can tell it is superior to ebony in pretty much every way except it isn't wood. Us guitar players tend to be pretty traditional. If it ain't the way Leo made it 65 years ago.... But if you can get past that, it is an excellent material for fingerboards. It doesn't react to changes in heat/humidity, it seems to wear better than ebony, it isn't subject to dry rot (I've restored quite a few antique guitars, mandolins, etc, and have run into this..), and it looks, feels, and sounds like ebony.
Now if I was ordering a $5000 custom guitar, I'd probably spec ebony rather than Richlite, ...well, just because...
Paper is wood.
I have one of those Godins, plays great.
"Paper is wood."
Well not quite, it WAS wood!
I haven't ever played a guitar with a Richlite fretboard, I'm sure it's fine.
I googled Richlite fretboard and found this.
Might be an interesting look for a future build. They have some nice looking color mixes.
I have it on a custom build and makes for a very stable neck. If I could I’d get it on all my non maple fretboards.
Exactly, would you want to play an acoustic guitar with a solid cardboard back and sides? Imagine the marketing of that guitar. Or, think about the tone of an acoustic guitar with a solid paper top. I guess that I am old fashioned.
If you've ever used Trex/DeckPro composite for surfacing a deck--it's a similar concept: cellulose fiber combined with thermoset resins, compressed and baked. Unlike wood decking, Trex and DeckPro require virtually zero maintenance; hose it down and broom it off and that's it.
Micarta is a composite material made in a similar manner.
I have an early-70s Kramer 450G with an aluminum neck, bought used in 1984 in Santa Cruz. The fingerboard, called "ebonol" by Kramer (similar name as the bowling ball), is made of Micarta phenolic composite (just like the bowling ball) and it has stainless steel frets (unlike the bowling ball) This guitar is pushing 50 years old and the frets and fingerboard are as pristine as the day the guitar left the factory in New Jersey.
Parker used the same idea as Kramer, but instead of fretwire installed into slots in the Micarta, the fret wire had a flat bottom and was bonded to the surface. Yep, glued on...and I never saw a Parker that had lost a fret. Pretty cool.
I'm a traditionalist but I'm not afraid to try new stuff. This material works perfectly for the purpose, looks great, it's environmentally responsible, and it's reliable. If you don't like it, don't buy it.
It's a great material for fretboards ... and you can't tell it's not a perfect piece of actual real ebony...
Cool stuff that will outlive us all ...
My Martin LXME has it, plus the body is Formica...
Ain't no moisture, humidity, or anything will warp or change it ...