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American jazz: maple or rosewood

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Oliver, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    hey folks,

    now i love the jazz, which is why in the near future i'll be buying this amazing bass.
    id like to hear opinions from everyone especially jazz owners, what do you prefer...the maple or the rosewood fretboard, and why?

    im looking from more "snap", more "growly" kinda "wet" tone if you know what i mean. think of the bass solo in "wake up" by Rage against the machine. Would i be right getting a maple board for this kinda thing?

    any advice would be great

    love ya's all!

  2. Stox


    Mar 18, 2005
    London UK
    In a mix you wont be able to tell any sound difference. If you slap a lot then maple (or ebony) feels more responsive (more bounce). A rosewood board has always made me feel as if you can dig in more when playing fingerstyle.
  3. tripb19

    tripb19 Camel - Camel

    Jun 18, 2005
    Melbourne, Aus
    I'm from Melbourne, just bought an American Jazz with a maple board, and I don't think I'll go back to rosewood anytime soon. It's fantastic. I also agree with the above poster about the bounce of the board when slapping.

    With regards to 'growly' tone I think that's more your body wood and P/Us that determines that.
  4. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I've used both maple and rosewood for years, and they're both great, just different.
    Maple is definitely brighter; I've found that I have to pluck softer, and be more accurate with my fingering hand, because the neck projects the sound more. It does more of the work for you, but your sloppiness is revealed more, if that makes any sense. After playing only rosewood for years, I had to go through an adjustment period when switching to maple. Then I added a rosewood fingerboard bass to my collection, and had to adjust all over again.
    I don't agree that both woods sound the same in a mix; maple cuts through better.
    Rosewood seems to have a stronger, darker fundamental, though... good for playing "rootsier" music. Maple is clearer and "glassier." Better for slapping and modern tones, in general. If you've ever seen the Jaco Pastorius instructional video, he's using a Jazz Bass with a Precision neck which has a maple fingerboard, and his normally almost-too-bright tone is all the way into painfully-bright, at least for me.
    Well, that's how it seems to me... it's all subjective, naturally.
  5. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 on all points
  6. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    It's hard to attribute all of the above to the board wood, since, for example, many RW board basses have Alder bodies and many Maple board basses have ash bodies, etc. While I like the feel of maple boards per the post above, I believe a lot of sound differences 'in the mix' attributed to the fretboard material is somewhat spurious due to the body wood differences in many of those basses.
  7. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Good point.
    One of my favorite basses (had to sell it... my car broke down :crying: ) was an alder Jazz Bass with a maple P-Bass neck & fingerboard. The alder body/maple board combination was unusual and very nice.
  8. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I prefer a maple board on Fenders, from a looks standpoint, but it's a little harder to judge what differences it makes tonally. In my experience, though, as far as tone is concerned, I've always just liked maple-board Fenders better (whether it's the maple board making the tonal difference or the body wood associated with the maple boards making the difference, who knows.)
  9. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Another +1. My ears have no opinion, so I let my eyes decide. :)
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have never been able to hear any difference between a maple and RW fingerboard.

    Further, I would attribute any differences in feel moreso to the fact that the maple board is finished and the RW board is raw rather than any properties of the wood.
  11. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Wow, I guess I'm in the minority here...
    But I stand by the fact that I've noticed, and have had to deal with, a definite difference, all other things (like body wood) being equal... :meh:
  12. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    I can hear the difference, but that might just be in my head...I know I'm playing a maple board, so I imagine it's a bit brighter. Who knows? But I know I like the look of maple. And I know the sound (real or imagined ;)) is more my speed.
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    That was true for me. When I first picked up bass I was told "maple bright, rosewood warm" so that's what I believed. After many years I observed that I had played plenty of warm basses with maple boards and bright basses with rosewood boards. I realized that it was a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: if I heard a bright bass and it had a maple board, then the brightness must be due to the maple. OTOH, if I heard a bright bass with a rosewood board, then some other reason must exist for the brightness. It's certainly true that the overall tone of a bass is determined by many factors. It then dawned on me that maybe fretboard wood had little or no effect.

    :bag: I'm not trying to imply that everyone who hears a difference is imagining it. I'm only speaking for myself.
  14. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    thanks so much for the detailed feedback guys, i think the maple fretboard look best in that respect. it'll be a tough choice between them.
    i played a lakland with maple and one with rosewood, out of those i like maple more... wonder if i'll like a maple fender more too
  15. Basroil


    May 25, 2005
    Lake Forest, CA
    Maple IS generally brighter then rosewood, though many factors contribute, including pickups, amp setting etc. That bieng said, you can easily make a rosewood bright, and maple warm.

    I prefer maple, just because of the looks.
  16. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I actually prefer a rosewood fingerboard. It's got a warmer and fuller sound. I generally like the look of rosewood better too, but it all depends on the colour and finish of the instrument as well.

    Maple does have a bit more snap to it though.
  17. I picked up two MIA Jazz basses in GC, and the Maple had a harder attack....brightness is so subjective, but I definately could hear a nice hard, thumpy attack... whereas the rosewood sounded smoother, with a little less bite to it....
  18. I've never played a maple fingerboard for any length of time, so its hard for me to make a definate generality, but I can DEFINATELY get a bright tone thats awesome for slapping out of my American Deluxe Jazz. Then again, its an active bass, so its pretty easy to change the tone, just bring down the bass some while increasing the treb. I'm guessing if you have a passive bass its more noticeable though. But then again, if you have a passive Jazz and want more of a brighter tone, you could always turn it more towards the bridge pup.
  19. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've got an american deluxe jazz V. Sunburst alder body,
    off white (mint) pickguard, and a maple neck, with vintage
    knobs. Using nickel roundwounds, I NEVER EVER have to
    boost the highs on the active eq. These basses are dead
    quiet in the studio and mine playes like a dream. I must
    admit I'm having a somewhat hard time getting used to the
    maple board. I still like the sweeter, more compressed sound,
    and feel of rosewood (morado).
  20. vick


    Jan 9, 2006
    Dallas, Tx
    My Jazz Bass is an ash body with a rosewood board. I don't know how everything effects it, but it has a very warm sound.