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Are Some Rosewoods Better Than Others?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nocontrols, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. nocontrols


    Apr 2, 2011
    I'm not a "wood guy" so offer your opinion: Are all rosewood fretboards created equal or are there wildly differing grades of rosewood?

    I notice some are more pale than others and some are more dark. I'm sure some will claim this has an effect on tone but the appearance is the bigger issue for me... I think pale rosewood looks bad but a nice, dark rosewood can reach an almost ebony shade of black and I love that. My new Epiphone EB-0 has a surprisingly dark and rich rosewood fretboard and I love it... it looks better than the stock photos. I also noticed that whenever I see an Ibanez bass for sale on eBay, the color of the rosewood is more like tan sometimes and I"m not a fan of that (Not to bash Ibanez, of course).

    Any thoughts?
  2. TomA1234


    Jul 27, 2009
    Fareham, England
    I think Epiphone dye their boards darker.
    I was cleaning up my Tbird with acetone and wiped some spray paint (previous owner did a re finish) off the fretboard and it made the wood there lighter.

    My Ibby BTB has a nice dark fretboard.
    I am with you on disliking pale rosewood fretboards.
  3. I think it's quite common to dye rosewood boards to make them look darker.
  4. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    There are many different sub-species of Rosewood (Indian, Brazillian, also Cocobolo and Kingwood are Rosewoods) and like most woods many different grades within those species. It can vary massively from yellowy to rich purple, as you have noticed. However the really dark stuff you see (which appears like Ebony) is often dyed.
  5. nocontrols


    Apr 2, 2011
    I didn't know it was dyed... I've cleaned and conditioned rosewood boards and never had dye come off.

    Is it weird that I didn't even realize this? I feel dumb for not knowing... lol Is it possible or probable that the dye will come out?

    Anyway, like I said, it's more about appearance than tone when it comes to differences between similar fretboard materials so I can't say that I mind... it does help it look better.
  6. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    Brazilian rosewood is the "holy grail of fingerboard tonewoods". This is from a premier builder well known on TalkBass for his expertise basses made with fine woods.
  7. Paul Reed Smith (yes the man himself) when showing off his wood stash at the yearly "party" he has at his shop will tell anyone point blank Indian Rosewood tonally sounds better on a guitar. He said he would put Brazilian on for anyone that really wanted it but doesn't recommended it.

    But like Hostess vs. Tastykake, eye is of the beholder.
  8. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    I'm a cocobolo fan, makes it easier :)
  9. nocontrols


    Apr 2, 2011
    Also, are ebony boards dyed? Are maple boards dyed to make them look more or less yellow? Sorry, I'm full of really stupid questions on this topic now.
  10. Aspidites


    Oct 20, 2009
    Berkeley CA
    Some ebony boards are indeed dyed. Maple is not dyed however a tinted clear coat is sometimes used to simulate age.
  11. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    The only rosewood board that I've ever had dye come off of was the board on my SX SJB-62---my fingers would be colored after playing it. Over time it's stopped doing that.

    A couple of the lightest and darkest rosewood boards I've seen were on two MIM Strats, made a few years apart. Rickenbacker calls the wood used for their fingerboards "rosewood" but they are so light, and uniform in color, that I find that hard to believe. Rick fingerboard wood seems a lot redder than what's usually called rosewood.
  12. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Some are prettier than others; I suggest you pick the one you like the best. Soundwise? No difference.
  13. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Jan 19, 2007

    The first neck in the picture was the best looking piece of Rosewood I have seen (not dyed) it had swirls of purple, reddish pink & dark brown in it. The guy from Lakland said the owner used a piece of exotic rosewood reclaimed from a piece of antique furniture. It is the illegal kind to harvest now I believe?

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