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Best fingerboard wood for fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by teenagebass69, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. Hey...I was just wondering what everybody thinks is the best overall wood for fretless basses which really give the bass that distinct fretless sound. Any suggestions? How does snakewood sound as a fretless?
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ebony seems to be the general concensus. I've never heard snakewood, but I've heard that it's a great deal more durable, but a LOT more expensive and a lot harder to get. All in all, for most people, the choice is ebony.
  3. BassFelt


    Mar 26, 2002
    I'm not so sure about that. Teenagebass69 is talking about "that distinct fretless sound". For many of us that would be likely be Jaco's sound. He used rosewood, though covered with epoxy. Anyway, I doubt than anyone could tell from a recording or live sound which wood is used :)
  4. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Jaco's sound came far more from his hands, and very little from his fingerboard. This isn't a case of "the tone is in the hands" as much as it is "Jaco's tone was in his hands". It's entirely possible to use a fretless jazz with Rotos and sound nothing like him.

    Do keep in mind this is all assuming that the fretboard has an appreciable impact on the sound of the instrument -- which seems to be something that TB's never concluded on. In the case of Jaco, I doubt his board had any effect on his sound.

    Besides that, if a rosewood board was that important to getting the quissential fretless tone, there'd be way more companies using rosewood for boards. As it stands, most companies that use rosewood are using them on production line instruments under $600 USD, where the cost of ebony would be better saved for a better instrument. The only one I can think of off the top of my head that doesn't do that is Fender, and when was the last time we ever saw Fender break away from their maple, rosewood, ash, and alder? Only instances I can think of are the RB basses (which have a pau ferro board, a close relative to rosewood) and Ty Zamora's six string, which is only available master-built.
  5. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Stabilized Birds-Eye Maple for me!
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Stainless steel.

    Ultimate mwha.

  7. Ebony is probably the best but I had a fender with a one piece maple precision neck that also sounded good. Curious about Wenge or African Blackwood (which is similar to Ebony).
  8. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    From what ive gathered, Rosewood, Pau Ferro, and Wenge all have very similar tonal qualities. They have slightly different grains and looks, so they are often used in place of each other depending on price and availability. Just what Ive read from some places. I know Dingwall basses use Pau Ferro or Wenge depending on availability. Mine is Pau Ferro and has a nice look to it, sounds great, allthough I have no clue how much of the sound comes from the fingerboard really.
  9. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    I'll list 3 :D Ebony, Snakewood and Pink Ivory ;)

    If you wanna go for the epoxy finish/stabilized wood thing, that opens up a whole new world...
  10. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I've never heard a bass that sounds better than a fretless with Rockwood/Phenowood/Dymondwood.
  11. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    That is cool!!!!!
    Is Remingston Steele the model of the bass or the company?
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    IIRC, that is made by LeFay.
  13. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    I see, made in Germany by Reiner Dobbratz
  14. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Sweet board James, what strings do you have on there >?
  15. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile

    SIT powerflats Nickel groundwounds. They are my favorite string. I've got them on all but my fretted 51 (I'm waiting on a set to get them back on the fretted... I used the set that shipped with it on another bass).
  16. One thing you can try is to epoxy coat whatever wood you'd like for the fingerboard.
    I recall reading Jaco using a marine epoxy coating over his fingerboard. Pedulla fretless basses have a deep polyester coating, and my Dingwall fretless uses a nice epoxy coat over wenge to impart that punchy zingy Mwah tone.
    The coating protects the wood and also imparts a brighter tone, so you get very little roundwound string wear on the fingerboard.
  17. Wolfehollow


    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    My snakewood board is not the best sounding to my ears...

    I get the classic tone from my phenowood board...

    but I like my maple board the best.
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I've always defended ebony.
    Now, I have phenolite on mine. It sounds totally awesome and looks like ebony. It wears a little bit with time but nothing that couldn't be fixed every year or 2.
  19. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Diamondwood is the best sounding fretless finger board I've played. And it looks great too!
  20. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Purpleheart, it sounds great and it's extremely abrasion resistant.