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Ebony Fingerboard Question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tapp, Nov 26, 2001.


  1. Tapp

    Tapp

    Aug 29, 2001
    USA, Mississippi
    In the other fingerboard thread, Rickbass mentioned different species of Ebony; how do you know what you have?

    On my Pedulla Pentabuzz, it's got a few light streaks but really dark otherwise.

    On my Peavey TL5, it's dark throughout with no streaks and when I oil the board, black will appear on the wiping rag. Is this a board that's been die'd?

    Tapp
     
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    The Buzz series has a rosewood board that has been coated with Diamondkote(polyester).

    If you get black on a rag when oiling the neck, the fingerboard has definitely been dyed.
     
  3. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    Usually I bow to your superior knowledge Embellisher, but I really thought the Buzz basses had ebony fingerboards?
     
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    You don't for sure, at least as far as I can see. The "real deal", Gabon/Nigerian/Ceylonese, pure black ebony is pretty easy to narrow down and macassar's mulit-colors are easy to identify. (You found out the hard way with your Peavey!). Some of the big, old, builders, like Carvin, manage to get the "real" stuff. But it is getting so rare I"ve read they use helicopters to transport it from harvest areas.

    The striped or dyed stuff is anyone's guess. There are something like 300 species of ebony. Your dyed board is probably East Indian ebony since that's all over the market.
     
  5. Tapp

    Tapp

    Aug 29, 2001
    USA, Mississippi
    Thanks for the info guys. Embellisher, the Pedulla buzz series does have ebony boards (says so at their website too) I think maybe the thunder has rosewood (don't know for sure though). But anyway, both are good basses and ebony is a nice sounding durable fingerboard IMO.

    Tapp
     
  6. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    What color is the East Indian Ebony without the dye?
     
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Jet black, but it has zones of striping of pale-med. brown and/or gray/almost white. When it gets the "ebonizing" process, it becomes uniform black like the more expensive ebony.
     
  8. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    So who do we tell we'd rather have it the way it is naturally??? :)
     
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Darn. Missed on that one.:oops: Seems a shame to cover good ebony with polyester. I guess that's why I thought it was rosewood.
     
  10. so how is the sound difference between the different ebony types?


    later


    Mikey
     
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    MIkey - IMO, if you have equipment that can reveal a difference at substantial volume, you've got the Holy Grail of rigs. Or else, you have bat-radar hearing. Maybe a recording studio could expose a slight difference.

    To me, it's more about feel, (harder), durability, classic vibe, and not getting black dye that comes off when you clean the board.

    As far as sound, a skilled bassist with the right setup makes such hair-splitting inconsequential.
     
  12. Andy Webb

    Andy Webb

    Nov 16, 2001
    Rhode Island
    Anyone who has worked with northern maple (hard maple, rock maple, etc.) knows that it is incredibly dense and takes a glassy shine with fine sanding. As ebony gets even more rare (the rainforests ARE disappearing) I bet that ebonized (dyed) maple will take its place instead of other exotics. Rosewood, for example, can't really match maple for grain density. Graphite is actually a better fingerboard material as well, because hardness is what counts, not someone's imagined/romantic need for wood's warmth or something. Especially on a fretted bass, the string doesn't touch the fingerboad, but rather the fret. Manmade materials for fretless too, can give more distinct tone and beter durability.

    As the forests shrink, guitar makers will have to seek out alternatives to ebony and other exotics and maybe even domestic woods like maple.
     
  13. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    I didn't think ebony came from the rainforests? Not that supply isn't getting smaller.
     
  14. Andy Webb

    Andy Webb

    Nov 16, 2001
    Rhode Island
    Ebony grows in tropical climates -- the rainforest belt that roughly hugs the equator for 25 degrees or so north and south. As a side note, in the Philippines there's a gorgeous ebony called kamagong that is chocolatey black sometimes with reddish purple stripes that has sadly been cut nearly to extinction -- I inquired when I was there this summer and envisioned a whole guitar made of this beautiful stuff. It hit home for me how forests have been decimated.
     
  15. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    Ah, OK. I always pictured it in drier climates in Africa, but now thinking about where the other varieties come from (Philippines, Madagascar, indonesia), those are pretty tropical.

    I wouldn't agree with you though that the differences in sound between a wood and composite fingerboard, even on a fretted instrument, is "imaginary".
     
  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Andy - FWIW, that's a localized name in that country for what we call macassar ebony. I love the look and feel of it, too. Plus, it certainly is less expensive than the pure African ebonies.