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Extreme Fingerboard Wear

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by brianrost, Mar 11, 2002.

  1. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I saw something last night I had never seen before.

    I met a guy who plays blues and rockabilly on a five year old Englehardt. The rosewood board had deep gouges in it under the GUT strings. He told me he's putting on an ebony board next month, but he'll be saving this board as a souvenir :cool:

    I've always had ebony boards (mostly with steel strings) and have only had a fingerboard planed once in 10 years of playing. Are rosewood boards really that soft or is it just a result of really abusive slap playing?
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Looks like nobody else wants to, so I'll take a stab.

    It's no surprise that rosewood is much less dense than ebony, and thus makes a fingerboard which wears out quicker.

    In the guitar-world, my luthier pals take as fact that Brazilian rosewood is harder than Indian rosewood. It's safe to say that nobody's put Brazilian rosewood on a new DB fingerboard since around 1969. Plus, the lower (read: cheaper) grades may well be pulpier, softer wood, too. And these days, many factories aren't even using Indian rosewood, they use "rose-woid" alternatives, many of which are even softer.

    That's probably most of the explanation of how a forty-year-old Kay can still be chugging along on a rosewood FB when a five-year-old Englehart is already toasted.

    Incidentally (if you're still awake), my git-box pals say as a rule of thumb that a Brazillian board will take three or even four careful refrets, but an Indian board will not handle more than one or two. YMMV, but it's illustrative of the point.
  3. This is kinda OT, but why don't builders use "alternative" fingerboard material, such as wenge or pau ferro? They're plenty hard for use on fretless BG with nickel rounds; why not on DB?
  4. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Can't get 'em in large enuf size or straight enuf grain.
  5. How about graphite?

    How does it stack up price-feel-durability-wise against ebony?
  6. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I have only worked on one graphite board. It was very difficult to dress. It also had a funny sound[in a good way]. The player was a classical one and he was not happy with the tone[there was a definate discernable difference] He wound up taking it off. I have a great source of ebony so I don't think about the graphite too much right now. They are available though and if you want I can point you to them.

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