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fingerboard or fret...which affects the sound?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dwm74, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. dwm74


    Nov 8, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum...

    I was wondering how much the fingerboard material really affects the sound. We are always hearing that maple is brighter, and rosewood is warmer and mellower, etc, but isn't the note being generated from bridge to fret? In other words the steel surfaces of the fret and the bridge are the points of contact, not the fingerboard itself. So how does the wood surface come into play?
  2. ravenhawk82


    Apr 12, 2009
    I am curious to this as well. However, it seems that the difference in sound would make sense, considering that the frets are anchored in the wood. A slightly harder wood would generate a slightly different tone by keeping the fret more rigid.
    Of course, this is just my theory. I'm curious to hear the explanation from someone that knows what they're talking about.
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Strings make a lot more difference than either one.
  4. jworrellbass

    jworrellbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2009
    Colorado Springs CO
    Owner, builder: jworrellbass
    I've used ebony, honduras rosewood and wenge for fb's. It sounds to my ears that rosewood is more on the warmer side, ebony sounds bright & definded and wenge seems to be somewhere in-between with more growl. I've used the same fretwire on all three, strings and even pup locations. I don't want to start a tone war these are just my observations and opinions as builder.

    Also I think personally that the fb is the only time that wood really makes any difference on tone. Body woods don't seem to make much difference IMHO.
  5. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    Lightly in jest, I love the fact that you say "I don't want to start a tone war" and then "Body woods don't seem to make much difference"...the kind of quote to launched a thousand ships...

    My take on the question is whether anyone has seen any hard science to back up the opinions. There are stories of uncanny abilities of musicians to pick out the materials in instruments they have only heard...but I would love to see something in an oscilloscope to back it up. I haven't looked hard, so there may be just a discussion in the TB forums already...

    I would say that amp, preamp, pickups all play a bigger role, and for a lot of new-to-intermediate players, TECHNIQUE will have a bigger impact than any structural part of the bass (quality setup assumed, of course)...
  6. jworrellbass

    jworrellbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2009
    Colorado Springs CO
    Owner, builder: jworrellbass
    I did finish with IMHO, which I belive means "in my honest (or in my case humble) oppinion". Tone wars really suck, I've been in a few and there are no winners. Just broken dreams in search of the perfect sound.:D

    But yeah your right, electronics, pup locations ect play a much bigger role in tone. The wood for a fb is very slight. Once again IMHO.
  7. I used to think there was a difference between maple and rosewood boards. As time goes on, I'm not so sure anymore. If there is, it's far more subtle than I first thought.

    I like Pilgrim's answer. I hear far more differences between strings (materials, gauges) than I used to give credit for.
  8. It makes sense that the fretboard wood would impact the sound of fretted notes because the frets are mounted in the wood. What wood the fret is in would certainly reflect how it handles the string vibration. Ebony, a very hard wood, would not 'give' as much as rosewood, a much less hard wood.

    I think...
  9. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Nov 23, 2020

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