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Fingerboard... Rosewood vs. Maple

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Biker4Him, Sep 8, 2004.

  1. Everyone else has started a "vs" thread. Why do you like Rosewood, or why do you like Maple, and for what reasons/tone differences.

    I'm sure this has been done, but I'm getting lazy!
  2. funkmuffin


    Aug 18, 2004
    Akron, Ohio
    I say give 'em both a miss, and go straight to Purpleheart! Crisp, clean, and downright beautiful!
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Well i have rosewood on my Godin and Spector, and i have maple on my Essex. I guess i like them both. I like the look and feel of maple better, but rosewood sounds nice. Maple can have a bite to it that i like if im going for a funky tone. On my Essex i like to turn the tone knob up a lot and with the maple it gets really spanky/growly and funky sounding.
  4. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I've only ever liked two maple boarded basses -- MIA jazz, and a Geddy Jazz. My fretless is rosewood, my fretted (PJ) is rosewood, etc. My brother's strat copy has a rosewood board, and when I upgrade from that to an SX Tele in November, I'll be getting the rosewood board version.
  5. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    I originally started as a rosewood fan, but IMO, maple is more defined and clear with crisper highs and more defined lows. Rosewood tends to be rounder, but "woolier," the feel is way good. Purpleheart is very good as is ebony. Pink ivorywood is to die for, but fairly rare.

    Come to think of it, its all good. :bag:
  6. I have a bass with a maple board, and one with a rosewood board. Tone wise I like both, they do what they are supposed to. But I much prefer the feel of a rosewood board. Rosewood boards are usually less expensive to re-fret also (no polyurethane finish)

  7. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    makes no difference to me so long as Larry from gallery hardwoods stabilizes it first...

    it's like sex :smug:
  8. Maple is just so pretty...
  9. Lazlo Panaflex

    Lazlo Panaflex

    Sep 30, 2003
    Here is the thing, how can you tell that "difference" in the sound is from the fretboard wood and not the strings/pickups/ect. ? I have always wondered this, maybe i just have an untrained ear. :meh:
  10. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    comparing basses is like comparing cars - they all come with just enough differences to make any apples to apple comparison virtually worthless.

    However - different woods contribute predictable qualities to instruments. The actual degree (or amount) of those qualities differ depending on dozens of variables.

    To say Maple fretboards are "faster" or "brighter" or "snappier" are really just different degrees of the general qualities maple boards bring to an instrument.

    It may be that the electronics in 1 bass with a maple board totally hype up the inherent qualities of the maple while the next bass with a maple board has a mahogany body, brass bridge and less "active" sounding electronics which would change the nature of the maple neck's contribution to the instrument's sound.

    I wish it were as simple as "Maple board this - Rosewood board that." But it really all depends on the rest of the elements that make up the specific bass.

    Freaky man! :eyebrow:
  11. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Rosewood for recording.
    Maple for live playing.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Your ear is fine, and so is your logic. You can't tell. Which is why I choose my fingerboards for looks, not for tone.

    Here's my favorite example. I own two Fender RB5 basses, identical except for the paint. They were made in the same year. Even when strung with the exact same strings, they sound different. Not P versus J different, but one is noticeably brighter than the other. This is almost certainly because of the wonderful inconsistency of wood.

    Ken Smith himself has said he's built identical basses... the wood coming from the same planks, even... and they sounded different.

    Point being: when a P-bass with a rosewood neck is compared to a P-bass with a maple neck, all else *supposedly* being equal, one can NOT conclude that the differences in tone must be because of the fingerboard.
  13. So your saying that (to you)... a Jazz bass... let's pick Sadowsky... with an ash body will sound the same... have the same... "snap", and "attack" regardless of whether it is finished with a Maple board, or a Rowewood board.. (Bolivian Rosewood... if you want to be exact.. as I think that's what Roger uses).

    I'm not in disagreement... I just find it interesting.
  14. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    My untrained ears can tell the difference, but I think it's less obvious to listeners than to the one playing. FWIW, I do believe most luthiers say the fingerboard makes the most sound difference, everything else being equal.
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I'm just saying it might or it might not. How's that for vague? :D

    I'm not prepared to argue with luthiers such as Roger Sadowsky who claim that maple boards do provide more snap and attack. OTOH, I'm not prepared to argue with luthiers such as JP who say that the tonal effect of the fingerboard is minimal or negligible (apologies to both if I've misquoted 'em).

    Do you believe that every ash/maple Sadowsky J has more "snap" than an ash/rosewood Sadowsky J? I once went along with the "maple = brighter" belief until I realized I was often saying things like "this one sounds bright for having a rosewood board". I have one more theory which I'll mention again: I think it's possible that because of the gloss finish, maple boarded basses might sound slightly brighter unplugged due to sonic reflections from the board. But I don't believe those reflections are sensed by the pickups. (What the ear senses is much different than what the pickup senses... I've always said that you can't judge a bass by it's acoustic tone alone).