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fingerboard woods

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ladros2, Jul 8, 2005.

  1. ladros2


    Jun 2, 2005
    how do these compare as fingerboard woods?


    i only have experience with maple and rosewood. comparisons helpful.
  2. ebony and purpleheart are considerbly brighter imo

    i dont have any experience with the rest.
  3. Dub56

    Dub56 Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Maple is generally brighter than rosewood. No comment on Ebony other than it is a denser wood, and is good for fretless fingerboards. I have never had experience with purpleheart as a fingerboard wood, and I've never HEARD of bubinga being used as one.
  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Just a reminder that the fretboard doesn't determine the tone of a bass, but it (might) differentiate basses of the same make and model that are otherwise equal.

    I'll assume you're doing exactly that. Whatcha shopping for, if you don't mind me asking?
  5. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    My Skjold Custom 5 have a bubinga fingerboard. When I was down at Pete's shop, I played a bunch of his basses, and I noticed that there was this one fingerboard that was on several of the basses, and that I liked the sound of these basses the best. To my ears, this choice of fingerboard wood had the biggest tonal difference, after the pickups/electronics. I asked Pete what it was, and he said bubinga. I had heard of the wood, but like you, I had not heard of it being used as a fingerboard. Sonically, it seems to contribute to an authoritative and full, yet very clear and articulate tone. It seemed fairly even across the sonic spectrum, with a really slight dip in the upper mids that seems to allow the high end to stand out just a little bit (thus contributing to the overall clarity, I believe).

    Here is a shot of my Skjold's bubinga fingerboard:


    And another shot of the whole bass:


    So, for the above reasons, bubinga is actually my favorite fingerboard wood, though I also like ebony quite well, and I have that on my Gibsons and on my Sadowsky.

  6. Dub56

    Dub56 Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Ah, that was a first

    Beautiful bass, by the way :eek:
  7. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Thanks! :)
  8. Didn't Ric use bubinga fingerboards???

  9. primus_55


    Dec 28, 2004

    Ebony is usually called a fast fingerboard wood.
  10. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Rickenbacker used to use it as it's standard fingerboard. All those orange fingerboards under a ton of gloss are Bubinga. Bubinga, while not a true rosewood is sold as African Rosewood and often just as rosewood. I think it's harder and brighter than most Indian Rosewood and is more comparable to Brazilian Rosewood.

    Purpleheart is my favorite fingerboard. I've found the straight grain pieces to be extremely stable and it's high mineral content, which makes it dull saws, also makes it wear extremely well as a fretless board.
  11. ladros2


    Jun 2, 2005
    thanks for the help, i'm looking into a gecko 6, trying to learn all i can about woods, electronics and pickups to find the right mix. won't be able to afford it for a while so i have time to study up, and we all know what a great resource this place is! :D
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I think Geckos are very cool basses!

    I would love to have a bass with a purpleheart board, but that would depend on the colors/woods used on the rest of the bass. Some of us are very careful to choose fingerboard wood based on tone, but others (like me) are not... well, we choose fingerboards based on visual tone (how the color matches the rest of the bass), rather than aural tone.

    Are you getting a fretted or fretless? I play fretteds, but IME fingerboard wood makes a more significant impact on tone on a fretless.
  13. KYJazzy


    Nov 10, 2004
    Lexington, KY
    Is it safe to assume Maple = slower than rosewood?
  14. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Slower? It mutes more frequencies and has a narrower tone, I think it's higher resin content damps a lot of stuff. Maple is known for a very full response making it easy to EQ what you want.

    Also consider that a fingerboard is a small part of the necks wood, it tends to get more attention because we see it more but I think what the neck wood is has much more effect than a fingerboard.
  15. ladros2


    Jun 2, 2005
    fretted, although i'm now thinking of having one built for me, that should waste some time eh?
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Excellent point, I agree. One reason neck wood doesn't get the attention it should is because most necks are made of maple, so people think it's a case of "all else being equal". But wood can vary in tone even within the same species, so that's not a safe assumption.
  17. i also agree with "Moo" on this one, talking indepth with Jon Shuker and Bernie Goodfellow about fingerboards in generally they both said the same things, and its something ive always stood by..

    The fingerboard has such a small surface area compare to say the wood of the neck, its not directly connected to the neck wood itself either with doesn;t allow the resonante freq to travel down it as well as it should. Therfore its unlikely that any noticable different can be heard between identical basses (except the fingerboard wood).

    Jon shuker performed a few tests on this and on a blind listen no-one not even him could tell the difference. He reckons its to do with how the wood behaves that make people choose one over the other. Maple is always sealed and the grease off your fingers tends to slip away easily making its a fast wood to play on. Rosewood is different, its a more porus wood and moisture seaps into it, this can lead (if not cleaned) to a tacky feel. and Ebony because its so dense doens't allow much mostuire in and this itself acts as a natural ("fret-fast") which lubricates the strings when playing and makes it fast and comfortable to play.

    I have ebony on my GB and Maple on a Shuker and the GB's board is more faster and more comfortable.

    Other things that effect tone is how the wood behaves in heat. As the wood contracts and expands the levels of the frets can alter slightly.. this happens a lot with Rosewood and thus singing harmonics can be difficult to achieve acroos the entire fretboard. On the other extreme, Ebony barely moves and always sings out (think of Graphite neck, rock solid, never moved endless harmonic qualities).

    Or maybe i'm talkin complete and utter *beep*



    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    I agree/disagree with everything here!

    Yes, the board has a definite influence BUT it also is influenced by the neck/body woods & will enhance the product as a whole(similar to making a fine stew or recipe of choice). It's basically camraderie of species & blending them for a final effect that work with each other & enhance instead of stepping on each other & phasing them out.

    Also, depending on stiffness, it has another whole effect on string tension. Pao Ferro compared to Ebony is night & day. The sound is some what similar but the final effect & product on the neck is a whole other story...

  19. I have an ebony fretted, nice smooth feel
    two rosewood fretted, softer feel, not as smooth (more warm feel)

    and I have a purpleheart fretless...harder than rosewood (not as hard as ebony), but looser grain like rosewood.

    I like the feel of all of them, their different, but each has their own "vibe"
  20. it was used for this fretboard...
    apologies for the cheesy face attached to the bass... :p

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