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Fretless fretboards question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Acoustic356, May 5, 2015.

  1. Acoustic356

    Acoustic356 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Do fretboards make a difference in the tone on fretless basses?
    I have a fretless with a maple fretboard... I love the tone, but played a Carvin with a mahogany fretboard and the tone was night and day. The only difference was the neck... so, just wondering.
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    It's called a fingerboard when there are no frets and maple vs rosewood matters as much as it does with frets: none at all. Every piece of wood is different. Play what you like.

    You asked about tone and that's the answer, but with fretless, some woods will stand up to wear better than others so there are differences there.

    Also, I'm guessing the carvin fingerboard wasn't mahogany. Probably ebony.
  3. Acoustic356

    Acoustic356 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Hey... you're right on both accounts...
    Fingerboard and ebony. (Old habits die hard...)
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
  4. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I'm with GC. I'm a little skeptical though on 'the only difference'. Were the strings the exact same brand and the exact same age?
  5. Acoustic356

    Acoustic356 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Yes... both basses had tapewound strings, coil tapped humbuckers... it turns out that the BIG difference in tone came from the set-up. A quick truss rod adjustment and they sound a lot more similar now.

  6. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    The maple fingerboard almost certainly has some type of finish on it - clear polyurethane, polyester, or maybe epoxy - so you're really hearing the effect of that finish more than you are the maple.

    Doesn't mean that's a bad thing - epoxy fingerboard treatments are common in the fretless electric bass world.

    Generally speaking, harder fingerboards have a more pronounced "mwah", kind of an accentuated sharpness to the buzz.
    Acoustic356 likes this.
  7. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Yes, fingerboard wood matters on fretless. And so does strings, setup and other stuff too. Personally I prefer ebony for a fretless fingerboard. It's hard, wears well, has a certain brightness but not too bright or "edgy" like a superglue or epoxy coating gives. But I also have a fretless Fender Jazz clone with a rosewood neck. Well, it's a lot milder than the ebony, and it wears more, but in it's own way it sounds great too! My personal taste leans toward the harder brighter wood like ash for body and ebony for fingerboard, but alder bodies and rosewood fingerboards are clearly very nice in a mellow kind of way that you can't hate them either! But maple boards are sometimes coated and that will give yet another different kind of tone.

    Just pick the one you like!
  8. Acoustic356

    Acoustic356 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Thanks! As far as I can tell there is no finish on the maple. I made the mistake of putting round wounds on it and it was definitely leaving some marks on the fingerboard. I quickly ordered a new set of tapewounds...

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