Goncalo Alves Fretless Fingerboard?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by akori, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. akori


    Oct 18, 2007
    Anyone ever use a Goncalo Alves Fingerboard for a fretless?

    I think it's an intriguing proposition, given it's hardness, coupled with it's relatively warm tone (not to mention it's availability). ALWAYS ACCEPTING that each tree, plank and board have their differences, and that the sum of parts is always a huge factor...

    I'm talking about using it on a standard flatsawn high-quality J-neck, bolted on to a P or a J body.

    I love ebony for what it imparts: (extreme articulation, loudness in the highs and lows), but find it hard to get all the warmth I want...it always seems just a bit hollow to me, as to my ear, it lacks some of the midrange. I actually love Indian rosewood, and I simply don't grind my boards up...it lasts just fine. But I've already got a perfect example of that on a J fretless. I'm doing a Brazilian rosewood build now, and can't wait. Goncalo (might) make a nice middle ground between Ebony & Indian rosewood, without being so pricy, and such a hassle as Brazilian. FWIW, I do like Pau Ferro...just looking for more tonal options.
  2. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland

    Feb 11, 2003

    I've been told by a few builders, that it is not a good wood for fretless.
    To soft, but works well for fretted.
    It might be good if you have it epoxied.
  3. akori


    Oct 18, 2007
    Interesting, Mojo-Man:
    Goncalo's JANKA hardness ratings are pretty stout: in the neighborhood of 2100lbs, depending on who's posting the values online. Close to Wenge, for example.
    But I know from experience that hardness (and I for one believe the JANKA test for hardness is quite valid for estimating a fingerboard's durability under steel strings) does not always equal the sonic properties we associate with a wood. I.e: it's hard, ergo it must be bright, or have a fast attack, etc. Obviously maple is generally perceived to be on the brighter side, but it's not hard at all compared to Brazilian rosewood or ebony, or even Goncalo. I have found Goncalo to be a bit warm and (slightly) slow in attack for a neck wood...compared to maple, that is. This was surprising. Hmm. I was thinking it would make a killer fretboard wood mated to maple, kind of balancing out to a nice quick response with sweet mids. Definitely true, I've seen only one guy who used it on a private build, so it might not sound musical enough as a fingerboard.
    Did these builders literally mean it's too soft as a surface, or that it sounded too soft, i.e; too warm, too slow of an attack or inarticulate?