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Has pau ferro fallen from grace?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by n1as, May 15, 2017.

  1. n1as

    n1as Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Seems that a decade or so ago, pau ferro was becoming fairly common, even showing up on Fender basses.

    Now it seems like we're back to rosewood and maple with a dash of ebony. Did pau ferro prove to not be all that great or have people just gone back to what they're used to?
  2. BassBuzzRS


    Oct 18, 2005
    Pau ferro is great! I have a bass with it and it's fast and responsive. Ash body btw.
  3. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
  4. Actually, Rosewood was added to CITES list last year. You'll see one of the topics pinned to the top of this forum. Without proper documentation, you could have problems buying or carrying your instrument internationally.
    bassdude51, jd56hawk, 5544 and 2 others like this.
  5. Teacher


    May 3, 2012
    I have a lovely lighter colored board in my shop that should net me two fretboards, and I can't wait.
  6. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Pau ferro is still standard on USA Spector basses. :thumbsup:
    Ellery, Bassmann79, Holdsg and 6 others like this.
  7. Mike Tobias has used a ton of it. Fender at least for a while used it on 5 strings as it was easier to find wide boards. The color is lighter than rosewood and I think more people prefer the darker rosewoods.

    This quote from Wikipedia sums it up well. Note the other names as some luthiers use those.

    Its wood is often used for making fingerboards for electric basses and guitars. It has a similar feel and similar tonal attributes to rosewood, but is harder and has a slightly lighter colour. The wood may also be used for flooring, fancy furniture, and handgun grips. It is also known by the names morado, palo santo, caviuna, Brazilian ironwood, and Bolivian rosewood, though it is not actually rosewood.
  8. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves website- ggbassplayer.com Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Arcadia, Ca
    In the CITES post #407, the part in bold- carrying an instrument across borders for performance or personal use has been fine (afaik!). I'd be interested in hearing horror stories though! Sales is another issue. Pau Ferro is not on the Banned wood list, and should be found as a common replacement for Rosewood or Ebony fingerboards.
  9. Yes, my buddy Paul Fierro kind of turned his back on me :(

    my G&L ASAT had a pau ferro fretboard, and to me it was just like the rosewood board on my MIM Fender
  10. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Trends come and go, even when they shouldn't. Also, rosewood and maple fingerboards have pride of place in the history of the bass guitar. Probably it will take a couple more human generations to modify that.
    JRA and TrustRod like this.
  11. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    My store has a lot of Canadian customers visiting during the winter, and so we looked it up. Apparently, without documentation a traveler bringing an obviously new product *into* the US could, in theory, be given a hassle or forced to pay a fee to bring it into the country if it's believed they're trying to bring product into the country for sale. That's our interpretation, however, and we're not lawyers. We're waiting to see how the whole thing plays out when it comes to enforcement and we start to hear stories from customers next winter visitor season.

    The only thing we've been told for sure regarding sales and production comes from our Fender rep; most Fender MIM models featuring rosewood will have (already have, actually) an increased price, Pau Ferro will be used on new production MIM models that featured rosewood (with a few exceptions, those details are not forthcoming) and that ebony will be the fingerboard of choice for new USA produced models formerly featuring rosewood. Artist signature models requiring rosewood will continue to have rosewood. We haven't received word from other manufacturers on how they're going to deal with CITES, yet.

    So, no, Pau Ferro is not out of favor from what I can see.
  12. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Because of all the recent CITES restrictions on rosewood, most of us independent Luthiers are switching over to using Pau Ferro completely in place of Indian rosewood. I personally won't use rosewood on any of the basses I build any more. Too much potential import/export hassle. Pau Ferro is a wonderful fingerboard wood. And it's relatively cheap and plentiful.

    A recent development is that some suppliers are starting to offer roasted Pau Ferro for fingerboard blanks. My buddy Mike Lipe has used some of it on his guitar necks, which I've machined for him. It's a really nice wood. The roasting process darkens the Pau Ferro to almost the color of Brazilian rosewood, as well as improving its stability. Most Pau Ferro is harder and denser than rosewood. The roasted Pau Ferro is about halfway between rosewood and ebony.

    One downside to Pau Ferro is that its sawdust can cause serious allergic reactions to workers. That's the main reason why Fender and the big manufacturers haven't been using it too much. Plain Pau Ferro can give me some skin rash. But the roasted Pau Ferro doesn't. The roasting process apparently dries out the resins that cause the allergies.

    So, if more companies start roasting Pau Ferro, getting the cost of the process lower, it may well become the dominant instrument fingerboard wood in the coming years.
  13. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    This! ^ ^ 100% confirmed from FMIC. American fenders will have ebony fingerboards. The maple fingerboard option will be available as well but no more rosewood on our fine american made fender basses!

    Here's my rosewood:

    Howlin' Hanson and craigie like this.
  14. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    It's pretty much my favorite. It's nearly as smooth as ebony. In contrast, I've seen a lot of pretty rough roswood boards, including on some nice instruments.
  15. Fender switching over to ebony for some models is a big surprise to me as it has been getting scarce for a lot longer than rosewood has. It actually troubles me as I've heard about how ruthless the "poachers" are in cutting down trees,cutting them up,and only taking the parts they can sell.If having an ebony board Fender turns your crank, I'd get one as soon as they come out because I can't see the wood being available in that abundance for very long.
    Pau ferro will probably become the standard wood but possibly stained darker. The roasted idea seems like a good compromise.
  16. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Pau ferro is excellent... nice and smooth... tight grain.

    It's a fantastic, durable option to ebony.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  17. Cowboy in Latvia

    Cowboy in Latvia

    Mar 1, 2015
    A friend of mine had his best acoustic guitar "held" for inspection at a border crossing in eastern Europe because of the rosewood board about 2 months ago. Conveniently the hold was for a week longer than he would be in the country and it would have to be picked up in person.
  18. RobertFL


    Mar 9, 2017
    I use Pau Ferro aka Morado for bow risers and wedges in bow limbs. I don't have any pieces long enough for finger boards at this time. It is very nice to shape and sand, but most Rosewoods are pretty toxic..I always wear a respirator when cutting and sanding. pauferoriser-1.jpg
  19. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    I take it you have not read anything that Bob Taylor has written in recent years, or watched any of his videos on the subject?
    lowfreqgeek and Garret Graves like this.
  20. RedVee


    Dec 24, 2014
    japhy4529, Snaxster and bolophonic like this.

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