Maple Fingerboards

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Geoff St. Germaine, Sep 12, 2001.

  1. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Aug 31, 2001
    Halifax, Canada
    Owner - St. Germaine Guitars
    I was wondering if someone could tell me what the sonic difference is between a maple fingerboard and a pau ferro or wenge one. I am ordering a new bass and I have these three choices. The maple intrigues me because of its look, but I am unsure of the sonic qualities it posseses. I am ordering a 6 string, so if any six stringer out ther have a maple board on their axe could you tell me what you think? I have seen them on 6 string F basses and Dingwalls and a few other higher end basses. I believe that I have heard that they are in between Pau Ferro and Ebony sonically, but this is just what I've heard.
  2. CaracasBass


    Jun 16, 2001
    Madrid, Spain
    I´m not a luthier but this I know:
    Pau ferro sounds very similar to rosewood, that is a "warm" sound, on the other hand, maple it´s brighter than pau ferro, with more highs, it´s also described as more "open-sounding"
    And Ebony its known to have a sound which could be described as a combination of pau ferro (or rosewood) and maple, a more balanced sound.

    Hope this help.
  3. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Ebony is a great choice on a 6 but some feel it needs to be oiled periodically, especially in a dry climate. I believe Alembic recommends oiling their ebony boards twice a year with lemon oil, for example.

    I wouldn't get a maple board on a 6 unless you do a lot of slapping and want that upper register snap. For fingerstyle, the darker wood boards may be more appropriate, all according to taste, of course.
  4. eshears


    Jul 30, 2001
    Spokane, WA
    Warmoth has a good description of all of the woods they use for necks and fingerboards on their web site. Check it out at: and then click on the Neck Woods link on the left.

    Here are their descriptions of the woods you are looking at:

    This is the traditional Fender neck wood. Dense, hard and strong, offering great sustain and stability. The tone is bright. Maple must be finished to protect from warpage. We use flat sawn maple though quartersawn may be available at an additional cost.

    Pau Ferro
    Relatively new as a fingerboard wood but very well suited to this purpose. Very smooth texture similar to ebony. Tonally brighter than rosewood but not as bright as ebony. Color varies from light tan to a darker coffee color. Usually quartersawn to show nice striping. Primarily a fingerboard wood though occasionally available for necks as well.

    This is black ebony. Very hard, smooth and fast feeling that has a bright, long sustaining tone. Chocolate brown or dark gray streaks are not uncommon. Available primarily as fingerboards and occasionally for full neck construction.

  5. JimS

    JimS Gold Supporting Member

    You need to take into consideration the neck wood, body wood, and method of constructing the neck-body joint: bolt-on, set neck, or neck through.

    Maple board may sound great for one combination and not so great or different for anther combination.

    There are many rosewoods, of which pau ferro or morado is one. Others include Brazilian, Madagascar, African, palisander, East Indian.