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Maple or rosewood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by slingo, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. slingo


    Nov 29, 2004
    Does anybody know the advantages or disadvantages of maple or rosewood? It seems to me that maple is a rare sight on basses and I wondered why.....
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Maple = brighter sound.
    Rosewood = smoother, more rich sound.

    I prefer maple for the look, feel, and slighttt amount of tonal change it provides.
  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I'm of the thought that the sound between rosewood and maple is entirely psychoacoustic. You have body wood, neck wood, construction (bolt on vs. neck through vs. set neck vs. bolt through), pickups, preamps, strings, heads, and cabinets. No to mention left and right hand technique and placement.

    That said, if you can tell the difference, I wouldn't say you've got a great ear, I'd say you're making it up.
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    A great point as well, that id agree with. But if it DID make a difference, the qualities of the wood would have the above affect on the tone^

    That being said, just choose whichever you feel looks better.
  5. Hey, slingo, welcome to Talkbass. :)

    I don't think there are any advantages to either wood, it just comes down to taste, soundwise and lookwise.

    I prefer rosewood soundwise because I think that it has a warmer tone than maple, which I think sounds a little brighter and gives a slightly more focused fundamental. Some members here say there is little or no difference. Either way, I don't think it's worth arguing over.

    Lookwise, I so prefer rosewood, that I really would not consider buying a bass with a maple fingerboard. I like the visual contrast of light strings against a dark background.

    I also like ebony and pau ferro for a fingerboard.

    All of the above are just my preferences. ;)
  6. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    I like the sound (and look) of maple but I prefer the touch of rosewood.
    Pao Ferro is a good alternative, IMO.

  7. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    I disagree. I think Maple and Rosewood provide different sounds and can make a huge difference in the sound to the ears of bassists and non-bassists en masse. Whether it be good or bad and the extent of the difference is psychoacousctic.

    Rosewood is more absorbent. It absorbs some of the more punchy sounds and leaves you with a smoother tone.

    Maple, on the other hand, is more thumpy. It leaves you with a more raw and aggressive tone.

    I'm really not a very big fan of rosewood. The only time I'd consider using it is on a fretless 4 Jazz or Jazz copy that I am trying to make sound like Jaco. For a normal fretless, I would optimally use ebanol (ebony with an epoxy coat).

    In fact, the difference between Maple and Rosewood to me is so apparent, that I sent my Lakland 44-02 back to the Lakland USA factory in Chicago to have the neck with a Rosewood fingerboard changed to one with a Maple fingerboard.
  8. Mob


    Jan 12, 2005
  9. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Whatever looks better.
  10. Jaco covered his rosewood neck with epoxy. What's the difference in tone between an epoxied ebony or an epoxied rosewood? I would think very little.

    I am of the believe that there is a SLIGHT difference in the attack tone between maple and rosewood and the rest is about looks and feel.

    Feel being most important for me on a fretless, because my fingers don't really touch the fretboard on a fretted instrument much.
  11. I like both. Although sometimes maple can feel a little bit stickier than rosewood. But I can play my Geddy just as well as my TBC's.

    And my Geddy is passive, and my TBC's are active, so I can't really compare tone, but I like them all, so I can't lose.
  12. Thank you!
  13. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    The fretboard material is just as important as fret material (but you have more choice in fretboards). The string may not come in contact with the wood directly, but it hits the fret which is in the fretboard. Different fretboard woods would respond differently to a fretted note. It's taking a vibrating cell phone, and putting it on a pen which is on a desk. You can feel the vibration in the desk even though the phone is not in contact with it.
  14. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I just got my first bass with a maple fretboard. I love it. I do think though that you need a light colored bass for it to look right.

  15. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I have my black/black sterling with a maple fb and it RULES. Hate rosewood on black basses.
  16. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA

    Ya know something? I made my reply, and then I immediately thought about your Sterling Scott. All black and maple does look sweet.

  17. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Its one of my fav color combos for maple.
  18. FenderHotRod


    Sep 1, 2004
  19. Dan Molina

    Dan Molina TalkBass Secular Progressive

    Jul 17, 2002
    Murr Town, California

    couldn't have said it better myself.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Sure, the fretboard vibrates. And so does the neck... and the body... I'm now resisting the urge to say that, by your logic, tuning keys and control knobs affect the tone of a bass :D Seriously: my point is that the fretboard makes up a small percentage of the mass of the neck, and an even smaller percentage of the mass of the entire bass.

    I've owned bright basses that had maple boards, and mellow basses that had rosewood boards. I've also owned bright basses that had rosewood boards, and mellow basses that had maple boards.

    Does fretboard have some effect on tone? Maybe, but in my experience it's insignificant. Some famous luthiers disagree with me... but other famous luthiers agree. IMO it's a good thing there's no scientific evidence to support either opinion... it's a fun topic!