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Maple Vs Rosewood Fretboard

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by GrooverMcTube, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. Hey guys. I signed up with a new guitar company via Kickstarter and am going to get a new bass sometime in the next couple of months.

    One of the available options is for a maple or rosewood fretboard. I've only played rosewood (MIM J-Bass), so I was curious about the opinions of some of the TBers on the subject.

  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I really like my maple board. (on my Fender Jazz) I like the look of it, and I like the feel of it. Count me as a maple guy, but with that said, I have a few guitars and one bass with rosewood, and there's nothing wrong with it.
  3. I would bet this is aperennial favorite subject here on TB.... I have always favored maple for some reason, even when I start out looking for a rosewood board bass, I have ended up with maple, including a 73 Jazz, a 2006 Jazz, and a F Bass BN6. I also have a warwick corvette with rosewood, but I don't play it much... The maple just feels sleeker, and brighter....
  4. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    Depends on the bass but I usually prefer Rosewood. I like the looks and it seems to give a warmer sound.
  5. tkonbass

    tkonbass I'm just one of the out-of-focus guys.

    Mar 11, 2012
    St. Paul, MN
    My P-bass and SR4 are maple, the SR5 is rosewood and the Carvin is ebony. I think they all sound good and honestly never really bought into the whole rosewood is warm, maple is bright and ebony is brighter thing on fretted basses. It seems it's just people repeating what they have heard forever and it is just perpetuated on and on. IMO it's more in the players mind, choice of strings, how well the frets are installed and eq settings. I will say that the ebony is the nicest looking board on any of my basses. I don't own or play fretless. I think that may be a whole other discussion.
  6. KaseOfBass

    KaseOfBass Put some stank on it... Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    Taken from the Sadowsky site and is an explanation from Roger himself; I think it sums it up nice:

    Fingerboard woods from brightest to warmest:

    MAPLE: Tightest and brightest. Best for slap. Can produce more string and fret noise than others. Requires a finish to keep from turning dirty and grey.

    EBONY: Not as bright as maple. Most immediate attack and punch of all our fingerboard woods. Note is more fundamental with less overtones. Best for fretless. Pure black ebony from Madagascar is limited. African ebony has some grey mottling but is still very beautiful.

    MORADO (also known as Caviuna, Bolivian Rosewood or Pau Ferro): Morado is not a true rosewood, but I have been a fan of this wood for fingerboards for 30 years. Also used a lot by Stu Spector. Grain is very tight and smooth. More warmth than maple or ebony, but tighter than East Indian Rosewood. Excellent wear resistance, even on a fretless. For fretless, produces a somewhat more acoustic/upright tone than ebony.

    MADAGASCAR ROSEWOOD: A less expensive alternative to Brazilian Rosewood. Many boards have the spider-web like grain of Brazilian. Rich reddish brown colors. Can be more open grained that some others. Tone is in the same ballpark as Morado and Brazilian. New supplies are limited.

    AMAZON ROSEWOOD (Dalbergia Spruciana): A new alternative to Brazilian Rosewood. A true cousin to Dalbergia Nigra, Amazon Rosewood is more similar to Brazilian than any other wood.

    BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD (Dalbergia Nigra): For me, the King of tonewoods for fingerboards and acoustic guitar sides and backs. Beautiful browns and blacks. Wood has very high oil content. Banned from export out of Brazil in log form since 1969. Currently protected by the CITES treaty which prevents shipment between countries without intensive permits. Same treaty that protects tortoise shell and ivory. We can only ship instruments with Brazilian Rosewood to a US address. No longer recommended to musicians who travel internationally.
  7. I didn't know that the neck wood made that much of a difference on the tone of a fretted instrument. I would have figured that the fret wires would have more to do with the tone than the wood.

    Do they use different materials and thicknesses for the frets on the different woods?

    I really like the looks of an ebony fretboard especially when they have bright frets and mother of pearl inlay's.
  8. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    The only real difference I have found between them is that rosewood is usually unfinished so it can collect a lot of dirt that is hard to see, which will get into your strings and make them sound less bright. I prefer the look of rosewood, but I make sure to give my fretboard a good scrub every month or so.
  9. Oh boy!!! Here we go again!!!!:hyper:
  10. 5StringPocket

    5StringPocket Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    ^^^ I own basses with both and have played a number of them in the past with both maple and rosewood boards. My experience is in line with the Post #6 descriptions from the Sadowsky site and elsewhere. Hate to admit it but I heard the difference before there was an internet to dispel all this wisdom. Granted fretboard wood choice is only one part of the tone signature with strings, pickups, etc all working together. What's nice about this is that knowing the tone signatures of different wood, pickups, strings, preamps, and setups you can choose or have a bass built to your spec which gives the vibe and range of tones you're after. Some players have simple needs while others are more diverse or tonally demanding. I've settled on three:
    1. Roscoe SKB3005 with mahogany body, wenge board, Aggie OBP-3 pre, Roscoe Bart dual coil soap bars (V/B), nickel RW strings
    2. Valenti PJ5 with alder body, rosewood board, Aggie OBP-2 pre, Nordstrand PJ split coil pickups (V/B with vintage tone control), chrome FW strings
    3. Carvin SB5000 with swamp ash body, birdseye maple board, Carvin pre and single coil pickups (V/V with vintage tone control), nickel RW strings

    As you can see, most of the component choices are quite different between them. I like each one and even though there is overlap, each has its own distinct vibe and tone which can't be duplicated by the other. With the same player, amp, and cab you get a different sound with each instrument. Variety is good.
  11. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    Pick the one that makes you happy. Nobody will ever be able to tell the difference in the way they sound.
  12. Dluxe


    Jan 9, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Six of the eight basses I own are maple boards. I've always preferred the look.
  13. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    I changed to clearly dislike rosewood. My favorite is ebony and if I cannot get it a one-piece maple neck.

    One thing to keep in mind is that in a maple fretboard neck the finish affects how the fretboard feels. Sticky or too thick paint won't make for a good experience.
  14. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
  15. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I find it funny when people will comment on how a fingerboard feels. The only thing I feel under my fingers are strings... :p
  16. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 1, 2021

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