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Rosewood vs Maple

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassman03, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. bassman03


    May 19, 2008
    Sully, Iowa
    I've heard before that the type of fretboard you get can alter what your bass sounds like. To what extent is that true? If so, what are the tonal differences between having a rosewood fretboard as opposed to having a maple one?
  2. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    All things being equal, most guys would argue that a maple board lends a brighter, snappier sound to your bass, while a rosewood board is warmer and a bit more mellow.

    Of course, there are a LARGE number of associated variables that must be taken into consideration here - strings, setup, other woods used in construction, electronics, and of course, the player.

  3. hell... i like maple better for the look.. other then that i havent noticed much tone difference at all...
  4. I concur with Lonnybass. All things being equal, I think he's right on the button with his descriptions.
  5. Go for which one you like the feel and look of the best. Everything else is gravy. :D
  6. pringlw


    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    That's what most believe, and I guess I probably do as well.

    However there are lots and lots of people who will argue that it's all in your mind and that there's no difference to the sound either way.

    Their argument is that the fretboard isn't part of the string sound - when pressed the string goes from fret to bridge. Since the string isn't touching the fingerboard between the fret and the bridge - there is no effect on the string when vibrating.

    Is it true - I don't know. But I like brighter sounding instruments so (right or wrong) I go for Maple necks when choosing a fretted bass. My fretless on the other hand is rosewood all the way (obviously the above argument doesn't apply at all to fretless basses).
  7. I've played both and to be honest with ya, I could care less. Though, at this moment I'm playing an '08' MIA Fender Jazz V with rosewood FB.:smug:
  8. brucebruce


    May 26, 2008
    Cosmetically I prefer maple... and in terms of comfort... I really find a vintage finished maple fretboard suits me best...

    The nitro finish on the maple neck of my (on order) Tony Franklin bass is amazing...

    I also agree with the general description posted above... Maple a touch brighter... Rosewood a touch warmer...

    ... have you considered ebony... it feels great on fretless and fretted basses IMO...
  9. MarkusBass

    MarkusBass Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    California Coast
    Graphic Designer: Lakland
    This is what I believe. I think it's all about looks and feel. It there is any difference tonally, and slight EQ would erase it. That being said...I like rosewood more for feel and looks.
  10. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I like rosewood, but really, it's the least important variable in bass tone. Go for whichever you like better.
  11. Thunderitter

    Thunderitter Bass - the final frontier! Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2007
    In my world maple is 'smoother' and rosewood has a bit more of an edge, but I love them both!

  12. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    If you had perfect memory so that you could swap out necks on the same bass with the same strings, I would think that the difference is hadrly noticable.
    Not a fair question when different basses are compared.
  13. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    They'd still be different necks and the test would be void just for that.
  14. thirtypoint87


    Feb 9, 2004
    Manager/Repairman: Music-Go-Round
    The difference is subtle, but distinct.

    I've had the chance to a/b instruments that were identical aside from their fingerboards a couple of times and this is what I found.

    Rosewood: Warmer, rounder, more wide and open sound

    Maple: Brighter, clearer, and more focused

    I've found an affinity for fingerboards in the rosewood family, but I could certainly see the advantage of maple when clarity and the ability to cut through in the mix are the main goals.

    Observe: Reggae bassist Ashton "Family Man" Barret plays a Fender Jazz Bass with a rosewood 'board. Rush bassist Geddy Lee plays a Fender Jazz Bass with maple. Different amps, etc.? Yes, of course.... but the fingerboards are no accident.
  15. MarkusBass

    MarkusBass Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    California Coast
    Graphic Designer: Lakland
    Were the finishes the same?

  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    Start with these few threads, if you find they don't answer your question, let me know and I'll post another 649875987494837 threads on the same topic.
  17. Thrillhouse


    Jan 21, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    There is a significant difference...as I have said in the other 10,000,000 threads of this topic. I ued rosewood for a while on my J bass then switched to maple and noticed a difference immediately. Maple is definitely brighter, although you can get a similarly bright sound from rosewood if you use stainless steel strings. It also has a lot to do with how hard you play and what other woods the bass is constructed of (as others have said).
  18. thirtypoint87


    Feb 9, 2004
    Manager/Repairman: Music-Go-Round
    Yes. I'm a repairman, part time builder, and I manage a (mostly) used guitar shop.

    My two tests were conducted on a pair of USA Fender Strats that we'd bought from a store that was liquidating "last year's inventory" (both 2007's, same sunburst) and on two late 1990's Fender USA Jazz basses that we just happened to have on hand at the same time.

    Same strings, same setup, same alder bodies. (Yes, of course no two instruments will behave exactly the same, but I did all I could to remove those "non-fingerboard variables.")
  19. Gopherbassist


    Jan 19, 2008
    I can't imagine that's true. The string will vibrate the fret, the fret will vibrate the board, and the board will feed back into the fret.
  20. win.

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