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Stabilized Fingerboards....yay or nay?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jacochops, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Suzhou, China
    Hey all,
    I have a small betallion of custom basses coming , and construction should begin soon. Your thoughts...
    I love the look of maple, especially birdseye. I have an alder/maple fretted coming, as well as an ash/maple coming. The third bass's fingerboard is still up in the air. I'm wanting an ebony-ish sound, but would love to get it out of a stabilized birdseye board. I'm wondering if the stabilized maple (or any stabilized wood) that some builders are using in their fingerboards sounds different than a non-stabilized fingerboard of the same species?
    JP, Chris B, Cliff, etc...anyone here who either has a bass with a stabilized board or has built a few...can YOU tell a difference?
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    IIRC, I think the stabilization thing is generally just that -- a stability thing. I've heard of more than one custom bass going under the knife after the fretboard split.
  3. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    While someone answers, can they also explain what stabilized wood is?
  4. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    From Gallery Hardwoods

    Stabilized figured/Burl woods have been impregnated with monomores and acrylics to produce a dimensionally stable wood. Some advantages of stabilized woods are they minimize or totally eliminate:


    Other benefits of stabilized wood include:

    Moisture Stable
    Oil Impervious
    No Raised Grain
  5. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    does it sound like the 70s fretless P I use to borrow.... in a way
    does it sound like the ebony planked Carvin fretless my buddy use to have... Hmmmm... unplugged, yeah... a little like the board noise I remember.

    besides looks, the stuff just feels sexy. the "no raised grain" bit can also be read as "Silky Smooth"


    I wouldn't consider having another bass built without the stuff

    I just got new set of groundwounds to play with and recorded a train wreck of a groove to get a feel for the recorded tone.... the fingerboard is a *tiny* bit of the tone IMO but if you are curious here is the MP3 and here is the thread I posted about the strings earlier
  6. Sounds a lot like Greg Curbow's "rockwood".
  7. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    quite a few builders / wood dealers have a variety of it... Larry had implied to me it is popular in handle making and such.
  8. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    not the same stuff.

    rock wood is multi laminated birch layers with resin.

    "Acrylicized" or stabilised woods are regular wood pieces, impregnated with acrylic resin.

    Matt, to answer your question...I am not a guy who believs there's a "ebony board sound" as you already now but I can tell you that resin treatment tends to reduce differences in wood (density) because evry piece of wood is saturated with the resin.

  9. Hman


    Jan 8, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    Yes, I love them!! Looks like no wear on my fretless board :smug: There is no difference in sound :)
  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Unfortunately no one knows the long term effectiveness of stabilized wood. all theories are speculation.
  11. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    that's a beautiful piece of maple you have there ... :cool:
  12. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    can't be worse than regular wood.

  13. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    That is not a very strong justification... :smug:
  14. What do you mean by "effectiveness", exactly? The resins themselves are probably stable for a very long time. And while Rockwood and stabilized wood are not precisely the same (Rockwood uses a wood laminate while stabilized wood uses a solid piece), they are similar enough that the 40-50 years of experience we have with Rockwood and similar materials is probably enough to give a pretty good idea about the long-term behavior of stabilized woods.

    FWIW, most of my experience has been with Rockwood, but I do have a Nordstrand with a stabilized ebony board. I would equate its sound more to the other composites like Roscoe's Diamondwood than to a regular ebony board.

  15. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    THe operative word in your reply is "probably." No one knows how this stuff will hold up after 5 or 10 years...
  16. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Any particular reason why you're doubtful, DZ??
  17. Why do you believe stabilized woods would be any different from Rockwood in that regard?

  18. No one knows how any other piece of wood will hold up after 5 or 10 years... not for certain.

  19. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    I'd like to hear frome someone with experience in this area, as well; particularily I'm curious about the difference between Ebony and Stabilized Ebony....

  20. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002

    I think 400 years of violin making history tells us differently. This is just IMO...