the woods used on fretless fretboards/fingerboard

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dace, Jul 31, 2001.

  1. dace

    dace Guest

    Dec 25, 2000
    sydney, australia
    can someone give me some info about woods that are good for fretless basses?

    all i know is that harder woods are better and apparently rosewood is a pretty soft wood. despite that they seem to be on all the fender jazzes. is ebony any good? i suspect that it's also more expensive. i've also heard that some manufacturers reinforce the fingerboard with something else like graphite (i though graphite is really fragile?!?).
  2. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    there are a lot of woods. Rosewood seems to be fine as long as you don't use roundwounds. I've seen maple, ebony (really hard), purple heart, wenge, and many others.
  3. I think graphite is used to reinforce the neck of the bass, so that it doesn't warp as much in climate changes.. am I wrong in stating that most graphite (reinforced?) necks have no truss rods? That is my understanding anyway.. I don't know about a fingerboard with graphite in it.. that would get kind of.. messy :eek:
  4. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Graphite necks nowadays often utilise truss rods. Graphite reinforsed neck sure do!

    Graphite is not common in fingerboards. Those with graphite necks commonly use phenoloic boards. Zon uses phenowood, which is a compressed phenolic/birch veneer composite.

    PortraitofTracy was right about woods. These are the common ones. Pau ferro is also worth mentioning, as a coming material. These for standard basses!

    On custom basses you may find several others, if the customer is bold enough to be different! Such as hornbeam, lilac, pau rosa, plum......with or without epoxi.....
  5. arvidgunardi

    arvidgunardi Guest

    Mar 18, 2001
    Jakarta Indonesia
    I use Macassar ebony for my fretless. I'm not sure if they're harder or softer than the regular african ebony.
  6. purple_haze

    purple_haze Guest

    Jun 29, 2001
    London Town
    For most manufacturers, you'll find Rosewood and Pau Ferro as fretless fingerboards on their stock models.

    But you should be able to get pretty much anything, e.g maple, if you go custom. Try Sadowsky. The softer woods are coated to protect them a la Jaco.
  7. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    I've found that coating the board really effects the tone. That might be a positive change. I like the sound of a rosewood board for its lows and warmth, but roundwounds chew it up good. I have ebony on one bass, and it sounds great, but has a certain "clackiness" in the highs. I used to play a lot of slap on my fretless with the ebony, and the G string wore a groove into the board, but not nearly as bad as rosewood. I now use flats or nylon wounds, so wear isn't an issue. I go for an upright-like sound. Coated boards seem to sound brighter.
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Coating the board does change the tone, but if you are looking for that Jaco tone, it's difficult to get with bare rosewood.

    You can get close with phenowood or ebony.

    Graphite fingerboards do exist, I believe that some Modulus fretlesses have graphite, though some are phenolic as well.
  9. steinbergerxp2

    steinbergerxp2 Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    Cocobolo makes a nice fingerboard; it's in the same neighborhood as ebony for hardness.

    Most graphite/carbon fiber necks have a truss rod these days, however Steinberger's do not; they have a LOT of epoxy in them and are pretty heavy.

    I have a defretted Steinberger with an epoxy/phenolic fingerboard and use groundroundwounds; it sounds pretty growly.
  10. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    My Carvin fretless had an ebony board and didn't wear enough to affect tone or palyability in 6 years of gigging.

    My new Conklin Groove Tools fretless has an "Ebanol" (I think it's phenolic) fingerboard that does sound a little brighter. I do like that "growl" thang so it's fine with me. Dunno about wear yet -- the bass is not quite a year old and didn't see much action its first 8 months. There are NO visible marks at this point. I use Elixir strings because of their ridiculously long life, but I'm sure the fingerboards have benefited from the Teflon coating.
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Hey, Eli, nice to hear from you.

    Haven't seen you around the Forums for a while.
  12. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Yeah, took a break. I'm OK now...