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very, very thin fingerboards ...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pickles, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    One of my favorite basses ever was a '78 Precision that had a rosewood fingerboard that was only about 1/16" thick.

    Do you guys think that almost-veneer fingerboard had any effect on tone? In other words, would I likely enjoy a maple board '78 just as much?
  2. I hear it did have an effect. Before mid 1962 and since the factory reopened in the 80s, Fenders had and currently have slab fingerboards, which are thin on the outside and thicker in the middle. In the middle, including the 70s, they had veneer boards that were the same width throughout and curved with the radius of the board. People say that the slab boards had better tone, especially in the early 60s. Pre CBS Jazzes with a slab board are usually more desirable, but I'm not really sure why. I'm guessing the extra maple of the neck and thus less rosewood gave a brighter sort of sound, and the 60s Jazz is usually expected to be a warm growl machine (maple boards didnt exist on jazz basses until the early 70s). I'm guessing a maple board Jazz from the 70s would be similar to a slab boarded one nowadays. If it's well constructed, it shouldn't make much of a difference since the neck is also maple.
  3. Maybe I have no ears on me, but I think a lot of the "tone" variances in fingerboards are in the user's head. I had read about some vintage guitar guys doing a "shootout" of vintage guitars. Where you would assume (as it's been relayed to me) that, generally, Ebony is more dense than Maple, that Ebony is going to be brighter than Maple, which will be brigher than the less dense Mahogany- no one could come up with a blind definitive answer. (of course, any "shootout" test results are entirely subjective...

    (in a related "shootout" the myth of the single cutaway Les Paul Junior sounding better because of the extra wood contact with the neck was "shot down.")

    In all honesty, can you really listen to a recording and with any type of certainty say "that's definately a CBS era Precision Bass with a Maple fretboard and the bridge cover installed?"

    I think a lot of the Pre-CBS "Slab Board" stuff comes from the slab board only being around for a total of 5 years or so before being discontinued- as well as the availability of quality Brazillian Rosewood. When you see that good, dark, waxy, tight grained Brazillian Rosewood- it looks really good. Due to rainforest depletion- or something like that- it's been illegal to import Brazillian Rosewood since 1965. Now, even 'not so good' looking old stock Brazillian Rosewood demands a premium price on instruments.

    Even if there was a tonal difference, wouldn't you assume because the slab is cut straight across, and the veneer curves around, there's more surface area on the veneer?

    As far as fingerboards go, I think the real differences are in look and feel. Maple is light colored and lacquered and Rosewood is dark and not lacquered.
  4. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Are you sure about this? This is the first I have ever heard of this, and it involves a manufacturing process that is more complex and expensive than a typical plank board - which is not the typical Fender way.
  5. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Banned

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    I'm sure, I've owned about a dozen of them, currently own two, and I've seen/played many more.

    According to George Fullerton, the veneer boards were used starting in the early '60s to solve the problem they were having with the rosewood slab and the rest of the maple neck responding differently to changes in climate.
  6. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I'm sure too, thats the exact thing I was asking about ... the '78 had a rosewood veneer fingerboard.

    I've been thinking about building out a warmoth P bass instead of searching around for a lightweight late 70s Precision, especially because I know how variable in quality those 70s basses were (so I'm not going to be excited about buying one online without playing).

    I think a light swamp ash body with an all maple neck will get me into the neighborhood ... more so than the same with a thick rosewood fingerboard.