What is the difference Between Rosewood and Maple Fretboards?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassmasta94, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. bassmasta94


    Jul 21, 2009
    Hello, everyobdy who is looking at this. The title says it all, i was just wondering, on your opinions, which fretboard is better. What are the Pro's and Con's of each. What are the similarities and differences.
  2. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    Although they may offer differences in sound, the popular belief being that rosewood is warmer whilst maple is brighter, I think these characteristics are overstated in so much as the fretboard wood alone will not change the sound a bass produces significantly (at least no more than any other part). If there is a change it also depends on the individual example of wood and I should imagine generalisations over an entire species may only give a rough idea at best. I wouldn't bank on the fretboard imbuing your bass with any predictable, distinct tonal characteristics.

    Because of this, I would choose a fretboard firstly upon looks and feel, something which is particular to each person.

    The only disadvantages would be if you were playing a fretless as maple, I believe (although please correct should I be wrong), get's chewed up more by strings unless it is given a very hard finish - something not everybody likes. Again, I would be hard put to come with any objective advantages or disadvantages with either of these woods; it's very much up to you.

    Many people will disagree with me I'm sure, and as always, this topic has been covered a lot in the past, so it's worth doing a search. I'm sure you'll find comments from those more emminent, experienced or otherwise more qualified than me.

    As always, YMMV and IMOs and IMEs apply were necessary.
  3. cynical-rabbit


    May 19, 2009
    They look and sound different, of course!

    Maple is extremely bright, rosewood is a little warmer. I personally think maple is kind of ugly, but my favorite is ebony. It all comes done to opinion, and there are a wide range of fingerboard woods worth looking into.
  4. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    They look different. Other than that, there're too many variables to pin anything sonic to one or the other. People often cite maple as being brighter than rosewood, but that doesn't take into account many other things that could contribute to the difference. Comparing a Fender-style one-piece maple neck to a Fender-style rosewood neck (which is really a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard glued to it) utterly fails to account for the glue in the rosewood neck.

    My Laklands (one has glued on maple board, the other had glued on rosewood board) were indistinguishable on recordings. And even side-by-side the difference was so slight that it was probably due more to the different body woods (ash with maple vs. solid alder). The only way to nail it down would be to build around two dozen necks as identical as possible with the exception of half having rosewood board glued on and half having maple boards glued on. Then bolt those necks onto the exact same body and listen to them closely.

    But just to compare two, or two dozen totally different instruments (because there ain't no such thing as two identical wooden instruments) is pointless.

    Go with what looks right to you if you have to choose. Or better yet, ignore the cosmetics totally, and just go by what SOUNDS right. Play enough basses and you'll find one that says "Hi, honey- I'm home!!" That's the one to get regardless of who made it where, what name is on the headstock, what old dead bassist or new hip bassist played/plays one similar, whether it's considered "correct" for any genre, etc.

    Play the BASS, not the catalog!

  5. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    Oy vey..

    Maple=Light wood

    IMO, thats the only difference. The feel, and density, maybe, but sound? Nah.
  6. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    You don't think the fretboard has any impact on tone of an instrument? Maybe it's not huge, but it's there.
  7. DeluxeRed


    Jun 2, 2009
    On older Fenders and the RI/Vintage stuff, the Map's have a smaller radius that the RWs. 9-1/2" vs 12", I think, enough that you can see and feel the difference.
  8. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
  9. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    Good God Burning Skies!
  10. Those ones.
  11. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    Opinions, opinions Ryan. We all have em. ;)

    And Burning Skies just owned this thread.
  12. Agreed. I have noticed a very slight difference if any if all other things are equal between to basses. Nothing that breathing on the tone knob wouldn't have made irrelevant.
  13. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Yes but IME maple and rosewood sound different. One of the key factors that separates a sizzly, snappier, grindy, and aggressive '70s J bass tone from a warmer, fatter, mellow, and growlier '60s J bass tone.
  14. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    Not that pickup placement would do that...

  15. I am curious if there is a way to graph the response of the same note, played on the same basses, with the fretboards in question. That way, we could see for certain whether there is a sonic difference.
  16. IF you got that technical, micrometer differences in paint thickness would make some kind of difference. Its the idea that it makes enough to matter that I have never gotten.

    By the way, I know a million of these threads have been done, but give it a rest with that search feature crap. Who wants to read some 3 year old post? the whole point of a forum is to interact with live people. If its an old thread idea, start a new one if your so creative.
  17. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Only if you can guarantee that the note is plucked EXACTLY the same and that the neck is mounted on the same body, has the exact same setup and action that the neck woods are PERFECTLY identical with the same amount of tension on the truss rod...
  18. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Because its the SAME ANSWER every time. There's nothing new to this discussion. And you're discounting the thousands of experienced TB'ers that have come before and expressed their well learned knowledge, experience and opinions. And its lazy.
  19. True, but this isn't an encyclopedia, its a forum.

    For example I bet if we searched it we'd find this same debate before, but I am not going to argue with a guy who may have died a few years ago via the internet when there is a living specimen here.
  20. Cmon everyone knows
    that BLACK pickup screws make the bass sound darker
    rosewood?maple? pssshaaawwww