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Ebony or maple fretboard for a Strat?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by joebloggs, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. joebloggs

    joebloggs Strat-Talker

    Jun 18, 2017
    The backyard
    Just wondering what the feel and tonal differences would be with these two woods on a Stratocaster. I have a Tele with a maple fretboard and I really like the feel and sound. I know ebony is s very hard wood with tight grain, similar to maple. I have also read that ebony is more susceptible to humidity changes, and if not cared for properly, can lead to feet ends popping out.
    What is the general consensus here?
    Yaralag likes this.
  2. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
  3. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    Feet ends popping out of your fretboard? That would be very odd looking. o_O
  4. jaybones

    jaybones Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Don’t have one but I’ve always heard ebony FB’s sound deeper and darker than RW. Maple is bright and usually better associated with Strat single coils.

    But any of the ebony FB examples I’ve played have been LP’s, SG’s or otherwise HB equipped which could be an apples to oranges comparison.
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  5. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    The general consensus here is that there is no general consensus here. This topic is a can of worms my friend.
  6. alderre

    alderre Strat-O-Master

    May 1, 2014
    New Braunfels
    Rosewood is harder to clean.
    Steve Hassle, Yaralag and ocean like this.
  7. dazco

    dazco Former Member

    Oct 5, 2017
    Personally i don't like the sound of ebony at all and haven't bought a guitar with ebony since the 70's or 80's at the latest. I never liked the word "sterile" as a descriptor for guitar tone, but thats what it sounds like to me. Like mostly fundamental and few harmonics. I much prefer maple, but rosewood is my favorite. Gotta have both because they sound very different and both are great, but ebony, never. Then again a lot of people don't seem to hear the difference so it depends on the person.
    Yaralag likes this.
  8. joebloggs

    joebloggs Strat-Talker

    Jun 18, 2017
    The backyard
    Well, seeing as rosewood is now on the endangered list, Fender is using ebony and pau ferro instead of rosewood. Having never played a strat with either of these woods, I thought I would ask the question here. I am considering an Elite strat, and the color in which I am interested comes in either a maple or ebony fretboard.
    Yaralag likes this.
  9. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    Because, once again, there are far too many factors to isolate a tonal difference to just the fretboard material, and two pieces of the same species of wood could have different resonant qualities.
    Nick42, Fuzzpop, Yaralag and 2 others like this.
  10. AlexJCRandall

    AlexJCRandall Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 11, 2012
    Ebony is a hard wood, and theoretically should produce similar tonal outcomes to the maple. However wood is wood and is all a bit different from board to board.
    Also ebony would only be the fretboard......a thin layer on the neck blank.
    Yaralag likes this.
  11. problem-child

    problem-child Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 28, 2008
    Left Coast, USA
    Like everything else Strat, opinions will vary. I really like ebony. On acoustics and Les Pauls I prefer it over rosewood. That preference is more for the visual elements and not sonic elements (if any).

    Maple is great and almost always will be covered in some type of finish. This mitigates the effects of humdity to a large degree, or at least slows them way down. Properly cared for rosewood or ebony will be fine. I use mineral oil to coat my unfinished boards. I do this about once a year. I put it on thick let it set for 30 minutes and wipe it all away. I've been doing this for 40 years and I don't see fret sprout or any other oil/dryness related issues. I've also done this on unfinished maple boards/necks; E.G. Peavey Wolfgang.
    rlmcritters1, Yaralag and stratomatt like this.
  12. Cesspit

    Cesspit Strat-Talker

    Sep 4, 2016
    Oxford England
    I have had both and found them very similar in nearly all respects. Tone wise I could hear no difference. I think it is more of a cosmetic choice and for me, it depends how it contrasts with the colour of the body.
  13. echoes71

    echoes71 Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 15, 2013
    I like the feel of Ebony better than Rosewood, it is closer to a maple feel, as for sound, yeah Im not getting into that vietnam...
    Yaralag likes this.
  14. nutball73

    nutball73 Strat-O-Master

    Nov 12, 2013
    Southern UK

    Hang on - yes, I've just checked. Search is still working...
  15. Stratdejavu

    Stratdejavu Strat-Talker

    Dec 31, 2017
    Why rosewood is your favorite?
    Yaralag likes this.
  16. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    Pretty sure that if I closed my eyes I could never tell the difference between any of them.
  17. balston11

    balston11 Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 8, 2013
    Preston UK
    Not again, the wood on the fretboard will not make any noticeable tonal differences compared to all the other factors. The only real differences are feel and appearance (also as someone mentioned cleanability) I have rosewood, maple and ebony boards I like the feel and look of ebony but not massively more than the other woods.
    Blackmore Fan and Yaralag like this.
  18. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

    Funny, I seem to be repeating myself today!

    I just said in another thread that fingerboard wood cannot possibly affect the sound, because it's wood and pickups can only hear metal, but how a neck feels to you will affect how you play, and how well you play.
  19. rich815

    rich815 Strat-O-Master Strat-Talk Supporter

    I know this is the general consensus but I had a MIM tele build I did (Fender MIM body) with a Squier rosewood neck. The guitar’s sound was quite bright, overly so in my opinion. Changing saddles, the bridge and even strings helped some but not a lot. I changed the rosewood neck to a Mighty Mite maple one and darned if the over-brightness issue was eliminated. So much for maple being brighter than rosewood in that case. Go figure...
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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  20. MrYeats

    MrYeats Strat-O-Master

    Jan 31, 2016
    Texas Coast
    I am waiting for the day when a laminated fretboard is made. Rosewood for the lower strings and maple for the higher pitch strings. side by side laminate.
    Detector, Yaralag and rich815 like this.