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Ebony or maple fretboard for a Strat?

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

  1. Yaralag

    Yaralag Senior Stratmaster

    Ebony is the new Rosewood!
     
    Groovey and Paperback Rocker like this.

  2. lonegroover

    lonegroover Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    58
    Mar 5, 2016
    England
    Maple is toppy and resonant - I found ebony quite glassy and a bit dead tonally, not quite so musical.
     
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  3. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    I thought pau ferro is the new rosewood, ebony is the old ebony...
     
    smithstrato, s5tuart, CigBurn and 3 others like this.

  4. joebloggs

    joebloggs Strat-Talker

    256
    Jun 18, 2017
    The backyard
    I like them both. I really like the way the maple feels, and if the ebony feels just like the maple, I would go with the ebony board for the different look. As I have no experience with ebony, I thought I would ask the good people on this forum.
     
    Yaralag likes this.

  5. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    This never gets old to me....
     

  6. lonegroover

    lonegroover Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    58
    Mar 5, 2016
    England
    Just as a thought experiment - imagine a guitar made with a polystyrene neck and fingerboard, bolted onto a rubber body. Clearly these materials aren't metal, so in your view would it sustain and otherwise sound the same as a guitar with the same pickups, but with an alder body and a maple neck / fingerboard?
     
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  7. joebloggs

    joebloggs Strat-Talker

    256
    Jun 18, 2017
    The backyard
    Hmmmm.....thanks for that....Ultimately, the best thing would be to try one, but alas, there are no Elite strats with ebony boards where I live, and I would be ordering. I have played a maple board and like them.
     
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  8. Yaralag

    Yaralag Senior Stratmaster

    I think between the two maple looks good on a fender and ebony looks good on a gibson
     
    Groovey likes this.

  9. joebloggs

    joebloggs Strat-Talker

    256
    Jun 18, 2017
    The backyard
    BB King's Lucille has an ebony fretboard and his guitar is the furthest thing from being dead tonally.
     
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  10. Yaralag

    Yaralag Senior Stratmaster

    No...ebony is the new rosewood, pau ferro is just difficult to pronounce
     
    marshallb461 likes this.

  11. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    66
    903
    Feb 13, 2014
    AZ
    I'm considering using maple on ALL guitars I build for myself. I live on the Mexico US border and am originally from the OTHER border area. It should make my travel easier.

    I have maple, ebony, rosewood, and some stained wood on an old harmony that the grain says not maple.

    For all practical purposes it makes little difference. If the frets don't fall out I'm good.
     

  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    72
    May 26, 2006
    Jacksonville, FL
    Completely irrelevant... any sonic attribute that COULD be "blamed" on the fingerboard wood could be more than compensated for with any one of a number of other sonic choices that could be incorporated into the guitar's design.. IF the sonic contribution of the fingerboard was significant enough to rise above the threshold of noticeability in a real world application, which it does not...

    Ron Kirn
     
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  13. knh555

    knh555 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    46
    Dec 6, 2016
    Massachusetts
    I have no idea how much the wood matters and how much of this simply fits our preconceived notions, but for the sake of respectful argument, I'm wondering if there's an analogy to a violin bow here. The violin bow is traditionally made from pernambuco wood, and like all wood, each stick has it's own characteristics, especially after being hand carved by someone of some skill level. The bow also serves as a sort of pre-amp and filters out certain frequencies. If you change bows, you change the sound of the instrument. There's a reason serious players often spend 1/3 to 1/2 of their budget on the bow vs. the instrument and spend a lot of time matching bows to instruments. If the wood can filter out certain frequencies, it will affect the sound. I have four wooden bows and one carbon bow for my violin and violas and can hear differences among all of them.

    Now that's an acoustic instrument, so does the principle apply to a strat? I'm not sure, but it doesn't seem impossible to me that neck as whole may impact resonance and harmonics in the string itself, suppressing certain frequencies, much like pickups that are too high can suppress the string magnetically. If the neck does attenuate certain frequencies - perhaps mostly among the harmonics? - based on its material make-up (type of wood plus specific boards, plus specific construction plus specific set-up), then this would be upstream of the pickups, affecting the downstream signal chain. How much this matters given all the other things in the signal chain, I don't know.

    On the other hand, who cares? Find an instrument you like the feel and sound of and play it every day.
     
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  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    72
    May 26, 2006
    Jacksonville, FL
    true about the pernambuco violin bows... but, then there are those damn blind tests.... :whistling:

    rk
     

  15. joebloggs

    joebloggs Strat-Talker

    256
    Jun 18, 2017
    The backyard
    I have to say that there is a grain of truth in what you say sir. Now I just have to find a strat with an ebony board to try out!
     
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  16. knh555

    knh555 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    46
    Dec 6, 2016
    Massachusetts
    It's worth mentioning that if certain frequencies are attenuated by the physical construction (wood, etc), those frequencies can't be passively reintroduced down the signal chain. Whether it's enough to matter is up to each musician.
     

  17. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    Once you plug it in only the signal created by vibrating strings over the pickup is conveyed down the cable and into the amp. Anything else you hear is purely acoustic.
     
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  18. knh555

    knh555 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    46
    Dec 6, 2016
    Massachusetts
    Agreed. I'm speculating the neck might suppress some of the harmonics on the string itself, pre-pickup. I don't really know though.
     

  19. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    My mandolin didn't sound very good with a pickup, I replaced it with a transducer like I used with violins. That way it does sound much better.
     
    brians likes this.

  20. lonegroover

    lonegroover Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    58
    Mar 5, 2016
    England
    Well you're conflating two related but different things, there; a fingerboard and a whole guitar. Lucille has a substantial block of maple looming large in its construction which no doubt makes a big difference.