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Neck Materials

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by marshallb461, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. Ebidis

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

    Nov 14, 2013
    Your post is interesting, because I have 3 Strats and 1 Tele, of which 2 of the Strats are alder bodies and Maple necks, one Strat is an ash body and rosewood fretboard, the Tele is a Basswood body and maple neck. All have very different pickups.

    Here's what I notice: The two alder/maple Strats and the Tele all sound fairly similar, despite the difference in pickups. They are fairly similar acoustically as well. The ash/rosewood strat is a totally different beast, both acoustically and plugged in. It has a much deeper, rich bass, and a very rich, complex upper midrange. It really sings.

    So I'm hearing exactly what you're describing. My maple necked guitars have a much more fundamental tone, and the rosewood Strat is very rich, complex, and 3 dimensional in comparison, and this is when all guitars are played through the same pedalboard and amp.

    I don't know how much can be attributed to fretboards, as the rosewood Strat also has an ash body, and I have not swapped pickups around on the guitars to see what kind of difference that might make. I would have to do some experimenting to isolate the exact cause, if it even can be isolated.

    To throw a wrench into the works, my Les Paul also has a similar complexity and richness to the tone like the rosewood Strat, and though it also has a rosewood board, the rest of the guitars construction, and pickups are very different from a Strat, as we all know.

    Anyway, regardless of what the underlying cause of the difference may be, the end result is that the rosewood Strat and The Les Paul have taken the #1 and #2 slot away from my American Standard Strat and my Tele.

    Come to think of it, both the rosewood Strat and the Les Paul have transparent red finishes. Perhaps that is the reason they sound better.

  2. felis

    felis Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 27, 2013
    When a refret is needed there's a noticeable difference, my wallet prefers a rosewood board. ;)
    Thin69 and Ebidis like this.

  3. AlexJCRandall

    AlexJCRandall Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 11, 2012
    I've actually found that too.....but in my case I swapped necks with the same pickups and body.
    Often rosewood can have this raspy upper mid spike. Even though maple might be slightly 'harder' in tone it doesn't grate on the ears quite the same way.

  4. dazco

    dazco Former Member

    Oct 5, 2017
    The neck and fret board IMO are the #1 biggest contributor to each fender style guitar's unique voice. A lot of people who notice that describe it as "tone follows the neck", and i agree. In one really obvious case i has a exceptional sounding strat in the 90's and no matter what body i put that neck on or what pickups, it always sounded exceptional. Bodies make a difference too but from my experience it seems like they can change the EQ but not each guitar's unique voice. kinda like EQ'ing a singer's track. You can give them a different EQ curve with more mids or whatever you want, but like a guitar's own unique voice, mick jagger will always sound like mick jagger. Ash vs alder....not sure theres a lot of difference there but i can't say definitively not having done a lot with ash with strats. But having has a bunch of ash and alder teles i noticed the rosewood vs maple factor is there and like i described regardless of the body wood. I always thought ash and rosewood is a very overlooked combo that can sound great together, but i never had a rosewood/ash strat. Only teles. I always wanted to put one together but never got around to it.


  5. Grounded

    Grounded Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 2, 2010
    Seattle, USA
    Yes, the correct answer!
    Ferret619 likes this.

  6. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK

  7. Electgumbo

    Electgumbo Lost Planet Airman Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 26, 2010
    Scott La.
    The neck material don’t matter if I like the guitar. If I think it’s a good one then that’s all that matters

  8. CigBurn

    CigBurn Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 22, 2014
    Same Shed Different Day
    Aesthetically I like rosewood.

  9. QuackAttack

    QuackAttack Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    Based on feeling alone I prefer glossy maple after years on an SG.

  10. problem-child

    problem-child Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 28, 2008
    Left Coast, USA
    I have both, If I could have only one... Maple.

  11. inra311

    inra311 Strat-Talker

    Oct 12, 2008
    I 2nd that, the neck and the fretboard are the most important part for the individual sound of a Strat. Put a new neck on any Strat, and it will sound very different!


  12. Thin69

    Thin69 Strat-Talker

    Nov 16, 2009
    Galveston, TX
    I can't say I can hear a difference between the two. I've played identical new guitars back to back and there are notable differences. So if you compare two different guitars, one maple and one rosewood fret board how can you accurately say it's the fret board making the difference? I'm happy with either but I prefer maple as I like the way it looks on a Fender.

  13. marshallb461

    marshallb461 Strat-Talker

    Jun 14, 2017
    I’m not sure which one I prefer, so I asked you guys which you prefer so that could make the choice a little easier. I only have one Strat, and it has a maple fretboard. I chose that mostly because rosewood requires more maintenance.

  14. Williamwolka

    Williamwolka Strat-Talker

    Dec 10, 2017
    I really like the looks of vintage tint maple on a 2 tone burst, but on some guitars I think dark rosewood looks better (car red). I have had more rosewood guitars that seemed to be easier to play, but I don't know if it was even a factor.

  15. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 17, 2017
    I like both Rosewood and Maple. I'm to not picky when it comes to guitars, I just love to own and play them..
    ocean and Ebidis like this.

  16. CephasG

    CephasG Strat-O-Master

    Dec 13, 2017
    Land of Lincoln
    Rosewood for me - both for the looks and the way it feels.
    Sarnodude and ocean like this.

  17. nutball73

    nutball73 Strat-O-Master

    Nov 12, 2013
    Southern UK
    I prefer the tone of my maple fretboard on my Telecaster to the ebony board on my Strat. But I find the rosewood board on my PRS sounds a bit flat compared to the rosewood board on my Les Paul. The ebony board on my Zakk Wylde Epiphone sounds completely different to my ebony Strat though.

    I wonder why? I thought it was because they are different guitars, but I'm starting to doubt that after reading so many of these threads...

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
    Ebidis likes this.

  18. ocean

    ocean Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 14, 2015
    In a house
    Maple for looks.
    Rosewood for playing..

    So rosewood would be my preference
    brians likes this.

  19. bluesman1956

    bluesman1956 Strat-O-Master

    Dec 3, 2012
    Upstate NY
    brians likes this.