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Richlite boards: Pros & Cons

Discussion in 'Other Guitar Discussion' started by Bluestrat83, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Bluestrat83

    Bluestrat83 Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    35
    903
    Jan 17, 2016
    Ecuador
    Hi all!
    So I’m trying a Gibson Lucille from the Memphis factory in a local shop for a friend of mine that lives in another city. He is potentially selling his 335 which is a regular kind of studio 335 from the 90’s. Great guitar also.
    This Lucille is a great guitar, 65 anniversary killer sound palette. It can take you from 335 world to les Paul tones, sg and even tele sounds. Killer instrument and it plays like butter.
    I haven’t tried a real ebony board Lucille and this has richlite fb so I don’t have anything to compare sound wise. But generally I’m pretty impressed. The shop is selling this $3,500 which it’s not cheap but fair price in our market.

    I’ve heard a lot of bad things about ritchlite specially that it’s very delicate when refretting. Frets are new in this one and I suppose that my friend will have frets for several years if he buys.

    Any opinion on this matter? Would you guys recommend to get this one?

    Best,
    Bluestrat


    Oh forgot, here is some pics from the shop:
    IMG_0236.JPG IMG_0235.JPG IMG_0234.JPG
     
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  2. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Strat-Talker

    201
    Mar 18, 2014
    Iowa
    My Martin OMCPA4 has a Richlite board and bridge. As far as I'm concerned, the only con is that it isn't wood. On the pro side, it eliminates pretty much all the problems that wood can have. It looks close enough to ebony that you don't give it a second look, it feels good, sounds good, wears good...

    Now if I'm buying a high dollar showcase guitar I'd want ebony over Richlite. On my working guitars Richlite is superior in just about every way I can think of.
     
  3. errikwong

    errikwong Strat-Talker

    Age:
    31
    210
    Mar 11, 2018
    Singapore
    I agree that if I was paying top dollar for a "that's right, look at my fancy guitar" showcase guitar, then I would demand actual ebony wood.

    I also agree that for practical reasons, Richlite does avoid almost all of the downsides and pitfalls of actual wood. I, too, tried out a handful of richlite fingerboard Martins a few weeks ago, and they sounded okay; they had pretty old strings so it was hard to hear any kind of sonic impact of richlite.
     
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  4. arcticstrat

    arcticstrat Strat-O-Master

    865
    Feb 6, 2016
    USA
    I'm sure it's the best thing since sliced bread, but no Richlie boards for me. I don't have one of the newer SG HPs for that reason alone.

    Really wanted that Blueberry Fade too. :(
     
  5. Bluestrat83

    Bluestrat83 Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    35
    903
    Jan 17, 2016
    Ecuador
    Any word on how does richlite perform in a refret situation?
     
  6. johnnymg

    johnnymg Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 5, 2015
    Central Coast Ca
    Go to minute 3:00 of this vid:

     
  7. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Strat-Talker

    463
    Oct 16, 2018
    Tacoma in two weeks
    My buddies shop just had a black Lucille like that in his shop...used. It went quickly priced at $2600.00. And I believe it had richlite as well. That’s pretty bad when you can get ebony on a Fender Elite, but not on a Les Paul Custom, or a really spendy guitar like a Lucille.
     
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  8. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-Talker

    Age:
    54
    484
    Jun 30, 2016
    meridianam altum centralis
    It would seem wrong to put a plastic fretboard on a really nice instrument. I figure they are going for the sustainable, green, environment-first crowd? It may be superior as a wear item. Many threads have discussed it over the years, and the consensus was that its an ok substitute where weight or tonewood performance doesn't matter, since its heavier than wood. I'm not a fan of its use for a bridge for example (Martin does this, amazingly). And, on some guitars, it adds neck weight and worsens neck dive when used as a fretboard, such as on flattops (Martin again).
     
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  9. Neil.C

    Neil.C Most Honored Senior Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Surrey, England
    Very educational, thanks for posting.

    FWIW although I am usually very traditional I wouldn't mind Richlite at all.

    Wood substitutes are the future for the rarer woods and when they refret and work so well I certainly don't see a problem.
     
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  10. Bluestrat83

    Bluestrat83 Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    35
    903
    Jan 17, 2016
    Ecuador
    Thanks for the link! Great video!
     
    Lovnmesomestrat likes this.
  11. nadzab

    nadzab So many guitars, so little time... Strat-Talk Supporter

    When I finally buy my LP Custom, I won't lose a moment's sleep over the richlite.
     
  12. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-Talker

    Age:
    54
    484
    Jun 30, 2016
    meridianam altum centralis
    The total sum amount of rosewood/ebony fretboard material in my collection of 40+ instruments sums to about 2.5 board foot. Even with a gross amount of waste, we are still talking about a tee tiny 5 board feet of consumed protected wood in my entire ridiculously large collection. Actually, I don't have that many with Ebony boards - so make that about 1/3, or 1.7 board feet! Less than tee tiny. Instrument production isn't a factor in the depletion or harvesting of these woods.

    I just remembered another possible negative with Richlite. Modern formulations are actually close to the same density as Ebony (which is about 50% heavier than Rosewood). That's good. But, its much less stiff. So its not a direct replacement for either Ebony or Rosewood. In order to keep the same neck stiffness, they'd have to make the fretboard thicker, which means it will be heavier, whether they displace the extra thickness with neck wood, or go with a thicker neck profile, or use a bigger truss rod, etc. Or, they just live with a less stiff neck?

    My two main flattops that have emerged as special, have only one thing in common: They both have non-adjustable truss rod necks. One is historical, the other is a recent build. Out of 60+ (I've sold a few) examples, its less likely to be a coincidence, so I think there's something to the neck stiffness and design that compliments a good flattop. Probably true for a solid body too. I'll have to remain skeptical about Richlite boards till I wring one out properly.
     
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  13. Stormy Monday

    Stormy Monday Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jan 19, 2011
    somewhere
    interesting about the Lucille having richlite. My ES-335 Studio has a torrified maple fretboard.
     
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  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014
    Michigan
    .

    The only con is if you believe in that old religion.

    The big pro is don't use rain forest lumber. Don't even encourage those guys to cut down those trees. Even if they try to explain 'we only use the fallen trees' because there are people right now cutting them down so in two years they are only using previously fallen trees...

    If you have an MIA guitar you should have GIA (Grown In America) lumber, supporting American lumber jobs and American lumber mills. Even if GIC (Grown In Canada) it reduces the amount of lumber transport.

    Two million guitars are produced every year. There is an impact.



    .
     
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  15. johnnymg

    johnnymg Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 5, 2015
    Central Coast Ca
    Ahhh............... interesting.

    How much heavier is a RL board over RS?
     
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  16. wmachine

    wmachine Strat-Talker

    246
    Mar 5, 2016
    Ohio
    I have a 2016 Lucille and I'm really impressed with it (stunning in red). Sure "I like the idea of" an ebony board. But from all I've been able to gather (which is quite a bit), Richlite is well thought out superior fretboard material. Being a traditionalist, I still feel a twinge of reluctance with Richlite, but calling it plastic and beating your traditional drum don't change the facts.
    It looks fine and feels fine. And there is some satisfaction the down the road it will not have any of the potential problems Ebony could have (not that Ebony would have, but could have). I just can't honestly find a down side to it other that that mental perception thing.
    So bottom line is that I'm fine with it.

    Furthermore to the Lucille, by association it is thought of as blues guitar. As the OP alludes to though, it is much more. Sure it may be great for the blues, but it really is better suited to being a real rock & roll machine. Crank it up and throw all the gain at it that you would with an LP, for instance. The 335 is versatile, but honestly the Lucille is even more versatile. Not really any mystery, the build really reveals that. I think that's a "best kept secret" about the Lucille.
     
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  17. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    53
    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    There's no way I'd spend thousands of dollars on a guitar that has a Tupperware fret board.
     
  18. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

    Dec 4, 2013
    largo,fl
    i have made extensive repairs to ebony and rosewood fingerboards and fret slots with it's sawdust and superglue mixed together and the results are perfect.

    i think richlite is a similar concoction of dust and glue/epoxy so it should work good.

    stable consistent fretboards for cheap that work, i get it but i still want real wood given a choice !
     
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  19. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    53
    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    I agree, but not on a guitar in Gibsons price range.
     
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  20. Guy Named Sue

    Guy Named Sue Beer me up Scotty Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 11, 2015
    Terra Incognito
    I sort of disagree but not the way you'd think. This is a great product that is going to be consistent and high quality.

    Therefore the problem isn't that it doesn't belong on a premium level guitar at high cost, in fact it's great to see it on this sort of level guitar.

    The issue I see is that Gibson still keeps aiming higher with their prices. When your main issue, the fretboard material is causing the prices to high rocket, you should see a downfall with a solution like this.

    But nope, not with Gibson and understadbly this creates a paradox. Are you creating affordable guitars at high quality or serving the cork sniffers?

    Because the latter can accept the high prices but won't fold for features like Richlite fretboard.
     
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