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Richlite boards: Pros & Cons

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

  1. Shortstop

    Shortstop Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    JeffBlue likes this.
  2. nadzab

    nadzab Peace & Love, my Brothers & Sisters... Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 15, 2009
    The Great State of Maine
    I believe it's more of a composite with the base being paper fiber impregnated with resin. Paper comes from wood. I just don't think it's accurate to call it plastic, although the resin binder arguably imparts some qualities of plastic to it...but it sure doesn't feel like plastic from a playability standpoint.
    JeffBlue likes this.
  3. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    I dont care about paperwork, particulars of paper or plastic, or Gibsons take on it.
    My money, my choice.

    No Tupperware / or paper plate components on my guitars. :thumb:

    Especially at Gibson price points.

    Also, I was being a bit tongue in cheek. its obvious Richlite isnt Tupperware.
    But you Warriors just couldnt help but to heavily salivate and jump on my words, didnt you?

    In the words of Yoda, "Laughable, you are".
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  4. Kerry Brown

    Kerry Brown Strat-O-Master

    Mar 5, 2014
    BC, Canada
    I have one guitar with a richlite fretboard (Godin A12), three guitars with ebony (Gibson SG, Larrivee L-42, and Yamaha LL15M), one with maple (Fender Stratocaster), and several with rosewood. I can't tell the difference between the ebony and richlite while playing. If you can tell the difference you are probably pressing too hard on the strings. The only one I can feel a difference in the material while playing is the maple strat and that is only because of the finish on it.
  5. lammie200

    lammie200 Strat-O-Master

    Apr 25, 2016
    San Francisco
    Per the above, if you don't have a guitar with an ebony fingerboard to compare to one with Richlite you aren't getting the whole picture. I have both and along with ones with rosewood and lightly Tru Oiled raw maple. There is virtually no difference in feel or sound between Richlite and ebony IMHO. There is between those and rosewood and raw maple, however. And I play a lot.
    JeffBlue and Bluestrat83 like this.
  6. Bluestrat83

    Bluestrat83 Strat-O-Master

    Jan 17, 2016
    Yeah I thought that to, one of the most versatile guitars I’ve ever tried! I tried a fuzz face with it and it rocked!!!! Much more presence than a 335 with the fuzz...
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  7. jtees4

    jtees4 Strat-O-Master

    Nov 18, 2011
    Richlite is just about the only board I have not had. I've had maple, rosewood, ebony, baked maple, graphite, obeche, granadillo, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I liked them all. I'm not picky, I admit, but I really liked them all depending on the guitar. So I'd have no problem with Richlite, and I like the look of it. I'd rather have nice black Richlite than the new gray streaked ebony for sure. Or badly streaked rosewood too for that matter.
    JeffBlue likes this.
  8. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 13, 2014
    My LPC has Richlite and I only think about that when I see Richlite threads pop up on the forum. This is a polarizing topic, and I don't see that ever going away.

    The video of the fretwork provided good insight into the refret situation, which I will need to do down the road - thanks for posting. From a practical playing perspective (I'm no luthier) it is imperceptible.
    JeffBlue likes this.
  9. dirocyn

    dirocyn Strat-O-Master

    Jan 20, 2018
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I can see how richlite would be better than ebony, from a guitar company's perspective. Ebony fretboards tend to crack, and customers are going to both demand warranty repairs and blame the cracking on the company's "poor build quality." Ebony's lack of consistency means it generally has to be dyed, and dyes can bleed--making whatever they're next to look like crap. Again, customers blame the company's "poor build quality." It makes sense that two different woods glued up together would expand and contract at different rates--meaning necks more sensitive to humidity changes--which again is blamed on "poor build quality." In contrast richlite probably doesn't expand or contract much at all; at least Gibson thinks it's less of an issue. It seems very practical to use this material to combat their reputation for poor build quality.

    And what's the percentage of ebony fingerboards that get cut out, only to find there's some flaw in the wood that makes them fail inspection? If you're making thousands of guitars, a 4-5% rejection rate still gets expensive.

    I don't have a problem with my guitars having a plastic pickguard or nut or volume knob, and I don't have a problem with trying a richlite fingerboard. To actually want one, though--it would have to feel good and it would have to sound good.
    JeffBlue likes this.
  10. arcticstrat

    arcticstrat Strat-O-Master

    Feb 6, 2016
    Everyone misses the point with Richlite, the "composite" fretboard!

    Yeah it don't warp, crack, blah, blah, blah. Soon the whole guitar will be made of composite (also see plywood) material just like the back, sides, and tops of many acoustics already on the market, these being sold as, stronger, water resistant, cheaper, etc. These are all their lower and/or cheaper models as they know folks won't by their high end gear made of that crap. These companies are starting with the Richlite fretboards under the guise of them being better, is just that it's better, easier, and cheaper for them to use in purchase and production. They can produce thousands of identical boards at a time, perfectly uniform to each model, no shaping or color matching, etc., eliminating all kinds of extra human intervention in the process of a build. They got their foot in the door. Give it time and they will figure out away to make it sound that a whole composite built guitar is better than the "old" wood ones, one piece at a time! Its all about $$ for the corporate bean counters. They could care less about craftsmanship from humans or artisan woods on their product.

    Sorry for the rant. It's just my personal opinion. I just love all the wood and hand craftsmanship that goes into guitars, each one being a unique piece of art. I will not spend big money one a high end guitar that uses Richlite for a fretboard, plain and simple. But hey, that's okay... I have lots of nice guitars to last me a lifetime. I will miss buying the new ones, but I find older gems all the time in the used market. :)
    _JDZ_, Stratoskater and TheDuck like this.
  11. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-O-Master

    Jun 30, 2016
    meridianam altum centralis
    I believe RW is 55 lb/cu ft, Richlite is 75 lb/cu ft if its the same thickness. To make up for less stiffness, you may need to increase the thickness 25% or so, which will increase the weight the same amount, plus the higher density, for a net increase in weight of 71%. Not trivial.
    johnnymg likes this.
  12. Neil.C

    Neil.C Most Honored Senior Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Surrey, England

    It's funny because bass players are nowhere near as conservative as guitar players.

    They will use and play instruments made of graphite and other materials with nary a problem. I would go as far as to say that they are generally more forward looking, whilst guitar players are always looking towards the past.

    As a retired tennis player I was so glad when graphite rackets replaced those old inferior wooden ones that would warp if you didn't keep them in a press all the time. Wood isn't always better.

    I love traditional stuff but there comes a time when man made products are more efficient than wooden ones and anything that can be done to preserve the rain forest is OK by me.
  13. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-O-Master

    Jun 30, 2016
    meridianam altum centralis
    Its remarkable that we've not fully explored all the other wood alternatives (like baked Maple that is more interchangeable structurally with rosewood or Ebony, and more than abundant, almost nuisance status) to let the consumers decide? Which suggests we are being manipulated towards Richlite. I think it falls into industrial business rules #2 and #9: save costs and shape the market. Richlite may cost the same or more than wood as a material, but I bet it saves $$ in labor and processing time vs wood. When you have production numbers in the millions (industry wide), you have an entire team studying costs down to the second it takes to put a sticker on a box. The vacuum chuck and fret finishing machine are pretty revealing in the video. Saving costs need not be a secret from the consumer, but I sense mr sneaky pants is involved in the roll out of Richlite.
    Paperback Rocker and arcticstrat like this.
  14. Stratoman10

    Stratoman10 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 24, 2015
    Va. Beach, Va
    As long as it plays well, holds up well and actually looks like it belongs on a guitar then I dont care.
    Neil.C and nadzab like this.
  15. wmachine

    wmachine Strat-Talker

    Mar 5, 2016
    I'm trying to figure out if you think Richlite is a gateway drug, or is just a conspiracy in general. Either way sounds like something that needs a tinfoil hat to fix. Still does nothing to counter the fact that Richlite is a superior fretboard material.
    I'm okay with a Richlite board, but I certainly don't want to see wood go away either.
    RobZ69 likes this.
  16. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    According to whom?

    Gibson is trying to sell a product for maximum profit, end of story.

    If you love Richlite, get a guitar with a Richlite board. But just because you consider your self "ahead of the curve" or "forward thinking" does not mean in any way that Richlite is better than wood.

    Because you know what they say about opinions .....
    arcticstrat likes this.
  17. wmachine

    wmachine Strat-Talker

    Mar 5, 2016
    If you want to remain ignorant, that's your choice. I've done my homework, as have others, and don't have to answer to your ridiculous indignation.
  18. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    Im sorry that I didnt bow and call you Almighty.

    Forgive me. :cool:

    If you would, please explain the horrible downturn in Gibson sales and customer satisfaction over the last few years.
    I have a few ideas about that, (Tupperware fret boards, robo tuners and other laughably bad ideas) but Im sure your all knowing omnipresence will undoubtedly know better.

    After all, you've done your homework. :thumb:
  19. oatsoda

    oatsoda Puck of Paradox Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 10, 2011
    The Shack, Nova Scotia
    If I sound ignorant saying this, so be it, this is my opinion, and not a fact.

    I don't really like the pretend wood.

    Yes, I'm glad that alternative materials are being utilized which, theoretically anyway, are good for the planet. I won't be surprised however, if after a few more years we find out that the process of making those synthetics is actually no better than sustainably farming and then harvesting the trees we need, kinda like how the whole plastic shopping bags thing is more eco friendly than paper turned out to be a crock of $h!t, (according to the Union of Concerned Scientists).

    I have a richlite, (or some other pretend wood) board on the fretless neck that I put on my Squier Jaguar bass. No issues with it, and it doesn't bother me, much. Plays fine. I had a Martin OMCPA4, which I think always bothered me a little that my Martin wasn't all wood. Silly maybe, but it bothered me, and I think particularly because the cheaper 0015M was all real wood, pau ferro maybe on the board and bridge rather than rosewood, but really sweet. Played fine but I sold it when I got my 00028 which is ebony.

    I don't mind paying more for the real stuff.
    arcticstrat and Stratoskater like this.
  20. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Most Honored Senior Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Running with Scissors
    This is the way I feel too. I was the same way as well about Martins. I looked at one of the lower priced models but once I played my OM (ebony bridge and board) that was it.
    oatsoda and arcticstrat like this.