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Richlite boards: Pros & Cons

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

  1. arcticstrat

    arcticstrat Strat-O-Master

    Feb 6, 2016
    Like I said, it was only my opinion and I'm sticking to it. :)

    I'm glad you're okay with the Richlite composite fretboard, enjoy! :thumb:
  2. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 18, 2014
    Lewisville, TX
    In 1000 years when the landfills are full of undecomposed richlite boards, they will be wishing we had kept using wood.

    Save the rainforests by using plastic. How can environmentalists get behind that?

    It's about money, not resources!
    Bowmap likes this.
  3. Guy Named Sue

    Guy Named Sue Beer me up Scotty Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 11, 2015
    Terra Incognito

    Using a phenolic resin in the manufacturing process, Richlite achieves unsurpassed quality in the finished product and minimizes energy consumption, with no added Urea Formaldehyde. In addition to reduced energy consumption, the phenolic resin has the EcoBind™ designation, due to the fact it is one of the lowest VOC emitters on the resin market. EcoBind™ resins have been formulated to meet or exceed all global emission standards including US HUD, European EMB, and Japanese standards, as well as specifications recommended by the Green Building Council and the State of California.
  4. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 18, 2014
    Lewisville, TX
    Emissions have nothing to do with how long it takes for a plastic to decompose.
  5. dirocyn

    dirocyn Strat-O-Master

    Jan 20, 2018
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Richlite fingerboards will be the least of their worries in 1000 years. Plastic grocery bags and drinking straws and soda bottles and automobile dashboards will all be bigger problems.
    Neil.C likes this.
  6. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 18, 2014
    Lewisville, TX
    Oh, I know. I'm playing devil's advocate. It's just funny when the solutions to environmental problems are more plastic.

    I'm sure they'll have converted all the garbage into some kind of clean energy by then.
  7. nadzab

    nadzab Peace & Love, my Brothers & Sisters...

    May 15, 2009
    The Great State of Maine
    Is an ES-335 inferior because it's made of plywood? Thin layers of veneer bonded with a resin-based glue? Doesn't sound much better than a wood-based composite, if you ask me.
  8. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 18, 2014
    Lewisville, TX
    Richlite sounds more like particle board.
  9. Neil.C

    Neil.C Most Honored Senior Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Surrey, England


    I wouldn't worry about Richlite too much.

    When I am in the USA I am amazed that all the stores still dish out plastic bags willy nilly for everything.

    Over here plastic bags have become an anathema with stores charging you a tax if you want a new one and giving you a rebate if you reuse old bags.
    billybuck likes this.
  10. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-O-Master

    Jun 30, 2016
    meridianam altum centralis
    Gibson's woes were not coming from the instrument division. Their sales in that division remained in the black. It was the high debt and low return associated with shifting markets for obsolete products - bad acquisitions in markets they didn't understand.

    But I think your point is that Gibson's marketing claims associated with richlite might not be objective, and that would be a good point. From their site:

    "After two decades of research and discussions with guitarists, Gibson determined that Richlite was not only the best alternative to woods like ebony, but was actually superior. Although the downside is that it’s more expensive to make guitars with Richlite fretboards than ebony, there are some very attractive benefits."

    But they go on to contradict these statements:

    "you don’t have to wade through batches of Richlite to find “good” Richlite" - code for cheaper

    "Richlite is at least equal to ebony" - contradicts superior

    "In a world where ebony is becoming increasingly problematic" - problematic is code for higher production costs, not problematic in performance, or service to the owner

    The article is trying to convince us its superior in performance, equal in performance, greater in cost, and cheaper in cost. Not a very well written defense at all. Also, it doesn't seem to align with their branding and pricing strategy, nor its customers. Gibson buyers aren't looking for cheaper products, nor are they looking to save the environment thru a product purchase. The best purchase to save the environment, is to buy[recycle] an existing guitar, not a new one....o_O

    Everyone should agree, that richlite has been used for quite a while now on top name instruments, and therefore is "ok" as long as you the consumer are ok with it, voting by purchasing. Everyone should also agree that its ok to vote the other way, and insist on wood. The finer points of which is better, or which is more sustainable, or which is more environmentally friendly isn't settled, so there will be no consensus without more objective data and study (that won't happen, lol). I just offer some analysis and data as conversational, on a social forum.
    _JDZ_ likes this.
  11. Fretmeltkid

    Fretmeltkid Strat-Talker

    Feb 10, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Ive a new Midtown with Richlite board
    although mainly a studio guitar i have started using it for the odd gig here and there just for a change
    it plays very well and feels nice too
    refretting doesnt worry me these days but if it needs doin i am sure the better luthiers will be up to speed with it before too long
  12. _JDZ_

    _JDZ_ Strat-Talk Member

    Oct 12, 2018
    NY USA
    I really like ebony boards.




    Even striped -



    Don't think I could switch to a composite :(
  13. JeffBlue

    JeffBlue Strat-O-Master

    Oct 25, 2012
    Southern California
    Richlite is an EXCELLENT fretboard material.
  14. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-O-Master

    Jun 30, 2016
    meridianam altum centralis
    Unless you want the correct stiffness and density of Rosewood or Ebony.
  15. TB883

    TB883 Strat-Talker

    Apr 20, 2018
    I have Richlite on my Martin acoustic don’t have any issues. Don’t have to lube up with lemon oil either
  16. errikwong

    errikwong Strat-Talker

    Mar 11, 2018
    before we all get too bent out of shape...

    The main thing to look out for is Flexural modulus:

    There aren't many direct comparisons, but from what I see, 6mm of Richlite has the flexural strength of 150.5MPa compared to 1/8" of rosewood with 117MPa and ebony's 179MPa (modulus of rupture).

    1/8" is roughly 3mm, so if we were to double the amount of material to match the thickness of the Richlite, it would seem that yes, Rosewood and Ebony are both stiffer and resistant to bending vs Richlite.

    I will say this though, even with Richlite boards, that are factually less stiff vs Rosewood or Ebony; I would imagine manufacturers have done their due diligence in ensuring the materials that go into a neck are structurally sound.

    Although I can see the opposing argument that the above sounds naive and we should all just go back to wood because it is superior within this context.

    That said, maybe there is scope for us, as consumers, to demand carbon fibre reinforced necks, should the day come where we do run out of rosewood and ebony?
  17. Blues Trucker

    Blues Trucker Strat-O-Master

    Dec 31, 2014
    On the road again
    So they use something made out of Petroleum?
    Paperback Rocker likes this.
  18. RobZ69

    RobZ69 Strat-O-Master

    Apr 22, 2017
    The Netherlands
    There is no such thing as 'Tonewood'.
  19. vid1900

    vid1900 Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 25, 2016
    I've got a LP with Richlite fretboard and those cryofrozen Gibson frets.

    Probably 30 people have played it over the last few years.

    No one has ever asked if it was anything other than Ebony.

    All people remark about is how well it stays in tune, and how great the action is.

    The Cryo frets will never wear out, but if I ever nick one, it's nice to know I can pull a fret without any chipout worries.

    (and don't forget folks, Gibson only pays $3 for an Ebony fretboard - the savings is just not that big).
    Neil.C, Paperback Rocker and nadzab like this.