Maple or Rosewood?

StratoMutt

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2019
12,620
SE Pennsylvania
Fender has largely ignored the centuries old custom of using ebony as a fingerboard.

Leo was more concerned with practicality and affordability (cheap). That was fine in that time.

Modern Fenders offer ebony as a Custom Shop choice - I think.

All of my gits have ebony.

When ebony becomes a scare commodity, I'd be fine with synthetic Richlite. I had a 2002 D-16GT Martin with its older cousin Micarta. Looked and felt like ebony.

Until that time I like the heavy, hard, tight grained ebony as a fretboard.
 

Wound_Up

You can call me Duane 😁
Jan 23, 2020
5,380
NW LA
What's the differences between Maple and Rosewood necks tone wise. And I have a 2006 Mexican Standard Strat with a maple neck. Does any one know the shape of the neck for the 2006 MIM? I played hundreds of other guitars(strata included) and I cannot find one with that fits as comfortably in my hand as my 2006 Mexican standard! I also put CS 69 Pickups in her, and she sounds incredible, very Hendrix'y.
Nothing unless you're playing an acoustic guitar.
 

Wound_Up

You can call me Duane 😁
Jan 23, 2020
5,380
NW LA
Hello and welcome to the forum.

First off I'd like to apologize for all the "witty" responses you are going to get. For some members of this forum giving "witty" responses instead of actually helping newcomers is the only way they know how to feel good about themselves. Don't be deterred though, there are some very helpful members on this forum if you are willing to sift through the "witty" ones.

The answer to your question is very multifaceted. I am a FIRM believer that every part of a guitar contributes to its individual sound. The FB material does make a difference, but not in a way that most of us can control. Every guitar has a unique sound created by the sum of its components. So, even if we were to generalize and say "maple is brighter than rosewood" those qualities could be rendered null by the potential variance of the other components of the guitar. Thus, I have come to the following conclusion. The only time material choice is relevant is when building/ or buying a guitar unheard. Let's say I want a guitar to sound like Hendrix. I think it would be a no-brainer to look at the material specs of one of his guitars(probably one I know is responsible for a song I like) and copy them. Doing so would give me the highest probability of coming close to the guitar I'm attempting to emulate. However, I may still fall short due to the sonic variance of the components. A more reliable path to the Hendrix sound would be for me to simply go to a well-stocked guitar store and play as many guitars as I can get my hands on and find what I'm looking for with my ears. However, what is often misunderstood is, that is not always an option. Under those circumstances, the wood's sonic generalizations are important. Those generalizations are plentiful and diverse on this forum and the internet in general, so that's why I recommend looking to another guitar as a "template" for the sound you want.

The same goes for neck profile. Even though things are much less varied these days with CNC and the like, if your neck is truly as unique feeling as you describe, it's possible it's off the standard spec. So, even if you know the name of the intended profile for that model, your neck may be different in some way. Also, it's important to note the "feel" of a neck comes down to more than just the profile. FB material, FB radius, frets, relief, and even string action can contribute to what people often attribute to profile alone. Again, it may come down to, just keep trying guitars in person until you find another with a neck you like. You could also try something that is supposed to have the same profile and make sure the rest of the specs/setup are identical to the neck you like and see if that gets you closer. Worst case if you really need another guitar/neck and can't find one, you could take exact measurements off the neck you like and get it "cloned"(or something close to it) by an aftermarket neck manufacturer like Musikraft.
Where'd you get your psychiatry degree, doc? Since you seem to be able to figure out why people do things without ever having met, or even spoken with them...you ought to have a pretty successful practice. No?

Stick to facts about guitars and leave your opinions about why people do things out of it. It's fairly useless to the conversation and only causes arguments.

Maybe I should leave some "witty comments" so you can try to psychoanalyze me? Lol
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,224
Murfreesboro, TN
To me the difference is in the way that notes como out. In general maple respond quicker than rosewood and that might seem to appear as brighter. At least in strats I’ve owned in the past that’s a feature that I even noticed when playing the guitar unplugged.
I am intrigued by this idea, but skeptical. The speed of sound is faster in materials where the molecules are densely packed (its much faster in steel than in air or wood). But at 769 mph, or 343 m/s. With your ear about 1 meter from the guitar, you hear a note in 1/343rd of a second. Whereas, the speed of sound in wood ranges from 3300-5000 m/s, depending mostly on density. For hardwoods (which would include maple) that is given as 3690 m/s. Rosewoods are similar in density. These are very small amounts of time, I have trouble believing humans will hear a gap in time, or hear any differences in that time gap.

I have noticed that if I pluck the strings too hard, it takes longer for the vibration to resolve into a note. This phenomenon occurs mostly when I'm tuning up a set of new strings, when there's not enough tension on the string and its slapping against the fretboard until most of the amplitude has faded. It doesn't become a note until the wave is small enough that it doesn't hit the frets anymore. Perhaps a difference in string tension or plucking force could explain the difference you perceive?
 

Bluestrat83

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 17, 2016
1,279
Ecuador
I am intrigued by this idea, but skeptical. The speed of sound is faster in materials where the molecules are densely packed (its much faster in steel than in air or wood). But at 769 mph, or 343 m/s. With your ear about 1 meter from the guitar, you hear a note in 1/343rd of a second. Whereas, the speed of sound in wood ranges from 3300-5000 m/s, depending mostly on density. For hardwoods (which would include maple) that is given as 3690 m/s. Rosewoods are similar in density. These are very small amounts of time, I have trouble believing humans will hear a gap in time, or hear any differences in that time gap.

I have noticed that if I pluck the strings too hard, it takes longer for the vibration to resolve into a note. This phenomenon occurs mostly when I'm tuning up a set of new strings, when there's not enough tension on the string and its slapping against the fretboard until most of the amplitude has faded. It doesn't become a note until the wave is small enough that it doesn't hit the frets anymore. Perhaps a difference in string tension or plucking force could explain the difference you perceive?
Well I had an American standard maple neck and board and an AV59 rosewood board. Acoustically the maple strat appeared to to be even louder but in practice that guitar was harder to come out in the mix. The 59 wasn’t as that bad unplugged but more controlable and balanced. But you definitely dig more into a maple bird strat to get the sound to come out… that is of course my experience.
 

dogletnoir

V----V
Nov 1, 2013
13,991
northeastern us
Nice! I dont have a tele yet and i hope i can own someday. I can only allow a rosewood fretboard on a tele if it's the Fender Japan BECK edition because it's from my favorite show.

Rosewood 'board and a neck humbucker...
that's a recipe for heavenly Tele tone imo.
You don't even really need the neck humbucker sometimes either.
 

Fenderbaum

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 11, 2020
1,603
Bergen, Norway
Plugged in i dont hear a lovk of difference.
Unplugged i do.

I was a Maple lover because i am a Gilmour fanatic at times. But has slowly gone over to rosewood.
I like rosewood beacuse i do better vibrato on bends on them.
They are also a less hassle to refret.
 

Nick L Plate

Strat-Talker
Sep 15, 2020
460
Santa Barbara
Maple is marginally brighter, unless you believe that hundreds of thousands of players and builders are stooges blindly following marketing hype and baseless traditions. How many maple-boarded acoustics have you heard recently? But, and it's a big but, not every difference is significant in magnitude, evident at all in every circumstance, or even important when audible and present. There are zillions of players for whom this particular general distinction is trivial or even irrelevant. (And of course, every attribute attributable to wood may not be present in every guitar, as wood varies.) I don't like the feel of lacquered maple at all, and I prefer the general tone of rosewood-boarded Strats for sure, but in actual practice will happily play either and it takes virtually no effort to compensate.
What I do not understand is how all the players who ***** about glossy nitro on the backs of their necks never even mention the fact that their maple fretboards have the same finish on them. For some reason, it's supposedly grippy on the back yet smoother on the front? Not buying that one.
For Leo Fender, all-maple necks were cheap and easier to manufacture to a good standard, and rosewood fretboards were added later as an upgrade once his guitars caught on. He based his choices on what guitarists told him, since he did not play.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,224
Murfreesboro, TN
Maple is marginally brighter, unless you believe that hundreds of thousands of players and builders are stooges blindly following marketing hype and baseless traditions.
We blindly follow marketing hype and baseless traditions all the time. We call it culture.

Most luthierie resources in the 1960s claimed rosewood is brighter than maple. Many still do. Perhaps Brazilian Rosewood available before 1967 was brighter than the Indian stuff we can get today. Brazilian Rosewood is harder than Maple, Indian Rosewood is softer. Both are still pretty hard woods, though neither is as hard as ebony. Most sources agree ebony is brighter than maple or rosewood.

How many maple-boarded acoustics have you heard recently?

I have one with maple back and sides...that is very common in jumbo acoustic guitars. I also have a few with rosewood back and sides. Maple is a fine tone wood in it's own right, but rarely used for acoustic fretboards because it doesn't look right. In other words, because of tradition.

A couple other questions remain: does it make any difference at all on a maple neck? Possibly not, though it likely does make a difference on a mahogany neck. And: can you hear any differences through the amp? Probably not. Our pickups were designed in the 1930s and they don't exactly reproduce sound accurately. Not that we really want accurately.
 

CirroStratus

Strat-O-Master
Sep 11, 2022
524
Stratosphere
Maple is marginally brighter, unless you believe that hundreds of thousands of players and builders are stooges blindly following marketing hype and baseless traditions. How many maple-boarded acoustics have you heard recently? But, and it's a big but, not every difference is significant in magnitude, evident at all in every circumstance, or even important when audible and present. There are zillions of players for whom this particular general distinction is trivial or even irrelevant. (And of course, every attribute attributable to wood may not be present in every guitar, as wood varies.) I don't like the feel of lacquered maple at all, and I prefer the general tone of rosewood-boarded Strats for sure, but in actual practice will happily play either and it takes virtually no effort to compensate.
What I do not understand is how all the players who ***** about glossy nitro on the backs of their necks never even mention the fact that their maple fretboards have the same finish on them. For some reason, it's supposedly grippy on the back yet smoother on the front? Not buying that one.
For Leo Fender, all-maple necks were cheap and easier to manufacture to a good standard, and rosewood fretboards were added later as an upgrade once his guitars caught on. He based his choices on what guitarists told him, since he did not play.
Exactly this, especially your point a out players complaining of gloss finishes on necks while gushing over maple fretboards. In the end, perception is reality, but it’s always good to check one’s own behavior before proclaiming personal preferences as gospel
 


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