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Slab or round-lam fingerboard?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Nate D, May 28, 2016.

  1. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    i just purchased a '63 custom shop Strat with a round-lam board and wondered what the general opinion was?

    Usually I'm a maple board guy on my Fenders, so I'm just curious.
     
  2. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Strat-Talker

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    If you are wondering about the difference between slab and veneer boards, I think the general consensus is that there is not really anything much between them.

    Historically, Fender used slab boards up until 1962 so that is a good way to authenticate a vintage neck.

    I think they went to veneers because it was cheaper back then but with the cost of labour now, I think it may be cheaper to make a production slab neck than a veneer.
     
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  3. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    Thanks! I knew about the timelines, but not what anyone had to say from a time perspective. I figured it was in the "alder v ash" territory insofar as any impact to tone, but thought I'd ask regardless. As far as production costs, I can barely hang pictures for my wife so any woodworking opinions are way beyond my personal capacity. :)

    I had a slab board once upon a time and loved it and was just curious.
     
  4. Yogi

    Yogi Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I don't think that's necessarily true, looking at the veneer board on my 65 CS neck, it would seem the production of a veneer board would be more complicated and time consuming than that of a slab board as the maple on the neck has to be radiused to the same radius of the fretboard, where as a slab can be flat on the bottom of both.
     
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  5. Jason D

    Jason D Senior Stratmaster

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    I was thinkin the same thing that a slab board would be easier to make, but I don't know if that is correct or not.

    As far as 1962 being cutoff point for slab boards, was that just for strats? I have a 1966 Duo-Sonic II with a slab board, so I am confused.
     
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  6. Percy

    Percy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Weird or What....I just asked Jazz on a different thread the same thing.............
     
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  7. Yogi

    Yogi Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I believe it was just for Strats and teles, Maybe Jazzmasters and Jags too.
     
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  8. Mr Dunlop

    Mr Dunlop Senior Stratmaster

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    The strat chronicles states the reason for the change from slab to veneer was due to the way fender cut the fret slots. Fender used a swing arm fret slot cutter and the arm was curved on top not allowing a deep fret slot in the middle of the fret board . Leo believed the fret slots were not cut deep enough on the slab boards. Leo also believed when the weather changed maple and rosewood expanded or contracted at different rates, they could cause a twist or warp. The thinner laminate board in the middle allowed a deeper cut for the fret slots preventing the issue of twist or warp.

    This theory makes sense to me.

    I just had a 65 neck refretted and the luthier who did the job believes Fender changed to a laminate board to save money. He went on for about 10 minutes explaining his opinion. I disagree with the cost theory.

    Anyhow my preference is Slab board. I love my 62 Slab Board Strat
     
  9. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    I think I'd agree with you about the stability issue. I think I read where Rory Gallagher's battered strat had some issues with twisting and they pulled the neck off the guitar and it was able to be repaired and John Mayer's custom shop black Strat had to retire the neck because of really bad twisting.

    Leo was a master of practicality so this would make sense. I think from a cost perspective it would be more complicated to fit a veneer board, but I'm not a wood worker at all, so I'm not an authority on that.

    Why do you prefer the slab board over the veneer? Is there a different feel at all?
     
  10. Mr Dunlop

    Mr Dunlop Senior Stratmaster

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    As for a difference in feeling I doubt there is any. Some claim the Slabs sound warmer. No two guitars sound alike so that’s all kind of subjective anyhow. The profile of my slab board neck is the thing I like the best.

    Also the veneers are just too thin for my liking. My 65 neck was already thin to begin with before the refret. That neck will be able to handle one or two more refrets before the fretboard is toast. The luthier did a great job on the refret and hardly took any rosewood off during the refret. Maybe it’s just this neck. I had a few other pre cbs veneer boards that were pretty thin also. I would rather have more meat on my fret board.
     
  11. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    Yeah, I didn't think there'd be any difference in tone- like I said I'm sure it's like the alder/ash conversation, but I guess I was more interested in feel, but your insight about the refret issue is totally valid.

    My most precious strat is an old '57 AVRI and the neck has gotten pretty thin with the several refrets I've had to have. I bought a '56 CS relic to be my number one playing guitar as I just couldn't stand to keep playing my old Strat to the point it was unplayable. I still play the old Strat a lot, but I wanna keep it playable for a long time.
     
  12. John C

    John C Most Honored Senior Member

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    That's the story I always heard as well - heard it for years before I read it in "The Stratocaster Chronicles" in 2004.

    Further that's why they picked "1962" as the year for the rosewood fingerboard reissues so they could use either the slab or the round lam fingerboards and be "accurate" - even though the original USA reissues were more about the vibe of a vintage Strat than being accurate to the year (regardless of what they put in the ad copy/marketing).
     
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  13. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Strat-Talker

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    Just in the interests of clarity, we are saying the same thing but I guess my statement took too much for granted.

    What I should have said was that in 1962, the change was made because of material costs (and this may not be true as other posters have pointed out), meaning that the cost of a slab of rosewood was more than the cost of a rosewood veneer. I was thinking that the material costs of the guitar contributed more to the cost of the guitar than the labor costs in 1962.

    Today, I think the labor costs have much more to do with the overall price of a guitar than the material costs so that the extra work involved in making a veneer neck now might make that neck more expensive to produce than a slab.
     
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  14. Yogi

    Yogi Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I get what your saying, but I don't think the material cost was that great as someone pointed out the student guitars i.e cheaper guitars still had slab boards.
     
  15. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Strat-Talker

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    Very good point. And it supports the other, more technical reason behind the change that other members have brought up.
     
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