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Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Tylerlayne, Aug 2, 2021.
I’ve never owned a maple neck in 50 years. Like rosewood and ebony.
Ebony fretboards first, Rosewood fretboards second, and Maple Fretboards third. I recently sold my last Maple neck guitar. A great guitar but I just prefer Rosewood. I admit, it’s all about the look.
I've got them all and find that thet perform pretty much the same. I played nothing but maple on my Strats for over thirty years. When I got my 2014 Standard with a rosewood board, I was really surprised that it actually sonded brighter than my maple models. Of course, that was one of the years when they also introduced the Fat50 pickup set, so that probably played a big part in the overall tone.
And they're f'n expensive
It's preference. I like the feel of Rosewood. Otherwise I'm playing on lacquer, or Poly. I like a natural wood feel. Also, Rosewood is more mellow sounding. Maple is more brash if that's the sound you're going for.
Over time & how hard you fret, Rosewood is a little tougher for a Janka hardness scale rating.
Rosewood, also Indian Laurelwood (often called Asian Rosewood) & Ebony is a wood that will need occasional oiling & hydration as the seasons & years accumulate. Maple has a sealing of polyurethane coating that the strings will eventually scrape, grind & wear into and down to the raw wood. Steel strings, nickel plated or not, is harder than any fretboard wood and where the compression & wear of the wood happens is for fretting for chords and bending of strings. That happens with all of them.
When the Maple coating starts to wear, at a fretboard refret, the wipe on poly is part of that process at that point of a refurbishing a neck to like-new condition. It really depends upon how much wear or damage occurs over time & play. When I first started playing guitar the one thing I observed & analyzed was that lower action and the guitar players fingerboard technique was really a minimization of string movements & softer style of play for chords & bending. The trick is to have that soft feel for touch, just enough pressure to get clean chords & bends as the strings ride on the frets and not dig into the woods. A death gtip & fretting technique damages the neck & fretboard by compressing & denting the wood itself. I have a 2005 Squier Bullet Strat that shows evidence of higher action, harder press & grip. It has the glossy polyurethane with Maple neck & Rosewood fretboard & that only did so much to protect the woods from what the previous owner had for vise grip hands & fingers. I'm grateful the seller rarely cleaned that fretboard, the gunky grime was a layer of protection that took the bulk of the load for that heavy handed play.
Fan of all three. String type matters more to me.
Jackson & Gretsch have ebony FB.
Squier CV maple.
Fender Strat RW.
When I play a like for like strat with the only difference between them being a maple vs rosewood board the maple strats seem to have a more pronounced low end, lower mids, and highs. The rosewood ones have more of a flat eq by comparison.
In order of preference:
That said, I don’t currently own anything with an ebony neck.
My Tele is the only guitar with maple (roasted) the rest are rosewood. The Tele plays neck plays as easy as my Strats but it has the same shape so it should. It’s also not sticky at all. I sold a 60th Anniversary Strat because it was sticky and never got better over a year.
When I say sticky I mean the fretboard was sticky. If it was the back of the neck it’d be an easy fix.
My only bass is a Music Man Short Scale with a roasted maple neck and fretboard. It’s a wonderful playing neck.
It doesn't matter to me what's better or not. I get what I like better and that would be rosewood or ebony. Not a fan of maple necks... I have 3 guitars with them and they aren't played all that much.
They both last longer than your lifespan, so that question is moot.
It’s totally subjective.
If you study Fender’s history you will learn that the rosewood fingerboard initially came about in 1959 to counter act the wear spots in the fingerboards they were beginning to see on the finished all maple necks from before 1959. The finger wear spots that Fender now charges extra for was considered a defect in the design back then so they decided a rosewood unfinished fingerboard would hold up better, which turns out is only a cosmetic thing. The maple board is lacquered where the rosewood isn’t and that is the main difference in feel.
You could do worse than the Indian Rosewood on my avatar guitar (Scott Henderson Signature Suhr Strat). Roasted maple neck is pretty cool too.
Sorry, I know it's a fender forum.
Everyone seems to be forgetting that Pau Ferro was offered back in the 50's and 60's as the "custom shop" option - i.e. special order and pay even more for it than the rosewood, or matching coloured headstock etc.
So there's that for all the fretboard tonesnobs to suck on.
I guess the real answer to any and or all of this is simple:
Your preference, is yours and yours alone. Nobody else cares.
I prefer rosewood and all my guitars have them except for one.
I'm not a 'tonewood' sort of person so for me it is a cosmetic thing. However if I'm playing outside of my comfort zone (which for me is most of the time) then I need to look at the fretboard and I find that dark woods provide greater contrast and are easier to play. If I don't need to look at the fretboard it makes no difference. My hss player strat has pau ferro which is dark enough and looks great.
I prefer rosewood, most of the time.
My strat and tele are both alder body/ rosewood fretboard, therefore my next strat and tele will be ash body/ maple neck.
Ebony is nice too but rare on a Fender. I would never consider owning any guitar with either a pine body or a pau ferro fretboard.
For all you tonewood guys, remember there are different types of rosewood. Brazilian rosewood is harder than sugar maple, and both types of indian rosewood are softer. This is why some people say rosewood is warmer, and other people say it's brighter.
But really the difference is minimal, and most likely the difference you hear comes from some other factors. Most of the neck is maple, after all. No one, not even guys who can hear a gnat fart, can tell what kind of wood is in the fretboard from a record on the radio.
On a mahogany neck, the fretboard material is much more likely to make a difference humans can hear.
Well I'm biased obviously seeing my ID photo but, I have had both on my MK Strat I remember when it had the rosewood it seemed harder work than now, with the Birdseye maple and gold frets.
I have put here 2 photos before rosewood, and after (like now), current neck.
IMO it's a very personal preference so either is good, right?
Humans have been making stringed instruments for many, many years.
How many Stradivarius Violins do you see with Maple?
Rosewood is the correct answer, as God intended.