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Can I get some thoughts from you guitar builders out there? What are the virtues and or drawbacks of these two woods used for fretboards? I really like the look and feel of the ebony boards myself.
 

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personally, as much as I believe body wood and neck wood has an effect on tone (for instance I have made many guitars using many different wood combos uysing the same hardware and pups, and found a lot of difference in tone), I find the difference in fretboard wood is a lot less noticeable (if at all) for me. I am sure some will notice but not me.

Based purely on "feel" and playability, I prefer the ebony boards. However I love the look of rosewood with its contrasty striping better from a visual point.
However for me, on a tele or strat its GOT to be maple... :)

I have 3 guitars currently with ebony boards, 4 with RW and 2 with maple. I dont like the feel of the finish on the maple boards as much as I love the slippery smooth hard feeling of ebony. RW is somewhere in between for me.

AJC
 

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oh yeah, the only "drawback" I have found is that in my climate here in Northern ON the ebony boards seem to move a little more throughout the year than the RW and maple do.

AJC
 

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Yes, I totally forgot Maple. That needs to be included as well. But I agree with you on the feel of the ebony. I really like the hardness of it and the way you can really slide with it. The only one I have right now with ebony is my Seagull acoustic.
 

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i have often thought of trying some other woods for boards - I have many various (and beautifull looking) exotic hardwoods in stock in my shop. But I hate to try something and then wish I went with ebony or rw again.. :)

I would love to try a solid ebony neck - one piece like a fender maple neck, but made from ebony. PRS does some wicked exotic necks, thats what got me thinking to try it.

OK time to get off the computer and back to work...

AJC
 

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Ebony is harder a little slicker feeling than Rose wood. However the nicest fretboards I have made for feel & looks in my opinion were made of cocabola, I've also made a couple of fretboards from blood wood. very hard and feels nice. Also very red but darkens to a redish brown after a while. I have also made a fretboard out of leopard wood. Pretty cool looking but difficult to work with as it has two different hardness & textures. I never put it on a guitar but it does look cool hanging on the wall.
 

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I prefer ebony boards, however the board that really blew me away for feel was a composite board on a parker nightfly. It was the slickest board ever, it also had SS frets that probably had alot to do with the unique feel. It's on my wishlist and runs for about $1400. My MIK parker with ebony board feels similar, but not as slick.l
 

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ajcoholic said:
I find the difference in fretboard wood is a lot less noticeable (if at all) for me.
Thanks you, thank you, thank you, a voice of sanity it a crazy guitar wood.

Ebony feels very different, but sound wise you can't tell.

Quick story for you. I had a friend that swore he could tell the difference on any recording between a rosewood board and a ebony board. So, I decided to put him to the test. I put on a recording I made (just goofing around type stuff) and let him listen to the guitar lead. He listen to it carefully three times and then proudly announced that is was a Rosewood board. "You're sure?", I questioned. "Positive." Then I told this that it was a recording I made completely with keyboards and the guitar lead was done on a Korg 01W. We have never had that stupid conversation since :D

Make the fret board out of what feels good.
 

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Jeff,
Wood doesnt work like that. Some extremely hard woods are quite easy to break, some softer woods are very tough and stringy. Its not the absolute hardness that determines the strength but the way the wood fibres grow.

Ebony in my experience is no more prone to cracking than rw or maple. It will wear better, and feel smoother since there is little varience in between the seasonal growth of the wood (which also gives most ebonies their uniform grain & colour)

AJC
 

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Lowtones said:
However the nicest fretboards I have made for feel & looks in my opinion were made of cocabola,

I'm under the impression that Coco Bolo had too many oils that stay in for a fretboard?

Personally, i love the ebony fretboards. So silky smooth and fast.
 

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ajcoholic said:
I have 3 guitars currently with ebony boards, 4 with RW and 2 with maple. I dont like the feel of the finish on the maple boards as much as I love the slippery smooth hard feeling of ebony. RW is somewhere in between for me.

AJC
yeah I love that slippery, smooth, hard feeling too:2guns: ;)
 

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JaySimon said:
I'm under the impression that Coco Bolo had too many oils that stay in for a fretboard?

Personally, i love the ebony fretboards. So silky smooth and fast.
Not at all. Although some is oiler that most and this makes it more difficult to work with. Cocobolo is often used for fretboards. I would also pose the question, what does everybody rub into their fretboards? waxes & oils.
I do agree that ebony is silky & smooth and I do like an ebony fretboard .

While Rosewood, Ebony & Maple are the woods we most comonly see as fretboards check the link below and you will see that there is indeed quite a variety available.

http://www.gilmerwood.com/instrument_wood-fingerboards.htm
 

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GuitarsCanada said:
Can I get some thoughts from you guitar builders out there? What are the virtues and or drawbacks of these two woods used for fretboards? I really like the look and feel of the ebony boards myself.
The only drawback to ebony as a fingerboard is if it dries out and shrinks resulting in the fret ends sticking out. It's almost impossible to rehydrate so you end up re-filing the fret ends.

FYI, on acoustics, a rosewood bridge is prone to splitting between the pin slots.
 

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I personally do not like working with ebony as a result of some of the reasons listed here. For me it is mainly the stability of the wood, or rather the lack of stability compared to other usable woods. The expansion/contraction rate of the wood compared with most other woods is pretty large and it's too often that I find ebony boards with frets sticking out of the ends because the ebony has contracted. There's no real substitute for the jet black appearance of some ebonies without using dye, so I understand the attraction to the wood. I've built one guitar using ebony and I have to build one more at a customer's request, but after that I will try to avoid it as much as I can. I've used rosewood, maple, bubinga and morado and none of these woods have given me the problems that the ebony board has.
 
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