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What's the difference between maple and rosewood fretboards?

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(@nick0512)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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I was thinking about getting a Fender Standard Strat (MIM) as my first guitar and I was wondering "what is the difference between the maple and rosewood fretboards?"
Thanks.

I wanna be an elite guitarist. :)


   
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(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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IMHO the only difference is the tree they grew from.


   
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(@gnease)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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Biggest difference is how it feels to you. Secondarily, maple is supposed to impart a slightly brighter tone/sharper attack -- again: slightly. Visual differences are obvious, and many consider the looks more important than tone when choosing. Structurally, both necks are good.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@nicktorres)
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Okay, really I should have said something more in line with gnease.

1. They look different.
2. They feel a bit different.

As for the tone thing, and you hear this all over the place, I just don't believe it. If there is a difference it might be discernable to dogs or a frequency analyzer.

Why do I say it doesn't make a difference?

1. You are playing through pickups. The hum on the pickups would be enough to mask that change.

2. The fret board is on the other side of the fret. When you place a finger down you create a new nut with the fret closest to the pickups. What happens beyond the nut is irrelevant to tone. If it was relevant, we'd all be using ivory tuning pegs.

3. Your finger pad/skin/callous effectively mutes anything that's happening beyond or under the finger.

4. If you are playing with effects, fuggedaboudit.

Sure there may be a slight difference, but I put this one in the category of fossilized walrus ivory bridge pins. In other words, not worth worrying about.

Of course, I could be wrong. :D


   
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(@yoyo286)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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From what I've played, maple has a more sharp tone, but it was barely noticeable. I prefer rosewood BTW. 8)

Stairway to Freebird!


   
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(@kc13088)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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From what I understand, the difference between maple and rosewood fretboards is not tonal, it's structural. A maple fretboard will last roughly forever and not change over the course of a guitar-playing lifetime. Rosewood on the other hand will actually change and contour to your particular playing style and will wear accordingly. This means a rosewood fretboard would probably need to be replaced eventually.


   
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(@noteboat)
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Some folks say maple is "slippery" compared to rosewood. I regularly play guitars with maple, rosewood, and ebony fingerboards, and I don't feel a real difference - I feel more from the quality of the frets.

Any fretboard will wear over time - there are perfectly playable 100 year old guitars with rosewood, so I wouldn't worry too much about longevity.

Care is a different matter - maple fretboards are almost always lacquered. Don't use steel wool to clean maple - you'll just tear through the finish. Also, you never need to oil a lacquered fingerboard (although you should only use oil rarely on most woods)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@moonrider)
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I was thinking about getting a Fender Standard Strat (MIM) as my first guitar and I was wondering "what is the difference between the maple and rosewood fretboards?"
Thanks.

For me the main difference is the feel, and I prefer the feel of rosewood over maple. Of course, having said that, I have to mention my main axe for 15 years was a Peavey T-60 with a maple fretboard. Once I bought my Strat (with a rosewood fretboard ), the Peavey soon moved to second place.

Play both, and see which you like best.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


   
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(@cookie-monster)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 8
 

push down on any string on your fret board and notice how the string doesnt even touch the fret board. there is not tonal difference. my friend has a strat with a maple finger board and i have one with a rosewood and it doesnt sound any brighter. its just a little piece of wood on the neck... it doesnt cahnge anything. a rose wood fingerboard wont wear... it will after a long time but you dont need to change it... and if you do your a moron because... why would you want to change that after its been worn? so its pretty much what you think looks better. :D


   
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(@shift)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 94
 

Personally, I like rosewood. It has a softer feel to me. Try both, they do feel different. Chose the one you like.


   
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(@mattypretends116)
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Nick, you crack me up :D

"Contrary to popular belief, Clapton is NOT God. The prospect that he is God probably had a large hand in driving him to drugs and booze. Thanks everyone."

-Guitar World :lol:


   
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(@mr-mervyn)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Fender started implementing more rosewod fretboards cause they dont show wear like the maple ones do.
Old blackie here clearly shows my point.

Cheers

Cheers.

Better shred than dead.


   
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(@longdave)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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I have always heard that the type/quality of the wood used in the body is crucial to the overall tone of the guitar, due to the fact that the wood vibrates as the strings do. If this is so, wouldn't the type of wood used on the neck also play a part in that aspect of the guitar?


   
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(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

Perhaps, but in the grand scheme of things not much.

for acoustics:

75% of tone is in:

1. top material, it's selection, bracing type
2. skill of the luthier

23% of tone is in:

1. the magic in your fingers, aka practice
2. pic, fingernails, fake nails, finger pads - your choice
3. saddle and nut material (nut especially if you are playing a lot of open tunings)
4. your personal string choice, and replacing strings when they lose their tone

So that is 98% of tone.

1.9% I'll give to the backwood type and odds are the luthier designed the top with the back in mind anyway.

For electrics I'm not even sure how much body wood matters. Pickups, skill of the luthier, what you are playing through, even the quality of your cables probably have more impact than the wood on the fretboard.


   
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(@metaellihead)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 653
 

I can't tell any difference whatsoever. When I fret I don't even touch the board, though, bends can be a different story. It's nothing that would put me off from either, it just doesn't make that big of a difference to me.

If I were me, and I am, I would choose pretty much on looks alone. If it's a light colored guitar rosewood/ebony looks better, if it's dark a maple looks better.

Though, black LP customs are an exception. :P

-Metaellihead


   
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