Brazilian fingerboard worth the $ on a Strat???

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by SKYHIGH, Feb 8, 2012.

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  1. SKYHIGH

    SKYHIGH Member

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    Yup another one of those threads... First let's get the usual similes out the way. :jo :horse :thud :facepalm :munch

    Many luthiers charge extra $$$ for brazillian fingerboard over Indian rosewood board.
    -can any of you tell the difference in tone or feel? Especially on Fender type of guitars.
    -would you pay extra $ if you were ordering an highend guitar?
    I have seen upcharge of $200-$300 from few builders.
     
  2. fretnot

    fretnot Gold Supporting Member

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    It matters to some people, and not others. I think as important as tone for many people is the feel that Braz has. It's also "accurate" to what was on the guitars of the 50's, which is appealing to many buyers. I've also seen builders charge well over $200-$300 for a Braz board. There is a finite supply of it, too.
     
  3. AndrewC

    AndrewC Supporting Member

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    Indeed - a quote I got recently from PRS Private Stock was $1k just for the fretboard. Melancon by contrast charged me $150 for a very nice dark Brazilian board.
     
  4. scott

    scott Member

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    I think it feels different but it doesn't make or break a guitar as far as tone goes.
    Amazon and cocobolo rosewood feels as good or better (to me) and the tone is also as good(to me).
    Brazilion is super hyped and rare, that is why it costs more. I've used lots of it and I like it but it's not that big of a deal......smells good though.
     
  5. dougk

    dougk Silver Supporting Member

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    Doesn't matter in the least to me. My favorite isn't BRW, doesn't make or break a guitar for me.
     
  6. shoe

    shoe Member

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    Personally, I've found that guitars with Brazilian boards have a little more "bloom" to the notes. I currently have two Suhrs with Brazilian boards and really dig what they do. Not my first pick for high gain/metal, but they are great for the clean to mid-level gain situations IMO.
     
  7. Jim S

    Jim S Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    No. I have a few guitars and basses with Brazilian, East Indian, Morado, and Madagascar (as well as maple and ebony) boards.

    The only rosewood fingerboard that I find unique is pau ferro /Morado/Bolivian rosewood.
     
  8. artguy47

    artguy47 Ol' CuRmUGeOn

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    Thought Pau Ferro was NOT a member of the Dalbergia family...? Generally, I prefer ebony boards, but PF might be used instead on a future roasted Suhr.

    Though to answer the OP, I think (YMMV) that Madagascar is a better (less expensive, but equally great sounding) Rosewood. However, I'm considering using Cocobolo for my Ian Anderson, unless I find a really attractive BRW.
     
  9. Drowned Rabbit

    Drowned Rabbit Black Beauty Beats Burst

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    I own a Suhr Classic with a Brazilian board that I bought used. I also own some vintage guitars that have Brazilian, but no vintage Strats. Here are my thoughts...

    I don't really notice a difference in tone between a Brazilian and some other kind of Rosewood. This is not to say that there is no difference, only that I don't hear a difference when I'm playing. Of course, the most accurate way to for me to determine if there is a difference would be to play a Strat with BR, then remove that fingerboard and replace it with a different kind of Rosewood in order to compare. But that's probably never going to happen.

    I can, however, hear how beautifully bell-like the block of Brazilian Rosewood sounds when Paul Reed Smith knocks on it in that one video of his. It's a stunning audio illustration of BR, if you haven't seen it, I suggest you check it out (it's the interview of PRS with his son sitting next to him on youtube). This makes me doubt the accuracy of my conclusions, even though they are based on my own experience.

    Two differences I do notice when comparing BR to other types are the feel and look. Brazilian feels really smooth. Playing a guitar that has BR for a fretboard - or, even better, for the whole neck - is a really nice experience. As for the look, The BR used on a lot of the vintage guitars appears darker than on the newer instruments. Personally, I love the intense figuring that a lot of the newer guitars with Brazilian 'boards have. But, from what I understand, the highly figured pieces often come from stumps and some people feel that stump wood pales in comparison tone wise to the Brazilian used on older instruments.

    Hope that was helpful. One final thought, I actually prefer that the new guitars I buy do not have BR because of it's endangered status. I just don't trust loggers in poverty plagued countries to make conservation their top priority. No judgements against them or against anyone who prefers Brazilian.
     
  10. demiruyar

    demiruyar Member

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    Imo, brazilian doesn't sound right on a strat.
     
  11. ariki

    ariki Member

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    I have strats and les pauls with and without Brazilian boards, built by the same, truly excellent builder called Jörg Tandler, who really earned my trust over the years. I'm just mentioning this because it gives you an idea of how closely the guitars can be compared.
    For one thing, he makes mean strats ;-)

    In my experience, the range in difference between different Braz boards can be just as big as the difference between a given Braz board and a given non-Braz board.
    So, no. I can't hear the difference between a Brazilian or non-Brazilian board. IMO, there are non-brazilian boards out there that are close enough. (My non-Brazilian boards are Madagascar.)


    Now here, IMO, it all depends on the tone you're chasing and the material that the builder has in stock.

    For my last build, I was chasing a particular tone (for which we had a particular Les Paul in mind - which actually has a Brazilian board).
    Also, as a thought experiment, I explained my priorities to the builder as follows:
    - My main priority is getting the right tone for the instrument. In particular, I don't want to limit the builder's choice of materials in any way. Vintage-correctness is not sacred to me. Quality and tone are.
    - I don't care about an upcharge for a Braz board. If it's needed to get the tone right, it's needed.

    The result was unexpected for me in two aspects. First of all, I ended up with a non-Brazilian board where I thought that I would end up with a Brazilian board. Second of all, when I got to the point of talking about the maple top, he pushed my brakes and led me to his maple stash. He pulled out a piece of maple from the middle of a pile and told me that, if I was looking for that particular tone, this is the piece of maple that you need. None of the other ones.

    This was a while ago. I picked up my instrument a few months ago and, well... [I could now search a specialized dictionary on superlatives and blend it with stuff I find in a book called "How to make a wine connaisseur blush" but that's not my style.] Let's just say that the tone is exactly what I wanted and that I've never heard and felt a guitar sustain so well. And I've had my share.

    I hope that I'll soon find some time to post some pics of the guitar in question. But, since I have it, my time on TGP has significantly reduced. When I'm faced with the choice of playing it or sitting in front of my computer, I go play it and make music.


    Of course, this was about the build process of an LP-style guitar instead of a strat. I hope that it was helpful to you nevertheless.


    In the end, the question is: What do you really want?
    Some people want a particular tone.
    Some people want a particular look.
    Some people want to have a braz board because it's a braz board.
    (Some falling in this last category cannot be helped... )


    In my case, I explained my tonal goals to the builder and trusted his judgement about which wood would be best to pick.
    In retrospect, I am *really* happy that I took that approach.


    Cheers,
    Wim
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  12. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    Short supply = Higher demand.
     
  13. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Exactly.

    Brazilian has marginally more surface hardness than Indian RW, so it will potentially wear better. Taptone is subjective, and one has to wonder how it is heard on fretboards. BTW there are a good number of tonewoods with a taptone at least as impressive as Braz.
    If a strat has to be an exact copy of a '60s one, then Brazilian it must be as no other wood has such a distinctive, yet varied, appearance. Otherwise plenty of good choices out there: Madagascar RW is probably the closest in terms of properties to Braz, Amazon RW is good, but so are cocobolo, Honduran RW and bois de rose.
     
  14. SKYHIGH

    SKYHIGH Member

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    I understand high demand and low supply =$. My question is, if you were having a strat built, would you spend the extra $250 to have brazillian board? The builder says he can hear the difference.

    I understand this too can be subjective to a person. I want to save on cost but it's already very expensive guitar and perhaps I should go all out...perhaps not.

    Sooo CAN YOU HEAR THE DIFFERENCE???
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  15. Joe Perry

    Joe Perry Member

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    I *think* I can on my two Suhr Classics. One BRW & one IRW. Not sure if it's the sum of the parts, wood but I think the one with BRW is more focused and open sounding. It also has a Callaham bridge compared to the two post on the one with IRW. I was all set to order another Suhr Classic Antique but they stopped offering BRW because of the legal issues surrounding it. I'm glad at least one of my Suhrs have it.

    If it was me, I'd spring for it. For $250 you'll always be wondering what if. What kind? Lentz?
     
  16. whsdhs1

    whsdhs1 Supporting Member

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    No.

    If it were $50 to $100 more for the Brazilian I might spring for it just to have it. $250 more, no way.
     
  17. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

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    Well totally personal preference. You have to account for everything in your system down to the speakers and type of music you play. Funny enough though when I was a Master Builder we all pretty much didn't care for the tone of Brazilian on a Strat in general. Too bright for many, however it can sound killer on a shorter scale length LP type guitar. Had them on my LP Juniors and loved them. Just never cared for it on a Strat and would prefer Indian myself. Now bigger necks would offset the affect on the tone and make it not as dramatic. I have had some major tone chasing artists ask me to to make new necks for their vintage strats because they didn't like the Brazilian as well. You can also use brown Madagascar or African as a good substitute. You have ethical issues of Brazilian as well as the potential nightmares of dealing traveling across borders with it and proper paperwork. Right now is a scary time to be offering a protected wood unless you have water tight paperwork and documentation identifying it as stump wood or have buttoned up certificates that cant be challenged by the government.
    This is not a blanket statement just a personal preference. Just remember that with Brazilian the sound is rich and complex but does have more presence than Indian.
     
  18. MOJO

    MOJO Member

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    honestly i have both Indian and Brazilian fingerboards and other then visually (Ron found me a nice slight flamed type Brazilian for my Thorn) sonically i can't really tell that much of a difference... but i'm no "Eric Johnson"
     
  19. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    FWIW, Pao Ferro has become my favorite fretboard material.
     
  20. ahardmark

    ahardmark Member

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    +1. I agree. I prefer Indian rosewood on a Strat. Brazilian has a lot more presence, which I don't care for.
     
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