EJ Strats - Maple vs. Rosewood Tonal Differences

Last Nerve

Shop Smart. Shop S-Mart.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,483
I had a maple board EJ awhile back that I had to sell.
Really want to pick up a replacement for it now.
Love the colors on the RW-board models.
But I'm wondering how different they'd sound from the maple EJs.

Anyone have experience with both?
 

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
I don't have the right words to describe the diff. It's both subtle and not so subtle.

I guess I think the rosewood EJ's, and rosewood Strats in general, have a little warmer sound, maybe a little more mids and maybe a little less focused sound...all in a good way.

Maybe the resonant frequency of the rosewood version is slightly lower?

The big diff is the playability and shape of the neck - I prefer the rosewood version.

String bending is easier and for me, overall playability is easier on the rosewood.

The shape of neck is bigger and rounder and the overall feel is smoother and more like a Gibson.

The neck binding feels great. Again: smoother.

Less finger drag on the rosewood fingerboard and the frets feels higher.

Both models are super well made, super high quality guitars.

I have two rosewood EJ's and sold my 2005 maple EJ.
 

jetydosa

Member
Messages
3,910
In my experience the RW EJ is warmer, slightly fatter, and easier to play. The maple is stiffer (both in sound and feel), and brighter.

My opinions are of playing prob 5-6 examples of each. I never liked the maple EJ enough to own one. Ive had 3 RW EJs.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,965
Maple has a much tighter low end, less mids, and less harmonic complexity at clean to medium gain levels. Rosewood is more balanced. Maple is great for hi gain playing while rosewood IMO excels at everything else. I like both but would always choose rosewood over maple as my main and most versitile guitar every time.
 

CubanB

Member
Messages
2,148
Some people's ears are more sensitive than others.

EJ saw reason to adjust the pickups slightly to counteract the rosewood board, but it's minor details rather than the core tone IMO. (Keep in mind I haven't owned any of these).. I'm just trying to defend the difference of how some people see a major difference and others see no difference at all. It's like they aren't even looking for it.. or it's just too subtle for them to notice. While for others, it's not so subtle and is really really obvious...

It's like our eyes.. one person might see someone wearing a red jacket, and then someone else might be wearing a similar jacket. To some people they might both be red jackets, but one might also have blue cotton and a different type of material on the sleeves... while to others, they seem the same.
 

snow and steel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,002
The wiring makes as much a difference as anything.

My brightest strat has a rosewood board and is wired with EJ wiring.

My most mellow strat has a one piece maple board but is wired in "delta tone".

Both guitars have the same pickups and pots - the wiring and boards are what differs between the two. Conventional wisdom would have you think the maple should be brighter but is plainly is not - because of the wiring. So buy the one that feels best in your hand and you like looking at and play it - and if it sounds too bright or too dark, then think about wiring, pots or pickups... or not - sometimes a little variety in the arsenal is good.
 

Tiny Montgomery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,387
I know exactly what he means. But I wouldn't try and explain it to anyone who doesn't get it because if they don't they aren't going to understand until they start experiencing it themselves.
Regardless of whether you can explain whatever it is you're talking about, either something is subtle, or it isn't.
 

Guitar Dave T

Member
Messages
10,739
Huge tonal differences between the two. Try both under different circumstances and see what you think.

I go through phases with both. As has been pointed out, rosewood is a little warmer, but maple is a little more articulate, has more bounce and brilliance.

I prefer rosewood in rooms/venues with more wood and reflective surfaces, maple in rooms with more carpet or outdoors.

Speaking of Eric Johnson's tones, I vastly prefer his older stuff with the maple neck to his current rosewood tones.

Want to hear some awesome maple neck Strat tones? Get the DVD of the entire Hendrix Woodstock performance. Holy ****. ;-)
 

Tiny Montgomery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,387
Speaking of Eric Johnson's tones, I vastly prefer his older stuff with the maple neck to his current rosewood tones.
I highly doubt that the fretboard wood is the only thing that's changed about his rig, or that the differences in his tone can be defined as "rosewood/maple tones."

I do think there's a difference, but you might be exaggerating it, just a little.
 

Guitar Dave T

Member
Messages
10,739
I highly doubt that the fretboard wood is the only thing that's changed about his rig, or that the differences in his tone can be defined as "rosewood/maple tones."

I do think there's a difference, but you might be exaggerating it, just a little.
Allow me to elaborate. 'Saw him back in the day and more recently, and he was using same amps and pedals. Plus, I've got 40 years experience playing Strats with both necks, and have developed a strong natural recognition of what each sounds like.
 

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
Regardless of whether you can explain whatever it is you're talking about, either something is subtle, or it isn't.
Subtle or not subtle is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.

I watched Pianomania the other night on Netflix. It's the story of a tech who works for Steinway who fine tunes Steinway pianos for the most particular of classical musicians.

He has to disassemble Steinways before concerts over and over and over in order to make the most minute adjustments in order to satisfy the ears and tastes of these brilliantly gifted men and women.

Believe me: the changes that these adjustments make would strike you or me as being extremely subtle.

But to these gifted virtuosos, the changes are not so subtle.

Some here say they hear no real difference in tone between rosewood fingerboard Strats and maple fingerboard Strats - they probably don't.

To me and others here, they sound quite different.

And I'm sure Eric Johnson hears the difference too.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,965
I do think there's a difference, but you might be exaggerating it, just a little.
But you see, heres the problem with that statement....everyone hears differently. When i started playing i couldn't hear anything worth a $hit. I probably woulda had a hard time hearing the difference between a strat and LP. Today i hear differences a lot of people can't. So to say he's exaggerating is impossible because you don't have his ears and to you it may be far more subtle than it is to him. The fact is to some of us maple vs RW is nite and day, yet others cant even tell. So it's not possible to make a statement like that because to some ears it would be exaggeration, to others not in the least. This is the problem i find daily here. Some can hear things, but those who can't are unwilling to believe that someone can hear something they don't, probably because they think that makes their hearing inferior. But no, it only means they haven't yet experienced it many times and come to hear the difference like they eventually will. So instead of being open minded and considering the thought, which can only be a good thing for them in the long run, they call them an idiot or some insult. It's a real eye roller.
 

Tiny Montgomery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,387
But you see, heres the problem with that statement....everyone hears differently. When i started playing i couldn't hear anything worth a $hit. I probably woulda had a hard time hearing the difference between a strat and LP. Today i hear differences a lot of people can't. So to say he's exaggerating is impossible because you don't have his ears and to you it may be far more subtle than it is to him. The fact is to some of us maple vs RW is nite and day, yet others cant even tell. So it's not possible to make a statement like that because to some ears it would be exaggeration, to others not in the least. This is the problem i find daily here. Some can hear things, but those who can't are unwilling to believe that someone can hear something they don't, probably because they think that makes their hearing inferior. But no, it only means they haven't yet experienced it many times and come to hear the difference like they eventually will. So instead of being open minded and considering the thought, which can only be a good thing for them in the long run, they call them an idiot or some insult. It's a real eye roller.
It's funny how none of these magic eared folks ever submit to a blind test, isn't it?:D

Like I said, I'm sure there is a difference, but defining someone's entire tone by ONE factor is ridiculous.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,965
Just depends on how subtle or not that factor is. Again, you may not hear anything like i do or visa versa. RW vs maple is huge to me. Even more than alder vs ash vs basswood.
 

Tiny Montgomery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,387
Just depends on how subtle or not that factor is. Again, you may not hear anything like i do or visa versa. RW vs maple is huge to me. Even more than alder vs ash vs basswood.
Apparently, it can be subtle AND not. No "or" necessary."

Can you hear which it is, on a recording, or does it have to be in person? I would think that a "huge" difference would be audible, either way, but I'm among the beginners who can't hear ****, so it's subtle, to me.;)
 




Trending Topics

Top