Rosewood vs ebony fretboard

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Super Locrian, May 15, 2006.


  1. Super Locrian

    Super Locrian Member

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    I have a Koll on order, and at some point have to decide whether to go with rosewood or ebony fretboard. It would be a great help if someone could outline the differences between them in concise terms. The body will be mahogany with a maple top, and the neck will also be mahogany. Probably. ;)
     
  2. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    One's black and the other's brown. :p

    Seriously: like with many woods, intra-genus differences can be as great beween the two types. That being said, I own guitars with both types of boards. In general, I would say the ebony is brighter with a faster attack/response, the rosewood is mellower/well-balanced with just the slightest hint of sag relative to the ebony. But again, this is just what I've experienced.
     
  3. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    Like he said. And I think ebony is less likely to warp.
     
  4. Sniper-V

    Sniper-V Member

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    +1 to Jon's reply.

    On the feel I love both and they're both different. There is somthing about the warmth of a nice piece of RW especially on a LP. I have a sweet spot for ebony too.
     
  5. Robertito

    Robertito Member

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    A couple of practical considerations, which I have learned the hard way: rosewood is an oily wood by nature, and although it certainly doesn't hurt to oil it once a year or so, it can get by without it. Ebony is a dry wood, and if it's not oiled, it will crack. Also consider the neck wood, because rosewood on maple/mahogany or ebony on mahogany are generally quite stable; the exception is ebony on maple - the two woods have such dissimilar expansion/contraction rates that they tend to move - a lot. I've seen more than a few ebony on maple necks that haven't taken a set after years of use, and still have to be adjusted twice or more yearly.
     
  6. Dajbro

    Dajbro Member

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    For my tone, I prefer ebony. I tend to run my amps on the dark side of things and the little bit of extra attack/brightness that ebony seems to have helps keep things from getting too murky. I know people will say 'just turn up the treble or presence on the amp,' but to me, and for what I want to hear, it doesn't work like that.

    David
     
  7. hemlock

    hemlock Guest

    Ebony tends to be brighter sounding and I love the way it feels, really smooth and slick but not like finished maple.
     
  8. Reeek

    Reeek Member

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    As smoothe and slippery as ebony feels (still one of my favorites though) it's still a brittle wood and is hard to do intricate work in it and not have it splinter. I think the tools have to be sharp all the time.
     
  9. retro

    retro Member

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    They are different enough that it is a worthy consideration. And one you should try to try first. Because some will love the way it feels and some won't.

    I dislike the way it feels on an electric. While I don't mind it at all and prefer it on an acoustic.
     
  10. Chris Rice

    Chris Rice Member

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    I'm generally not a big fan of ebony on electrics. For distorted playing, it sounds great, but it usually doesn't work as well clean for me (which is how I usually play).

    I like it on some acoustics, but not all.


    I love it on fretless bass.
     
  11. Super Locrian

    Super Locrian Member

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    My current guitar has an ebony fretboard, and I can recognize the qualities mentioned: Fast response, somewhat bright sound and "slippery" feel. I like it, but wouldn't mind trying something else (i.e. rosewood). Just not sure how I'd feel about the rosewood in the long run.

    This is probably stretching things a bit, but is it possible to say that one type of fretboard lends itself especially to certain styles of music?
     
  12. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    No.
     
  13. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    I've got two gtrs with ebony fingerboards, both over 20+ yrs old. I have never oiled them and neither has ever cracked nor shown any signs of cracking.

    Super Locrian, I suggest you go to a gtr store and try both. I dig my ebony fingerboards but some people simply don't like them. I guess i'ts because they are slick and very hard.
     
  14. michaelprice83

    michaelprice83 Member

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    I don't think I've ever heard anything bad about a rosewood fretboard. It may not be the most fashionable, or the brightest sounding, but certainly a safe bet if torn between rosewood and ebony. People seem to either love or hate ebony and rosewood seems to be a generally well accepted wood. No wonder why its the most popular fretboard wood...... Another thing to keep in mind is the thickness of the board. I've had a couple carvins with THICK slabs of ebony that were extremely bright sounding. If the particular guitar you're ordering has a thinner board on it its probably more of a cosmetic/feel issue than anything else........
     
  15. exhaust_49

    exhaust_49 Member

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    I much perfer indian rosewood. I love the "roughness" feel that it has. I hate how smooth and "slippery" ebony is. I also hate the look of a jet black fingerboard, I much perfer the nice warm grainy look of rosewood. I like the way rosewood will eventually conform to how you play it (low spots where you fret the most). I also like the open grain look that an old rosewood fretboard has.
     
  16. rich-96db

    rich-96db Member

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    I've had no problems with my ebony fretboard cracking as I keep it well-oiled. However, my guitar was built during the summer and once the weather changed (around January), I noticed a few sharp fret ends due to a little shrinkage in the fretboard. I took it back to the luthier who built the guitar and he filed the sharp fret ends down on a matter of minutes. I've never had a problem with sharp fret ends since.
     
  17. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

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    You guys are good. I can't hear the difference because I've never tried the exact same guitar with various boards. All I know is it feels great on my Martin and my Gretsch. It does feel quick quicker & smooth like unfinished maple. Tonally people always talk about the bright factor but hands down some of the brightest and most articulate guitars I've ever played were trimmed out in Madagascar rosewood boards.
    Horses for courses; etc.
     
  18. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    I have an ebony board on a quartersawn maple neck that seems quite stable. I love the smoothness and rich, black look.
    Tonally, I give a neutral rating on this axe.
     
  19. Beergoblin

    Beergoblin Member

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    I've got both and the more I play between the two of them the more I think I like Rosewood more. The Ebony isn't necessarily bad and I don't think its a difference to the point where I can't play the guitars I have with ebony, but I'm really starting to like rosewood exclusively.
     

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