Rosewood vs. Maple necks

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by PopsDiesel, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. PopsDiesel

    PopsDiesel Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2002
    Kennett Square, PA
    What is the difference in tone, specifically for a Tele, between the two necks? Thanks!
  2. budglo58

    budglo58 Member

    May 12, 2009
    I have both and don't really hear a difference in tone. The maple is slicker to play on. I would get which ever one you like best.
  3. moosewayne

    moosewayne Member

    Jun 25, 2011
    Northern Michigan
    Some will tell you the difference is massive, some will say it's negligible.
    The general acceptance is maple is a bit brighter.
  4. Axis29

    Axis29 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2007
    La Quinta, CA
    One looks darker. The other looks lighter.

    Oh tone? I've never put one neck, then the other on a guitar to find out. I've always thought maple was brighter... But, I'm seriously beginning to doubt it these days. And, since most necks are Maple, with just a difference in fretboard wood? I dunno, I'm beginning to think it has less and less to do with the overall tone.

    Realistically though, it's all theoretical until I do swap necks... But, then, how will I know it's the fretboard material that makes a difference in the tone (if there is one)? Might be the different pieces of maple that make up the body of the neck itself?

    Oh, what a rabbit hole you could go down... Let's call it Shrodinger's Tone Wood!
  5. TheClev

    TheClev As seen on TV

    May 16, 2012
    If you play country style chicken pickin', the slicker maple definitely gives it a brighter, twangier sound IMO.
  6. Zuhzuhzombie!!

    Zuhzuhzombie!! Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    No tonal difference, maple has a more noticeable finish on it compared to rosewood.
  7. nicolasrivera

    nicolasrivera Gold Supporting Member Silver Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2010
    There is a huge difference between both necks.....

  8. dazco

    dazco Member

    Jul 25, 2003
    very different, but it depends on your sensitivity. To me it's huge and the difference i hear is maple is not actually brighter, but it has a dip in the high mids so what you end up with is a tone thats sorta all bass and high treble. Much like a scooped sound. So what happens is you end up with mostly the high treble range as the main body of your tone making it seem bright. Rosewood has that too, but it also has a balance amount of hi mids so it's not only a flatter EQ curve for a full sound, but the harmonics generated add to the brightness. Given the same amp EQ rosewood will almost always sound brighter. I have classic 60's and 50's teles and the 60's with the rosewood is worlds brighter and clearer even tho the ash body on the 50's should add more brightness. (i put the 60's neck on the 50's once and that was definately the case) They both had the same pickups till recently. Anyways, It's true some don't hear it, but some just don't THINK they do because they haven't done a lot of swapping necks and such which leaves the rest of the entire guitar in question as to what really made any change they heard or not. So if you want my opinion, rosewood is the better all around tone and sounds a lot better with those mid gain tones especially where u roll back the guitar to clean up than maple, which can be sorta bland there. Maple works good for high gain especially if the amp is middy, and the bass is tighter than rosewood. Personally rosewood is my fav and i always find that maple is very inconsistent in tone and i run into many of them that seem a bit lifeless and muddy in the lows. Tho when you get a good one as i said the lows tend to be tighter than rosewood. I prefer vintage neck design with the vintage truss rod because the tone is different. And if you get maple i'd stick with that because the bullet truss and the modern fender rod necks can easily be muddy in the lows especially with maple necks. On a side note, i assume u are asking about rosewood fingerboard on maple necks and not solid rosewood as someone above posted pics of.
  9. RnB

    RnB Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    Is that Rwd neck an early Fender CS neck? If not, who made it? Good looking neck...!
  10. rummy

    rummy Member

    Jul 12, 2008
  11. OM Flyer

    OM Flyer Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    An island of blue in a sea of red
    You'd have a hard time convincing me that there's an audible difference between a maple neck with a rosewood cap and one without. Especially once you amplify the thing, send it through a pedal board and into an EQ'd amp. But I feel the same way about alder vs ash bodies. Changing strings would probably have a bigger impact.
  12. Glowing Tubes

    Glowing Tubes Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 14, 2004
    Northern Colorado
    After over 30 years of playing, i feel there is a difference. dazco sums it up quite well.
  13. poolshark

    poolshark Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    They sound pretty close, but my mind perceives a difference. That is, rosewood has a fuller range (i.e., better high-highs and low-lows), which would make sense for a harder wood absorbing less energy. Glassy and full range, almost like an acoustic. Maple gets a rep for 'twang', but I think that's a product of high mids. Of course, you can compensate with other parts, that's just what I hear, etc., etc.
  14. omfg51

    omfg51 Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    Specifically in reference to fingerboard woods for Fenders (tele/strat), a solid maple neck is a little snappier on the top end, and will compress more easily and quicker (distortion/OD).

    A rosewood fingerboard is warmer, more open and airy sounding, feels very present and like the sound is bigger, very very good for clean and lighter gain stuff.
  15. DCross

    DCross Member

    May 12, 2007
    I have 2 g&l legacy's - same year, one maple one rosewood.. One of these days I'll record one, swap necks so it's the exact same pickups, body and bridge and post sound clips with a poll. One of these days.
  16. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

    Apr 30, 2008
    New Orleans + in the past
    If you make the ENTIRE neck out of Indian Rosewood, you're going to get a possible result that's fairly dissimilar from the typical all maple neck. I have one (all rosewood) that was weirdly, weirdly bright - strange, not so good emphasis of some frequencies over others. 6 years later, married to a different body/bridge/pickups it is a truly nice neck.

    But if the rosewood is just a thin cap laid over a maple structure, comprising 6-8% of the wood mass of the neck, all the other possible tonal factors are going to IMO overwhelm the presence of the layer of rosewood.

    Especially true with these truly massive truss rods in many modern necks. Especially true as well with more and more guys using Medium Jumbo, Jumbo and Super (6000) fretwire (they're sometimes barely ever touching the board wood). Especially true when so many different types of tuning machines are used. And especially true since some guys use necks of 1.00 inches thickness, even at the first fret.

    I'd assign just as much importance to things like string tree choice, nut material, and type of finish on the neck.

    To me, here's the genuine distinction, maple versus rosewood:

    1) In sweltering humidity and heat, sweat everywhere, rosewood provides some place for the sweat to go and it means, for me, more precise playing than on maple since the maple board is just awash with sweat.

    2) In Cruel Winter, when guitars get parched badly, a rosewood board is so vulnerable and Fret Sprout is a bigger real world concern. Plus, dry dry rosewood on a seldom played guitar tends to chafe and burn my fingertips if I dive directly into playing any meaningful interval.
  17. Iron Guns T

    Iron Guns T Member

    Jan 11, 2015
    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    finished maple=cleaner strings, nowhere for the dead skin and sweat to hide - providing the strings are cleaned after use
  18. BMX

    BMX Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2005
    I don't think it makes any difference. I think this started when fender started going rosewood in the late 50s and the pickups also changed and people made a false correlation with the sound an the fretboard wood.
  19. megawzrd

    megawzrd Member

    Jan 17, 2012
    IMO rosewood fretboard necks have a chewier rolled off top end or warm sound whereas maple fretboard necks tend to lean to the brighter side on the note. But this deifference is very minute and the sum of the neck and fretboard differences can be negliable. The neck coupled with the body has to be taken into acount.

    I also agree with the idea of fingertip feel in vibrato over rosewood vs poly or definately a sticky laquer. It can affect touch slightly and in turn affect tone.
  20. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    Balderdash! It's a bunch of malarkey. In a blind hearing test where a top notch musician is playing exemplary examples of each, no consensus will be reached.

    One of my many hobbies is hi-fi. There have been many double blind A/B/X tests done among speaker cables and nobody can tell with any degree of accuracy which ones are lamp cord and which are high dollar boutique speaker cables. :nuts

    Buy whatever neck looks best to you.

Share This Page