What's the verdict on Richlite fingerboards?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by PLAYLOUD, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. hunter

    hunter Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,052
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2002
    Obviously, some will some won't. I suspect that anything less than un-dyed very dark ebony will be equally perceived as a deviation from tradition and a negative by a lot of folks. One thing for sure, exercising the options is going to piss somebody off. Time will tell.

    hunter
     
    grumphh and ixnay like this.
  2. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,299
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Yes, we're in complete agreement. A fiberglass boat will perform perfectly, but if you wanted a mahogany boat, you wouldn't want fiberglass designed to look like mahogany. I wasn't suggesting it shouldn't matter to anyone, only that it really wouldn't matter to me personally. I was simply asking myself, if I wanted to buy a new Gibson, would a Richlite board be an issue and the answer is no, unless it would be structurally or cosmetically inferior. For me, a guitar's value is mainly in how good it is as a musical instrument. And of course I want it to look good as well.
     
  3. rsm

    rsm Member

    Messages:
    14,102
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Location:
    On an island in the Atlantic Ocean
    phenolic > richlite
    IMO

    Dear Gibson, if richlite is so superior and high tech, how come you didn't use it on your futuristic, high tech, game changing, Firebird X? o_O
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
    sahhas likes this.
  4. PhilF

    PhilF Member

    Messages:
    568
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Chicago
    How so? Richlite is phenolic resin with cellulose pulp. They are two very similar materials. I'm curious as to why exactly you think one is better.
     
  5. DC1

    DC1 Member

    Messages:
    15,066
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    SoCal
    I love the streaked and multi-colored ebony!

    BTW, just for the record, all sorts of exotic woods have been used as countertops.

    dc
     
  6. rsm

    rsm Member

    Messages:
    14,102
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Location:
    On an island in the Atlantic Ocean
    was being facetious. I owned several original Steinbergers back in the day, still have my XL2, and have 4 Synapse SS-2F guitars currently, all phenolic...richlite is fine. Wish they'd use different colors though. I'd dig a white phenolic board on my white SS-2F for example.
     
    sahhas likes this.
  7. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

    Messages:
    1,761
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Location:
    3rd stone from the sun
    I think Richlite has its uses, but if I'm plunking down big bucks for a high end tonewood guitar, I don't want a mother of bowling ball fingerboard on it. If it is a composite guitar, or something experimental/futuristic, then I don't have a problem with it.
     
    CJReaper and Bertiman like this.
  8. Brewski

    Brewski Member

    Messages:
    339
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    that's horse crap!! any claim by Gibson to increase their price while moving from wood to pressboard with resin that you can cut to any length with any saw is BS.
    Now -do I care if it's not Ebony and not Rosewood - Yes!! the reason is - lower the price.

    I want another Les Paul from Gibson but cannot buy a guitar with pearloid inlays, plastic nut, pressboard fretboard for over $1K or ever more when I can get the real deal from South Korea for sub $600.00

    Come on American Makers - bodies are made in CNC machines, Necks and Fretboards too - the tuners are all from China (Grover, Planet) bridges China, pickups - heck gimme Seymour Duncan for $180.00 - what is the cost - American labor? Seems ridiculous
     
  9. RicardoDiazHimself

    RicardoDiazHimself Member

    Messages:
    995
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2018
    Had an Aristides 060 here last week to work on it. For 3 days I thought it was ebony. It was richlite. Fine by me!
     
    bluegrif, AltecGreen and DC1 like this.
  10. Mincer

    Mincer Member

    Messages:
    3,944
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    Location:
    Tampa Bay area, FL USA
    Never an issue for me although you'd think they'd be more adventurous with the colors/patterns.
     
  11. Bossanova

    Bossanova Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,768
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Now that Gibson has returned to ebony, the richlite guitars should become more affordable very soon...
     
  12. qblue

    qblue Member

    Messages:
    962
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Location:
    NE Pennsylvania, Scranton
    The reason I like richlite is that it represents an end product of my recycling of cardboard boxes. It's supposed to be expensive, due to the phenolic resins involved.

    I have one on my Martin D-16GT, which I inherited from a buddy. It plays fine, but needs electronics. I'm not a bluegrass fanatic.
     
    sahhas likes this.
  13. Lonnie00

    Lonnie00 Member

    Messages:
    1,364
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    Location:
    GO CHIEFS!!!!
    "Now that Gibson has returned to ebony, the richlite guitars should become more affordable very soon..."

    I came here looking for info on richlite specifically because Gibson has indeed marked a couple of their $1600 LPs down to $1200.
     
  14. silver_mica

    silver_mica Member

    Messages:
    79
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2015
    Location:
    California
    I didn't realize Gibson sold production guitars with ebony fretboards. That's good to know.
     
  15. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,077
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Location:
    PNW, USA
    Richlite is not a low-cost alternative to real woods. At best it's an equally-price alternative, but usually it's more expensive.
     
    sahhas and Thumpalumpacus like this.
  16. Sirloin

    Sirloin Supporting Member

    Messages:
    14,085
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    NC
    Thankfully, Gibson has dropped richlite from its 2019 lineup.
     
    modavis99 likes this.
  17. Gondo

    Gondo Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2019
    I own a Godin with Richlite. It's basically all black with no streaking so looks like a good piece of Ebony, and it plays similarly. It's unfinished so it's smooth like Ebony not sticky like a Finished Maple. It's very dense and durable so strings bend very nice, and it sounds good. Performance wise it's every bit as good as any wood. Just look at the comments where people thought they had ebony only to realize later on it was this synthetic Richlite stuff.

    Looking at the practical aspect it's very stable and durable. It helps stabilize the neck and it won't shrink and expand so with a perfect fret job the fret ends will stay perfect. For example I visited a local guitar shop and all the guitars had fret sprout due to bad humidity control, even $3000 Ibanez, Fenders, Jacksons, etc... The Godins were perfect from the manufacturer. So it's very practical and you don't need to condition the fretboard. Just clean it and you're good to go for the life of the guitar.

    Godin reminds me of Kiesel guitars in that they strive to use the best techniques in every aspect of the building process. The difference is that Keisel is custom built to order so they have the different wood options, while Godin is a production guitar so you get what the company decides. Robert Godin always strives to use the best parts and techniques so you get top of the line parts like sealed Toko Pots on circuit boards amongst others things. Techniques like a 5th screw on the neck joint and perfect setups make Godin build quality stand up to anything on the market. Their Tric foam cases are something else too in their price range. If Godin says Richlite is good you better believe it. There is a Cult following of their instruments in Canada and in the Jazz scene.

    My opinion is that Guitar players over analyze everything. Steve Vai could make a $300 squire sing like nobody else on this forum. It's all in the fingers. And guitar players can get quite snobbish with their instruments wanting all hardwood, and thinking that flame maple will make the guitar better than a regular maple cap. Guitars become collectors items not because of their quality but because of their history. And taking this into account many guitar players will not buy a guitar because it has Richlite instead of real wood. But not too many guitar players will turn down a guitar because it uses Ebony instead of Richlite. So from a business standpoint it makes sense to use Ebony or Rosewood instead of Richlite, otherwise snobbish guitar players will not buy it. Hence the reason Gibson tried it but stopped using it. Godin can use it exclusively without affecting sales because they have a dedicated fan base of customers who just know that Godin puts out one of the best American made instruments in it's price range. They are a working mans professional instrument. Jazz players and Synth guitar players need a high quality professional instrument with great tracking and that's what Godin and Richlite provide. Les Paul buyers want a guitar to play Rock n Roll and they want real wood just because they think it's better.

    In the end I would never turn a guitar down because it uses Richlite. The only reason I would exclusively demand real wood would be from a Collector's standpoint or if I wanted a custom design such as zebra wood, or a fully unfinished roasted maple neck/fretboard combo. But Richlite definitely deserves to be on a $3000 professional studio or touring guitar every bit as much as hardwood.
     
    bluesmeanie, sahhas and bluegrif like this.
  18. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Member

    Messages:
    6,540
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Location:
    Texas
    I don't know the pricing of Richlite nowadays, but the difference between Richlite and ebony back in 2012 was only about $35 from StewMac.
     
    sahhas likes this.
  19. OldHootOwl

    OldHootOwl Member

    Messages:
    316
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2019
    With all other factors being identical, I can't tell the difference in tone from one fretboard to another. Some say fretboard effects tone but I don't hear it. For me, fretboard is just about looks and feel and richlite knocks it out of the park in both categories. I say this as someone who feels jet black fingerboards are the best so if ebony is out of the question, whatever comes closest to looking like ebony wins. I also like Resinator fretboards on Hagstroms.
     
  20. Woollymonster

    Woollymonster Member

    Messages:
    902
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Yeah, I do. Some Martins are $7k and up. My HD-28V (ebony board) was $3k five years ago.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice