The fretboard of the guitars holds the frets. Choosing the right kind of wood for fretboard is important because it decides many things for a guitarist. However, one of the most common mistakes newbies with guitar gear make is that they do not choose the right kind of wood for their fretboards and seating your guitar frets. Many new guitarist tend to completely ignore the fretboard wood while choosing a guitar.
This factor should not be overlooked because the quality of the guitar’s fretboard wood decides the longevity of the guitar, the feel of the guitar, and the tonal quality to some extent. Hence it is important that a fretboard feels right on your finger because you will be touching it for the most part while playing the guitar.
Rosewood Fingerboard Woods
Rosewood is one of the most preferred wood types for guitar fretboard wood. It has been many decades since rosewood is one of the most favorites of guitar players as a fretboard material. Rose food is actually a kind of softwood that has a dark brown, or reddish-brown color. There are actually two distinct categories of rosewood— the Indian Rosewood, and the Brazilian Rosewood. I love rosewood tone.
Indian Rosewood Fretboard Woods
Fender guitars first used the Indian Rosewood instead of Maple wood. Since then, this material has become a staple in making guitar fretboards. Indian Rosewood is dark in color, which provides a pretty good contrast to the entire guitar.
It is a porous wood that makes it more susceptible to climatic changes. It can retain more dirt and moisture and also react to heat more. This means that you will have to take proper care of your guitar if the fretboard is made of Indian Rosewood.
Fretboards made of the Indian Rosewood is not that costly. However, your fingers would feel the wood to be slightly rougher than it would feel in the case of ebony or maplewood.
Finding Brazilian Rosewood fretboard is becoming very rare because of its high price. This type of rosewood is found in Honduras and Brazil. It is one of the most expensive woods because of its quality and rarity. It has a dense texture resembling more to ebony than the Indian Rosewood.
The Brazilian rosewood is not as porous as the Indian Rosewood, which makes it less susceptible to climatic changes. It will not accumulate or soak in moisture. The feel of the Brazilian Rosewood fretboard is better than the Indian Rosewood to a great degree. However, if money is an issue, then you can skip this out.
Maple is one of the best woods for fretboards. It is dense, stiff, and pretty long-lasting. It is called utilitarian wood for a reason. Maple has one of the best textures. Price-wise, maple fretboards made of this type of wood is high too. Maplewood is visually appealing, especially if you have guitar parts made out of flame maple or Birdseye maple.
There are various types of Maple wood that are used for guitar fretboards. We will have a look at them.
The Birdseye maple is the hardest of its kind. It is found in North America and Canadian forests. The diameter of Birdseye maple trees is about 1 meter and its weighs more than 700kg/mt3.
The flame Maple wood comes from the European countries. France is one of the best producers of flame Maple wood. The flame maple wood trees grow up to about 35 meters in length and are 1 meter thick. The weight of this type of wood is about 600 kg/m3
Quilted Maple fingerboard wood is native to America, which mainly grows in the Oregon forests. Quilted Maple is denser than the flame figured Maple wood and is mainly used for making the top plates of the guitar instead of the fretboard. Trees that grow quilted maple are generally 31 meter in length, and have a 1.2-meter diameter.
Ebony is one of the best fretboard woods. It is darker in color and adds one of the best tonal quality to the melodies you play on your guitar. Ebony is, by far, one of the most expensive woods. Fretboard made of ebony is available in two varieties, the Asian ebony, and the African ebony tone.
As the name suggests, the Asian ebony grows in the continent of Asia. The countries that abound in this type of wood are India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. The African ebony, on the other hand, grows in Africa, and it is darker than its Asian counterpart.
Finding a guitar with ebony fretboards is not that common. You will see ebony wood fingerboards in Gibson’s that date decades back. The tonal quality it produces is pretty balanced. Ebony has a pretty smooth texture that gives the fretboard an overall aesthetic quality.
This is commonly used with scalloped fretboard necks as well.
Granadillo wood is mainly produced in Cuba, Mexico. It is a dense wood that you will find in the modern-day fretboards. Many varieties of granadillo are marked by distinguished stripes. The color varies from reddish-brown to dark purple. Many guitarists prefer fingerboards made of granadillo because of the bright tone they produce.
Technically speaking, Richlite is not wood. It is a material made of recycled paper. It is an acoustically superior material for the fretboard, according to many guitarists.
Richlite is perhaps a more expensive material than ebony wood. However, this fretboard material has its own benefits. Richlite is stain-resistant, scratch-resistant, and not very susceptible to climatic changes. It has a superior tonal quality too. If you aren’t too keen on buying fretboard made of woods particularly, then this can be a better option. However, we would ask the newbies not to invest in Richlite fretboards because it can be expensive, and it is better for a new guitarist to practice on wooden fretboards first.
Some other quick options:
- wenge wood
- pau ferro
- olive wood
We hope this article on the types of fretboard woods was of help. If you are looking for the most cost-effective fretboard option that is of good quality, we think that Indian rosewood makes a suitable material for it. If cost is not a factor, then you can settle for a good maple wood fretboard. No matter what you do, make sure that you take good care of your guitar‘s fingerboard (how to clean guitar fingerboard) so that it produces the best melodies.