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Stratocasters - Models, Maple or Rosewood fingerboard, what do you use when and why?
Old 15th August 2019
  #1
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Stratocasters - Models, Maple or Rosewood fingerboard, what do you use when and why?

So I still miss my Fullerton '57 reissue Strat [a moment of silence, please], but so far I haven't figured out how to replace it. I was thinking about having one made, but haven't really got the measurements for the neck, and I really liked the neck on that guitar. There are a bunch for sale, here and there on Ebay and Reverb, but I haven't been able to settle on one. A lot of them are kind of chewed up, and they want ridiculous money.

So I'm thinking that maybe I'm just obsessing about the Fullerton thing, and I should just get a new Strat and play it. I dunno.

My '57 obviously had a maple board, but I wonder [after listening to a lot of Jeff Beck recently] if a rosewood board might be good. What do you think are the pros and cons of each?

I've actually only had a few Strats, and the one that I think probably had a rosewood board was one of those "The Strat" models, which was kind of its own thing. Other than that it was that Fullerton '57 reissue, with a maple board. I played that one for like 25 plus years.

I figure some of you probably have both, or have a bunch, and I would like to hear what you think about the differences. I know I should just go play them and decide, but where I'm at there are not a lot of really high end guitars in the music store to demo. So I am information gathering. I may still buy a Fullerton reissue or part of one, but I do like new guitars, so...................I need information.

What do you think?


Best always,


audioforce
Old 15th August 2019
  #2
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Zoobiedood's Avatar
 

I think it really comes down to a personal thing. I like the feel of un-lacquered wood, so I like rosewood better. It also looks cooler to me. THere is a case to be made that rosewood is warmer, too, which, to my ears, many strats need.
Old 15th August 2019
  #3
It is personal, I prefer a maple fingerboard. I have an Ash Lite Strat that has had a lot of good work done to it, and I really like the feel of that guitar. Last year I picked up a 1980 Fender "The Strat" because a client of mine had one and I really liked the sound. That has a rosewood fingerboard. So far for feel I prefer the Ash lite strat.
Old 15th August 2019
  #4
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kennybro's Avatar
I've owned many Strats, both RW and maple. Never noticed anything identifiable in the sound between board material. People say maple is brighter. My maple-cap 69 is the darkest sounding Strat I have. My American 62 RI is the brightest one I have. People buy into all kinds of definitive theories based on one or two isolated examples, but have no consistent factual grounding on a broader scale.

I personally prefer RW, but after playing the 69 for a few minutes, I no longer notice if it's maple or RW.
Old 15th August 2019
  #5
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Pindrive's Avatar
in theory, a glued on fingerboard is going to add more resistance to the neck. That should make it stiffer & brighter. Also, with a maple neck...more stable. With that said, I like the looks of a maple fingerboard on a Stratocaster. Classic look. I like my maple board just fine. I don't own any other maple fretboards.
Old 15th August 2019
  #6
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Mertmo's Avatar
 

I have always preferred rosewood to maple, but until recently I never really knew why. After finally owning and trying to commit to a nice Strat with a maple neck, and also a good MIM Telecaster with a maple neck, now I understand exactly why.

I tracked most of a record recently with the Strat I bought. I was in a pinch, and needed a more professional guitar quickly and on a budget. The Strat was available, it was in mint condition, and I was able to trade some microphones for it, straight across. So I just went for it, even though I would have preferred a rosewood neck. It's a 2014 USA Deluxe with a maple neck. Amazing guitar, no two ways about it. Nicest fretwork of any guitar I've ever owned. It tracked brilliantly (this record was almost exclusively DI, clean sounds...). I thought the maple fretboard had a touch more of that deep, airy, weird unexpected harmonics thing than rosewood. It just had more "extra" sounds and randomness, and more of that glassy character that is just so "Fender". Splitting hairs here of course, but I enjoyed it. I definitely had to try and play it a little softer than I play on a rosewood neck. I felt like I just couldn't dig in quite as much. Easy adjustment in the studio...

However, playing it live was just a bummer. I wished for a rosewood neck every time I took that guitar on a gig. So I started taking a rosewood guitar every other time and really paying attention to what the difference was for me as a live player. I finally figured it out.

Rosewood feels slipperier and faster when moving my hand up and down the fretboard. Just way easier to move around on. On a maple board, my hands stick to the fretboard material a little more, and I just don't move around as freely. It bothers me and hampers my playing style. And then, conversely, when I am bending a note, it's the opposite. On a rosewood board, the relative dryness and raw nature of the wood allows me to absolutely control the string under my finger. I can stick a note in one place for as long as I want, and I can completely control what I'm doing with confidence. But on a maple board, the finished surface just kills that control for me. The string rolls under my finger constantly, I can't control it as well and it just feels wrong. And like I mentioned earlier, I couldn't dig in as much and had to play it too lightly in comparison to a rosewood neck. That didn't work as well for me live either.

Now, caveats apply for days here...

In the studio, I'm sitting and concentrating. No problem either way, they both work. But I am a physically active live player. I move around a lot, and it's a very emotive experience for me. In that context, the difference is a dealbreaker. I need what a rosewood board offers me. If I had to, I could of course get used to anything and just make it work. I did many gigs on that Strat, and many more on the subsequent Telecaster. Both maple. Who cares in the end, I still played well and occasionally forgot what the neck was. But in a world where you have choices... why stick with something that you don't like as much? No reason. Especially now that I know exactly why.

So It's rosewood for me personally. Plus I like the look better, always have...

All these things are totally different for every player, so take my account with a grain of salt of course... guitars are different in the hands of every single person who plays them. Fascinating, really.
Old 16th August 2019
  #7
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TurboJets's Avatar
FWIW, I swapped in a neck with a rosewood fingerboard on my main Strat that came with a maple fingerboard and actually prefer the rosewood. I played the maple for about 5 years before making the change.

Sometimes I miss the glassy tones of the maple and sometimes I miss how smooth bends are on the maple, and I prefer the aesthetics of maple. But overall, I really prefer the more complex tones I get from the rosewood. The difference is subtle of course, but its there. To my ears, the maple is glassy and the rosewood is more bell-like.
Old 16th August 2019
  #8
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I have several but my favorite is the Clapton Signature Strat. I can't find anything about it that I don't like. In fact, I like it so much I have two of them. It's a great gigging guitar and an equally great studio guitar.
Old 16th August 2019
  #9
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Lunar Attic's Avatar
Never quite liked the feel of maple. Rosewood on my 1985 Contemporary. One of the first batch out of Japan after CBS closed shop. Serial nr A018939.

Rosewood or ebony on pretty much every instrument I own. Use linseed or (trade secret!) sandalwood oil to keep them in shape.

T
Old 16th August 2019
  #10
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
FWIW, I swapped in a neck with a rosewood fingerboard on my main Strat that came with a maple fingerboard and actually prefer the rosewood. I played the maple for about 5 years before making the change.

Sometimes I miss the glassy tones of the maple and sometimes I miss how smooth bends are on the maple, and I prefer the aesthetics of maple. But overall, I really prefer the more complex tones I get from the rosewood. The difference is subtle of course, but its there. To my ears, the maple is glassy and the rosewood is more bell-like.
Good reminder that necks can be swapped. Thanks.


Best,

audioforce
Old 16th August 2019
  #11
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx View Post
I have several but my favorite is the Clapton Signature Strat. I can't find anything about it that I don't like. In fact, I like it so much I have two of them. It's a great gigging guitar and an equally great studio guitar.
That's a maple board, right?


Best,

audioforce
Old 16th August 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunar Attic View Post
Never quite liked the feel of maple. Rosewood on my 1985 Contemporary. One of the first batch out of Japan after CBS closed shop. Serial nr A018939.

Rosewood or ebony on pretty much every instrument I own. Use linseed or (trade secret!) sandalwood oil to keep them in shape.
I played one with rosewood board a couple days agoand I played weird, but it wasn’t the fingerboard, it was the enormous frets.

I don’t mind the feel of either. I do like ebony a lot.i guess I’m more interested in what kind of sound is characteristic.

Best,

audioforce
Old 16th August 2019
  #13
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I appreciate the responses on this. Interested to hear what people perceive as the difference in sound between maple and rosewood, as well as any comments on other notable characteristics of any of the currently available high end models.

Best,

audioforce
Old 16th August 2019
  #14
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
 

68 RI with maple cap
multiple partscasters with rosewood boards

I prefer the rosewood overall. It looks better and feels better, I play the 68 RI because it's a pretty different sounding guitar with backwards pickups.
Old 16th August 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonwhistle View Post
68 RI with maple cap
multiple partscasters with rosewood boards

I prefer the rosewood overall. It looks better and feels better, I play the 68 RI because it's a pretty different sounding guitar with backwards pickups.
What do you mean by backwards pickups? Do you think the rosewood sounds different? If so, in what way?

Best,

audioforce
Old 16th August 2019
  #16
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I found this about fretboards, comparing maple, rosewood, and ebony:

https://www.dawsons.co.uk/blog/which...hould-i-choose


I tend to think its fair to say that maple has a little more snap than rosewood, but it varies from instrument to instrument.

What do you all think?


Best,

audioforce
Old 16th August 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
I tend to think its fair to say that maple has a little more snap than rosewood, but it varies from instrument to instrument.

What do you all think?
In the well over 100 Fenders I've owned over the decades, I've never noticed anything consistently identifiable.

Fingerboard material is way down at the bottom of a very long list of other factors influencing overall tone. In order to make a worthy assessment, the exact same guitar would have to have only the fingerboard replaced, and well-conducted blind A/B listening test would have to be done. Anything less is subjective personal opinion that disregards hundreds of tone affecting elements of an electric guitar. And even doing would present variables, such as perception changes over time, performance anomalies, and how the player responds to the tactile feel of rosewood vs finished maple.

Declaring this fingerboard sounds like this and that one sounds like that is one of those things that has built steam over time because people read about it and believe it, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, built on thousands of individual subjective conclusions, each one based on a very limited number of instruments... more often than not, a single instrument.
Old 16th August 2019
  #18
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro View Post
In the well over 100 Fenders I've owned over the decades, I've never noticed anything consistently identifiable.

Fingerboard material is way down at the bottom of a very long list of other factors influencing overall tone. In order to make a worthy assessment, the exact same guitar would have to have only the fingerboard replaced, and well-conducted blind A/B listening test would have to be done. Anything less is subjective personal opinion that disregards hundreds of tone affecting elements of an electric guitar. And even doing would present variables, such as perception changes over time, performance anomalies, and how the player responds to the tactile feel of rosewood vs finished maple.

Declaring this fingerboard sounds like this and that one sounds like that is one of those things that has built steam over time because people read about it and believe it, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, built on thousands of individual subjective conclusions, each one based on a very limited number of instruments... more often than not, a single instrument.
You're starting to sound like Ethan Winer.
Old 16th August 2019
  #19
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I like maple fretboard strats.
I had a Mexican one way back and I loved it.
Yeah snap and clarity is what maple is supposed to give you over rosewood.
I really kind of doubt the difference in tonality is huge.
Does fender offer unfinished, baked maple, or satin for their necks and fretboards?
If they do, I would definitely check those out.
I can’t stand glossy necks and fingerboards.
And it’s always on maple necks.

I know charvel offers some of those options and fender owns charvel but it’s a separate company.

Edit: I definitely remember that maple neck strat I had sounding better than rosewood, to me.
That’s what it felt like, more snap and clarity.
But that was years ago, I was a kid so no telling.
Old 16th August 2019
  #20
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Lo and behold. Apparently, the Fender custom shop is making a "Vintage custom '57 Strat" now. So I guess there's that.

But its ridiculously pricey, and I wonder if there's a way to get that type of guitar for less money.


Best,

audioforce
Old 16th August 2019
  #21
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
Lo and behold. Apparently, the Fender custom shop is making a "Vintage custom '57 Strat" now. So I guess there's that.

But its ridiculously pricey, and I wonder if there's a way to get that type of guitar for less money.


Best,

audioforce
The price is beyond stupid. Make your own for about $1300. Order your dream neck and an ash body with your favorite finish from Warmoth, your favorite tuners and wire in some Bill Lawrence pickups. In the end it will be a better guitar.
Old 16th August 2019
  #22
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Kozmos88's Avatar
 

Quote:
Make your own for about $1300. Order your dream neck and an ash body with your favorite finish from Warmoth, your favorite tuners and wire in some Bill Lawrence pickups. In the end it will be a better guitar.
+1 on that ..

have had a few strats .. including
a '63 strat .. rosewood f.board ( sold it in 1970 :-( .. )
an 82 squire JV .. rosewood f.board ..
a couple of others not worth mentioning as they were crappola ..

for various reasons decided to make my own from parts ( bought from w.d. music )
one piece swamp-ash body .. vintage style maple neck .. s.d. and k.armstrong p.u.'s
graph tech tusq. nut .. titanium saddles .. ..
parts + finish material cost aprox. £600 ( usa $729 today )

that were in 2012 .. necks seem to have gone up in price now ..

worked out well .. plays better than the squire jv .. ended up selling that one
Old 16th August 2019
  #23
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
What do you mean by backwards pickups? Do you think the rosewood sounds different? If so, in what way?

Best,

audioforce
No. People say rosewood is warmer, maple is glassy, snappier etc. but on actual recordings it never seems that way. They all just sound like strats.

Backwards pickups as in right handed stagger on a left handed guitar.
Old 16th August 2019
  #24
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Those who pretend "RW necks sound like this and Maple neck sound like that" just have not owned or tried enough guitars. Soundwise, it depends on many other factors.
Now the feel is indeed different. I tend to like feel of maple necks.
Old 16th August 2019
  #25
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Well, I agree that there are lots of factors contributing small amounts of differences, but I think the fingerboard material does have some, even if small, effect. Whether that effect works with, or is overcome by, the other factors, is probably something to consider.

So each guitar has to be considered / appreciated individually, I suppose.

Just my opinion. YMMV. I base it more on comparing Telecasters with different boards, I guess.


Best,


audioforce
Old 17th August 2019
  #26
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by numero6 View Post
Those who pretend "RW necks sound like this and Maple neck sound like that" just have not owned or tried enough guitars. Soundwise, it depends on many other factors.
Now the feel is indeed different. I tend to like feel of maple necks.
I’m used to all of them, feelwise, I guess. They do feel different, I think. Would like to try an ebony board Strat maybe.


Best,

audioforce
Old 17th August 2019
  #27
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RicTone's Avatar
 

Prior to 1966 I'd owned a Fender Musicmaster with Maple Fretboard. In 1966 I ordered from the factory through Petert's Music in Portland, a factory Telecaster. Mr. Petert advised I order a Maple neck because it was "faster."

Iconic picture of Mr Petert in the lighter blazer in the center of the picture from the '60s. I'm not in this picture.



I did order the Maple neck as Mr. Petert advised and I've stated many times on this forum, the Telecaster is and was my best loved guitar. I was a fool and sold the Telecaster in 1970 so I could buy a motorcycle.

Bottom line in the thirty or so Fender guitars I've owned, they've all had Maple necks. I don't like the feel of some Rosewood, I don't like the grain. Maple.
Old 17th August 2019
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

I have had a bunch of Fender strats and teles, currently own a half dozen. I cannot tell any tone difference between maple and rosewood, but there is a huge difference in feel. The lacquer on the maple is much stickier than rosewood, so I much prefer rosewood over maple for bends and pronounced vibrato. Since there are wide variances on genres of music and playing styles, some players may prefer the opposite of what I like.
Old 17th August 2019
  #29
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bitman's Avatar
I prefer maple on all my fender style guitars as the maple seems smoother and quicker. It could be all in my head though.
Old 17th August 2019
  #30
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telecode's Avatar
I only use rosewood fretboard..I don't like to play maple . I feel the rosewood allows me to control the strings better.
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