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Old 04-08-2013, 09:43 AM   #1
Alexander Nero
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About ebony fingerboard

I wanted to buy a new guitar, something not too much expensive but not something that's just an entry level, since i already got an Epiphone SG. I will probabily play the rhythm guitar in a band soon, mainly in thrash metal, so looking around for something suitable i found that the LTD Explorer 360 (around 650 euros) seemed to be perfect for me. Just a thing troubled me: do I really need an ebony fingerboard like on the James Hetfield's Snakebyte, which the EX 360 doesn't have? Does it really change the sound that much?
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:57 AM   #2
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I have 2 Ebony fingerboard guitars (1 is an acoustic, the other electric) and 3 Rosewood fingerboard guitars.

The short answer is that it doesn't matter at all, any differences will be very minor. Ebony is generally a lot harder than Rosewood, though it can also be brittle for that reason in some cases, sound wise it can be a little brighter.

Really it isn't going to matter, it's very low on the list of things that are going to make a difference.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:26 AM   #3
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It doesn't matter, especially with set neck or neck through guitars. On bolt-ons the difference is more noticable, especially more modern designs where the fretboard is much thicker. If you're playing any sort of metal though, to hell with it all. By the time you've whacked the gain up your sound is being compressed and clippe so much, only the broadest of differences in guitar spec are going to matter.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:09 AM   #4
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unless you're totally l33t, chances are they will sound the same to you. pick whatever you think looks better.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:32 AM   #5
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As already stated by those posting before me the difference in tonality will almost be non distinguishable between ebony and say rosewood. Ebony does tend to be slightly brighter but that can be compensated for on the amps eq anyways. However I have a huge preference to ebony over rosewood for the feeling and durability. Ebony feels a lot harder and just seems smoother and faster to mean as it lacks the imperfection I attribute to rosewood such as the "cracks" in the wood. But this is a preference thing more or less you have to feel the wood under your fingers.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 95thFallout
However I have a huge preference to ebony over rosewood for the feeling and durability. Ebony feels a lot harder and just seems smoother and faster to mean as it lacks the imperfection I attribute to rosewood such as the "cracks" in the wood. But this is a preference thing more or less you have to feel the wood under your fingers.


This was the big thing for me, as I did not notice any difference in tone, but more the feel of it. At first it just felt really slippery, but after a day or two, I really ended up enjoying it, and would prefer it on my guitars from now on, just because of the "feel"
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bigbazz
I have 2 Ebony fingerboard guitars (1 is an acoustic, the other electric) and 3 Rosewood fingerboard guitars.

The short answer is that it doesn't matter at all, any differences will be very minor. Ebony is generally a lot harder than Rosewood, though it can also be brittle for that reason in some cases, sound wise it can be a little brighter.

Really it isn't going to matter, it's very low on the list of things that are going to make a difference.


In terms of sound, you are right that it doesn't make much of a difference. I have noticed that it does, however, bring out harmonics a little bit more.

There is a HUGE difference in feel though. Ebony fretboards feel super slick and fast and are really easy to bend on because the grain is much finer and less "sticky", so to speak. Going from ebony to rosewood makes me feel like someone covered the neck in molasses lol. After going from rosewood to ebony and back to rosewood (not preferential), i can say that there is a massive difference in the feel of the two woods. Obviously the quality of the wood will affect it as well, but just in general the difference is quite big.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:37 PM   #8
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When I'm buying an electric guitar, I don't care about the woods at all. I try different guitars and buy the one that sounds and feels the best. And I think there are lots of guitarists who use rosewood fingerboard and play metal. (I'm pretty sure early Metallica records were all recorded with rosewood fingerboard guitars.) Also, there's no rules in what kind of guitars you should use for different genres. You can play metal with Telecaster if you want.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:53 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
When I'm buying an electric guitar, I don't care about the woods at all. I try different guitars and buy the one that sounds and feels the best. And I think there are lots of guitarists who use rosewood fingerboard and play metal. (I'm pretty sure early Metallica records were all recorded with rosewood fingerboard guitars.) Also, there's no rules in what kind of guitars you should use for different genres. You can play metal with Telecaster if you want.

John 5 anyone?
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
When I'm buying an electric guitar, I don't care about the woods at all. I try different guitars and buy the one that sounds and feels the best.
Dude, that's just freakin' crazy talk. Buying a guitar that sounds good. WTF?!?
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:24 PM   #11
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Dude, that's just freakin' crazy talk. Buying a guitar that sounds good. WTF?!?

Yeah, what I meant was that I buy the guitar that sounds and feels the best and I don't care about tonewoods. If it sounds good, it's not only because of the wood. It just sounds good. So I try different guitars and don't even look at the wood they are made of. The wood doesn't tell me anything about the guitar.
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Old 04-08-2013, 05:46 PM   #12
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Lol, it tells you how much the thing will weigh. It'll tell you how resistant it is to dings and knocks. It'll tell you how susceptible it will be to temperature and humidity changes. The wood is important for more than just tone and sound.
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:06 PM   #13
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There is a HUGE difference in feel though.

Exactly. Feel is what it's all about.

Of course if you're rocking jumbo frets, I don't think it matters either way.

:p
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:16 PM   #14
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Of course if you're rocking jumbo frets, I don't think it matters either way.

:p

This.

A lot of metal guitars have ebony fingerboards, which seems rather pointless because the frets are often so tall, you hardly touch the fingerboard when you're playing anyway. If you're touching the fingerboard on such big frets then chances are that you're fretting too hard.

Then again, it might just be the case for my playing style. I fret very lightly as the action on my guitars are low enough to allow for such a style.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:37 PM   #15
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I dunno, 2 of my Strats have absolutely tiny frets and a Rosewood fingerboard and I don't have any issue with it like you're talking about above, and the Jem with the Ebony fingerboard has big ass frets so It doesn't matter anyway. In terms of feel I don't think there is any preference to be had with Ebony over Rosewood, from my point of view.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:00 PM   #16
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I'm prepared to get banned again; the wood your electric guitar is made of doesn't change your tone. Even if it did, you could just use an EQ to make your rosewood fingerboard sound like an ebony.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:54 AM   #17
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I'm prepared to get banned again; the wood your electric guitar is made of doesn't change your tone. Even if it did, you could just use an EQ to make your rosewood fingerboard sound like an ebony.

Lol. Let's not start this again. The wood might or might not have an affect on tone but if you are playing metal, you are using lots of distortion and the differences will be hardly noticeable.

So what if you can use EQ? You could say the same about single coil pickups that could be EQed to sound like humbuckers. But wouldn't it be better to just buy humbuckers if you prefer the sound of them over single coils?

But the reason why wood could affect the tone is that it would affect how the strings vibrate. People have said there's a difference in tone between different bridges so why couldn't there be a difference in tone between different woods? Both affect how strings vibrate. I mean, when played unplugged you can hear a clear difference. Why couldn't you hear it when you play with an amp? Of course it would only really matter if you used clean sound or light overdrive. And again, I don't look at the woods when I want a guitar that sounds good. I just try different guitars, the wood doesn't matter to me at all.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:44 AM   #18
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I'd prefer an ebony finger board if I could get one. If not, I'd settle for rosewood. Since all of the guitars I own at the moment have rosewood boards, it seems I have settled.

The only maker, (at least off the top of my head), that offers ebony boards as standard is Carvin. Rosewood is the option.

Of all the factors that could influence the sound of a guitar, I tend to guess that fingerboard wood is well down on that list.

Gibson got into trouble with either ebony or rosewood and started touting, (and using) a "new great wood for fingerboards (*)" on a couple of their models.

After the dust of this settles, I'm pretty sure most you would admit that the neck itself, (EG maple or mahogany), and the body wood, (EG maple or mahogany), and the pickups will have a much more profound effect on tonality than the fingerboard.

I would have to say, If the option between ebony and rosewood was available, I'd pick ebony. Not for the "sound", but because it's harder and stands up better to your claws and string scraping than rosewood.

I expect that on an acoustic guitar, I might want to have a closer listen before I made my choice. But that said, acoustics tend to magnify the difference between woods more so than electrics. But here again, it's mostly in the soundboard tone woods , and a combination of wood tonality and construction (solid or laminated), in the back and sides.

(*) Obeche

Here's a Google search page with more on Gibson's fingerboard wood woes: https://www.google.com/search?clien...c.1.5BqXUz2sYwk (This of course, assumes you haven't had enough controversy already).

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Old 04-09-2013, 05:08 AM   #19
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The wood on an electric has very little to do with the sound, especially when playing metal.

Think about it, most metal guitars have jumbo frets as already mentioned. The strings barely touch the frets if at all.

Even then, rosewood resonates much better than ebony. If either wood did offer much more sustain, it would be rosewood. If anything, ebony is a bit stiffer that rosewood, but not really enough to make any difference.

I really think it isn't stressed often enough that guitar woods don't make that much of a difference in the sound of electrics. Your going for a comfortable weight, look, and durability. Basswood is light, but its soft so dents easy, etc. After your amp, pickups, and scale length, wood has very little effect on the finished guitar.

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Old 04-09-2013, 11:30 AM   #20
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Lol. Let's not start this again. The wood might or might not have an affect on tone but if you are playing metal, you are using lots of distortion and the differences will be hardly noticeable.

So what if you can use EQ? You could say the same about single coil pickups that could be EQed to sound like humbuckers. But wouldn't it be better to just buy humbuckers if you prefer the sound of them over single coils?


Checkmate with the single coils and humbuckers, but, if wood changed how strings vibrate, it would change the note... we all know that doesn't happen.
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