#1
This is my first article on UG, so I think this is going to be really hard.

In this article I won't refer maple because I've never played in a guitar with a maple fingerboard, so I don't know much about it.

Let's start with rosewood.

Rosewood is a very dense dark red and brown wood with prominent black graining, coming mainly from Brazil (which produces the best rosewood), India and Madagascar.

Most of the guitar companies make their fingerboards of this wood because it is not a very expensive wood and theoretically you could wear out a Rosewood fingerboard, thus needing a replacement fingerboard and new inlays. Or maybe just go out and buy another guitar. Let's face it. If guitars were built too well, people would keep them forever and, perhaps, never buy a new one. So we can say that big companies made their guitars with rosewood fingerboards because they know that it is going chip off. This way they know they are going to sale more guitars.
There are many other reasons why many companies don't use ebony fingerboards. For example PRS doesn't use ebony to make their fingerboards. That's because PRS guitars are entirely machine made, so, if you use an automated fret installation system that rams the frets down into the fingerboard there is a very good chance you will split the ebony. Consequently, I don't think that PRS will be doing any Ebony fingerboards now or in the future. They are concentrating more on automation than on hand building. And above all rosewood is not that beauty, I don't like to see those sort of chips along the fingerboard and is not plain black.
But I have to admit, that rosewood as it's advantages, being the most notorious one the price.


Now, Ebony.

Ebony is a very dense, very hard wood with straight to slightly interlocked grain. Very fine textured and is believed to be the blackest wood that grows. Comes mainly from Madagascar, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Here I?m going to explain why most of the guitar companies don?t use ebony fingerboards.

1- Price Prohibitive: Good Quality Jet Black Madagascar Ebony costs upwards of 25 to 30 times more than Rosewood.
2- Hard To Work With: It has a severe blunting effect on cutters. In leveling out the board a reduced angle of at least 20 degrees is absolutely required. Also it requires an increase in shoe and pressure bars to prevent wood from riding or chattering on the cutters.

3- Limited Shelf Life: Ebony is highly resistant to any preservative treatment. ~

4- Damages Easily (Only During Construction.) I have to be careful how I write this one. Someone could read it and miss the point entirely. Ebony is easily damaged during construction but once the guitar is built Ebony is far Stronger, Stiffer & Much More Stable.
Even though almost any type of Ebony is 10 times stronger than any type of Rosewood and helps stabilize and strengthen the neck it will crack under the pressure of the new automatic fretting machines which slam all of the frets down hard into the fingerboard. This means that Ebony fingerboards should be fretted by hand and therefore require hours of labor that the major companies do not want to pay for.

6- Inlay Work Cost. Remember the bean counters at these large corporations watch everything like a hawk. Being more brittle than Rosewood, Ebony requires a much more skilled person to do inlay work than rosewood.

The Benefits of using ebony:

1- Ebony is much harder and polishes up beautifully so that the neck feels smooth and slick. It's much harder and therefore you can get a better percussive tone when doing two hand tapping and hammer on's or playing without a pick.
2- Ebony reduces finger fatigue. If you play for hours your fingers will appreciate the smoothness. It's barely noticeable but the smoothness makes it so that you can play longer without getting sore fingers.
3- Cosmetically Beautiful, The Jet Black Ebony contrasts nicely with the binding and/or inlay material, also it effectively hides any filler for a much cleaner look.
4- Ebony is much stronger and much more stable. It helps keep your neck straighter and also protects it from breaking.

Ebony sounds great on a guitar with a long neck, it's more percussive, as long as you don't have a real hard wood body like solid Maple or solid Bubinga it makes for a great tonal combination.
Good tone is derived from combining different woods. We hang up fingerboards, & body woods and tap them for resonance and pitch. Most small hand builders will at least attempt to marry the different woods together sometimes in thirds, fifths or in unison pitch. I am sure Paul Reed Smith was doing that in the first 2 to 3 years they were building their guitars. I am positive they are not doing it today.

Besides all that was written, you will need to find the pickups that go best for your guitar. Go to Seymour Duncan website and check the Tone Wizard. I own a Jackson KV2, and goes perfect with EMG-HZ H4.

I hope it helped.
#2
i have a blakc finger board on my acoustic guitar it a SX acoustic pack but not shore if it ebony but its got a lot of fret were and it not even a year old??? any ideas??
#3
Quote by social_reject
i have a blakc finger board on my acoustic guitar it a SX acoustic pack but not shore if it ebony but its got a lot of fret were and it not even a year old??? any ideas??


im sure it uses a rosewood fingerboard since many low end guitar companies dont use exotic woods for ther guitar necks
#4
It needs more detail - you were very negative about rosewood, and it's not as bad as you make out. I'm not sure about your first point about rosewood wearing out being the reason companies use it. I doubt that's the case.

If you extend it a bit, and maybe include a section on maple fretboards, this could be really good. At the moment, it's not that great.
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#5
you could also put in the fact that you can stain rosewood to get it to a ebony colour but i dont know how long it can keep the stain
#7
^
I'm not very active here on UG currently.
I'm a retired Supermod off to the greener pastures of the real world.
#8
Quote by rui brito
That's because PRS guitars are entirely machine made


i highly doubt that. do your research. there's no way a $2,000 is entirely machine made.
Quote by corduroyEW
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#9
Quote by tubab0y
i highly doubt that. do your research. there's no way a $2,000 is entirely machine made.

I don't really see what the big deal is about who or what actually produces the components of the guitar... It's going to sound just as good if a machine cuts out the body as it would if a luthier carved it out with hand tools. And machine-cut is going to give you more percision control anyway.

And that article really doesn't say anything you can't find on like www.warmoth.com under their neck woods section. And it has pictures.

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#10
Quote by Dirk Gently
I don't really see what the big deal is about who or what actually produces the components of the guitar... It's going to sound just as good if a machine cuts out the body as it would if a luthier carved it out with hand tools. And machine-cut is going to give you more percision control anyway.


and that's why everyone hates 60's gibsons and wants brand new ones? with a good luthier, they can make it sound tons better than a machine. they can accomodate for things such as the exact piece of wood, as i've heard many times that no two pieces are exactly alike.
Quote by corduroyEW
Cheap amps are "that bad". They suck up your tone like cocaine at Kate Moss' party.


I am Michael!
#11
That's bull****. A luthier has no idea what the guitar will sound like while he's carving it, no more than a machine would. As long as you start out with quality materials and you have good quality control over the finished product (which PRS has excellent quality control, part of the reason their prices are so high), you're going to make a guitar that sounds good.

And your 60s v. modern thing is irrelevant. People want vintage guitars because of the rarity, because of the effect TIME has on pickups and tone woods, and because the modern quality control of Gibson isn't what it used to be. It has nothing to do with hand-carved v. machine cut bodies or necks.
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Last edited by Dirk Gently at Jul 24, 2006,
#12
ok...so you're right. i still doubt that prs guitars are made entirely by hand. there are some things that people just do better than machines...
Quote by corduroyEW
Cheap amps are "that bad". They suck up your tone like cocaine at Kate Moss' party.


I am Michael!
#13
PRS guitars are built and assembled by machines. People put strings on them and set the action and intonation but they do nothing to build them, however, that has nothing to do with the fretboards PRS chooses to use.
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