Official Luthiers Forum!

Solely owned and operated by Lance Kragenbrink
It is currently Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:31 am


All times are UTC - 5 hours


Forum rules


Be nice, no cussin and enjoy!




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 49 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:05 pm 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:59 pm
Posts: 3059
First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
City: Kansas City
State: MO
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Branching from Hesh's thread here where he mentions ebony not being ideal: http://www.luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=685913#p685913

Personally I don't care much for ebony either due to its high humidity expansion. I generally use various rosewoods, although I do worry a bit about long-term wear. Except on African blackwood, which is likely even more wear resistant than ebony. But it's also more scarce, expensive, heavy, and difficult to work with.

So what are everyone's favorites? There are many properties to consider. Is there one wood that has it all?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:22 pm 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:49 pm
Posts: 264
First name: Victor
Last Name: Seal
City: Osseo
State: MI
Zip/Postal Code: 49266
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I have only used ebony and eir. No complaints, so far. I figure that if it works for C.F. and Orville, it should work for me.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:27 pm 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:12 pm
Posts: 2822
First name: Bryan
Last Name: Bear
City: St. Louis
State: Mo
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I’m not qualified to give a good answer as to what is the best wood for fretboards. I tend to think of any wood that is hard/durable, reasonably stable and dark as a viable candidate. I have used jatoba a few times and really like it. I did one in Osage orange, it is slowly darkening into an acceptable fretboard color. One of my current guitars will get a katalox fretboard we’ll see how I like that. In addition to these no traditional choices, I have other fretboard blanks on the shelf that I have not gotten to. There is Chechen, ziricote, granadillo and some machiche that might make the grade.

_________________
Bryan Bear PMoMC

Take care of your feet, and your feet will take care of you.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:32 pm 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:27 pm
Posts: 284
First name: john
Last Name: shelton
City: Alsea
State: Oregon
Zip/Postal Code: 97324
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
We've switched to Rocklite Ebano synthetic fingerboards.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:49 pm 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 2:53 pm
Posts: 270
Location: Canada
Grenidillo and katalox are the first to come to mind. Both are pretty hard and durable


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:07 pm 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
Posts: 1562
First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
I don't fully get the knock against ebony. By now many millions of guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos, and other stringed instruments have been built with ebony fretboards. I have difficulty seeing how this could be so if ebony's deficiencies were actually a big deal in practice. It may not be ideal in all ways, but it has apparently been quite good enough for the job.

Lately, I've been liking Macassar ebony a lot. The stripey figuring is more interesting visually to me than a plain black ebony board, but it's still dark enough that inlays stand out nicely against it.

_________________
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge - Charles Darwin


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:41 pm 
Offline
Koa
Koa
User avatar

Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:37 pm
Posts: 1719
Location: Virginia, USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I love Indian Rosewood for the fretboard. I like the look and the way it works and feels.
But I have used Padauk and am building my first acoustic guitar with Granadillo, which I really like.
I don't have a long enough history with these two woods to say whether they are better or worse than rosewood or ebony, but I intend to build with several more types of wood in the future.
There is so much beautiful wood out there, and if someone like LMII offers it, I trust it to be at least decent for the purpose.
Keep in mind I've built about 9 or 10 instruments, so take anything I say with a fat grain of salt.

_________________
Mike

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:18 pm 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:42 pm
Posts: 1437
First name: John
Last Name: Parchem
City: Seattle
State: Wa
Zip/Postal Code: 98177
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I generally use a rosewood. East Indian and Cocobolo have been the two I have used most. I like the look and it is lighter than ebony. When I am doing more delicate inlays I like ebony as I can make invisible mistakes. I have used Rocklite Ebano and Sundari and when my stash of ebony and rosewood fingerboards shrinks I would be happy to use either depending on what look I want. The sundari is an amazing ringer for East Indian Rosewood. The product is very easy easy to work with.

_________________
http://www.Harvestmoonguitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:05 pm 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 2:53 pm
Posts: 270
Location: Canada
I did invest in good ebony when it was ten buck apiece for the good stuff (I have over a hundred) and Madagascar RW at five bucks a piece (about eighty) so I'm pretty much set. But should I need more in the future..........


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:51 pm 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member

Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:26 pm
Posts: 116
First name: Carl
Last Name: Dickinson
City: Forest Ranch
State: California
Zip/Postal Code: 95942
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Favorites..... I haven't built enough to have an opinion. What I've used:

Manzanita. Why? Cuz it grew on my property and I've had to clear most of it off for wildfire prevention. It's harder than Ebony so fretting is tougher but it looks kinda cool. I've used it for bridges, rosettes and peghead veneers.
Attachment:
PICT0256.JPG
Attachment:
PICT0022.JPG


Bocote. Why? To match the rest of the baritone guitar... back, sides, bridge, rosette and veneers. No problem with it.

Ebony, cuz I have about 50 slotted seconds (most with faux binding) that I got back in 2005 on Ebay. I think they are M*rtin, little wormholes and chips but they have cleaned up OK. PM me if you want some.


You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.



These users thanked the author CarlD for the post: Ernie Kleinman (Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:32 am)
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:51 pm 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:20 am
Posts: 3470
Pau Ferro (a.k.a. morado, bolivian rosewood, etc.) is a hard and reasonably dark close grained wood that is not too expensive and works well for fretboards.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:40 am 
Offline
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 10283
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Lot's of good alternatives and you guys have named many of them already.

Just wanted to add that not everyone uses a fret board the same way as some of us geezers did back in the day or even still. There is a trend in the biz with mostly shredders (shredders matter too, some of my best friends are shredders :) ) to ask for and seek out "scalloped fretboards."

Although a self explanatory term the point of a scalloped fretboard is so that the player may fret a note but not necessarily have firm or any contact with the fret board. :shock: :? Go figure. Although this trend seems obscure still you never know shredder guitars have had a major influence on guitars in general like it or not.

Regarding fretboard material I'm a rosewood fan mostly for the resistance to chipping AND I love the way a nice looking piece of well quartered rosewood looks especially after being cleaned up with OOOO steel wool and having Howard's-feed-N-Wax applied, twice if I want it darker.

Reminds me - Joe White I still have your two Watkins CNC BRW fretboards so you will have to come visit me to get them. :)


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:06 am 
Online
Contributing Member
Contributing Member

Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:52 pm
Posts: 1305
First name: Don
Last Name: Parker
City: Charleston
State: West Virginia
Zip/Postal Code: 25314
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I like East Indian Rosewood a lot, and you can darken it significantly with a few different products.

I tried some Honduran Rosewood on my last two guitars, but I’m not crazy about working with it. It sounds good when you “ping” it, but it can get these little chips or voids when you work it. Maybe I need to be more careful with planing direction, but I also saw this happen with some rasp work on a bridge. I’m probably going to avoid it for a while. It sure did sound good when I dropped bridge blanks on my bench, though.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:23 am 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:55 pm
Posts: 3538
Location: Taiwan
First name: Tai
Last Name: Fu
City: Taipei
Country: Taiwan
Focus: Repair
Status: Semi-pro
I never really tried to see how various woods performed long term, so I can't speak for that.

I like EIR. CITES sucks but then Aliexpress/Alibaba/Taobao doesn't care about CITES, so I can get them (and also if CITES wants to get mad at China for "international transfer" they'll go on about how Taiwan is not "international"...). The wood sands fairly well and it looks pretty good in my opinion.

Ebony is good to work with, it doesn't gum up sandpaper, does it less than EIR in fact. I don't care so much about the smell however...

African blackwood is a pain to work with. It gums up and dulls sandpaper in a short order, but it smells great and the tap tone on it is just so crisp... almost like steel.

_________________
Cat-gut strings are made from kitten guts, stretched out to near breaking point and then hardened with grue saliva. As a result these give a feeling of Pain and anguish whenever played, and often end up playing themselves backwards as part of satanic rituals.

Typhoon Guitars
http://www.typhoon-guitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:38 am 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:40 pm
Posts: 197
First name: Ernest
Last Name: Kleinman
City: Guthrie
State: OK
Zip/Postal Code: 73044
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
FWIW I have 2 gtrs made in 73 and 72 by M dunn the FB is from BRW,it has held up extremely well > I have used ebony, brw eir katalox, figured, locus,t OO,. hornbeam , etc etc.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:24 am 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:37 am
Posts: 4260
I'm an ebony guy, although it will be Rocklite moving forward. I think Ebony sanded to 600 and lightly buffed is the height of elegance on an acoustic guitar.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:27 am 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:55 pm
Posts: 3538
Location: Taiwan
First name: Tai
Last Name: Fu
City: Taipei
Country: Taiwan
Focus: Repair
Status: Semi-pro
Why Rocklite? Cheaper? Better for the environment?

_________________
Cat-gut strings are made from kitten guts, stretched out to near breaking point and then hardened with grue saliva. As a result these give a feeling of Pain and anguish whenever played, and often end up playing themselves backwards as part of satanic rituals.

Typhoon Guitars
http://www.typhoon-guitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:32 am 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:37 am
Posts: 4260
Tai Fu wrote:
Why Rocklite? Cheaper? Better for the environment?


Yep. Just due to the lower environmental impact. I actually prefer the look of lower grade ebony with streaks and color variation as opposed to the perfectly jet black stuff, but I can't think of a reason not to use Rocklite instead of Ebony.

I do love a rosewood fretboard as well, so I think I overstated my position above, but for the most part I prefer a black fretboard.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:55 am 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member

Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:14 am
Posts: 746
First name: Tim
Last Name: Lynch
City: Santa Cruz
Zip/Postal Code: 95060
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I like ebony and rosewood.

Ebony has a nice texture and is easier to fill and blend when doing hand cut inlays. It does chip easier but the offset is that is it's easy to fill and color match with dust

There certainly other materials that work. I think that the government restrictions, price and availability weigh on the use of rosewood and ebony more than suitability.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:59 am 
Offline
Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 9:26 pm
Posts: 97
James Orr wrote:
I'm an ebony guy, although it will be Rocklite moving forward. I think Ebony sanded to 600 and lightly buffed is the height of elegance on an acoustic guitar.


I agree, and I am stocked for life for jet black well aged and dried boards. I also offer to refret my own builds even though I do not do repairs otherwise. I also stock and offer Eir, ziricote, pau ferro, maple, padauk, snakewood, wenge, madrose and maybe some others I cannot remember. But I have a strong preference for ebony.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:55 pm 
Offline
Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Sat Mar 09, 2019 4:50 pm
Posts: 83
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hesh wrote:
Lot's of good alternatives and you guys have named many of them already.

Just wanted to add that not everyone uses a fret board the same way as some of us geezers did back in the day or even still. There is a trend in the biz with mostly shredders (shredders matter too, some of my best friends are shredders :) ) to ask for and seek out "scalloped fretboards."

Although a self explanatory term the point of a scalloped fretboard is so that the player may fret a note but not necessarily have firm or any contact with the fret board. :shock: :? Go figure. Although this trend seems obscure still you never know shredder guitars have had a major influence on guitars in general like it or not.

Regarding fretboard material I'm a rosewood fan mostly for the resistance to chipping AND I love the way a nice looking piece of well quartered rosewood looks especially after being cleaned up with OOOO steel wool and having Howard's-feed-N-Wax applied, twice if I want it darker.




Looking through photos of old romantic guitars I was amazed at the differences. I like different. Some are very nice. Why haven't any of those caught on at all?

I saw one that had a scalloped fingerboard with NO frets at all, Somewhere back in the mid 1800's. Naturally, I can't find it now.

Would tall frets give the same kind of experience?

I've only done one guitar, and I used rosewood. I've used mainly ebony, and the striped Macassar ebony for violins, but have used some brown rosewood (not as hard and stiff, which is more of a problem for violins than guitars), some Surinam, or something rosewood? (probably an ironwood?) that was yellowish, grainy, and very hard, but really needs filling, Katalox is very nice, I used Royal ebony that was black and white, and the white is actually hard, unlike the white of katalox.

Violins don't have frets, so you don't have to concern yourself about how it saws, or holds the tangs. But they have more engineering involved, because half of the length is cantilevered over the belly. The tight radius makes them wedge shaped as well. Really violinists are SO TRADITIONAL that anything other than perfectly black is looked on with caution, if not distain. Not so good for a guy like me who throws tradition to the wind.

The CITES stuff is something to consider. What's strange is that you can buy the stuff locally, but then it can't leave the country. Is that how it works? Why bother with that kind of nonsense. Where do you find out which woods are on the list? If you bought it legally, why would it be a problem? Either make it illegal, or make it legal. I really don't understand any of that, but would rather avoid any problems later.

I like CarlD's idea of using wood from his yard. I only have a silver maple, Russian olives, and some Populus tremuloides, not anything for fingerboards. I really look for looks and hardness, tapping them in the store, and then find how it cuts, and how smooth you can get it. Most have been fine, only that light colored grainy wood being more trouble.

I have curly bubinga for the guitar I'm building; it looks very cool, like a light figured mahogany. I can get 2 out the the piece I bought at Woodcraft for probably about $25.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:11 pm 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:55 pm
Posts: 3538
Location: Taiwan
First name: Tai
Last Name: Fu
City: Taipei
Country: Taiwan
Focus: Repair
Status: Semi-pro
I feel as though CITES are designed to tighten the noose around guitar builders. Start restricting more and more wood and watch the entire guitarmaking industry die.

Maybe "they say" it's not the intent but who cares? I mean if they put all rosewoods on the list because someone "might" label brazilian as something else, well they might as well restrict all woods with a density of more than a certain value because people can dye and stain those woods to make it look like anything.

Why are they making such a big deal out of restricting brazilian rosewoods? Is it really causing such a big environmental damage? You know like ivory?

And if those stuff are so valuable, why can't they farm the stuff?

_________________
Cat-gut strings are made from kitten guts, stretched out to near breaking point and then hardened with grue saliva. As a result these give a feeling of Pain and anguish whenever played, and often end up playing themselves backwards as part of satanic rituals.

Typhoon Guitars
http://www.typhoon-guitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:30 pm 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
Posts: 1562
First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Tai Fu wrote:
I feel as though CITES are designed to tighten the noose around guitar builders. Start restricting more and more wood and watch the entire guitarmaking industry die.


Seems to me that when writing the recent new rules, CITES did not target the musical instrument industry. If anything, they did the exact opposite and failed to consider the musical instrument industry.


Tai Fu wrote:
Why are they making such a big deal out of restricting brazilian rosewoods? Is it really causing such a big environmental damage? You know like ivory?


Seriously?????

_________________
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge - Charles Darwin


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:31 pm 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:27 pm
Posts: 284
First name: john
Last Name: shelton
City: Alsea
State: Oregon
Zip/Postal Code: 97324
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
Tai Fu wrote:
Why Rocklite? Cheaper? Better for the environment?

I had the good fortune to be able to buy logs of Madagascar ebony before CITIES. I sawed and milled them myself to get the maximum quantity of fingerboards and they were (are) beautiful. I traded the last six a year or so ago for some Brazilian RW. At my age I don't have the time to wait for ebony to cure. As I'm sure you're aware, ebony is notoriously unstable and takes a long time to cure. My taste in ebony was ruined by that wonderful Madagascar stash. Most people don't get the opportunity to work with perfectly quartered, coal black ebony fingerboards.

Why Rocklite? No cure time, it doesn't warp, check or shrink, it's ready to use and stable, it's coal black, it mills just like ebony, glues like ebony and accepts frets just fine. The only down side is the price. Our guitars sell for a lot of money, what's an extra $20-30 for a dependable product that looks great?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:52 pm 
Online
Contributing Member
Contributing Member

Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:52 pm
Posts: 1305
First name: Don
Last Name: Parker
City: Charleston
State: West Virginia
Zip/Postal Code: 25314
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Tai Fu wrote:
Why are they making such a big deal out of restricting brazilian rosewoods? Is it really causing such a big environmental damage? You know like ivory?


Google "why is Brazilian Rosewood illegal" and you will learn something important.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 49 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: doncaparker, klooker and 7 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
phpBB customization services by 2by2host.com