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Ebony vs. Rosewood Finger Board

#1 User is offline   Danner 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:38 AM

Can we discuss the pros and cons of these two woods.

Is ebony more wear resistant?

What about structural performance?

#2 User is offline   Buc McMaster 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:52 AM

Ebony is a denser, harder wood than rosewood and as such is, generally speaking, more durable. Rosewood has a more open grain and in some cases will show finger divots from years and years of playing cowboy chords in the first position. Structurally I don't think it makes much if any difference. Don't think it makes much difference tonally either.....the fingerboard is not a tone wood part of the guitar. So to me it boils down to aesthetics. Ebony is usually solid black in appearance (even if it's dyed to make it so) while rosewood can add some raw wood bling to an instrument's appearance with varying grains. I've seen some very, very pretty looking fingerboards in rosewood.....

#3 User is offline   Danner 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:08 AM

Is ebony ever used for the bridge, so it matches the appearance of the finger board?

#4 User is offline   Versatile 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:09 AM

For me personally and notwithstanding aesthetics, it has a lot to do with 'feel'.
I enjoy the difference between fingerboard woods, including maple.
I have acoustics with ebony and they definitely feel special for that reason.




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#5 User is offline   Buc McMaster 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:11 AM

View PostDanner, on 26 October 2010 - 07:08 AM, said:

Is ebony ever used for the bridge, so it matches the appearance of the finger board?


Indeed. When the fingerboard is ebony most times the bridge is also. My CJ sports an ebony bridge and board.

#6 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:39 AM

I prefer ebony. I like the feel and relative hardness which is great if you like to bend.


I like rosewood, but I like it better if the grain is more closed. If you look closely at enough rosewood fingerboards, you can see some are more open grained than others and I try to avoid those - I think they wear fast, especially under someone that likes to bend. I don't like the "ruts" that can form from 2 to 5 and 7 to 14, which seems to occur faster on those more open grained rosewood fingerboards.
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#7 User is offline   nodehopper 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 12:20 PM

Here is my John How just to show how beautiful a Rosewood Finger Board can be!! His choice in wood is not only very pretty, but the Rosewood is very tight grained and seems to be harder than many of the generic Rosewood boards I have seen....including the one on my CJ-165 (I believe on the Burst CJ model they use Rosewood board and bridge)

Posted Image
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#8 User is offline   L5Larry 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 01:28 PM

I think the only ebony fingerboard I've ever had is on my L-5. The block inlays on that guitar are so large, it seems like most of the time I am really playing on the MOP (Mother Of Plastic, or whatever it is) inlays, instead of the wood itself. So for that reason only, and preferring the feel of more wood under my fingers, I like the feel of my L-7, 345, and LP Standard better.

Here's a comparison photo montage I made up for some other thread about fingerboards that came up here.

Posted Image

Both ebony and rosewood are very hard and dense woods that contain natural oils. This is what makes them so well suited for fingerboards. The hardness gives you the resistance to wear, and the natural oils give you the "slick" feel. I think rosewood is also just prettier, as good ebony tends to be your basic black.

Also as you can see in the above photo, rosewood can very greatly in color and grain. The rosewood board on the '47 L-7 is almost as dark as ebony, and the "newer" guitars have more grain and color variation within the slab of wood.

#9 User is offline   larryp58 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 01:50 PM

Ain't nuthin' purtier than a Madagascar rosewood fingerboard!!! [rolleyes]

#10 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:09 PM

View Postnodehopper, on 26 October 2010 - 12:20 PM, said:

Here is my John How just to show how beautiful a Rosewood Finger Board can be!! His choice in wood is not only very pretty, but the Rosewood is very tight grained and seems to be harder than many of the generic Rosewood boards I have seen...


Oh man that's pretty. And I too like the tight grained rosewood. [thumbup]
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#11 User is offline   EuroAussie 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:47 PM

View PostDanner, on 26 October 2010 - 07:08 AM, said:

Is ebony ever used for the bridge, so it matches the appearance of the finger board?


I think the SWD has ebony bridge and fingerboard.
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#12 User is offline   hallgroper 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 04:57 PM

View PostVersatile, on 26 October 2010 - 07:09 AM, said:

For me personally and notwithstanding aesthetics, it has a lot to do with 'feel'.
I enjoy the difference between fingerboard woods, including maple.
I have acoustics with ebony and they definitely feel special for that reason.




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#13 User is offline   drathbun 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 05:14 PM

My preference for acoustics is to have an ebony board. My SWD has an ebony board and bridge. My Larrivee L05 also had an ebony board and bridge as well as headstock face. It is smooth as silk, look utterly gorgeous and wears beautifully. Most of my electrics have rosewood necks (the Rickenbackers are lacquered rosewood) but my preference is the fingerboard on my AmDlx Strat which is maple with a satin finish.

All that being said, my '68 Yamaha has significant finger divots in the first position on the rosewood board and it looks seriously kewl in the mojo department.
Posted Image

The divots do not hinder playing at all so don't worry about that. My preference for ebony and maple is the silky smooth feel under my fingers.
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#14 User is offline   Danner 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:20 PM

My 1974 Penco A-25 (basically a pretty good knock-off of a D-28) has a rosewood fingerboard, and I have long since worn that and the frets out. That is partly why I ma interested in ebony for my next expensive guitar. I've been playing a lot lately.

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