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[Solved] Ebony vs Rosewood  

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Because I’m designing an archtop, I automatically assumed an ebony fingerboard (pre-made Bailey obvs.). But Mark prefers rosewood because he reckons it’s acoustically superior.

I have dry hands and I’ve come across many indifferent rosewood boards with open grain which feel slow and awkward to me. I’ve even laquered a couple of rosewood ’boards to erm... improve them. Which seems to upset some people 😉

But my Yamaha AES1500 (Big Ginger) has a lovely, smooth, polished board. Is that an example of grade AAA rosewood, is it Sealed In Japan or have I just used too much lemon oil?

In a nutshell, what’s closest to a varnished maple Tele ’board, a Bailey Rosewood or a Bailey Ebony

 

Jack of all trades and master of my own destiny. It’s only a small destiny.

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That is a great little blog post - Truthfully I doubt that I'd be able to tell the difference from listening...

Measure twice, cut once...

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A: Ebony

For Archtop guitars I have ALWAYS USED EBONY BECAUSE IT IS THE LAW!!

I don't know why...the posher they get the more conservative they are...

Every violin, viola, cello, double bass, etc - all ebony - almost no exceptions..archtops are the same...coz they're posh.

Having said that - it is not really the law (i made that up)...you can choose what you prefer...

and to be pedantic 335 style don't really count as archtop so Rosewood not so rare in that case

The fretboard will have little impact on the overall tone - ebony will polish best - rosewood is more open grained as you say

If you cannot decide you'll have to make 2!

 

Measure twice, cut once...

@markbailey
Ha! No, you’ll have to make two - I’m deffo going for the pre-slotted fingerboard option!

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Cool James - Your call!

Measure twice, cut once...

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Topic starter

Thanks Mark, looks like it’s going to be ebony. Research on guitar forums suggests that, if there is a tonal difference, then ebony (like maple) has a little more top end. I reckon you can always roll off top end, but you can’t add it on.

I had the opportunity to record a rosewood vs maple fingerboard a few years ago. You can hear the results here:

jamesbisset.com/blog/2012/05/maple-vs-rosewood-board

Jack of all trades and master of my own destiny. It’s only a small destiny.

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Topic starter

Just while we’re on the subject of the law for archtops...

is it also the law to have a maple neck?

Jack of all trades and master of my own destiny. It’s only a small destiny.

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Posted by: @jamesbisset

In a nutshell, what’s closest to a varnished maple Tele ’board, a Bailey Rosewood or a Bailey Ebony

Maple is hard and closed grain.  Of the two, Ebony will be closest in terms of feel.

Can you tell the difference, sonically?  I'm pretty sure that I could.  

Not.  

Not in a million years.  Sound is in the fingers more than in the choice of wood (or choice of glue, or, etc ...), IMHO of course!

However, Rosewood as a *neck* wood, not just the fretboard, that'd get my vote all day long!  Though possibly not on an archtop.

 

Just get the body hole shape right (note that I didn't refer to a letter of the alphabet between e and g).

😉

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk

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Topic starter
Posted by: @tv1010101

Sound is in the fingers more than in the choice of wood (or choice of glue, or, etc ...), IMHO of course!

So ebony is going to sound just as bad as all my other guitars then 😉

Jack of all trades and master of my own destiny. It’s only a small destiny.

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Posted by: @jamesbisset

So ebony is going to sound just as bad as all my other guitars then 

Topic for the next workshop session ... how to make guitar-players' fingers

😉

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk

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I prefer ebony because it is best to do any inlay work...using black superglue.

I have too many guitars...said no one in the world..ever!