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Fenders and maple fretboards


Rik

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Hey, tell me something: why is it so hard to find a "Standard" Fender bass with a maple fingerboard? I notice that maple is an option on the American Fenders, and on some of the "Signature" basses, but not on the "Standard" basses (Mexican?).

 

Isn't maple considerably cheaper than rosewood? It seems that they would want to put the cheaper wood on the cheaper basses. Is it more expensive or something to fabricate a neck with a maple fingerboard? Or is it just that rosewood is vastly more popular, and so they just don't offer a choice on the less expensive basses?

 

What's the deal? I love the maple board on my Geddy Lee Jazz, and I wouldn't mind having another maple fingerboard.

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I don't know. But if I had to guess, I'd say two things. One, it's probably much more cost-effective to be set up to do just one kind of board. And two, it's probably harder to get a fairly low-cost piece of maple to look good than it is to get a low-cost piece of rosewood to look good. Rosewood is dark, & you can always just dye it to cover up inconsistencies. Anyway, that's what I'd guess just off the cuff.

 

But of course, rosewood is a wonderful thing. So quitcher whinin'! :D

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Having owned instruments with maple boards and others with rosewood, I find the rosewood uniformly easier to play. I don't even look at instruments with maple fretboards anymore.

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Well, you guys are pretty much right.

 

Even though maple is cheaper than rosewood, according to Fender, rosewood is waaaaaay more popular (of course, if you remember, when the American series was redesigned for '96, only the P-bass had the fretless option--what were they thinking :confused: ) The finish on a maple board also comes into play, as Rik mentioned.

 

The P-bass special (made in Mexico) has a maple board option.

 

I've often wondered the same thing about fretless boards. Most companies that offer a fretless board only offer it in unfinished rosewood rather than ebony or any other very hard wood. Do they think we all use flats??

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One thing affecting playability is that the maple boards are finished, rosewood boards can be natural. Unfinished maple boards get really dirty. The finish, at least to me, seems to grab the fingers a bit.

 

Same with the back of the neck. I sanded all the finish off the back of my URB many years ago. We talked about that here.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Finishing woes aside, could it also be due to the mo' bright nature of the maple fretboard? My M5 has a birds eye maple board and it's very noticibly brighter than the M5's I've played with rosewood boards. Maybe that extra crunchy brightness isn't for everyone? I dunno... I personally love it.
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Hey Bumpcity - I love that bright sound on my Geddy Lee. That's why I'd like to get another maple Jazz.

 

On Sunday afternoon I was listening to the music in the park (it was the last day of the Apple Blossom Festival here). The band I heard Sunday was sort of blues band from Seattle called Miles From Chicago - you ever hear these guys? Good stuff. The bass player had a red, active, 5-string Jazz with maple fingerboard. He also had one of those NS Design electric uprights, and another Fender bass I didn't get a good look at cuz he didn't play it while I was watching.

 

A few days earlier I heard another Seattle band - The Kevin Jones Band. Now that was a great performance. The bass player (Greg Hendrickson?) had two Modulus basses - a Genesis 5 and a Quantum 6. After hearing him, I'm in love with the sound of a Modulus. Maybe someday I'll be able to afford one!

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Originally posted by bubbaupright:

The P-bass special (made in Mexico) has a maple board option.

 

I just played one of these the other day -- with a maple board. It was delightful, really. The maple board was unfinished and felt really good.

 

If rosewood is more popular, so be it. That explains Fender's decision to do many more rosewood 'boards -- at least coming out of Mexico.

 

I think maple 'boards are brighter in tone than rosewood. I also tend to believe that they match better soncially with ash bodies, while rosewood 'boards match better with alder.

 

Peace.

--SW

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Originally posted by Rik:

I wonder, also, if binding and lacquering has anything to do with it.

Binding = Nope

 

Lacquer = A little.

 

(I like rosewood better... :D )

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My current basses have rosewood (Fender), untreated maple (Lakland) and Ebony (Yamaha) boards. The untreated maple is my least favourite because it has discoloured so badly. I've been given an estimate of around £180 ($320) to have this repaired. I feel pretty annoyed about this - for the price Lakland charge for their US models I shouldn't be forking out that kind of money a couple of years down the line to have a decent looking bass. The luthier I took the bass to was pretty scathing about what he regarded as cheapskating by Lakland under the guise of "some players prefer untreated boards". :(
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