Maple vs. Rosewood Fingerboards

FBP-Fingerboards

Yet another hotly debated bass topic out there....is there a difference in tone between a maple and rosewood fingerboard?

Some bassists swear that maple boards sound brighter and more aggressive than rosewood, which tends to have a darker, more mellow tone they claim.

Being that I've owned both rosewood and maple board basses I thought I'd give my two cents worth on the subject.

To be completely honest I don't hear any difference between the two. I've owned and played several rosewood and maple board basses but any variation in tone that I've heard could be attributed to many other factors.

Body wood, pickups, electronics, neck construction and other factors all contribute to the overall tone of any given bass. It's hard for me to believe that a thin layer of wood on top of a much thicker chunk of wood (the neck) would have any noticeable effect on the sound. The thicker slab rosewood boards on early 60's Fenders and reissue basses may have slightly more of an effect.

All in the Mind?

I do think they are some psychological factors at work here. The fact that maple is a lighter colored wood than rosewood could be one possibility. Lighter equals brighter and darker wood equals a darker tone. The fact that maple is harder than rosewood would also lend many to believe that it should sound brighter than rosewood. This actually makes sense to me but I still don't hear it.

Maybe my ears aren't good enough but I still feel most of the tone from the neck is generated by the neck wood not the fingerboard. The majority of the wood mass is in the neck, and being that most basses, especially Fenders are maple, this is would have the bigger effect on tone.

Bottom line is that your choice for either a maple or rosewood fingerboard is a purely aesthetic one in my opinion. I know some bassists prefer maple simply because it's easier to see while playing on a dark stage.

For me it depends on the body color, I like the contrast between maple and dark bodies and rosewood with lighter colored bodies. What really matters of course is how the bass sounds and feels to you.

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