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  1. #1
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    Default Maple Fretboards - Educate Me

    I have been jonesing for a guitar with a maple, or better yet, birdseye maple fretboard. I have several guitars and think this would be a cool addition.
    Now all you fender folks (and others) what are the advantages and disadvantages to maple fretboards. It seems some are bare and get dirty, some are very laquered and look like they might feel like plastic. I have played a few at GC. They seem maybe better for bending and worse for speed.

    Also I noticed that I loved the feel of the American strat necks way better than than lower end models. I have also looked at but never played G&L guitars, Peavey Wolfgangs and EB Musicmans. What are some other decent sub $1500.00 brands with maple fretboards.
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  2. #2

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    I have a few guitars with maple fretboards. They have a slightly brighter tone than rosewood (IMHO). I have a MIM Tele, SX SST Ash Strat and a Squier '51 which all have unfinished fretboards...but I plan on getting a strat with lacquer coat...BUT many say that they take a Scotchbrite pad and soften the back of the neck to make it more comfortable to slide up and down the neck. The SX has a chunky neck which I like but I like the thinner neck of the tele just as much.

    Here are a family photo of the crew:

    I need to update this family photo!




  3. #3
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    Nice photo! I like your pedal board
    I figure a tele with a maple-neck is about as country brite as it gets.
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfboy1
    Nice photo! I like your pedal board
    I figure a tele with a maple-neck is about as country brite as it gets.
    Thanks...it's a MIM and I haven't decided if I like the pups yet (thinking about going Alnico) but yea it is bright.

    Don't get me wrong when I said the maple is brighter than rosewood...it's not a huge difference...but slight.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfboy1
    I figure a tele with a maple-neck is about as country brite as it gets.
    Nope you need to add metal finger picks and a Twin Reverb for that .

    Well maple fretboards are pretty much the bailiwick of Fender. Remember fender did this to eliminate the gluing process for a fretboard. e.g. more cost effective.

    As far as tone, some claim maple to be brighter, some hear no difference. It's a tough call because even a different rosewood neck on the same guitar may sound brighter. That said it is generally considered that maple neck are brighter sounding.

    As far as feel, I originally thought that maple felt slippery. And at the time didn't like it. Lately as I've gotten a lighter touch, I don't really notice the feel anymore. Probably because my fingers touch the fretboard less, if at all. I have 2 maple necks, and 2 rosewood necks and I don't really notice the difference.

    I personally think the stock Fender necks lend themselves to more 'bendy' playing because of a typically slimmer neck profile and slightly narrower fretboards. The plastic feel is definitely there on less expensive models, I think more due to the thickness of the finish rather than the underlying wood material.

    One last thing. If you play a bit heavy handed and wear through the finish on a maple fretboard, the wood begins to discolor and get grimey looking. Not much you can do about it. Any of the unfinished materials can be touched up with steelwool and 'reoiled'

    Ron
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  6. #6

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    I think they're just COOL!!!
    leparker
    ROCK ON!

  7. #7
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    Default

    I will never buy a maple neck guitar again. It is like playing on glass; every mistake is heard. Get a rosewood guitar neck and feel the intensity of wood.

    This is the main reason that I have stayed away from fenders as of late. There is one Tele resissue that does have a rosewood neck......
    Last edited by richb2; 10-17-2008 at 06:26 AM.
    now trying to break 1900.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rjbasque
    Well maple fretboards are pretty much the bailiwick of Fender. Remember fender did this to eliminate the gluing process for a fretboard. e.g. more cost effective.

    I did not know this....interesting posts everyone
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  9. #9

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    I play a lot of Fender maple neck guitars. There is definitely a difference in tone. They are brighter. I would say it depends on what you want to play with it. If you are planning on playing country with it, it has to be maple in my opinion.

    Here is how I determined this for myself. I was looking for a specific Tele. I walked into my favorite shop and they had two of them. One had a maple fretboard and the other had rosewood. I told the guy in the shop that I didn't know if I really could hear the difference in fretboard materials. He said "yes you can." I told him that I wanted prove it. I asked him to pick out any pedals and the amp to play through, I didn't care what it was. I told him to dial in a sound that he liked. He also plays a lot of country so I knew what he would be going for. I first handed him the maple fretboard and had him play something. Then I handed him the rosewood fretboard and asked him to play the same exact thing. We did this swap a few times with different pickup selections and such. There was a clear difference. If you want that snappy tele bridge pickup sound that you hear in a lot of country music on a clean channel. You HAVE to get the maple. The rosewood just didn't have that snap to it. The other thing I really noticed is that on the neck pickup the rosewood sounded more like a Strat than a Tele. That was not what I was looking for since I already had two strats, one maple and one rosewood. If you have the opportunity to do this at your local shop, I encourage you to do it. It works best for me if someone else is playing the guitar so I can focus on the sound and not the guitar.

    As for the finish on the neck, I only play the American series Fender guitars. I do not like the new necks on the 2008 redesign of the standards. I would buy a deluxe. They have the same necks and finishes that they had for a number of years before that. The finish is thin and just enough to seal the wood. It doesn't dull the tone. If you let your fingernails get a bit long, you could put dig marks in the fretboard and those would get dark in color. I have seen guys who do this. I keep my nails short and have not had this issue with mine. The American necks also have a bit larger fretwire on them which help with this too.

    As for speed of playing. I think that maple plays a little faster. In speed order I thinkg Rosewood is slower and Ebony is faster than Maple. This tends to be the way a lot of guitar players feel about the woods.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikespe
    I have a few guitars with maple fretboards. They have a slightly brighter tone than rosewood (IMHO). I have a MIM Tele, SX SST Ash Strat and a Squier '51 which all have unfinished fretboards...but I plan on getting a strat with lacquer coat...BUT many say that they take a Scotchbrite pad and soften the back of the neck to make it more comfortable to slide up and down the neck. The SX has a chunky neck which I like but I like the thinner neck of the tele just as much.

    Here are a family photo of the crew:

    I need to update this family photo!



    Totally awesome family pictures there sir. Well done.
    Enjoy Your Karma, after all you earned it.
    email: gadlaw@gmail.com
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  11. #11

    Thumbs down

    Check out any USA made G&L model guitar. I've never heard a bad G&L yet, heard plenty bad Fender's though! Leo Fender got it right with the G&L's. Every maple neck model I've seen was built using birdseye. I had a G&L silver sparkle strat (legecy model) that was one of the best sounding strats I had. I traded Damon Fowler for his Hendrix VooDoo strat - only because I always wanted one and the G&L was one of the only strats out of my collection worthy of trade. The G&L soundes alot better though than the voodoo strat and if I ever get the chance I'll buy the G&L back someday!
    You can never go wrong with variety! It's nice to have several guitars - be it a strat, tele, les paul with different pickups and necks to choose from.

  12. #12
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    Default

    I thought I had heard G&L had some neck twist problems in the early 2000's.
    This is unconfirmed hearsay, that I'm only half remembering though. So take that with some skepticism.

    On a different note, while these models tend to not be traditional. The mexican made 'Deluxe' series from Fender are moderately priced and a real good value. You rarely see a complete deluxe model on ebay. You can almost make a profit buying a brand new guitar and parting it out. I've seen the necks alone ,w/o tuners, sell for $275 from a $550 guitar!
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  13. #13

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    I can confirm bluezman1971s judgement of G&L guitars. If you want a beautiful guitar, grab a legacy or asat guitar with a birdseye maple neck. I'm still envious every time I see one of those, :mad: cause my legacy doesn't have a birdseye neck ( my asat has a rosewood neck). From the standpoint of playability and sound though, i love the maple neck of my legacy and I somewhat regret the decision to buy the Asat with the rosewood neck.

    Mopper


    Here I copied 2 parts from the Guitarsbyleo FAQ concerning sound differences and the rumors about neck problems of G&L guitars:

    What are the fingerboard wood sound differences? (Answer contributed by: Tim / Buffalo Bros.)

    Our shop has a theory ~ 60% of the sound are the pickups, 30% the body, 10% the neck. I'm referring to the overall tone, and yes ~ certainly a tight neck pocket, etc. etc. etc. is neccessary. We're talking about what really contributes to the tone assuming it's all made correctly. That being said, we find that maple is brighter ~ the highs seem to have more clarity and an edge to them. The rosewood is more of a thicker, midrange sound. Ebony is a hard wood and has the brightness of maple to me, with a slight edge in the midrange like the rosewood. Now, NONE OF THIS is a "dramatic change" in tone, you're back to our 10% of the tone theory. So yes, small nuances and parts of the music will sound different depending on the neck fingerboard.

    When and why did G&L switch to a four-bolt neck?

    The four-bolt neck joint was introduced in approximately mid-1997; prior to that, a three-bolt "tilt-adjust" design had been used exclusively. G&L's Purchasing Manager had the following to say about the switch:

    "The change was made by John McLaren, Jr. before Sales had even seen it. When we started making the Invader, our necks had improved to a point where we could go without the three bolt micro-tilt system and return to Leo's original design of the four-bolt neck. We surprised Marketing with this design and after some initial hesitancy, they were very happy with the new design."

    One of the reasons Marketing was likely won over by the new design was that the three-bolt design had (quite incorrectly) developed a widespread reputation as being "unstable". This ill-founded rumor had mainly been perpetuated by those who had had experience with three-bolt Fenders of the '70s. What these folks were missing was that the instability seen in those '70s Fenders was due not to an inherent weakness in the three-bolt design itself, but rather to the sloppy, careless construction techniques used to build those instruments. Despite the fact that G&L's three-bolt neck was extremely well-executed and offered plenty of stability, the move to a four-bolt neck has proven quite beneficial in terms of eliminating initial "customer skepticism" from shoppers new to G&L.

    The switch to the four-bolt neck was gradual; as mentioned above, it first appeared on the Invaders. The first non-Invader four-bolt G&L was a stunning one-off ASAT Classic with a quilted maple top; G&L's Plant Foreman, Ed Sebest, built this guitar for Dave McLaren (Export Sales Manager), in order to demonstrate to Dave that the four-bolt concept was viable on the non-Invader models as well. Upon examining this guitar, Dave gave the "go-ahead", and so began the use of the four-bolt neck on the entire line. The earliest guitars had plain, unstamped neck plates, but soon the G&L logo was added.

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