Exotic woods like rosewood and ebony, plays a major role in the impact of overall tone produced by a guitar. It just gets taken away from focusing on the importance of materials used in a fingerboard while most of the focus goes on to the composition of the wood used for the body of the guitars.
Fingerboards do not play much of a bigger role in the sound of the guitar but certainly is a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. The wood also is a factor for the fingers to move while playing the guitar. The vibrating motion of the string against the metal frets create the sounds of different musical notes. The species of the neck wood affects the production of the tones. Denser the neck wood, brighter the sounding would be but with less sustain as denser woods tend to reflect sound waves whereas less dense ones absorb them.
Despite the fact that there are many other kinds of woods that can be used for fretboards, you will most often see one of two main species on the majority of guitars: Ebony and Rosewood.
Let’s take a look at the characteristics of each one to help you decide which is the best for you.
The most dense and durable wood, ebony is known for its clear and crisp attack. It has brittle grains and is natural oil wood. Since it has a really tight grain structure, ebony wood has a natural finish which gives the fingerboard a very sleek and smooth surface making it convenient for faster playing.
Ebony is generally the darkest fretboard wood, making it popular among the heavy music genre where the theme is black. Ebony boasts a sharp attack, open tone, outstanding durability, and great sustain. It is sleek and smooth even when unfinished, giving it a quick playing feel and excellent responsiveness.
There are two varieties of Ebony wood. Brazilian ebony being one among them is one of the work friendly all around woods which is stable and straight grained. An exceptionally heavy and hard ebony wood, the Mexican royal ebony/ Katalox is a dark purple/ black colour accent with the creamy/ golden sapwood to create contrast that can be well utilised for a unique look. Ebony fretboards are generally favoured by guitarists who prefer a very bright, razor sharp top end or a very tight, well-defined low end.
Other Variations : Indian ebony, Gaboon Ebony, Macassar Ebony
Rosewood being the most common fretboard wood used on a guitar, it is a natural oil wood which results in a richer fundamental tone due to the unwanted overtones being absorbed into the oily pores. The oily nature of the rosewood gives it a natural finish which helps on a smooth and sleek play.
Rosewood is known for its rich, warm tones with less high end attack.Rosewood fretboards are generally favoured by players who prefer a warm sound and for those who wish to tame the harsh highs on a bright sounding guitar.Rosewood, being known for having different hues, is a very hard and dense wood with great clarity and articulation in tone.
Variations : Indian Rosewood, Brazilian Rosewood