Fingerboards influence the playability of guitars!! It’s arguably the most important part while manufacturing a guitar!! The right choice of the fretboard will improve the tonal quality and overall appearance of the Guitar.
Fretboard surface needs to be durable since the strings involved in constant pressing!! Sticky fretboards are complicated creating difficulties in playing. Quality fretboards support playability and compliments to the perfect tone.
Most of the guitar manufacturers choose between three fretboard options, they are Ebony, Rosewood and Maple. Ebony is the best choice for fingerboard!!
Ebony has a variety of species!! Most of the species grow in the intermediate zones of Malaysia, Southern India, Indonesia, Western Africa, and Sri Lanka!! In ancient days, the wood was only available to master craftsmen due to its unique nature and great expense. Ebony has a long history in the making of decorative items, cabinet works, crucifixes and a huge array of musical instruments!! Due to unsustainable harvest, most of the Ebony species are endangered!! The beauty of the wood and high-durability is the major reason for the high-demand of ebonies!!
Ebony has two major types including Macassar ebony and African Ebony!! Macassar Ebony is found in SouthEast Asia and listed as a vulnerable species. The Macassar population has reduced around 20% compared to the past three generations!!
Gaboon ebony or African ebony is highly endangered due to the reduction of 50% from the past three generations.
Both the Ebonies have a similar appearance, but the grain pattern tends to be different!! Due to low availability, Guitar with Ebony fretboard is increasingly rare and expensive these days!!
Why do experts choose ebony for fingerboards?
Ebony is a perfect wood for master craftsmen!! Ebony is often a wood of myths and legends. The extra-ordinary durability and deep black color make it a popular fretboard choice among guitar manufacturers. The wood doesn’t float on water but sinks to the bottom. Heavy and dense features accompanied by superior bond strength marks the usage of Ebony as a popular fretboard! It’s the only fretboard that takes decades of wear and tears in guitars and other instruments.
Responsiveness is essential for great toning, but it needs to be controlled in the guitar necks! Ebony fretboard makes the neck stiffer by adding a laminated structure to the length of the neck!
The ebony fretboard is well-known for its brighter sounding quality compared to Rosewood. Ebony feels smooth under the fingers with plenty of brightness in terms of tone and feel. Ebony varies in color but mostly it’s available in jet black color. So, Ebony fretboards exhibit a classy look with excellent playability! The ebony fingerboard is a good choice for heavier music! It’s fast to play on and sounds great with plenty of attacks! The fingerboard looks great on the darker aesthetic of metal guitars.
Is it the right choice?
Yes, Ebony fretboard is a fantastic choice for a slightly brighter guitar tone! The wood is slightly sensitive to humidity; using appropriate fretboard conditioners will prevent the guitar from extreme temperature changes! So, focus on wood maintenance for long-lasting fretboards!