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The Nature Of Wood


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am I missing a "woods talk" topic in this forum ?

I wanted to talk about fingerboards, so I chose the Inlay topic because inlays are in the fingerboard most of the time - well "most" of the time :D

If you take a look at old 50s fingerboards and in particular the brazilain rosewood ones,

you will find that the pores in the grain appear to be deeper,wider, larger, whatever then newer ones. Still from playing and the oils they have very smooth surfaces and feel more rounded and are better playable then a new BR fretboard, not to mention their actual appearance and character

I was wondering if anybody knows of a technique to "open" or brush out some of the pores to give a brand new BR fingerbaod this old surface character.

My concern is not really to relic a guitar but to get that wider pore charcter that I see in old instruments.

I have a very nice even BR board with a wonderful tab tone. The grain however is kind of too dense - I do not now how to explain it other . I would like to put it on my Les paul which has an ebony now and also let it have some more beautiful inlay.

Is the texture of these old boards really just changed from time and playing or is it the nature of the used wood ?

Thanks for your advice or reference

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I'm not an expert on woods, but here is my theory:

Instruments made from the woods that you describe were probably taken from trees in their natural habitat years ago, and the grain probably is looser because they grew up naturally. Now the stuff is farmed, probably given growth hormones and everything they need to grow up healthy and strong, and as a result the wood is probably a little denser than a tree left to its own device in a forest somewhere. I don't know how close I am on that, but it sounds good... :D

How to get a new BR fretboard to be like an old is a good question. Perhaps part of the answer also lies in differences between preparing the wood for use. Things are a little more high tech in this area as well.

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How to get a new BR fretboard to be like an old is a good question. Perhaps part of the answer also lies in differences between preparing the wood for use. Things are a little more high tech in this area as well.

as to the first part of your answer I think that this is not the case. I am a bit behind reading about the rainforest issues and why the export of brazilian rosewood was stoped, but in context, I would like to think that both, the wood in the 50s and the one they cut now is from that places where they root out old trees. Besides - whenever you come across a BR piece of wood, its supposed to be old stock and cut before the regulations changed

The second half however means that they might have used rougher sawblades in the 50s that then again left traces that could only be sanded out hardly ?

I really don't know - I would think that a chain saw cuts rougher then an old hand saw -no? :D

Would flatsawn or quartersawn make the difference?

I have seen pics from a 58 LP where the actual inlay had shrinked and was playd half out , which means that hard playing can do a lot of changes , also to pores.

But I also have seen newer type strats that had the texture of fretboard that I mean.

May be , when you use a very rough sandpaper for the radiusing of the fretboard at first and then step right up to a fine, it does that, but I wouldn't want to waste a fretboard to try it out - What grade would the first have to be

No specialist here ?


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Well, if brazilian rosewood only comes from Brazil, then perhaps they don't farm the stuff like I would have thought.

It very well could be that blades are more precisely manufactured today than they were in the 50s. And the sanding process may have been different back then. When I said preparation, I was thinking more of the drying out process and stuff like that. With the technology available today, even in Brazil, they can maintain a fairly strict temperature and humidity in their facilities. In the 50s, though, it was a different story. And, I haven't even touched on CAD/CAM manufacturing, which is very precise... :D

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It could just be that every piece of wood is a little different. Maybe if you hunt around, you can find a piece of rosewood that matches your description. On my USA Custom Guitars Strat, the Indian Rosewood fretboard has some pretty large pores, however, I've had other guitars that seemed to have no pores.

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