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What Is The Easiest Fingerboard Wood To Work With?


c.thep
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I'm about to buy some, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Just need to know which is the most foregiving and/or easiest to work with inlaying and fretting. I know it's not ebony, so out of maple, pau ferro, rosewood, or bloodwood, which one would you recommend?

(sorry if this has been asked before)

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I'm about to buy some, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Just need to know which is the most foregiving and/or easiest to work with inlaying and fretting. I know it's not ebony, so out of maple, pau ferro, rosewood, or bloodwood, which one would you recommend?

(sorry if this has been asked before)

For inlay-Ebony(jet black)

Pau Ferro or East Indian Rosewood is inexpensive and works very well.

Maple is not difficult but requires a finish.

Really I don't find any fretboard to be notably difficult. Some fell Ebony is harder to press frets in. Ebony is most forgiving for inlay because you can hide small gaps around your inlay with black epoxy.

Peace,Rich

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If you're looking for the best over-all performer in terms of radiusing, fretting, AND good enough for inlaying with relative ease, I'd say the overall winner is rosewood... like a palisander or EIRW, usually what's jsut sold as "rosewood" fretboard. Ebony is the best for inlay... VERY forgiving, but is WAY harder for fretting and radiusing. Rosewood is easy for both of those, and forgiving ENOUGH on inlaying that it's the overall winner in my opinion.

Chris

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I'm about to buy some, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Just need to know which is the most foregiving and/or easiest to work with inlaying and fretting. I know it's not ebony, so out of maple, pau ferro, rosewood, or bloodwood, which one would you recommend?

(sorry if this has been asked before)

From my experience of fretting 30-40 necks a day, 5 days a week, for 3 months (Minimum).... I have the following to say:

EBONY:

Due to Ebony's tight grain and stiffness, It is an ideal wood when it comes to inlaying because while you are drilling/routing out the cavities for your inlays as tear- out is not too bad... When it comes to fretting it is also a great wood as it is not too susceptable to 'crushing' frets (This is when the wood gives out under the fret while you are pressing it down, consequently making the fret too low.) Some of the disadvantages of utilizing ebony is that radiusing and slotting is a much more extensive chore as it will take you twice the energy to achieve the same result as a much more pourus wood. Also, ebony has a very bright tone.

BLOODWOOD, MAPLE, & PAU FERRO:

Bloodwood, Maple, & Pau Ferro are actually very simular to Ebony; although slightly less pourus; causing a slightly warmer (yet still bright) tone than the ebony. This makes them also ideal woods for inlaying and fretting for the same reasons as ebony. When radiusing and slotting they are slightly more forgiving than the ebony, though slightly more prone to tearout and fret-crushing.

ROSEWOOD:

Rosewood can be quite variable for it's density from piece to piece -- and especially between the different breeds of rosewood found worldwide. In general however the density is significantly less than the other woods, making it have a warmer tone and also more suceptible to tearout and fret-crushing. Radius and slotting are also significantly easier with rosewood in terms of energy, but the risks of tearout while drilling out inlay cavities can sometimes be rough on exceptionally less dense pieces of wood.

All-in-all they are all exceptional woods for a fretboard; but I do wish to refer you to a link that describes numerous different woods used in making guitar necks and some of the tonal characteristics of said woods which may broaden your horizon on different woods to check out.... [HERE]

A good trick to reference is that tighter grained woods (denser woods) will take more energy to radius and slot, while they are not as commonly suseptible to tear-out and fret crushing; while looser grained woods (less dense woods) take less energy to radius and slot, while they are more suseptable to fret-crushing and tearout.

Also; on another note -- if you are planning on inlaying your own custom inlay on a pre-radiused fretboard plan on re-radiusing and re-slotting said fretboard so that the slots are deep enough and the inlays are smooth on the surface.

Hope this helps,

~KD Williams

Everett, WA

Edited by KD Williams
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I'm about to buy some, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Just need to know which is the most foregiving and/or easiest to work with inlaying and fretting. I know it's not ebony, so out of maple, pau ferro, rosewood, or bloodwood, which one would you recommend?

(sorry if this has been asked before)

You've gotten good advice so far. Here's what I can add.

If you've never done fretting or inlaying before, go with rosewood (or a similar wood) that is as uniform in color as you can get so that when you fill the inlay cavities with epoxy, there is no apparent difference in color between darker and lighter streaks.

Ebony is very hard to install frets in but as others have said, more forgiving than rosewood for inlays.

One tip for inlaying in rosewood. Mix in some rosewood dust with the epoxy filler and lighten the mixture with a bit (very little) of white paint. Without the white, the filler will always be darker that the surrounding wood. When macthing color it ok that the epoxy mix is a little darker than the wood because the surrounding wood will darken over time anyways. I apply tung oil to rosewood get the depth of color and somewhat seal the wood.

:D

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I'm about to buy some, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Just need to know which is the most foregiving and/or easiest to work with inlaying and fretting. I know it's not ebony, so out of maple, pau ferro, rosewood, or bloodwood, which one would you recommend?

(sorry if this has been asked before)

You've gotten good advice so far. Here's what I can add.

If you've never done fretting or inlaying before, go with rosewood (or a similar wood) that is as uniform in color as you can get so that when you fill the inlay cavities with epoxy, there is no apparent difference in color between darker and lighter streaks.

Ebony is very hard to install frets in but as others have said, more forgiving than rosewood for inlays.

One tip for inlaying in rosewood. Mix in some rosewood dust with the epoxy filler and lighten the mixture with a bit (very little) of white paint. Without the white, the filler will always be darker that the surrounding wood. When macthing color it ok that the epoxy mix is a little darker than the wood because the surrounding wood will darken over time anyways. I apply tung oil to rosewood get the depth of color and somewhat seal the wood.

:D

A nice trick when inlaying into ebony is to cut your fret slots slightly wider than you would in other woods... It actually makes it comperable to fretting other woods.

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