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FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Rosewood vs Maple Necks.....

Contributing Member


When I get older, losing my hair...
May 8th, 2019 09:36 AM   Edit   Profile  

...can you (really) tell the difference in tone?

The demonstration on the link below is the best A/B test I have encountered where 2 different necks are run through a well-done comparison using the same body, electronics, plugins, and player.

I have seen a number of professed "tests" where something like a vintage Strat with a maple neck is compared to a 2014 Squier Strat with a rosewood neck, HB bridge pup, Lace singles, etc.

(edited to fix my spelling on Squire, or is it Squeir, or Sqiuer, or Squiere, or Sqwire, or....??)

Rosewood vs Maple: You Decide

(This message was last edited by Bigfoot at 12:00 PM, May 8th, 2019)

Contributing Member

North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 8th, 2019 09:55 AM   Edit   Profile  

Only in the sense that how it reacts to the vibration of the instrument may impact the whole. Still pretty subjective, another argument could be bolt on vs neck through.

It’s hard to quantify the impact of an instruments components but I believe they do impact or color the resulting tone.

Contributing Member

Wichita, Kansas

Drums = pulse, Bass = heartbeat
May 8th, 2019 10:42 AM   Edit   Profile  

I'm a believer that there is no useful difference in sound between rosewood and maple. After all, the string vibration is based on the frets and saddles. As hushnel mentioned, there could be a little difference in the transmission of vibrations through the neck, but hey, neck mass is mostly a function of the neck wood, not the fingerboard wood.

There can be a difference in feel, which I believe can contribute a player performing a little differently on one than the other, but falsely attributing the difference to the fingerboard.

For me, any difference is too small to even consider worrying about. I'm always somewhat amused of the obsession over very small differences in tone, then playing the instrument in an ensemble situation where there is so much frequency masking going on that the small differences are unhearable. Besides, I am more interested in WHAT someone is playing than minor sound differences.

My preference is rosewood, but just because I like the look and feel better. I have instruments with both woods. When I choose one of my instrument to play, my first considerations are pickup configuration, string type, and finally pickup characteristics. Anything else is a non-consideration. However, I have been known to take a particular bass to a gig because it looks like it fits the genre or because the color of the bass goes with my shirt. :-)

Contributing Member

North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 8th, 2019 11:17 AM   Edit   Profile  

Even with all the subjectiveness of how an instrument sounds to you, it can all go out the window in the mix. The Precision Special is like a wrecking ball in the mix, boomy and articulate in any room, all the time. The Guild Starfire is not anemic but doesn’t demand the attention that the Precision does, but in the mix it’s freaking amazing, It’s presence is evident in all the frequencies and creates a sound that binds the other instruments, each complementing the other. It’s difficult to articulate what I’m trying to describe.

I like that the rosewood necks seem to need less care than the maple. I have a couple maple necks on great Instruments.

FDP Data Goon

She hath it all,

& hath no need of thee.
May 9th, 2019 01:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

It's a feel thing for me, 100%.

Sound, I've played ones on both that sound as good - or a host of other fretboards.

I want something with a rosewood or ebonyesque feel (my close #2).

Granadillo is AOK in my book there as a rosewood substitute - may not be as dark, etc but it passes my feel test even three years into having a LP with it.

Chuck M


May 9th, 2019 07:47 AM   Edit   Profile  

I thought the maple fingerboard sounded better overall. It is interesting in the comments about the video that one guy mentioned the misconception that maple is harder than rosewood. The Janka hardness scale shows that to be false.


uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

May 9th, 2019 11:20 AM   Edit   Profile  

What people rarely do is to compare like with like...or similar.
By which I mean comparing,say,different thicknesses of rosewood,and different species of rosewood.
The English classical guitarist Julian Bream,a contemporary of John Williams,had an abiding interest in the Lute.
To an extent that he researched many still viewable drawings and designs held in archives/museums, of the Cremona school.
During a lengthy and interesting programme on B.B.C. radio a few years back he enthused about this and explained that he had,together with a luthier he had used for many years,constructed various instruments using gifted copies of those drawings as was allowed.
He was adamant when questioned on the point that the drawings they used for one instrument specified VARYING the THICKNESS of the rosewood fingerboard "so as to darken the tone and warmth"of the instrument,as explained on the drawings.
This he and his luthier did,and he demonstrated this amazingly well by performing a piece on instruments with the same construction but with differing fingerboard thicknesses.
I.E. the thicker,the darker/warmer.
Now how that translates into the world of solid body amplified instruments,especially the electric bass takes a little understanding!
However,I can personally confirm as can others,most like, that a slab-board Fender Bass
possesses a darker tone than a slightly later "curved board" bass where you find that the board in the latter instrument is much thinner,and became even thinner,a year or so after introduction.(nothing to do with capacitor values).
The way I see it what you don't want in any solid body instrument is the vibration of the string being lost or damped out by the materials whether the wood or metal components.
Look on at Leo Fenders' G&L instruments and you may note the grub screw in the side of the bridge assembly,designed to lock the saddles as solid as possible,once adjusted.

Some maple is softer than other maple.That is a fact.So is the case with rosewood.
Big leaf maple can be soft and "whippy", maybe that soaks up string energy unwantedly.
A good piece of straight grained large figure birdseye can be as dense as you like,and seems often very bright.But then thousands of instruments are out there with plain old ordinary maple that sound good enough to me.
So,there seem to be some ground rules;but companies fog and distort the true situation with marketing speak and pseudo science.
It is a fact that not all necks like all bodies.A
situation can often arise to a greater or lesser degree whereby one "fights" the other due to the sympathetic resonant frequencies present.
Therefore an interchange of neck,and or body,can resolve.
But overall,many things affect your sound;materials,scale length,string type and guage,pickups of course. There are many GOOD sounding great basses out there;mostly what I have discussed here are some of the factors which it is believed can,and in some cases are proven,to CHANGE the sound,not always for the best.
Go play a whole lot of both and decide what seems right to you,and have fun doing it.


(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 01:35 PM, May 9th, 2019)

Danny Nader


You Should Have Been There!
May 9th, 2019 11:42 AM   Edit   Profile  


Uncle Stack gets it right! "The way I see it what you don't want in any solid body instrument is the vibration of the string being lost or damped out by the materials whether the wood or metal components."

This fact, along w/ the solidity of the neck pocket, is / are the two most important aspects of any instrument. Bolt on, neck through, set neck. Couple that w/ the ability of an instrument to drive the neck pocket and bridge, this can be the most important part of any instrument.

Wood will act like a sponge. It can and does dampen vibrations. Letting the string ring true and clear is the goal. After that it's up to the pickup. All the mojo in the world won't save an instrument if the wood is working against it. It's an electric guitar / bass / whatever. In an acoustic instrument the additional factor is the ability to drive the top.


Chuck M


May 9th, 2019 04:54 PM   Edit   Profile  

I always prefer dark wood for fingerboards, however, to my ears the maple fingerboard in the test bass sounded some better to me in the highs.

That said, the only maple fingerboard in my bass collection is on my Squier Vintage Modified Precision V. Most of my basses have rosewood, pau ferro or ebony fingerboards.

Contributing Member


May 10th, 2019 10:52 AM   Edit   Profile  

I agree with Stack on this. I have always preferred Rosewood over Maple. I do not like the feel of Maple on a guitar but on my Fender Player P bass the Maple neck's shape and feel is really nice so Maple on a bass is not as big a deal to me. Where I have a choice I will go Rosewood as it has a slightly better feel.
Also agree that some woods act like a sponge on sound while others more articulate and clear so it is a "crap shoot" that you are better off playing them first and even then it won't be the same in the mix.

Contributing Member


an acquired taste some may never acquire
May 10th, 2019 02:48 PM   Edit   Profile  

I prefer maple on guitars, but all of the basses I like have rosewood fingerboards, so I'm thereby spared the dilemma.

Contributing Member


May 10th, 2019 07:57 PM   Edit   Profile  

oh no

All my basses are rosewood !

I don't think I have played a maple necked bass, I may have to buy even more now.




Who is E. Sandoval?
May 11th, 2019 11:51 AM   Edit   Profile  

If you have any doubt that the neck doesn't have a huge impact on the tone, put a thick "C" P neck on a Jazz and check it out. The 66 P has this type of C neck.

Also, here's a link to a limited edition P, the Midnight Hour:

Midnight Hour P


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
May 17th, 2019 01:10 PM   Edit   Profile  

I like both. Have both. I have often thought I could tell the difference but would probably decline an offer to do a blind test of the two boards.


FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Rosewood vs Maple Necks.....

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