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Electric Guitars/maple or rosewood fingerboard?


Hello Ross,

How are you? I am considering purchasing an electric guitar in the very near future. It offers an option of a maple or a rosewood fingerboard, and I still can't decide which one to get.

I have read and heard so many things about the differences between the two woods, but none is really convincing. I have 3 electrics with 3 different fingerboard woods (ebony, rosewood, and maple), but those guitars are completely different and can not be really compared in terms of fingerboard materials and tones.

Basically I love bright tones associates with single coils, so does this mean I should choose a maple one as conventionally believed that a maple fingerboard gives a brighter tone and sharper attack? What is your perspective?

Thank you in advance,


Hi, Yuzo!  I always enjoy hearing from you.  I hope you're well.  While I believe it's true (in general) that the standard wisdom is that a maple fretboard gives a brighter tone and faster attack, you're correct that there are many other factors involved.  

The type of body wood, strings, pickups, amp, effects, etc. all contribute to the end result so that it's possible to get similar sounds out of each guitar.  

Having said that; however, I have also found that maple fretboards have a different physical feel also.  I really find it difficult to describe in words.  I can, however, notice a distinct difference (I personally prefer a non-lacquer finish, as I like a more natural feel).

I also agree with you that the difference in fretboard wood is more pronounced with single coil pickups as opposed to humbuckers.  There is definitely a difference in the sound of a Stratocaster or Tele from maple to rosewood.  I tend to prefer the maple variety on single-coil guitars, as I like the "snap" they lend.

I hope this helps!  

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J Ross Smith


Find at! Over 20 years of guitar playing, teaching, building, and modifying; have worked as a touring musician, studio session guitarist, engineer, guitar tech, and guitar teacher. Registered member of ASCAP. Registered member of Freelancers Union. I have a working knowledge of music theory and styles, and a taste for all types of music and instruments. If you have a favorite guitar player or style, chances are I share it! If you have a question I can't answer, I'll rely on experienced and knowledgeable people I know to get the correct information for you, and I hope I can help inspire your playing style and tone. Promo photography by Sebastian Castillo at Castillo Photography, San Diego, CA.


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