When choosing a fretboard material, you have plenty of options, and one of the most popular woods out there is a maple fingerboard!
The different tonewoods that are used on fretboards have varying characteristics that people love, and in this article, we’ll go over the main reasons why you should consider getting a maple fretboard on your next electric guitar or bass.
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For starters, maple is a tough and sturdy wood, which is one of the main reasons why it’s used for necks and fretboards in the first place.
According to the Janka Hardness Scale, however, it is much softer than ebony, which is considered one of the hardest woods overall. It is slightly softer than rosewood, though.
When it comes to comparing these three main types of fretboard woods, they’re all very good choices. It’s just good to know that a maple fretboard will be as reliable as the other options available to you.
While there has undoubtedly been some debate related to the tonal qualities of maple and other types of wood, the general consensus is that maple is considered to have a brighter sound quality than rosewood, which is a trait that it shares with ebony fretboards.
Its snappiness is a characteristic that people love, and people have been enjoying guitars with maple fretboards across many genres, from pop to metal.
Maple tends to be a very comfortable wood that’s enjoyable to play on. This is because maple has a tight grain pattern that helps it feel smooth or slick to the touch, which is yet another attribute that it has in common with ebony.
This also has to do with the finish that most maple fingerboards are layered with as well. They put this coating on to keep the sweat, dirt, and oil from your fingers from penetrating the wood and leaving stains on it.
That said, whenever I’m playing on a maple fretboard, it always feels like I can play faster, even if it’s a placebo or marginal at best. Even so, maple fretboards are always a pleasure to my fingers, and millions of others share the same sentiment.
Right off the bat, one of the first things most people notice about maple fretboards is their light color, which contrasts with the darker shades that other types of woods have.
Maple is gorgeous in its own right, but it also has the ability to bring out the paint job on the body of the guitar as well and can really make certain colors pop out.
Although maple tends to be very light, ranging from a creamy, white-ish color to blonde, there are also some that can come out darker, like roasted or caramelized maple necks and fretboards, which look incredible.
Lastly, maple is also one of the more affordable wood options, so if money is a concern, it’s a good option, as you can easily find maple on budget guitars.
Nowadays, authentic rosewood and ebony are more expensive because they’re both endangered, and it’s difficult to import because it’s illegal to log the trees in most countries. It’s also why you’ll find rosewood substitutes on many guitars these days since those are cost-effective.
Maple is still abundant and not at risk, so you’ll find it on a ton of guitars, including costly ones – many high-end instruments will even feature special kinds of maple, like birdseye maple or flamed maple. However, if you’re looking for an excellent guitar with a regular maple fretboard, you definitely don’t need to break the bank.
Ultimately, maple is an excellent choice for fretboards, and hopefully, this article has shown you why it’s been one of the leading choices of wood for decades.
Sure, many of the benefits of maple fretboards can be considered a matter of personal preference, but if people didn’t like them, they wouldn’t be as popular as they are.
At the end of the day, if you’re reading this, you’ve expressed some interest in maple fretboards and were curious about what they can offer you. So, if you’re sold on them, I hope you find a guitar with a maple fingerboard that you’ll play for years to come!
If you do, be sure to also check out my guide to cleaning a maple fretboard. Believe it or not, maple fretboards require slightly special treatment when taking care of them and keeping them clean. Click the link above to learn more about these simple but essential tips when caring for a maple fingerboard.