Among various materials used for fretboards, ebony has always held a special place in the hearts of many guitarists, including myself, and it’s revered for its density, smoothness, durability, and aesthetic appeal.
However, today, we’re not just going to talk about just any ebony. We’re going to give special attention to a particular type of wood that’s been making waves in the guitar world – pale moon ebony. Read on to learn more about it and its benefits!
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What Is Pale Moon Ebony?
Pale moon or black-and-white ebony, scientifically known as Diospyros malabarica, is a unique ebony family variant primarily found in Southeast Asia, especially in Laos and Indonesia, much like its close relative, Macassar.
The name “Pale Moon” comes from the striking visual characteristics of this wood, resembling a moody lunar landscape.
While other types of ebony don’t always come out jet black, in fact, it’s common for other species to have some strikes and streaks in them, such as Macassar and Royal ebony, pale moon ebony takes the blend of light and dark hues to a whole new level by creating a marbled effect.
Most commonly used for fingerboards, this dramatic contrast makes each pale moon ebony fretboard a piece of art! They are also sometimes used for guitar bodies, mainly tops, and look incredible.
However, a pale moon isn’t all about looks – it also has many other qualities that make it highly regarded. Let’s talk about more of the benefits of pale moon ebony next!
Why Choose Pale Moon Ebony For Your Fretboard?
While pale moon ebony’s unique grain patterns and color variations are what truly sets it apart, it’s also important to know about its other benefits.
Pale moon is a very dense, tough wood with a tight grain, a characteristic that it shares with its ebony cousins, and this hardness lends itself to not only being very durable but also having excellent tonal transfer.
This means that the vibrations from the strings are efficiently transmitted to the guitar body, resulting in a bright, crisp, articulate sound. However, some guitarists report a slightly warmer tone, perhaps due to the unique grain structure and density variations within the wood.
In addition to the bright and clear tone that ebony wood is known for, its fine texture provides a fast, smooth surface to play on, making it very popular for those who love to play fast and intricate leads.
As you know, pale moon ebony can look stunning and add a unique, personal touch to your guitar by offering a refreshing alternative to ordinary-looking wood. These will help you break away from the crowd and create your own identity!
A fretboard can be more than just a functional part of your instrument; it’s a statement of your style and personality, and exotic woods like pale moon ebony bring a unique blend of aesthetics and tonality to the table that’s hard to match with other kinds of wood, making your guitar a standout piece.
How To Care For Pale Moon Ebony Fretboards
Ebony fretboards, in general, are known for being the most durable ones around, and with proper care, one of these can last a lifetime! In addition to being so strong, the wood also contains many natural oils, making it less prone to drying out.
However, like any fretboard, you’ll still need to care for yours with regular cleaning and occasional conditioning – because of its aforementioned natural oils, ebony doesn’t require a lot of conditioning like softer woods.
For being so exotic, it surprisingly doesn’t require any specialized treatment; all you need is a light application of fingerboard oil on a microfiber cloth if you notice it getting dirty. Doing this will help keep the wood healthy and looking great by removing any dirt and grime that can build up as you play.
Keep in mind, though, because pale moon ebony can contain lots of light-colored areas, it may be more noticeable than other ebony variants, but this is a positive thing because it will help you be more aware of its condition.
Remember, guitars with pale moon aren’t cheap, and it’s art, so if you treat it with care, it treats you back with a lifetime of reliability.
Where to Buy Guitars With Pale Moon Ebony Fretboards
Finding guitars with pale moon might take a bit of searching as they are less common than other kinds of ebony. However, several high-end guitar manufacturers, like Mayones, Kiesel, and even Fender, offer models featuring this exotic wood.
If you have the budget for a custom-shop instrument, pale moon ebony is frequently an option to pick from for your wood, as well as other exotic ones like zebrawood and ziricote. Going this route and getting a custom guitar is definitely a viable alternative if you want a professional builder to make yours precisely to your specifications.
Lastly, you can always search online at the second-hand market. If you look around, most likely, you’ll find eBay and Reverb listings of guitars that have pale moon fretboards. Since brand new guitars, whether from a retailer or a custom shop, tend to be expensive, finding a used guitar with a pale moon ebony fingerboard that’s been well-kept can help save you some money.
With all of its benefits, pale moon ebony fretboards are a real treat to have! These truly sound as beautiful as they look.
The main downside to pale moon ebony is that they can be really pricey because they aren’t widely available. All types of ebony trees in the Diospyros species grow very slowly and, thus, isn’t a sustainable resource.
Ebony, as a whole, has been used for thousands of years for various goods, and more modern issues, like deforestation, have led to a decline of these trees in their natural range. Nowadays, ebony is highly controlled, and despite the short supply, they’re always in demand.
This is especially true with pale moon ebony and for a good reason! Guitar luthiers are constantly seeking out this amazing exotic tonewood to meet the demand of guitarists who want high-visual appeal in their instruments.
With that said, if you can get your hands on a guitar with a pale moon ebony fretboard, consider yourself lucky, not only because of their scarcity but because of all their benefits, and I hope that this guide has given you a ton of valuable insight into what it can offer you!