Tone of Roasted Maple neck vs Fretboard choice

JohnnyHardtail

Senior member
Messages
319
I want to ask about people's experience with the effect of fretboard choice on tone, particularly when the shaft material is roasted maple.

My basic theory is that Roasted maple will have higher young's modulus due to structural change of the sugars and natural resins in the wood after roasting.  I have no evidence to prove my theory, but when I order Warmoth roasted maple necks I decided to order a different material on the fretboard so the tone will adopt the properties of the fretboard material more than the Roasted maple.  For example, if I want the neck to sound like raw maple I could order a plain maple fretboard, or possibly Pau Ferro fretboard that would have similar mechanical properties.  Generally I'm seeking a balanced tone without too much top-end brightness.

Please let me know if you have any opinion about different fretboard material having an effect on tone, or not.

There has been some research into aging and roasting of woods such as this paper which I have not read so far.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1296207412000404
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
881
idk man, how often do you practice? i didnt log on here to read Charles dickens latest dissertation on wood, lol. Taken at #Face/Off value, starring John Travelto, this kinda minutia might make a diff. But whadda bout da rest of your signal chain? can you account for every other aspect your tone juice's pilgrimage from your fingees (fingers) to your speakers to your earz?

Some things in life are best left to mystery. Like my fav (favorite) word is boobs, but ironically I’m more of a butt man. What cruel fate that mystery is
 

MikeW

Senior member
Messages
952
JohnnyHardtail said:
I want to ask about people's experience with the effect of fretboard choice on tone, particularly when the shaft material is roasted maple.
...
There has been some research into aging and roasting of woods such as this paper which I have not read so far.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1296207412000404

Yep. Just based on reading the abstract I'd agree with the premise. I'd also guess that what they'll find is that the crystallization process is what causes the tonal shift. I'm not an expert of course, but would be interested to see what the result of the full study was.

As far as anecdotal evidence goes, I've got experience with three Roasted Maple necks. I own two and set up the third. The two I own are RM/RM and RM/Rosewood and the third was RM/Ebony. All are Warmoth necks and all Modern construction.

Here's what I've found:
1. The RM/RM is dense, slick and very bright. So bright that I have to EQ my amp to take out top end and presence when I play it. I love that guitar, and use is as a back up in the blues/rock band, but it is too bright to be a #1. I was actually surprised at how bright this neck was when I first played it plugged in since it doesn't seem overwhelmingly bright acoustically.

2. RM/Rosewood is my favorite of the three, partly because it's got both the top end of the RM and the warm presence of the Rosewood which is a great combination. I'm using it in conjunction with Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders so it's got both top end and sizzle to it and works out really nicely in the mix. That being said, it's also on my latest build so it has a lot of the "new shiny object" syndrome going too.

3. The RM/Ebony was very nice. I've not played it since it left my shop, but I did get to fiddle with it for a few days while I was setting it up. It's a very bright combination, but not in a bad way. There is a good amount of mids to it, but they are not as pronounced as with the RM/Rosewood. Think of it as a bump in the Presence knob instead of the Mid knob.


 

JohnnyHardtail

Senior member
Messages
319
Thanks the the replies.  I asked because I'll be ordering a new neck with roasted maple shaft and modern construction.  I don't want to make the guitar super bright if I can avoid it.  When I wrote the post I was thinking of choosing a Ziricote Fretboard.  Now I'm more likely to choose Pau Ferro because I always found it had the tone and feel that I like.  Looking at the specs, the two woods seem very similar, so I'd be surprised if there is actually a difference.


 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
881
Yo i'd just spend more time shreddin than frettin (get it?) about minor thang like dis. I'm writing a book about the yin and yang of practicing with a metronome called The Metronomicon and since a lot of guitar tone comes from your fingees (some is also stored in the balls. Balls of your feet if your a nutso reflexologist) thats where you should put in your dues with your dudes, my dude. Maybe rosewood is 2% warmer than maple but how close are you to needing replacing the tubes in your amp? Did you move the tone knorb on your tube screamer 3 degrees? I'm just #saying I'm super saiyen like goku

All glory to the metronomicon
 

musicispeace

Senior member
Messages
997
As I get older now I wonder how my hearing is changing. I'm not saying I ever damaged it overtly by prolonged exposure to loud music but as I up my playing and practice I am just not noticing much if at all the fretboard material on sound. I'm a real rosewood fretboard guy. I have roasted maple with roasted maple and roasted maple with rosewood and in the past have had roasted maple and pau ferro. At this point I just don't find anything very tangible as a difference that I could point to. Now when I play my all Bubinga neck I think I can say its somewhat rounder and more middle sounding than maple but I am really feeling that by the time you are playing with others live in front of a crowd that differences come down to your hands, pickups, and your settings/mix. Nobody jumps up in the crowd and shouts for that ziricote fretboard the guitarist is using. As much as I advocate on behalf of rosewood I am beginning to agree with those who feel the percentage relating to fretboard is so slight that you might as well go with the fretboard that works with your aesthetic tastes.
 

brain21

New member
Messages
20
Unless I missed it (which is possible) that was just an abstract.  It notes that there are tonal differences between aged and newly cut wood.  THis is nothing new for musicians.  Stradivari used to soak his wood in water for up to 2 years and then dry it out, and only used old-growth woods.  Musicians always talk about getting guitars with old-growth wood.  And the idea is that over time, the cellular structure changes in a manner that is favorable for most musicians.  This is also why devices like ToneRite exist.  Furthermore, roasted maple is far more stable than regular maple, esp the flamed varieties.

The question however, is how do the cellular changes translate to tone?  Do they make them warmer or brighter?  Is it really audible in a band setting?  In a solo setting?

So, generally things that alter the cellular structure get the cells to "relax" more, or "fall into place" for lack of a better term.  The general consensus is that agin processes, devices like the ToneRite, get the guitar to sound warmer.  I think it is interesting that you note that roasted maple is really bright, and I may have to try to hunt down the article that was abstracted.  I have a few questions...

How much brighter (or anything) would a roasted maple neck be as opposed to a solid maple neck?  I have no doubt that roasting would change the sound as it does change the stability.  I'm wondering, is it barely perceptible, or really perceptible?  I have a guitar with a big, fat, 1 piece roasted maple neck, but it is a baritone one so I'm not really in a position to make guesses myself.  :)

I love the look and feel of roasted maple.  The coloring is great, and you don't have to finish it.  You can, to a certain extent, alter the warmth/brightness w/ fingerboards.  Wenge is great for similar reasons.  I am currently putting together a few partscasters.  One has an alder body aesthetically a flamed roasted maple neck (1 piece) would look great on it.  The rolled off highs of the alder should offset any extra brightness that the neck brings, hopefully bringing it closer to neutral.  For this guitar I was looking at 2 trem options - Wudtone CP Vintage, and the CP Holy Grail.  The Holy Grail has greater sustain and tighter lows and mids, but the trade off is brighter highs, and a less "vintage" sound as compared to the CP Vintage.  So, which one of those I will got with is a deciding factor as well.  I like strat pickups with rolled off highs, so that should help as well. 

I think you have to think of all the parts as a system. Not just a neck or whatever is isolation.  The same roasted maple neck is going to sound different on two otherwise identical guitars where one is made of alder vs swamp ash.
 

JohnnyHardtail

Senior member
Messages
319
My guess is that cross-linking of natural resins in the wood would be similar to vulcanisation of rubber.    That can occur with either heat or age.  Its my understanding the molecules link together with heating / age and become harder.

One thing I'd be interested to know is how much variation occurs in the mechanical properties for different samples of raw maple.  From my experience with guitar necks, I suspect there is considerable variation.  When I check the material specs online, apparently "hard maple" has a higher modulus of elasticity (MoE) than Indian Rosewood, but I'm unsure if that is representative of guitar necks in general.  I'd have thought the Rosewood is more rigid than raw maple, but of course I'm probably wrong about everything.
 

WindsurfMaui

Senior member
Messages
329
  I'm no expert but I want to throw in my two cents. I think tone comes from your equipment, wood, pickups, effects, etc and style comes from your fingers (and emotions). I believe that wood has a big effect on tone but I also think most people give the fret board wood too much credit. I believe the shaft has more effect on tone than the fret board. The neck shaft wood connects to the body in the neck pocket and with the strings in the tuners and that connection effects string vibration. I'm not a wood expert but isn't the change in stiffness why some people prefer quarter sawn wood rather than flat sawn?

I own a roasted maple with an Ebony (black) fret board. I love this neck because of the slickness of the burnished roasted maple and I have always wanted a Strat ebony neck ( no idea why just always wanted one). But now what I think I want is a roasted mahogany neck shaft to warm up the tone. (Unfortunately I can't find a supplier of roasted Mahogany neck blanks. Called a few companies but no joy so far.) My belief is a roasted mahogany neck could have the slickness of the roasted maple and yet a much warmer tone. JMO
 

Rick

Senior member
Messages
4,335
When I was in Australia last November I went to a house.  About 4000 sq ft.  The flooring for the entire house, except kitchen and bathrooms was roasted maple.  I never saw anything like in my life. It was awesome.  All that wood was imported from the states.  It was over top, and the tone was excellent. 
 

JohnnyHardtail

Senior member
Messages
319
WindsurfMaui said:
I own a roasted maple with an Ebony (black) fret board. I love this neck because of the slickness of the burnished roasted maple and I have always wanted a Strat ebony neck ( no idea why just always wanted one). But now what I think I want is a roasted mahogany neck shaft to warm up the tone.
I had two strat necks with Ebony fret boards and raw maple backs. One was from Warmoth, the other was a well known Fender licensed maker based in NJ.    At the time I thought Ebony was a good way to add stability to the neck.    IMO the Ebony fret board/ raw maple back combination tends to be bright in the top end, although they didn't seem to have the same amount of resonance as a one piece maple neck.    The one piece raw maple neck from Warmoth was a lot warmer in tone.  Both of the Warmoth necks were standard thin profile with vintage/modern construction.

WindsurfMaui said:
(Unfortunately I can't find a supplier of roasted Mahogany neck blanks. Called a few companies but no joy so far.) My belief is a roasted mahogany neck could have the slickness of the roasted maple and yet a much warmer tone. JMO
Sounds logical, but I have never tried a neck with Ebony fretboard and mahogany back.  I don't think I would choose that combination for a 25.5" scale neck, but it should be stable enough for a Gibson scale neck.
 
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