How important is the wood type of a guitar fretboard?

How important is the wood type of a guitar fretboard?

You may be wondering just how important the fingerboard wood is. The fingerboard of a guitar or bass affects, among other things, the sound, look and feel of the instrument.

But is it really important to you? Read this blog and you will know what the main differences are. Then choosing becomes a bit easier!

The fretboard of a guitar is obviously a vital part of your instrument. This is the place where your hand will work to determine the height of the tones.

There has been and will always be a lot of discussion among guitarists about the actual influence of the wood type of the fingerboard.

After all, the sound of a guitar is more than the sum of its parts.

Yet there are indeed differences that are certainly worth taking a closer look at.

Keep in mind that apart from color and wood type, you should know how to pick a guitar with the best fretboard radius for you.

Equally important is knowing how to clean the fretboard. No matter the material, bad maintenance is never an option!


Rosewood can be recognized by its brown color with a beautiful dark wood grain. There are hundreds of species under this Dalbergia genus, so appearance may vary slightly.

This type of wood is relatively porous compared to, for example, maple and ebony. The tone quality attributed to rosewood is warm, with an emphasis on the lower frequencies.

Until recently, rosewood was the most commonly used wood for guitar keys, but due to CITES more and more manufacturers are switching to alternatives, such as pau ferro and walnut.


Maple is often used as a neck with an “integral fretboard” (one piece) or as a neck with a glued fretboard, as is done with the other woods.

This type of wood is immediately recognizable by its light color. The high density is characteristic of maple. This means you can count on a tight sound with a “snappy” midrange.

Maple is associated with a bright and clean sound. One factor that can affect the look and feel of maple is the lacquer.

A lacquered fretboard will feel different and will usually have a darker tone than a raw one.

One is not necessarily better than the other. It’s a matter of style and taste.

maple fretboard - How important is the wood type of a guitar fretboard


Ebony is very similar to maple when it comes to tonal characteristics. This type of wood also has a high density and therefore a tight sound and snappy high tones.

Because this type of wood is more expensive and more difficult to work with than the previously mentioned types, you will often find ebony on the more high-end instruments.

Ebony usually has a dark black color and looks very chic. As rosewood is becoming scarcer, some manufacturers are opting for ebony as an alternative.

This also makes the plain dark ebony scarcer. The result is that nowadays you will also see ebony with more noticeable wood grains and color differences.

Ebony Fretboard example - How important is the wood type of a guitar fretboard

In short, the wood type of the fingerboard does have an influence. Perhaps the influence on the sound is exaggerated by some, but in terms of looks it is beyond dispute.

There may even be a placebo effect. In addition to rosewood, maple and ebony, there are many more types of wood and plastic that are used for the fretboard, but we can elaborate on those in another blog.

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