When investing in any musical instrument, it is important to pick one that is sure to last a long while. Durability and reliability are two key factors that hold value here. And, for this, looking into the material used to make the instrument is one way to expedite the process. If you’re thinking of starting your music journey by learning how to play the guitar, then chances are you have been struggling to decide between getting a fretboard made of Maplewood or Rosewood.
To make it easy for you to make the pick, we have put together some of the pros and cons of each type. This is sure to help you pick the one that suits best with your needs and preferences. Let’s have a look at them, shall we.
What Is A Fretboard?
The fretboard is the fingerboard on the guitar or any other musical instrument, such as the ukulele or banjo. It comes with a set of 6 to 12 strings attached. When pressed upon tightly using different combinations called chords, various types of sounds are produced. This also requires strumming the strings below simultaneously. Guitars and musical instruments having fretboards can be found of many types. They vary in terms of size and material as well. The material that the fretboard is made of plays an important role in the type of sound being produced. This is determined by the density of the wood. The denser the wood is, the brighter and more vibrant the sound being produced is going to be.
Maple Fretboard Vs. Rosewood Fretboard
When it comes to most musical instruments having fretboards, Maplewood or Rosewood is the commonly found material. This is especially the case for electric guitars where you can find fretboards made of each type of wood. Let’s have a look at what sets each apart.
1. The Sound
Maplewood is a hard and dense wood. This means that the sound produced with a Maplewood fretboard is sure to be brighter and vibrant. Compared to the Rosewood, you can expect a sweeter and warm sound. The difference in the sound being produced can be deciphered almost immediately. To get a good idea of this, you can head on over to your nearest music store and play guitars having fretboards made of each type. This is sure to help you go for the one that sits well with your preferences.
2. The texture
Since Maplewood is harder, you can expect to have a harder fretboard. However, this type of wood feels a lot smoother on the fingers. Compared to the Rosewood fretboard, you can experience a lighter and spongier texture. This is because Rosewood is more porous in comparison to the Maplewood fretboard. It is due to this that the sounds being produced by each type of tonewood also varies greatly.
3. The Price
Since Maplewood is denser, it is sure to be a bit more expensive than Rosewood. As a result, you can expect a guitar with a Maplewood fretboard to be a bit pricier. However, this is truly worth the investment, as it can last you a long while. All you have to be wary of is taking care of it.
So, if you have a few extra dollars to spare, or can save up on the intended amount over the next few months, then going for the Maplewood fretboard is your best bet. If you’re looking for a guitar urgently and wish to start your music career right away, then you can invest in the Rosewood fretboard guitar right now and switch to one made of Maplewood later on.
Which One Should I Go For?
When it comes down to answering this question, it all comes down to your preference. If you prefer music played on the guitar that is mellowed out, then Rosewood would be the best fit. If not, then the Maplewood fretboard is what you can invest in without any worry. The sharpness of Maplewood fretboard appeals to some guitar players, which is why they opt for it despite it being too harsh. Try out each type and see which one sits well with your playability. Overall, both types of tone wood are known to be durable, sturdy, and worth the investment. You can expect them both to stay by your side when you make it big ten years from now.
Tips On Cleaning Fretboards
No matter which fretboard wood your guitar has, ensuring it lasts longer rests on how well kept your guitar is. Maintenance and regular cleaning of your fretboard can not only keep its structure intact but also ensure the music being played is bright and loud. Here are some tips and tricks you can follow to keep your fretboard in top shape.
- For Maplewood fretboards use a damp microfiber cloth to remove any buildup. You can also go for a soft cotton cloth or an old T-shirt. Excessive accumulation of dust and debris can impact the sounds being produced when the instrument is played.
- Be sure to clean your fretboard after every use. This can help get rid of stains and fingerprints right away.
- You can use lemon oil to rehydrate your fretboard and give it a nice shine. Stick to mineral based oil and use it sparingly. Remember that a few drops can go a long way.
- Avoid using vinegar and baking soda to clean your fretboard as it can damage the wooden exterior. The same goes for any harsh chemicals such as dish soap or lemon juice.
- Place your guitar in a case to keep the fretboard safe from external elements.
- Avoid keeping your guitar under direct sunlight or exposing it to harsh temperatures. This can cause the wood to crack and wear out faster than anticipated.
- Invest in a humidifier to keep your fretboard wood hydrated. This can easily be found at any music store near you.
Investing In The Right Fretboard Type!
Now that you have the pros and cons of each type of wood, you can get on going and make the right pick without delay. While Rosewood and Maplewood both are durable and sturdy, Rosewood is often recommended by professional guitar players and instructors. In addition, if you are purchasing an instrument with a fretboard that has been used before, be sure to inspect it thoroughly. You do not want to end up with a worn-out and frayed fretboard.
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Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.