If at all?


Most of my builds have been made using red oak neck and red oak fretboard, mainly because of easy availability. On two recent builds though, I've experimented with Walnut and Cocobolo fretboards. I've noticed the sound on these two builds is a little different and seemingly more responsive (though it may just be me). 


I've tried a couple of other different things on these builds as well, so I'm trying to narrow it down as to what exactly it is I've done to create this change. Any thoughts on the fretboard wood?


Thanks, David

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Besides the feel of the wood on your fingers and its ability to hold frets, none. Its a cigar box.

But you will get great debate.

     I made a few with  mahogany and the then i made some with Maple and some really hard zebra wood. Seemed to me the harder wood on the frett board made for a bit of a crisper sound. granted it is a very marginal difference.
besides making a removable fretboard (attached with screws, perhaps), so you could swap over to try different boards, its pretty hard to compare wood on the same build. but any hardwood should sound good.
I certainly wouldn't discount the contribution of the wood to the sound. On violins, the fingerboard wood is very important. You want a hard, dense wood like a high-grade ebony that "reflects" the vibrations back into the string instead of absorbing the vibrations like pear wood (commonly used in cheaper violins). I would think that although the frets reduce the importance of this, there is still some vibration lost through the fret into the wood. Since walnut and cocobolo are pretty dense compared to oak, it would make sense.
The fretboard makes about a 5-10% difference in sound. The harder the wood, the crisper the sound. The softer the wood, the warmer the sound.

Forgive me, but I am new to the forum and in the planning stages of my first CBG...  this may be the wrong place to ask...

But do you HAVE TO have a separate piece for the fingerboard or can you just slot the frets into the actual neck?  I have seen some (few) do this and wonder how much different would the sound is (good or bad) than the many I see with a separate piece for the fingerboard. 

A: It's a stick and a box!

B: I've done both and there's not (much) difference. When I use a separate fretboard I tend to use poplar for the neck because it's easy to shape and when you add an oak (or other hardwood) fretboard it strengthens it up enough for cigar box work. When I don't use a separate fretboard I use red oak for the neck.

Some manufacturers use a 'no fretboard' approach for instruments. Deering uses maple (I believe) on it's 'Goodtime' line of banjos and the frets are right on the neck - no separate fretboard.

The problem with installing the frets directly into the neck is that if you screw it up, then you end up throwing away all the work you've done to make the headstock, and the "thru the box" portion of the neck/headstock assembly. Making mistakes in a fretboard is rather easy, and the way most builders minimize this risk is to install the frets on a fretboard. Then if they screw it up, they can just throw away the bad fretboard and start over using a new blank fretboard blank. In this way they don't have to remake the headstock, etc. I know this from personal experiences.

i use 3/4" oak and a 7mm fretboard on top as this thickness is comfortable for me to play, no reason why you shouldn't use the same overall thickness in a single strip of oak, but remember to cut a slot for the nut (-:

i've used all sorts of hardwood for fretboards - sapele, afromosia, maple, zebra wood, even ebony - all good but don't know if it affected the sound quality,   just bought some walnut and cherry to try in the future (-:

i found a smashed acc guitar in a skip,and when i tried to salvage the fret board it was plywood! saved the fretwire and the tuners tho'

from what ive gathered red oak is kind of a crappy tonewood

just look at the woods normally used in guitars and go from there. very few if any ive ever seen use oak

Since I'm contrarian I'm tempted to build a red oak solid body ;-)

But seriously I don't think a red oak neck is going to make a cigar box sound significantly better/worse.

It's what I have readily available and the cbgs I've made with red oak necks haven't suffered.

Your mileage may vary. 

Of course, I'd love to have an easy source of maple, but c'est la vie


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