Benefits of ebony fingerboard?

Lideruke

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I'm considering getting for my next uke either a Pono AS or ASD. I prefer the look of the ASD, but it's difficult to justify the extra $100 based on appearance alone. So I think it comes down to the fingerboard. Does ebony make any difference in terms of tone/playability, etc?
 

savagehenry

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I think that ebony is a little harder and I personally think that an ebony fingerboard and bridge looks awesome. I don't really think that there would be a difference in tone, but I could be wrong. Most of my ukukeles are rosewood, but I did upgrade my Sailor brand to ebony and I would do it in the future if I had the choice. I know how it sounds is the most important, but you have to look at it too and the visuals add an extra love for the instrument, pay a little more and get what you like. When it's all said and done, it only matters what you like in an instrument.
 

Plainsong

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A luthier once told me that ebony was way easier to more quickly repair, should you develop a crack.
 

Tudorp

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Ebony is denser. Theroetically, it is supposed to have an effect on tone, maybe brighter. But I would challenge a blind folded test to see if anyone's ear could actually detect it. I personally love the contrast in appearence. It is a much more costly wood hence the price. I happen to be a big fan of ebony.
 

Plainsong

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Meanwhile I wish we were offered more options in maple. The guitar world gets all the cool options.
 

ScooterD35

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Ebony is indeed somewhat harder/denser than Rosewood. The difference this makes is more a matter of feel rather than tone. A Rosewood fretboard is easier on the fingertips.

From a structural standpoint, while cracks and divots are easier to repair on Ebony (the process is to mix Ebony sawdust with superglue, fill in and sand flush) Ebony is also more prone to chipping and cracking during a re-fret. As far as ukes are concerned, the nylon strings make re-frets and divots pretty rare so it probably makes the most sense to make your choice based mostly on looks and feel.



Scooter
 

Markr1

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I love my maple necks and fretboards on my strats and teles. The only problem I have with ebony is that I have a Gibson J-200 and Carvin nylon string guitars with ebony fretboards and they both developed cracks which were easy repairs but none of my rosewood fretboards have ever cracked and they all live in the same environment.
Meanwhile I wish we were offered more options in maple. The guitar world gets all the cool options.
 
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I love my maple necks and fretboards on my strats and teles.

And to illustrate how everything is down to personal taste, I've owned a number of Strats & Teles over the years, and sold every one with a maple fingerboard within a month of "giving it another go". I only ever used to buy Les Paul Customs, purely because of the ebony fingerboards. I love it.
 

Doc_J

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I'm considering getting for my next uke either a Pono AS or ASD. I prefer the look of the ASD, but it's difficult to justify the extra $100 based on appearance alone. So I think it comes down to the fingerboard. Does ebony make any difference in terms of tone/playability, etc?

The ebony fretboard should not show wear or fingernail marks as easily as rosewood. But if finances are tight and the ebony look is not important, rosewood is a good choice and will be just fine. Rosewood can look a little more wood-grainy, which can be a nice look.
 
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OldePhart

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I think you're more likely to notice a difference in tone between ebony and rosewood when they are used in saddles and nuts. On the fretboard I don't think it's as likely to be noticeable.

If you like to do bends the ebony will be smoother and "slicker" for bending and will wear more slowly.

If you're looking at your uke being a family heirloom, ebony is less likely to wear under the strings for the first position chords like you often see with older ukes with rosewood or koa fingerboards. Even so, we're talking nylon strings here so wear really becomes a matter of decades of frequent play even on rosewood.

John
 

Tigeralum2001

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When I ordered my Pepe Spruce/Rosewood from Ukulele Source, they also ordered an additional one to sell just like it with one difference. I wanted an Ebony fingerboard (I love the look) and they ordered a Rosewood fingerboard. When they arrived, we played them both. I was lucky enough that Daniel Ho was in town for a workshop and he played them both, too. Everyone agreed mine had the better tone. These are identical ukes from the same batch, by the same maker, with the same strings, etc. All things being equal except the fingerboard (same Rosewood bridge- everything).

In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't matter a whole lot, but considering the size of the uke (how small it is), and the construction of the fingerboard (likely glued to the top of the uke. Compass Rose does a Cantilevered neck that is unique and likely has less effect on sound), it does have some effect. Spruce is a very bright tone, so depending on your tone woods, it may have different effects.

This is just my experience. I am not a luthier and I don't have a lot of 1:1 comparisons, just this one. Hope it helps.
 

dkwan9

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Going along with what's already been mentioned, I believe rosewood is oilier than ebony, so it has a slightly slicker feel to it. If there is any noticeable difference in tone, I think it would be that an ebony board would produce a slightly brighter snappier tone, and the rosewood would be richer and fuller. I really don't think it will affect the tone though.