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Thread: Rosewood fretboards vs Walnut fretboards.

  1. #21
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    Jun 2010
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    Lots of good posts here! Let me just add to what I posted earlier. Spook posted something on Maple fretboards. We've never gone to wood that light, and never finished our fretboards, as maple fretboards usually are. But we have gone fairly light. Nicaraguan rosewood is a light orangeish color that has worked well for us.

    But there is one other element to consider when you go toward the lighter end of the scale in color. The photo of the Maple fretboard shows what happens with steel stings, a bit of neglect and with traditional nickel alloy frets. Even with the lesser wear of classical wound strings, what can happen is that the nickel in the fret alloy itself wears off onto the fretboard and creates a lot of the discoloration. Finishing the fretboard can keep this from getting out of hand quickly, but then eventually you'll need a recoat of your fretboard finish.

    We use a fret material called EVO Gold. It's a bit harder than nickel alloy; a bit harder than it really needs to be on an Ukulele. But we like it because we use a lot of traditional design elements in our instruments, even though they are not reproductions in any sense. The EVO Gold looks a bit like old bar frets.

    So if you're going to the lighter side on your fretboard, the EVO can keep a cleaner look. We've found that with a medium-light color and these frets, a finished fretboard is not needed. So less maintenance down the road. You'll still need to keep things clean. Spook's suggestion of a cleaning with every string change (change strings often!) will keep things looking lovely.
    Last edited by southcoastukes; 09-24-2017 at 03:59 PM.
    Dirk Wormhoudt



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  2. #22
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    Apr 2010
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    Mission Viejo, CA
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    I have a couple of ukes that have fretboards made out of jatoba (I think). I know the wood started with a "j", but I'm not exactly sure of the exact species. It is nice looking reddish brown color with some lighter streaks.

    John

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Hi all
    i've been looking for a thread like this one about the new Walnut Vs Rosewood fretboards. I don't know if others have the same feeling as me, but I really don't like the new walnut freboards and bridges that are on the import line of ukes on Luna, Kalas and Lanikais. I have not seen them on other brands yet, but all the new Lunas, Kalas and Lanikais i've played this year have them and I feel like it's a step back if not two. I understand that the CITES restrictions made this come about, but the Walnuts, at least the way Kala and lanikai have done on theirs, are way too light. but more importantly, i feel like they look so unfinished, cheap, not durable and makes the whole uke look unfinished. It's very weird for me. Also they feel so soft to the touch, they feel like Balsa wood that I used before in Model Making. The Lanikai solid mahogany concert i have now uses this lighter walnut and from my view point looking down, i can't see the pearl position markers as they just disappear in the light walnut.

    Also there's not enough contrast unless i use darker strings. but still, mind you, i'm no beginner either and I can hold my own when playing, but i still like to see my frets when i look at the fretboard. The lighter walnut, i can't see the frets.
    Gosh i miss the dark nice smooth feel of Rosewood and Ebony. Anyone else feel this way too?

    I know Kanilea and Islanders have also Walnut on the new ones, but they at least stain them dark, as shown on some of the NAMM 2018 videos. So that's awesome.

    Anyone have a recommendation on fretboard oil i can use to darken my walnut fretboard without having to use stain? Right now I use Boogie Juice, which is great as a conditioner. But for darkening, it only does it slightly.
    I will try Music Nomad F-One next. but if others have great success with this, let me know....and your thoughts on the new lighter walnut fretboards we now see everywhere.

    "Having multiple ukes is like being a blind artist gaining back our sight and re-discovering a wonderful world and palette full of color.
    Uke had me at Aloha." - FuzzeeSock

  4. #24
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    Jul 2017
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    Beautiful Pacific Northwest
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackLuis View Post
    I just bought a new Caramel Pocket Uke and Choirboy asked me if it had a walnut fret board. According to Caramel's ad it is rose wood but... It is a lot lighter in color than my other rosewood fret boards and could be walnut? Of course for only a $29 Uke it might be most anything. I did oil it but it soaked the oil right up and didn't change color much. It may take a couple of more coats to do that.

    I've seen Ukes with Maple fret boards and they should be plenty hard enough to resist fingernails.
    I'm told by many luthiers that Martin has stained their Rosewood fretboards for over 50 years and others followed thinking that is what the market wanted. The Rosewood on the fretboards is usually black. But compare that to the Rosewood color on the back and sides. I have many Martins and am not complaining at all. Just passing on what I understand to be true.
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  5. #25
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    Dec 2010
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    The only time I ordered a totally custom uke, it had an ebony fretboard.
    Now I'm less picky about the color.
    If ash is hard enough to build baseball bats, wouldnt' it be hard enough for a fretboard?
    Or is it too heavy?
    Maybe a luthier will chime in here....
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Upper US
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    Quote Originally Posted by strat4me View Post
    I'm told by many luthiers that Martin has stained their Rosewood fretboards for over 50 years and others followed thinking that is what the market wanted. The Rosewood on the fretboards is usually black. But compare that to the Rosewood color on the back and sides. I have many Martins and am not complaining at all. Just passing on what I understand to be true.
    Really? Never heard that, but I have seen those stains mentioned before, but never tried it. I love the look of jet black ebony, but I'd be afraid it might look too black, and fake, on a lighter rosewood or walnut. Also, that it might eventually rub off on your fingers later, if not covered with a clearcoat, and don't think I'd want clearcoat on my fingerboard.

    http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and...ard_Stain.html

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    My Tiny Tenor , solid top, has a walnut fretboard and bridge. Dark colour, looks and feels great. I can’t imagine, the play it would take to really discolor it or put put scallop groves in it. That must be a lot of playing. I have ebony tenors and rosewood. I don’t feel the difference. I guess only many, many tears will tell.

    I’ve treated new walnut fretboard once with lemon oil by Dunlop and the walnut took it well just like all my rosewood guitars. I’ve had maple , fender fretboards. I would not hesitate to have maple on a ukulele. Gibson has done some baked maple to get a darker colour, it looked fine.

    Point is, there are ukes and meant to be played. I think Walnut is fine. I think in future richlite etc will be fine.

    Interesting thread and great perspective’s being offered. I don’t mind trying lots of different materials. My Sapele Opi had a mahogany fretboard and it felt and played fine. With all the restrictions, I think we will see lots of alternative.

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