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  • Maple fretboards on Strats

    It seems there are 4 ways a Fender Strat neck is commonly built;

    * Maple fretboard glued to separate maple neck. No skunk stripe.
    * Maple fretboard & maple neck all 1 piece of wood. Skunk stripe.
    * Rosewood fretboard glued to maple neck. No skunk stripe.
    * Rosewood fretboard glued to maple neck. Skunk stripe (not sure why stripe used in this case)

    I am finding that maple fretboards are much less common than rosewood, particularly in the Fender Custom shop Strats. Why do they make so few with maple these days? Does rosewood have better tone properties?

    I can't work out why in some models where the fretboard is glued to the neck a skunk stripe is still also used. I would have thought this unnecessary.

    I would think that a maple neck and fretboard that are all one piece and quarter sawn would be best for neck stability and tone. What do you think?
    '76 Explorer, R7, '60 CS Strat
    JMP100 MV, Mesa DR, Roland JC60
    4 x 12 JCM900, 4x12 Recto

  • #2
    The skunk stripe may be unnecessary, but it look kinda cool if you ask me.

    I once preferred maple fretboards, but I really lean toward rosewood now. Maple feels better, but rosewood seems to sound better. May all be in my head.

    this neck didn't NEED a skunk stripe, but I like it:

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    • #3
      Thanks. I thought the skunk stripe was only put in where a channel for the truss rod had to be carved out. I didn't realize it was put in for its appearance sometimes.
      '76 Explorer, R7, '60 CS Strat
      JMP100 MV, Mesa DR, Roland JC60
      4 x 12 JCM900, 4x12 Recto

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      • #4


        I can't work out why in some models where the fretboard is glued to the neck a skunk stripe is still also used. I would have thought this unnecessary.

        I would think that a maple neck and fretboard that are all one piece and quarter sawn would be best for neck stability and tone. What do you think?


        Fender used one-piece maple necks ONLY until '58 or so.

        In '59, facing complaints from dealers and players about finish wear on the fretboard, Leo switched to rosewood "slab" fretboards on everything (maple boards were NOT available). Skunk stripe was dropped because it wasn't needed anymore.

        Sometime in the mid '60's, Fender switched to a thinner "shaped" laminate fretboard rosewood fretboard to save material costs. No skunk stripe.

        In the late '60's Fender started to offer a shaped laminate maple fretboard as an option. This was the first time a person could order either rosewood OR maple. No skunk strip because the neck wasn't one piece.

        Sometime around '69 or so Fender started offering one piece maple necks again, when they introduced the bullet truss rod. Skunk strip was a different size.

        I don't think they added a skunk strip to a rosewood boarded neck until the late '80's or later as an aesthetic option.

        The difference between a slab fretboard and a laminate one....

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        • #5
          Thanks for the history lesson. You can really see the difference in the grain in the quarter sawn neck, that would have to be more stable.

          It seems that if you want a maple fretboard you just have to wait until your baby pops up.

          I have seen Fenders like this that have no truss rod. Having a neck that can't be adjusted would worry me, but these experts must know that it all works I guess.
          '76 Explorer, R7, '60 CS Strat
          JMP100 MV, Mesa DR, Roland JC60
          4 x 12 JCM900, 4x12 Recto

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          • #6
            I prefer maple necks for both playability and aesthetics. In all honest i really can not hear any difference in tone between maple and rosewood. The fact that it is a bolt on neck would make the tone pretty much unapparent.
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            • #7
              I simply prefer maple necks on a strat. Don't like to play one that does not have one.

              That is why I love my 57 re-issue strat so much, great maple neck and sound to boot!

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              • #8
                I simply prefer maple necks on a strat. Don't like to play one that does not have one.

                I'm kind of the same. However you take most of Strats out of play when you stick to maple.
                '76 Explorer, R7, '60 CS Strat
                JMP100 MV, Mesa DR, Roland JC60
                4 x 12 JCM900, 4x12 Recto

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                • #9
                  Although I have a 15year old maple fretboard strat, I find myself wanting a rosewood fretboard for a change. Some great players used rosewood Rory, SRV, Hendrix, Gary Moore....... plenty of great maple players too I know too.

                  I would agree, that In my long guitar playing life, I cannot distinguish between a maple and a rosewood playing surface.

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                  • #10
                    rosewood is softer. no question. maple is a little percussive. most people don't have the skills to maximize either.
                    Somebody say something.

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                    • #11
                      Fret maintainence and replacement is so much easier on a rosewood. The neck tends to feel less stickey. I have one maple necks on a strat and three all maple tele necks. I do find the Maple a littel brighter, especially if you use a brass nut. Other than that, the laquered maple can be a problem bending notes if you dont lubricate the fretboard/strings. The poly finishes last longer but they're even worse for stickeyness. They laquer ones do wear and look terrible when the maple darkens. The only way to correct them is to sand the neck during a refret which I've also done many times.

                      I'm currently doing one without removing the frets. It was a bitch to sand without fret damage and have it look good. I'm using tung oil on this one so it has a more natureal feel to it.

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                      • #12
                        Although I have a 15year old maple fretboard strat, I find myself wanting a rosewood fretboard for a change. Some great players used rosewood Rory, SRV, Hendrix, .


                        Hendrix was mainly a maple board player
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                        • #13
                          i personally think maple is better in ever way to rosewood. i have noticed that more strats have rosewood Fbs over maple ones.

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                          • #14
                            Hendrix was mainly a maple board player


                            ... but only from early 1968 (when he moved back to the US and started using the brand-new bighead models). During 1966-7, when he was resident in the UK, his Strats were almost invariably pre-CBS rosewood-board.
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                            • #15
                              ... but only from early 1968 (when he moved back to the US and started using the brand-new bighead models). During 1966-7, when he was resident in the UK, his Strats were almost invariably pre-CBS rosewood-board.


                              I didn't realise that there were Strats built before 68
                              Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. - Plato

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