Ebony Fingerboards

Ebony Fingerboards

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Why Won't PRS Use Ebony Fingerboards On Their Guitars?

It really rankles me that PRS refuses to offer Ebony fingerboards. I mean what's the deal? I thought PRS was supposed to be a Premium High End Guitar! Well Excuuuse Meeee!!! Ok there is a reason and here it is:

Since most people don't know, I must first state the fact that PRS is an entirely machine made guitar.

PRS Guitars Are Entirely Machine Made

Got that... are you sure?

Ed Roman's Theory of Ebontivity...

Ok, because the next time you are in a Sam Ash Store or a Guitar Center, the 17 year old commissioned sales boy automaton will more than likely tell you it is entirely hand made with violins playing in the background.

That's BS to the tenth power!!! He's probably not intentionally  lying, he's just ignorant. Ok, enough bashing of ignorant salespeople and on with the show.

If you use an automated fret installation system that rams the frets down into the fingerboard there is a very good chance you will split the ebony. In fact I have seen it done at the old PBC Guitar shop in Pennsylvania when they were Making (Ghost building) all of the Ibanez USA guitars back in the mid 90's.

Consequently, I don't think that PRS will be doing any Ebony fretboards now or in the future. They are concentrating more on automation than on hand building.

When I took the tour of the Jackson factory, I saw a custom made machine for pressing the frets in. However while I was there I witnessed them hand installing each one. They have semi automated the process and therefore they have achieved an intelligent balance between hand made and robotic made.

All of the small builders are installing and hand fitting frets one at a time. This process makes it very easy to do Ebony fingerboards. This gives the hand builder the definite edge.

Ebony is a great wood for fingerboard. It costs about 11 times as much as Rosewood but on many guitars I like it better. There are exceptions however.

Quicksilver with Ebony Fretboard and Dragon Inlay

Ebony on a Les Paul style guitar is not the preferred fingerboard. The guitar just does not sound like a Les Paul when there is an Ebony fingerboard. Zack Wylde, Peter Frampton, & Ace Frehley to name a few use Ebony fretboards on Les Paul's but their sound is not the true Les Paul sound.

Ebony sounds great on a guitar with a long neck, it's more percussive, as long as you don't have a real hard wood body like solid Maple or solid Bubinga it makes for a great tonal combination.

Good tone is derived from combining different woods. We hang our fingerboards & body woods up and then tap them for resonance and pitch. Most small hand builders will at least attempt to marry the different woods together sometimes in thirds, fifths or in unison pitch. I am sure Paul Reed Smith was doing that in the first 2 to 3 years they were building their guitars. I am positive they are not doing it today.



Quicksilver with Ebony Fretboard and Lightning Bolt Inlays

PRS with Rosewood Fretboard and Dragon Inlay
This Dragon Inlay was created in Ed Roman's Custom Shop
Notice how the inlay looks Blah against the brown background.

PRS with Rosewood Fingerboard & Bird Inlays
Notice the brown wood on the fingerboard
Ebony is Jet Black, It's smoother & harder

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