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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Ebony has an unmistakable tone to which I don't think anyone would argue. It's hyper-resonate - it's virtually impervious to wear - and emits an unmatched authoritative attack. Ebony is one the heaviest of the hardwoods - it is extremely dense - it machines well - and it resists warping. Because it adds strength & stability to your neck, is the preferred fretboard wood for achieving the best intonation possible. (Intonation is omni-present... It's not just measured during the tuning process.)

Most builders don't like to use ebony because it can be difficult to work with. It tends to wear-out cutters, and it can crack if not handled properly. The main reason why builders (especially Gibson) don't like using it, is because it is 20 times the cost of an equal sized piece of rosewood! Rosewood and maple are cheap in comparison, that cost only pennies to that of ebony.

Another thing to consider is that frets cannot be installed into an ebony fretboard through automation. They MUST be installed by hand! This presents a problem for companies like PRS who do not offer ebony fretboards on any of their guitars. This is because all PRS guitars are made by machines... They are not hand-made instruments. Not only will Gibson save money on the cost of construction materials - they will save BIG on labor costs as well. Ebony is without a doubt the absolute best wood to use as a fingerboard. Any builder who argues that is more concerned about price - not sound or quality.

Benefits Of Using Ebony

1. Ebony is much harder and polishes up beautifully so that the neck feels smooth and slick. It's much harder and therefore you can get a better percussive tone when doing two hand tapping and hammer-on's, or playing without a pick.

2. Ebony reduces finger fatigue. If you play for hours your fingers will appreciate the smoothness. It's barely noticeable but the smoothness makes it so that you can play longer without getting sore fingers.

3. Cosmetically Beautiful, The Jet Black Ebony contrasts nicely with the binding and/or inlay material, also it effectively hides any filler for a much cleaner look.

4. Ebony is much stronger and much more stable. It helps keep your neck straighter and also protects it from breakage and most importantly warping.

Some would argue that rosewood is indicative of "the Les Paul sound". I beg to differ here. The Les Paul Custom (and ebony equipped semi-hollow Gibson's) exhibit some of the most unique guitar tones ever recorded. Most classical musicians won't play any guitar that has not been constructed with an ebony fretboard. The reason for this is that ebony emits the most highly detailed production of string harmonics. For this reason it is considered by some to be the most "unforgiving" of fretboard woods. A truly practiced player can envoke harmonics from an ebony fretboard that one would never be able to muster from any other fretboard wood. Randy Rhoads for example favored ebony for this very reason.

In the end, it's all about what you prefer... I play both - but I've always preferred ebony over maple and rosewood. I purchased my first guitar which was a Gibson Les Paul Custom in 1978 after making payments for 12 weeks! I walked up-hill through 3 feet of snow every day, just to get a look at it! Okay - it doesn't snow in FL, but I would have done it just the same.

The Les Paul Custom has always been the most hand-made of Gibson's Les Paul line of guitars. I know times change - but it's not always for the better. It's truly the end of an era.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

well said.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

If you want it, you can have it.

Gibson just charges you more for it.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

*shrugs*

I'll never find out either way....
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

And once you've plugged it into a Marshall Stack no one, not even you, could tell the difference blindfolded.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

And, just where was Richlite mentioned at any point during that speech? Apart from the title?
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
Final word...
Not likely.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Not too mention Ebony blanks are $32 unslotted & $40 slotted @ Stew Mac vs $16 unslotted & $32 slotted for Rosewood. I'm not sure where the 10X figure came from but my guess is somewhere unpleasant!
Ebony also often gets stained/died as it's not always uniformly black.
I mght also mention that if the fingerboard is giving you sore fingers, it's not the wood that's got the problem.
If you prefer Ebony however just because it's your right.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 04:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Just wondering, have you tried richlite yet?
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Here we go again.........................
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Praising Ebony or bashing Richlite?

Praising Gibson or bashing PRS?

Either way the post just seems to be full of one person's opinion. Which means nothing.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Strangelove View Post
And once you've plugged it into a Marshall Stack no one, not even you, could tell the difference blindfolded.
That's why I play Cornford and VOX!
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

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That's why I play Cornford and VOX!

Same thing applies. You're putting a skid mark in your trousers over nothing.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
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That's why I play Cornford and VOX!
But the question "have you tried Richlite yet? " hasnt been answered.I am curious.As far as its tone being unmistakeable , maybe in the studio or at home, but I srysly doubt anyone 2 feet away would know or care.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNakedCornInferno View Post
Just wondering, have you tried richlite yet?
Yes I have. Not only did I find it offensive to the ears - the guitar was grossly out of balance. I guess Gibson could start chambering the bodies to counter the loss of weight due to the recycled paper and plastic fretboard. I mean, who gives a shit - right?

One wise forum member said himself; "If you're plugged into a marshall stack, you would never tell the difference...". And I thought "Spinal Tap" was just a movie...
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:29 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
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As far as its tone being unmistakeable , maybe in the studio or at home, but I srysly doubt anyone 2 feet away would know or care.
I just don't know how one would respond to a comment like this?
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Covering one's self in cow dung might keep one just as warm as a pair of woolen long-johns, too.

But is that what you want?

And before you answer the first question, answer this:

Have you tried it?
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Unread 05-19-2012, 05:56 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Oh, this guy's still freaked out about fretboard materials?

Surprised he can tell the difference. His tones are very gainy.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:03 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

I'd also hate to tell you but PRS offers guitars with ebony fretboards even in their SE line - check out the specs for the SE Orianthi: PRS Guitars | SE Orianthi Specs

So - I'm assuming given that it's one of their less expensive (SE Line), more than likely mass produced (meaning mostly automated) you statement that Ebony can't be fretted on machines is probably a bit outdated or at least incorrect. Also - a Rosewood blank currently lists about $28 dollars at AllParts (and almost every other retail location I looked) an Ebony blank is about $32, hardly 20 times the price of the rosewood and that's retail pricing; imagine what the wholesale price is.

These two facts took less than a minute to search for on the internet. I always worry about what appears to be opinion stated as fact, but it is what it is.

As others have said - you either buy it or you don't. I highly doubt this will be the "final word" on this subject. For some it's important, to others maybe a consideration but ultimately if the guitar sounds and plays well they are willing to look past traditional materials and methods and focus on the end result. It's up to each consumer to decide for themselves.

Like many I'd love to own a great old Gibson LP made from "traditional" materials, I'm sure someday I will (been keeping my eyes open for the right one), until them I'll keep playing my baked maple fretboard LP quite happily. C'est La Vie.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:09 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

It's not just "a tone" question.....is the principle that it is wrong
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:21 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
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It's not just "a tone" question.....is the principle that it is wrong
It's really hard to amplify principle, I've found.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:25 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jind View Post
I'd also hate to tell you but PRS offers guitars with ebony fretboards even in their SE line - check out the specs for the SE Orianthi: PRS Guitars | SE Orianthi Specs

So - I'm assuming given that it's one of their less expensive (SE Line), more than likely mass produced (meaning mostly automated) you statement that Ebony can't be fretted on machines is probably a bit outdated or at least incorrect. Also - a Rosewood blank currently lists about $28 dollars at AllParts (and almost every other retail location I looked) an Ebony blank is about $32, hardly 20 times the price of the rosewood and that's retail pricing; imagine what the wholesale price is.

These two facts took less than a minute to search for on the internet. I always worry about what appears to be opinion stated as fact, but it is what it is.

As others have said - you either buy it or you don't. I highly doubt this will be the "final word" on this subject. For some it's important, to others maybe a consideration but ultimately if the guitar sounds and plays well they are willing to look past traditional materials and methods and focus on the end result. It's up to each consumer to decide for themselves.

Like many I'd love to own a great old Gibson LP made from "traditional" materials, I'm sure someday I will (been keeping my eyes open for the right one), until them I'll keep playing my baked maple fretboard LP quite happily. C'est La Vie.
Recycled paper and plastic. I just can't believe it!
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:27 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
Oh, this guy's still freaked out about fretboard materials?

Surprised he can tell the difference. His tones are very gainy.
I wouldn't describe my tones as gainy? Maybe gain-ish with a side of compression.

I can definitely tell the difference between my rosewood Standard's vs. my ebony Custom's though. I recorded "Nostradamus" with an ebony ESP Mirage Custom. Notice how poor my hand-vibrato is... Always been my weak point.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

I find this debate pointless... You want an ebony fretboard? Get an ebony fretboard.

Plugged into any amp, especially distorted, NO ONE can tell the difference blindfolded.

I want rosewood on my guitars and I get rosewood. But that is just because I want rosewood, not because of the tone! I have no illusion that I would not be able to tell the difference between rosewood and recycled coca-cola cans.

I don't see any mention of Richlite in your post btw...
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:35 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
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Recycled paper and plastic. I just can't believe it!
Yeah, who would imagine putting their tone through plastic or paper?











Purists around the world must be horrified that such a thing would ever occur.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:35 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
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I find this debate pointless... You want an ebony fretboard? Get an ebony fretboard.

Plugged into any amp, especially distorted, NO ONE can tell the difference blindfolded.

I want rosewood on my guitars and I get rosewood. But that is just because I want rosewood, not because of the tone! I have no illusion that I would not be able to tell the difference between rosewood and recycled coca-cola cans.

I don't see any mention of Richlite in your post btw...
What is there to say other than Richlite made from a more highly processed form of toilet paper and plastic?
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:38 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

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Comparing an electrical current to resonate sound waves are two completely different things Forrest. But keep-on punching!

You do realize that those "Bumblebee" caps are not PIO - right?
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:42 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Quote:
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Comparing an electrical current to resonate sound waves are two completely different things Forrest. But keep-on punching!
The fact that you're playing an electric guitar is your first clue that you aren't a purist. Get back to me when you're done slathering your "pure tones" with distortion and chorus ... then we can talk about real guitars:



Wonder how you'd manage on one of these, without any of the paper and plastic crutches you despise ... but can't play without.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:43 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

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It's really hard to amplify principle, I've found.
THE principles are the foundation for long term success
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Unread 05-19-2012, 06:51 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

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