Final word on Gibson Richlite debacle.

Discussion in 'Gibson Les Pauls' started by thegaindeli, May 19, 2012.

  1. thegaindeli

    thegaindeli Banned

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    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. :slash:

    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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  2. Benny Lamb

    Benny Lamb Senior Member

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    well said.
     
  3. River side

    River side Senior Member

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    If you want it, you can have it.

    Gibson just charges you more for it.
     
  4. The_Sentry

    The_Sentry Senior Member

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    *shrugs*

    I'll never find out either way....
     
  5. Dr Strangelove

    Dr Strangelove Senior Member

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    And once you've plugged it into a Marshall Stack no one, not even you, could tell the difference blindfolded.
     
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  6. onlypadog

    onlypadog Senior Member

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    And, just where was Richlite mentioned at any point during that speech? Apart from the title?
     
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  7. Pushead

    Pushead Senior Member

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    Not likely.
     
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  8. KenG

    KenG Senior Member

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    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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  9. TheNakedCornInferno

    TheNakedCornInferno Senior Member

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    Just wondering, have you tried richlite yet?
     
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  10. axepilot

    axepilot Senior Member

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    Here we go again.........................:io:
     
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  11. Bountyhunter

    Bountyhunter Senior Member

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    Praising Ebony or bashing Richlite? :hmm:

    Praising Gibson or bashing PRS? :hmm:

    Either way the post just seems to be full of one person's opinion. Which means nothing.
     
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  12. thegaindeli

    thegaindeli Banned

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    That's why I play Cornford and VOX! :laugh2:
     
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  13. Dr Strangelove

    Dr Strangelove Senior Member

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    Same thing applies. You're putting a skid mark in your trousers over nothing.
     
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  14. budg

    budg Senior Member

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    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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  15. thegaindeli

    thegaindeli Banned

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    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.:shock: 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... :laugh2:
     
  16. thegaindeli

    thegaindeli Banned

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    I just don't know how one would respond to a comment like this? :shock:
     
  17. River side

    River side Senior Member

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    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?
     
  18. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    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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  19. Jind

    Jind Junior Member

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    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.
     
  20. riffsmachine

    riffsmachine Senior Member

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    It's not just "a tone" question.....is the principle that it is wrong
     
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