Richlite in Hindsight

Guitpicky

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Now that Gibson is back to using ebony fretboards on Customs again, do you think it's devalued the ones with Richlite boards at all?

I think it's something I'd get used to if that were the only option available, but given a choice it would be ebony over Richlite every time. None of the debates about functionality matter to me and it's not about tradition, I just prefer the aesthetics and feel of ebony.

I got curious about the potential effect on resale value but I'm too lazy to go data mining for current trends so I'm asking here. I think it's gotta change the play field a little now that there's a choice again.

My 2018 has an ebony board and I'm not sure that I would have passed if it hadn't, but it was a check in the pro column where Richlite would have been a con for me.

What do you guys think as buyers, sellers, or owners of LP Customs?
 

mudface

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I only had one LP with a Richlite board,.... a LP studio Shred with a Floyd Rose.... but I traded it for a great deal on a awesome minty 2004 R7.....

I actually really enjoyed that Richlite board,... I have three LP Customs with ebony and I couldn’t feel or hear (not that I could) a difference.

If it has a affect as in a lesser value for those instruments that have Richlite.... then better for me as a buyer because I think it’s a fine material for a fretboard and I wouldn’t pass up one that I had to have....

For me personally,... it’s the overall instrument and if the Richlite board compliments the guitar as a whole I’m fine with it.
 

scozz

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I’ve never played a guitar with a Richlite board, not wittingly anyway. Who knows if the re-introduction of ebony in Customs will affect the pricing, maybe it’ll go the other way.

Maybe in the future the Richlite fingerboard will sell for more cause they would be slightly rare,... wouldn’t they? :hmm:

How many years did Gibson use Richlite?
 

dspelman

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Now that Gibson is back to using ebony fretboards on Customs again, do you think it's devalued the ones with Richlite boards at all?
I think they were already devalued. I seem to recall some insane deals on the ones with Richlite.
To me, a Custom is white binding, gold hardware, bigass (TM) headstock and ebony fretboard with real MOP inlays.
The ones that showed up with chrome hardware and Richlite fretboards were unofficial and un-Authentic anyway.
Probably built in Tennessee sweatshops by indentured servitude with child-like minds (due to the toxic effects of nitrocellulose lacquer solvents on sensitive nervous systems) clouded by opiates, excessive inbreeding, malt whiskey and fumes from diesel pickup trucks.
 

Who

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What years was Richlite Used?
Started in 2012 (when Taylor cornered the Cameroon market on ebony, and Gibson had gotten in some wood troubles).

This video is a stunning look into the ebony market.

Everyone should see this video.

Custom Shop ones continued to use ebony.

Ebony is back this year, I think.
 

Christosterone

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I’m a weirdo I know but I like Richlite....requires no maintenance to look great and I live in north Texas....
So the climate vacillates from swamp on the surface of the sun to arctic tundra....
And Richlite handles the changes beautifully

-Chris
 

Guitpicky

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I think they were already devalued. I seem to recall some insane deals on the ones with Richlite.
To me, a Custom is white binding, gold hardware, bigass (TM) headstock and ebony fretboard with real MOP inlays.
The ones that showed up with chrome hardware and Richlite fretboards were unofficial and un-Authentic anyway.
Probably built in Tennessee sweatshops by indentured servitude with child-like minds (due to the toxic effects of nitrocellulose lacquer solvents on sensitive nervous systems) clouded by opiates, excessive inbreeding, malt whiskey and fumes from diesel pickup trucks.
Careful there, you're talking about my peeps in the trenches. Put any professional with a career in the same trench under the same handicap and they'd discover what total failure actually is :)

They also aren't responsible for a single complaint against Gibson. It's your "upper crust" execs making all the moronic decisions. Wtf is their excuse? Can you even imagine those people building your Gibson guitar?

When it comes to scruples the "low life factory workers" will always get a lot more of my respect than a bunch of execs who couldn't find their own ass with both hands, even with all the help their privileged position lends them.

I know you were being tongue in cheek, but blaming ANY of Gibson's problems on the labor force is downright ridiculous. If Gibson execs were half as skilled at their jobs none of their current problems would even exist.

I pretty much agree with the rest, the Custom got "cheapened" by some of the decisions they made because those decisions weren't made in the interest of improvement. Their answer to customers who didn't approve was to force the issue.

I'm guessing the change back to ebony is a testament of just how poorly that tactic went over :)
 

dspelman

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Careful there, you're talking about my peeps in the trenches. Put any professional with a career in the same trench under the same handicap and they'd discover what total failure actually is :)

They also aren't responsible for a single complaint against Gibson. It's your "upper crust" execs making all the moronic decisions. Wtf is their excuse? Can you even imagine those people building your Gibson guitar?

When it comes to scruples the "low life factory workers" will always get a lot more of my respect than a bunch of execs who couldn't find their own ass with both hands, even with all the help their privileged position lends them.

I know you were being tongue in cheek, but blaming ANY of Gibson's problems on the labor force is downright ridiculous. If Gibson execs were half as skilled at their jobs none of their current problems would even exist.

I pretty much agree with the rest, the Custom got "cheapened" by some of the decisions they made because those decisions weren't made in the interest of improvement. Their answer to customers who didn't approve was to force the issue.

I'm guessing the change back to ebony is a testament of just how poorly that tactic went over :)

Agree 100%, and the description of the employees was just a takeoff on the sweatshop claims I see for offshore employees and *totally* tongue-in-cheek.
 

dspelman

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I’m a weirdo I know but I like Richlite....requires no maintenance to look great and I live in north Texas....
So the climate vacillates from swamp on the surface of the sun to arctic tundra....
And Richlite handles the changes beautifully

-Chris
Nothing intrinsically wrong with Richlite, lexan or cement in that position. Other builders have used resin for fretboards and whole necks and whole backs of the guitars and there was nowhere near the uproar caused by the use of micarta (richlite) at Gibson. The assumption that every Gibson customer is a traditionalist and that the materials used 70 years ago were "the best" is part of what's keeping Gibson a Lifestyle Guitar For The Arthritic.
 
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Guitpicky

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I only had one LP with a Richlite board,.... a LP studio Shred with a Floyd Rose.... but I traded it for a great deal on a awesome minty 2004 R7.....

I actually really enjoyed that Richlite board,... I have three LP Customs with ebony and I couldn’t feel or hear (not that I could) a difference.

If it has a affect as in a lesser value for those instruments that have Richlite.... then better for me as a buyer because I think it’s a fine material for a fretboard and I wouldn’t pass up one that I had to have....

For me personally,... it’s the overall instrument and if the Richlite board compliments the guitar as a whole I’m fine with it.
On the black beauties I think Richlite is almost appropriate aesthetically, but I'd still choose ebony given the choice. My only complaint functionally is they can be a bit sticky feeling. I don't like finished maple boards for the same reason but that's just personal preference.

I also tend to look at the whole guitar as a package and not particular features. I can't say I wouldn't have bought my Custom if it had a Richlite board, but I know there would have been some hesitation. The ebony board made it exactly what I was looking for instead of something I was settling for.

Again I don't have anything against Richlite as much as I have a preference for ebony. I'm not trolling another vs debate, just curious how a return to ebony is affecting the market.

In a subtle way Gibson is in effect admitting or confirming that Richlite was a mistake by reverting back to ebony. It's more perception than performance related but when buying a luxury Item perception is 90% of the buying decision.

Which would you have chosen on your guitar if the option had been available... Richlite or ebony?
 

PierM

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Last week I stumbled in a 2019 Custom and ebony board was really feeling and looking rough. Also very grainy and brownis color.

Richlite over crappy ebony, all day long. Great material.
 

jb_abides

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Note: for the newly launched G-45, a Richlite board is a $300 upgrade over walnut model; clearly there's a perceived / real valuation flux at play given there are upsides to hard resins.

I have a Richlite Custom. I got a great deal on it, someone was flipping within months, I believe in part because it sold during Peak-Richlite-Hate. It's fabulous; again, there's nothing wrong with Richlite and as stated, some attributable benefits.

Bias is and always will be there, pro-Ebony. Unless you don't care. Or can strike it from the nagging inner reaches of your mind. But from a larger market perspective, an attitude change is unlikely to happen - at least for a few generations.

People are funny. They'll take acrylic inlays where real mother-of-pearl becomes tough, but poo-poo Richlite.

I think an interesting take on this is where sentiment will go when uniformly black Ebony becomes scarce. Will streaked, mottled Ebony come into favor? Or will a bias toward monochromatic boards finally allow acclimatization for Richlite?

I think some of the non-uniform Ebony is interesting and desirable. I'd take it...

All this being said, my Custom is slated to become a 'refin' project one day. If I ship it off to say, Historic Makeovers, I may well shave the neck, re-board it, not just new finish. If that comes to pass, I will be looking at a new board as well... in whatever Ebony is available.

Update on Taylor in Cameroon here -
Crelicam, co-owned by Taylor Guitars / Madinter, is blazing a trail safeguarding ebony
 

Guitpicky

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Nothing intrinsically wrong with Richlite, lexan or cement in that position. Other builders have used resin for fretboards and whole necks and whole backs of the guitars and there was nowhere near the uproar caused by the use of micarta (richlite) at Gibson. The assumption that every Gibson customer is a traditionalist and that the materials used 70 years ago were "the best" is part of what's keeping Gibson a Lifestyle Guitar For The Arthritic.
Well, I bought a Modern Les Paul Custom so I guess I'm a non-conformist traditionalist. It's not a debate on which is "better" because that's too subjective and inflammatory. It's purely about preference for me, I just like ebony better.

I could be the oddball here, but just I don't see anyone screaming for a return to Richlite a few years down the road :)
 

Guitpicky

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Last week I stumbled in a 2019 Custom and ebony board was really feeling and looking rough. Also very grainy and brownis color.

Richlite over crappy ebony, all day long. Great material.
Pics?

Not trying to be difficult, I'd just like to see an example of what you're talking about. The only complaint anyone could have about the ebony board on mine is that it's striped and not jet black but I prefer the natural look over dyed tbh.

The board itself is very smooth and tight pored just like you'd expect from ebony. It's not like they used some inferior grade of wood with a bunch of pits and boogers.

My semi educated guess is Macassar ebony and it's definitely not low grade by anyone's standards. I could easily make the same argument by comparing the great ebony board on mine to a mythical f'd up Richlite board but it wouldn't be any more fair or honest than your comparison.

I'm not even implying that Richlite doesn't have its pros, it just wouldn't be my choice OVER a good ebony board. It's mostly aesthetic because functionally either one makes a usable FB.

The question of value to owners with Richlite boards comes with a lot of bias because like it or not that's the only choice you were given and your only real choice was to like it or not. Given the option, do you like Richlite so much that you'd choose it over a "good" ebony board?
 
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MSB

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I could be the oddball here, but just I don't see anyone screaming for a return to Richlite a few years down the road :)
LOL, i hope i never scream for it, but it didn't take a few years
 

mudface

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On the black beauties I think Richlite is almost appropriate aesthetically, but I'd still choose ebony given the choice. My only complaint functionally is they can be a bit sticky feeling. I don't like finished maple boards for the same reason but that's just personal preference.

I also tend to look at the whole guitar as a package and not particular features. I can't say I wouldn't have bought my Custom if it had a Richlite board, but I know there would have been some hesitation. The ebony board made it exactly what I was looking for instead of something I was settling for.

Again I don't have anything against Richlite as much as I have a preference for ebony. I'm not trolling another vs debate, just curious how a return to ebony is affecting the market.

In a subtle way Gibson is in effect admitting or confirming that Richlite was a mistake by reverting back to ebony. It's more perception than performance related but when buying a luxury Item perception is 90% of the buying decision.

Which would you have chosen on your guitar if the option had been available... Richlite or ebony?
When at the time we did have a choice,... it was over a grand more for ebony.... it would have been easy for me to pick Richlite... but I have had my share of ebony fret board LPs and like it just fine.... but it’s not crucial to my playing or tone.... what I mean is I could live just fine without it..... but,... like most I would take ebony over Richlite if the price was the same.

On the other hand if I had to choose between two guitars that I am looking at and the Richlite guitar was a tone monster over the ebony equipped guitar...... I wouldn’t hesitate and take the Richlite guitar.
 




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