Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

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Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (clasbas) » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:06 pm

The CITES question came up in another thread, and Brazilian Rosewood was mentioned in conjunction with a (fictious) 1963 4001s. That made me look around a bit, especially in the excellent "Anatomy of a Rickenbacker" threads, and either I am not looking close enough or this topic is not fully covered yet.

So, do we have any knowledge (or at least consensus) on what wood was used on the fingerboards of the early and semi-early (let's say, up to -72) basses? I have heard bubinga mentioned more than one time, but is that the only wood used during this period or are there also BR fingerboards out there - or other ones?
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (squirebass) » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:38 pm

I'm glad you opened this thread, because I'd like to get to the bottom of this question too! Inquring minds want to know! :lol: :lol:
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (teeder) » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:30 pm

I'm certainly not an expert on early Ricks, but the few I've seen were not Brazilian Rosewood, IMO.
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (jps) » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:45 pm

Here is a photo of a 1959 4000. It has a bubinga fingerboard, as do all later instruments I have in my files.

4000 '59 MG 03.jpg
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (sloop_john_b) » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:49 pm

I always thought that the distinctive reddish-orange fingerboard wood, ala John Lennons 1958 325 and seen on the 4000 above, was padauk.
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (iiipopes) » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:25 pm

Bubinga. And 44AWG wire, with RIC's proprietary insulation. And dual truss rods. And....
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (collin) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:34 am

sloop_john_b wrote:I always thought that the distinctive reddish-orange fingerboard wood, ala John Lennons 1958 325 and seen on the 4000 above, was padauk.


+1

That is Padauk, definitely not Bubinga. Way too bright orange and free of any figuring to be Bubinga.

I believe Padauk was phased out by the end of 1961, except for modern era 325c58s.

Bubinga (and I believe specially Guibourtia demeusei) was used on nearly all Rickenbacker instruments from 1961 until a few years ago with the switch to Caribbean rosewood.

Now, bear in mind that while Brazilian Rosewood was not used for general production Rickenbackers, Bubinga is also a CITES protected (Appendix II) species. Typically this means an international sale requires an export certificate - but not an import certificate. Brazilian rosewood (as an appendix I species) would require both.

Good news is that the entire CITES program is currently pending a vote that proposes to exempt all finished musical instruments from requiring certification. The final vote will occurs in May 2019, and if it passes, the changes will go into effect later next summer. Fingers crossed!
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (clasbas) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:20 am

collin wrote:Good news is that the entire CITES program is currently pending a vote that proposes to exempt all finished musical instruments from requiring certification. The final vote will occurs in May 2019, and if it passes, the changes will go into effect later next summer. Fingers crossed!


This is news to me, and really good news at that. Fingers crossed here, too!


OnT: So, for all we know now, at least all vintage 4001(s)/1999 and the vast majority of 4000:s from the same period (with possible exception for the very earliest ones), should be supposed to have a Bubinga fingerboard? Do I understand correct that the Padauk fingerboards was for guitars but not basses? Not that it matters much in the CITES light, since to my knowledge they are both in Appendix II, but for the record it would be very interesting to know. So, anyone seen any other 60's bass fingerboards out there that the Bubinga ones?
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (squirebass) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:51 am

jps wrote:Here is a photo of a 1959 4000. It has a bubinga fingerboard, as do all later instruments I have in my files.

4000 '59 MG 03.jpg


You have files, Jeff? :shock: :shock: :shock:

I move that we subpoena Jeff's files, so we can all see the evidence! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (jps) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:57 am

squirebass wrote:
jps wrote:Here is a photo of a 1959 4000. It has a bubinga fingerboard, as do all later instruments I have in my files.

4000 '59 MG 03.jpg


You have files, Jeff? :shock: :shock: :shock:

I move that we subpoena Jeff's files, so we can all see the evidence! :lol: :lol: :lol:

I have a pretty strong suspicion that most of us here have our own set of files for reference. If you don't, well............... :lol:
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (squirebass) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:14 pm

Oh yes, Jeff, ve have prepared a dossier on you! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Seriously, though, I hope that the CITES News above turns out to be true.... While it is easy for me to buy, for others it can create a real hardship when it comes to availability of instruments...
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (teeder) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:25 pm

Oh yes, Jeff, ve have prepared a dossier on you! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:


Sounds like a case of Cleveland Collusion! :shock:
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (collin) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:35 pm

squirebass wrote:Oh yes, Jeff, ve have prepared a dossier on you! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Seriously, though, I hope that the CITES News above turns out to be true.... While it is easy for me to buy, for others it can create a real hardship when it comes to availability of instruments...


Just so it's not thought as merely a rumor! :D

https://www.namm.org/issues-and-advocac ... ance/cites


This would be a huge step toward common sense, in my opinion. The quantity of wood used by most musical instruments is a mere fraction compared to that used by furniture manufacturers. Much of the CITES regulation was designed to slow or stop the export of Chinese Hongmu furniture, which is entirely made of rosewood. Even an acoustic with rosewood back and sides is nothing compared to a set of furniture. Even George Harrison's Rosewood Tele is minimal compared to an armchair!

The musical instrument restrictions were just an unfortunate side effect of the sweeping regulations, and it's even more annoying when we're talking guitars made decades ago (or even 50+ years!)
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (collin) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:48 pm

clasbas wrote:
collin wrote:Good news is that the entire CITES program is currently pending a vote that proposes to exempt all finished musical instruments from requiring certification. The final vote will occurs in May 2019, and if it passes, the changes will go into effect later next summer. Fingers crossed!


This is news to me, and really good news at that. Fingers crossed here, too!


OnT: So, for all we know now, at least all vintage 4001(s)/1999 and the vast majority of 4000:s from the same period (with possible exception for the very earliest ones), should be supposed to have a Bubinga fingerboard? Do I understand correct that the Padauk fingerboards was for guitars but not basses? Not that it matters much in the CITES light, since to my knowledge they are both in Appendix II, but for the record it would be very interesting to know. So, anyone seen any other 60's bass fingerboards out there that the Bubinga ones?


I don't believe Padauk is listed as a CITES-protected hardwood.

AFAIK, it was used for most (if not all?) Rickenbacker instruments from '56-'60. Also during this era, the fretboards of many Rickenbacker models were unfinished (no clear coat), and Padauk turns dark brown over time when exposed to the elements. So it can look almost like Bubinga to the untrained eye, it just has less of the figuring and grain of Bubinga.

It's a fair assumption that any Rickenbacker made after 1960 or 1961 has a Bubinga fretboard, until 2014-15 when RIC switched to Caribbean Rosewood, which is highly figured and easily spotted from Bubinga.
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Re: Vintage basses fingerboard wood?

Postby (jps) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:19 pm

collin wrote:The quantity of wood used by most musical instruments is a mere fraction compared to that used by furniture manufacturers. Much of the CITES regulation was designed to slow or stop the export of Chinese Hongmu furniture, which is entirely made of rosewood. Even an acoustic with rosewood back and sides is nothing compared to a set of furniture. Even George Harrison's Rosewood Tele is minimal compared to an armchair!

I am happy to report that pretty much all our furniture is made of oak (mostly QSWO). No Chinese furniture here. :mrgreen:
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