Maple vs rosewood board

two guitar necks with maple and rosewood fingerboards

I commissioned a one piece maple neck from Northwest Guitars last year, and only this week did I get round to finishing off the frets, drilling the bolt holes and fitting it to my guitar.

And being the kinda guy I am, I had to record the before and after too! So here for your fascination and delight are:

  1. A Warmoth maple Strat neck with a '59 roundback' profile, an Indian rosewood fingerboard and stainless steel frets
  2. A Northwest Guitars custom order one piece maple neck with a U profile (23.5mm at the nut and 24.5mm at the 12th fret) and nickel frets. And yes, that's an enormous neck. It's a gigantic neck. It's a dont-know-why-I-bothered-with-a-truss-rod kinda neck. Oh, and 'one piece' means there is no separate fingerboard, the frets are fitted straight into the lacquered neck.

Everything else is the same, right down to the 11-52 D'Addario strings which I kept on during the switchover. The new all maple neck sits lower in the pocket than the Warmoth one did, so the Schaller bridge saddles had to be adjusted down a a couple of millimetres.

As always, these are blind tests. See what you think, and then check at the bottom of the post where it says spoiler.

The recordings were made without an amp, speaker or amp simulator. The tracks toggle back and forth at every bar.

A B mixer animation

And if you have no idea what's going on here, check my original post on A/B pickup tests which explains the test suite in more detail.


  • Neck pickup: vintage Gibson P90 of unknown provenance.
  • Bridge pickup: early Dimarzio Super Distortion tapped (i.e. single coil)
  • Through strung Schaller 3D6 bridge with Callaham ferrules
  • Lightweight three piece ash body

Neck pickup

Bridge pickup

Which is which?

The first guitar in each recording is the one piece maple. That's clear in the bridge pickup recording where you can hear more top end on the first guitar. The difference with the neck pickup is less obvious, but I thought I could hear more clarity in the lower mids too on the maple when I was editing the recordings.