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3 Popular Choices for Fingerboard Woods on Banjos

The following is taken from our free guide: customising your open back banjo

It’s important to choose a fingerboard that you like the feel of, that holds frets well and resists wear. And even though you’re only looking at a 5mm thickness, the type of wood you choose will affect the sound you’re after. Here are some popular choices:


For fingerboards, ebony is often thought of as king. It’s the heart wood in the centre of the tree and can be jet black, is very smooth and holds frets well. It’s very dense, close-grained and really shows off mother of pearl if you have an inlay.


Rosewood is a great sounding wood, but sometimes seen as a lesser relative to ebony although there’s no good reason for this. It’s a great tone wood, holds frets well and is reddish brown in colour. It can sound slightly warmer than ebony.


Personally, I think cocobolo is a great wood. It’s very dense (it will sink in water), smooth and is part of the rosewood family. It tends to have very striking grain patterns and can vary in colour from a yellowy hue to a blood red. It’s very individual and looks striking. As it’s more dense than ebony it can make the sound marginally brighter. Personally if I use this wood for the fingerboards, I don’t tend to bind the edges because it looks so pretty.

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