After my last success/failure using torrefied walnut to build a neck, I figured it would be good to keep pushing forward and experimenting with different neck materials. Since I have a couple of neck builds coming up, I figured now was the time to do a side-by-side comparison between roasted maple and cherry.
Oh Pretty Colors!
Roasted maple has been around for a while, and has kind of become an upsell of maple. I’ve been skeptical of the marketing hype surrounding roasted woods. I don’t believe that these materials are going to change the sound that much, and if even they did, I don’t know that wood itself is consistent enough to make any real scientific analysis that could definitively conclude that a roasted maple neck would give you 20% more tone than a not roasted maple neck. I do know that roasting the maple has structural benefits if you’re working with highly figured woods that would be otherwise unstable. Personally, I would choose a roasted wood for its color.
On the bottom of this image is roasted maple neck blank and on top is a dark roasted maple fretboard blank. Both were purchased from Torrefied Tonewoods. The FB blank is a nice, dark color and it will turn a nice reddish brown when finished. It was cheap, too – $12! I think that the dark roasted wood would be too brittle to make a good neck – in fact, Torrefied Tonewood doesn’t even sell dark roasted neck blanks, apparently for this reason.
Let’s Talk About Cherry
Cherry is a fairly commonplace wood that is easy to source in the continental USA. For some reason, cherry doesn’t seem to be a very popular wood for electric necks. I like it for it’s weight. Cherry is lighter than maple, and may even be lighter than walnut.
I think this next picture will bring it all together:
So, yeah, this piece of roasted maple and this piece of cherry are almost the same color. The cherry might be a little more pink and the maple may be more amber. And just for the numbers, this roasted maple 4/4 neck blank was about $50 plus shipping and it weighs 4.75 lbs. The cherry 5/4 board was about $43 at my local lumber yard, and I might be able to get 3 necks out of it. It weighs in at 10.75 lbs.
To be fair, it’s hard to beat a good maple neck. I’ve never build a cherry neck, but I hear it also can make a good neck. As far as color vs. cost, I gotta say that roasted maple isn’t really giving me a reason to go that route. I’m trying to make lighter weight basses, and cherry is definitely lighter, so that piques my interest. We’ll see how cherry really stacks up once I start getting into carving. One thing I really like about maple over walnut is that maple carves to nice clean edges. I’m hoping that the grain structure of the cherry will render a nice carve similar to maple.