All this talk about Gibson's new fretboards, whether richilite, baked maple or laminate, got me wondering:
My ES 339 has a rosewood board. It feels very nice, but I wonder how much it contributes to the tone of the guitar. The body is laminated maple, with a maple centre block. The body connects to a mahogany neck. When I fret a note, the string comes into contact with the board, but the string itself vibrates the note only for the length of it that is past the fret.
It seems to me a lot of tone would come from the vibrations of the top (like an acoustic) and from the maple block in the body. There would also be a tonal impact from the nashville bridge and the frets. You can feel how the connection of the neck to the body would have some sympathetic vibration (similarly, a bolt on v. glued in.) But I have a lot of difficulty seeing how the fretboard contributes much to the tone.
I can see there being, theoretically, a difference on a strat or a tele, in that a single piece neck/fingerboard is different than a two piece because of that vibration, but I don't see how a laminated rosewood board would be any different than rosewood. After all, it already is a laminate attached to the neck.
And if there is some subtle difference, wouldn't it simply be a matter of the boards density? So a less-dense material like rosewood would have some characteristic different from very dense ebony. But richilite and baked maple are very dense like ebony, so why would they be "inferior?"
Add to all that the guage of strings, pickups and other electronics, isn't the fretboard contribution to the tone either negligible or non-existent?