How dark is roasted Maple?
As roasted Maple has grown steadily in popularity, so have the questions about it. The roasting process is a pre-aging technique, meant to remove excess moisture, increase structural stability, and enhance resonance. The goal of this process is not to achieve a specific color or shade but instead to achieve a certain level of performance from the wood. As a natural material, different pieces of Maple contain different levels of moisture and thus require varying degrees of roasting to ensure a consistent outcome.
This means that different instruments with necks/fretboards made from roasted Maple may vary a fair bit in appearance. In some cases, the shade of the wood is dark enough to even be confused with other families of woods, like Rosewood and Pau Ferro. Even though they may appear similar on account of the color, these species of wood have other visual properties making them rather easily distinguishable from one another.
A tell-tale sign indicating Maple is that we finish Maple fretboards with a thin coat of polyurethane lacquer, whereas Pau Ferro and Rosewood are both left unfinished.
Maple has a very even and smooth surface, often with a low degree of spectacular grain. On certain models, we use so called Birdseye Maple, which is figured with "eyes". Pau Ferro and Rosewood have a more dramatic grain, and the lighter main brown shade is often complemented with some degree of darker "chocolaty" streaks.
See the pictures below for reference as to the looks of the woods in question.
Lighter shade roasted Maple (with figuring) Darker shade roasted Maple