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Sheila
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I don't think you'll find any American maple that doesn't have some brown streaks in it unless you can find someone who cut down a Norway maple tree that grew in North America.

Red maple is my first choice when it comes to appearance. You can get Flamed red maple with more flame in it than any European wood that I've seen for a real low price. The higher grades of American red maple are supposed to have little or no brown streaks through the wood but I've never been bothered by them so I've never tried the highest grade on a violin yet. I have recieved some samples from my supplier that had no brown streaks and a very white color and looked a lot like European maple but with more flame.

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i appologize if you'd prefer to keep this thread as is, but something i've been wondering:

what is it about maple? is maple used mostly for dogsastic reasons? what other woods have been "tested" for their tonal properties?

i guess i mostly wondered why violins don't seem to be made out of a wide range of woods and that maple(and spruce in some cases)accounts for most every violin i've ever seen.

thanks for any input, and if you'd prefer, i'll be happy to make this it's own topic.

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Michael, what do you mean by European maple? Does it go by any other name? Is it found in any particular area of Europe? or can it be any maple as long as it is from Europe?

And why do you say ..it is not European maple? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I am just trying to learn about the different woods the luthiers speak of.

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MacCeol, I've seen several violins and guitars with Poplar backs. Poplar produces a muted sound, resonating less to the sound vibrations. I liken it to the difference between a standard dreadnought and a classic guitar in tonal difference. Some say it creates a warmer, more subtle tone. I don't really care for it myself.

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The Audubon Guide says there are 125 species of maple.13 common to north America.

Sugar,Red,Silver,Black And Norway are the most commom big trees, I think, many are shrubs. The Planetree or sycamore maple is called a sycamore in England, but here we have another tree that's called a Sycamore, so it might be easy to confuse those. Sugar According to my understanding is not used, because its so bloody hard.

Red Maple Is the most common North American tonewood for violins becuase it is common, medium density often heavily flamed and beautiful wood. The wood is reddish brown, as compared to European maple which is usually very light colored. In my experience it has a slightly different consisency than European, being less "crisp" when cut with a tool. i think the flame is less likely to chip also.

That's all I think I know....most of it's hearsay, some of it experience, little can I vouch for.

Feel free to disagree.

Bud

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I have never used North American maple. It seems to be very atractive, but I don`t like the dark streaks running trough it. I also prefer wood that has the same colour of bosnian maple. Is there any North American wood that has no dark streaks and the colour similar to bosnian maple? Who sells it? I`ve heard about Northern Tonewood Company in Canada.

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I've never seen any red maple that was red brown in color. I've seen two pieces that were a very very light pink color but most red maple, and especially the higher grades, are as white as any European maple. I just recieved some more red maple in the mail yesterday and it is pure white in color. The "red" in red maple refers to the color that the leaves turn in the fall.

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I'm seeing conflicting info on this on another forum I participate in, with someone in England saying that A. Pseudoetc. is English Sycamore, not violin wood, but noting that a Bosnian dealer has been advertising his wood as A. Pseudo, possibly incorrectly. The discussion is still running, so the final word on this is yet to come. . . . . . .

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A very confusing subject indeed. William, red brown was a poor description of the wood To which I was refering . Light pink is better.

Ever since a nursery man told my that the term most definitely did not refer to the fall coloration( of course the "red maples" he sold me turned yellow in the fall), I jumped to the conclusion that it must be the color of the wood, since there was obviously some maple wood with a slightly reddish coloration.

so William, by your classification what happens to black maples in the fall?? laugh.gif

there is also a wood termed western fiddleback, that has a tan coloration.

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The species Acer pseudoplatanus is widely distributed in Europe. More makers want the trees from high elevation such as from Bosnia. I remember that in the late 70's and early 80's, $50 could buy a top quality Bosian maple (freshly cut, not aged). Nowadays, it would be $500-800 each. I still have a few pieces aged 20 years originated from Banja Luka. This species is also widely planted in North America, commonly called Sycamore maple. I was given a few pieces of the wood cut in Ottawa area. The wood looks very much like European one, but is much harder. Also since it is a "single" tree, the grain is wavey, in the forest, trees develop straight trunks for competition of sun light.

[This message has been edited by David Tseng (edited 03-24-2001).]

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Tapping tree trunks to determine which trees have good wood for violins is nonsense. A rather famous fiddle maker in a remote area of southwest Virginia claimed that he did this to select the best trees for wood. My brother, an accomplished fiddle player, visited this builder and after playing several of his instruments came to the conclusion that none of them was any good. Another builder that my brother and I have visited in Virginia told me that he "voices" the wood before putting it together. This nonsists of assembling the back and sides and testing the tone after which he makes the top to match a desired tone(I believe he told me a slightly lower pitch) before gluing it to the sides. Every instrument this builder made had excellent sound. If the wood is of good quality, it makes sense to me that the sound is dependent on carving the wood correctly to accomplish the best possible tone with the assembled instrument. The only good reason I see for tapping a tree is if you happen to be a woodpecker.

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There are many species of maple growing in the temperate zone around the world. On my small 3-acre lot, there are 4 different maple trees: mountain maple (shrub) on both sides of the driveway, Manitoba maple, Silver maple and sugar maple. The last one was transplanted from nursery stock, but is spreading by seeds. The area is in the natural distribution of red maple, but none grows on my property. When you go east toward Lake Superior, you'll see more red maple trees.

The Bosnian maple (wood) so coveted by violin makers is derived from the genus A. pseudoplatanus, i.e., Sycamore maple, not the Bosnian maple (tree) A. opalus.

common name botanical distribution

Norway m. Acer platanoides All over Europe

Sycamore m. A. pseudoplatanus Central & southern Europe

Bosnian m. A. opalus Balkan, Italy, France

Italian

Balkan m. A. heldreichii Balkan, Greece

Balkan Ahorn A. hyrcanum Balkan

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