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Bird's Eye Maple...


ShadowHawk
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Anyone have any specific thoughts on the use of bird's Eye maple in violin making versus more traditional flamed/non-flamed clean maple? I like the look but wonder if the 'eyes', which I believe are basically branch pieces, would have a deadening effect on the sound. Would like to hear others opinions.

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I like birdseye maple. I've used it for the backs of my last three violins and I have two more backs to use before I'm out so I'll probably start looking around for more soon. Acoustically you won't be able to tell if a violin that you are playing has a birdseye back, flamed or unflamed back unless you look. All three backs have the potential to sound great and they all can also sound pathetic. Of course there is the impossible comparison of two identical violins by the same builder but one is flamed maple and the other is birdseye maple. I haven't done this type of a test yet but I probably will before the year is over. The birdseyes are not little branches, little branches are called knots. Birdseyes are something very different that is hard to explain and no one really knows what causes them.

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I have a French Violin (Blanchi) made in 1910 with birdseye maple. I like the look of this particular violin. The "birdseyes" are fairly close together and look like rosebuds in the wood.

My violin has a fairly bright tone, so I wouldn't say that the birdseye deadens the sound. I think it has very little effect (if any) on the sound.

I haven't had any problem with cracking. My violin is structurally very sound.

Like so many things in the choice of a violin, it seems to be a matter of taste.

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Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I was particularly intrigued by Mr. Williams comment that the "birds eye" look is not the result of knots. I assumed that was exactly what the 'eyes' were and can't imagine what other growth method would result in the look. I had not considered the potential for strength impact until Donuels comment about his cello and do understand the he did not specifically indicate the cracking was due to the birds eye maple. It is worth consideration though. Haven't decided if I like the look or not but it certainly is a bit different and although I am a traditionalist at heart I do enjoy having something just slightly different that adds that somewhat unique visual flavor to an instrument. Thanks again to all who responded and if anyone has a bit more insight into the nature of the 'eyes' I would be interested in hearing from you.

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Rather than repeat what's here:

http://fingerboard.maestronet.com/ubb/Foru...TML/003030.html

Al Carruth had some interesting comments about using birdseye in his American Lutherie articles way back when. I believe the essence was that since birdseye is heavy, and since it is slab-sawn, it is difficult to get the mass/stiffness right in the back.

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My current favorite fiddle is Bird's eye maple, about 200 years old; Stainer model from Kursten, Austria. Beautiful, mellow tone with no cracks. The slab cut is weaker and it takes a master to work the Bird's eye. The wood is very hard and the eyes can pop out if the edge of a slightly dull tool catches it. I know because I use it in fine furniture design. Otherwise, its a beautiful wood which will last extremely well if used correctly.

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