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Maple tone wood choice, aesthetics vs tradition?


Lusitano
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I think that most of us who make a lot have purchased some wood that we needed to "put out to pasture". Rejected wood figures into the cost of a decent fiddle, as do the costs of proper storage and conditioning of the wood prior to use, travel and lodging to examine it. And sometimes, with all that experience and some failures behind, I will pay ridiculous prices for something I will characterise as "known good wood".

...

And add the cost of screw-ups that destroy good wood and waste time.  :(

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Thanks Alan, very interesting. I have a really dense piece right now (0.47 g/cm3)that I'm thinking about using with a little hesitation. The last belly was about 0.31, so it should be an interesting comparison if the same model is used.

As for the original question of this post. I would use it, very good looking back. Try to take note of the density etc and use it to compare with the next instrument.

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Am I alone in being unable to open the picture that goes with JRapsoCosta's initial post? 

It is not entirely unfeasable that what the Chinese seller sold is actually European. A massive amount of European wood is going to China right now at large discounts for the quantity so it is not entirely impossible that it might be possible to buy nice Carpathian Maple cheaper from China than from Italy....just a thought

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The wood is from the sichuan area of China and is certified chinese, 20 billetes is aproximately 200 Euros (if the wood is all of the same grade as the sample that amounts to 10  euros a blank which is too good to pass up) as they are "freshly" cut (2 years old). They don't seem european to me as the flaming is much stronger and the wood's color is actually not pink as is common with the european varieties I have.

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Amazing deal if the stuff is as nice as the sample, besides I won't feel pressured to not experiment with such cheap materials XD It needs seasoning though but I have more than enough space set up for that end and the more wood I have the better right? I should really start posting pictures of my attempts at construction detail but I confess I'm embarrassed LOL

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All the Bosnian and Romanian maple I have is quite very white.  Pink I've only seen in some American varieties.  Flame varies from (flamed) tree to tree, with patience you can find Euro maple much tighter than that...

As a guitar maker, I am faced with quite different species all the time.  What I do is to adjust each piece according to its stiffness and density so it comes close to what I know to work well, and this results in an instrument that works as expected, with just a little tone color difference. If your maple is nice in itself, and just light, leaving it slightly thicker should make it work pretty close to Euro.  

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I'm hoping to be able to create slightly "different" sound qualities so I can evaluate the impact of this wood as tonewood. Everything points to the similarities being soo great between euro maple and the chinese counter part that it could be an interesting swap. Bosnian maple is becoming rarer and rarer, alternatives which provide similar qualities and visuals are extremely interesting to consider, at least for me.

 

I will attempt to repost the photo. In terms of flames, I actually do like thick and pronounced figures also, it does not dissuade me at all if the wood figure is not tightly flamed. The only considerations I have are grain width, evenness and plate tap + density and strength.

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Hi,

I'm sure you will find that the main functions of the back is toprovide a solid base to the structure, hold one end of the sound post and to look pretty. Weight may influence the sound somewhat. The thickness of the ribs have far more influence on sound quality than the back.  

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Spruce tops, of varying physical properties, sure.  I too have found pronounced tonal differences if the properties of the top wood are different.  My comment was specifically about the back, where I think you'd be much harder pressed to decide what's what in different maple.  And likely impossible if you only try to decide the tonal difference as related to the place of origin, rather than the actual density or stiffness of the pieces you use.

Hi Don,

 

Have you ever measured the longitudinal and cross grain elastic modulus or speed of sound  of maple with different amounts of curl?  I wonder if there is an optimum amount of curl for acoustic performance.

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Marty,

 

No, I haven't tried correlating any maple properties with curl.  It does appear that higher speed of sound goes with lighter flame, but that's just eyeballing a few numbers.  Crossgrain shouldn't matter one way or the other, but tangential (through the thicness) should be most strongly affected.  I don't measure that, though... I don't know a way to do it (can a Lucchi meter get a good reading on ~10 mm thick wood?)

 

Perhaps after I completely understand the far more important spruce, I'll devote more time to maple.  That may never happen, though.

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My own experience is that the cutting of the wood is at least as important as the country of origin. I have used maple from both North America and Europe and have had good results with both. The maple I have seen from China looks very good to me and I would be very interested in trying some. In general I think lighter wood is easier to use as you always have the option of leaving it thicker to get the strength. The only drawback to the non European wood is that both Asian and American maple can have the marks of cambium beetles ("worm track") which looks pretty out of place  on antiqued instruments and is never seen on old Europeans.

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