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Charles Hansen

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. Although it might look identical to Acer pseudoplatanus under the microscope, Acer rubrum looks different on a violin back. Kew Gardens might well be a bit lost where any moderately experienced identifier of violins would be pretty sure. Same thing with field maple/"oppio".

 

Perhaps some of the worlds leading botanists should open their own ebay violin shops on the side, so that they get a clue what they are talking about in their day job
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I see no-one else is queueing up to take Addie's challenge .... (post 69).

 

You would think everyone would jump in and say red maple, because it has all of the characteristics that have been posted here for identifying red maple (Acer rubrum), but, in fact, it is A. campestre.  Advantage: Kew Gardens  tennis-smiley.gif?1292867688

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Who cares if it's all American or not -_- Since when has saying "American maple!" or "American spruce" been a marketing ploy to garner customer's attention? Last time I check, people only considered European "species", all 40 something varieties the only "acceptable" wood for masterful violins... I do believe a common criticism experienced at VSA and other "Haute" competitions when presenting instruments made with wood that doesn't look typical is "You should consider using more traditional looking wood", even when the species is correct (so much for the knowledge of the judges when it comes to wood LOL)...

 

I believe the seller just wanted to express that the violin was in fact made in the good old US of A with local know how and elbow grease...I don't think he meant any harm or intentional deceit with his statement... If it's not American, it's most likely European, if it's not European, it's Canadian, if it's not Canadian then I have no idea where the wood came from but who cares!? Canadian spruce interbreeds with Norway spruce (so called picea abies) very easily and the so called "European spruce" everyone is soo in love with is actually most of the time NOT pure bred picea abies or "abies" of any sort. If it's not American, it's European, if he's correct then he described it well, if he is not correct, then the violin is theoretically made with the pedigree tree "species" everyone looks up to.. Win win?

 

Why is everyone so very huffy puffy about this 1 very minor fact, nationality of the wood? It's not like he's blaspheming and trying to sell off poplar (strad made a large number of instruments with this wood so maybe even it is acceptable?) off as maple touched by god and and smiled upon by buddah.....

 

Let he/she who has licensed botanists/Molecular Biologist pedigree and certify every single piece of wood in their OWN stocks throw the quarter sawn, naturally air dried, at least 15 + year old billet!

 

Are any of you ABSOLUTELY sure your spruce and maple is what it is said to be? LOL

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Lusitano, good posts, it is odd that your following posts almost seem to contradict your first one. 

 

I'm tempted to agree with Martin. 

 

My background gives me good formal insight into this area. 

 

Like has been said a few times, geographic differences can greatly vary appearance of a plant with the same genetics. Rainbow trout are a great example. Genetically one species, hugely variable dependent on conditions. So variable, in fact, that early on, many different populations were classified as different species due to morphological differences. 

 

This is why if you know what you're looking for, it might not be incorrect to say you identify North American maple, or maple from any specific area. Granted, the differences are certainly not as pronounced as in trout, but the principle remains the same. 

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 Since when has saying "American maple!" or "American spruce" been a marketing ploy to garner customer's attention?

 

 

 

 
The assertion that (for instance the 3 violins that Hound posted pics of earlier) are of Acer xy is very much a mendacious marketing ploy (cf Oppio"). This phony “fact” is asserted to”prove” that the violin is made in America in all its parts, as opposed to being, either a finished or partly finished instrument, shipped by the Markneukirchen trade, but “American” labeled, as a large proportion of “American” violins seem to be. If a vendor is asserting a “fact” about an instrument,he should be able to prove it, which he can’t possibly in this case at all, since some crumby maple with defects, can just as well grow in my (European) back garden.

 

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The assertion that (for instance the 3 violins that Hound posted pics of earlier) are of Acer xy is very much a mendacious marketing ploy (cf Oppio"). This phony “fact” is asserted to”prove” that the violin is made in America in all its parts, as opposed to being, either a finished or partly finished instrument, shipped by the Markneukirchen trade, but “American” labeled, as a large proportion of “American” violins seem to be. If a vendor is asserting a “fact” about an instrument,he should be able to prove it, which he can’t possibly in this case at all, since some crumby maple with defects, can just as well grow in my (European) back garden.

 

 

 

I will agree with you as you are correct. Just a little extra, "eurpean" maple is actually "crumby" maple which is considered an invasive species heavily present on all the major continents. The annoying and uninspiring maple grown all over new England and present in Australia is actually.... The same exact pure bred species used in violin making and considered "top notch" by most luthiers :) Funny how billetes of the stuff are thrown away readily and looked down upon but when it's sold by a European based company they go for hundreds of dollars.... Massachussets and many other new England states have "death" warrants for this particular species as it's considered a nuisance lol 

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Don't think so ....

If you are talking about pseudoplatanus, then its value to violin making rests entirely with its flame, a genetic abnormality present in very few trees of the species and quite geographically determined. 

Sycamore (as we call it in Scotland) is pretty much a trash tree which sells for about £4 a cubic foot in the round. If it has ripple the price is more like £400 for a knot-free log. German veneer manufacturers drive endlessly round the country searching for the very few rippled sycamores that come onto the market.

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Don't think so ....

If you are talking, then its value to violin making rests entirely with its flame, a genetic abnormality present in very few trees of the species and quite geographically determined. 

Sycamore (as we call it in Scotland) is pretty much a trash tree which sells for about £4 a cubic foot in the round. If it has ripple the price is more like £400 for a knot-free log. German veneer manufacturers drive endlessly round the country searching for the very few rippled sycamores that come onto the market.

 

"Rippling" is not specific to European species , in fact it is actually pretty common across the entire range of maple species regardless of the continent it was grown in. Flaming in Chinese maple is actually a lot more common than it is in the European grown specimens and even presents some extreme variations not seen in the European specimens = the Chinese birds eye maple flaming variation. American sugar maple as well as all the other American maples also present flaming at a rate comparable with the European varieties.

 

Let us also not forget about the national origen and expansion point of the pseudoplatanus species, central ASIA....

 

Where are you getting the information that "flaming" is genetic? There is no scientific data explaining flaming or identifying genetic factors as culprits for this phenomenon seeing as specific (as in species) genetic testing for this genus has not been done extensively as seen by the confusion witnessed here when speaking of "maple"... In fact, 2 cuttings from the same mother tree may present or not flaming even though they are grown in the same conditions and have the same genetic background..... Truth be told, no one actually has a cold hard answer to WHY flaming happens in many trees and the argument about sycamore being uber expensive when it's "rippled" in the European market has more to do with marketing and "he said she said" than actual facts. Yes because can you or anyone state that acer pseudoplatanus  growning all over the east coast , the same acer considered an envasive species by national and international standards, presents no flaming if it has not been checked? I'm also super eager to read the scientific article which focuses extensively on the factors which govern wood flaming in the acer genus with specific references to it's rarity (cold hard numbers backed by competent genetic tests).

 

 

Has anyone actually looked and checked the "weed"'s figuring in the US to state that it has no flame?

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You're doing a hell of a lot of shadow-boxing!

 

The reason that flamed maple is expensive is that it's flamed. It fetches a premium from violin-makers and manufacturers of veneer because it looks nicer. There's no "he said she said" about it - same with burr walnut or pippy oak or olive ash. These are decorative woods that command a higher price because they are more interesting to look at ....

Same thing with Strads and del Gesus - they're more expensive because they're Strads and del Gesus. Do they sound better? Well, they sound like Strads and del Gesus.

Is plain maple just as good acoustically? Of course. You are perfectly free to commission a violin with unflamed wood - many of us have been through this and so many other issues that bother you.

 

In fact, 2 cuttings from the same mother tree may present or not flaming even though they are grown in the same conditions and have the same genetic background..... 

Is there an experiment you can point me to? If so, I would be very happy to revise my understanding.

 

I think you should redefine yourself as an applied epistemologist!

 

If you want another bone to gnaw at ... why would someone buy 5 year old wood if it has reached equilibrium moisture content after one summer's seasoning? And why would people pay any attention to the claims of tonewood dealers when a perfectly functional moisture meter can be had for £20?

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A. negundo is the only American “weed” maple I know of.  It has no figure at all.  None.  It can be used to make sugar, but it tends to be bitter.  As firewood, it smells like a wet dog.  It is a “gap phase” or early successional species.  Unlike most maples, it has a compound leaf.  It also has it’s own bug, the box elder bug, which is as annoyingly common as it’s host.  

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You're doing a hell of a lot of shadow-boxing!

 

The reason that flamed maple is expensive is that it's flamed. It fetches a premium from violin-makers and manufacturers of veneer because it looks nicer. There's no "he said she said" about it - same with burr walnut or pippy oak or olive ash. These are decorative woods that command a higher price because they are more interesting to look at ....

Same thing with Strads and del Gesus - they're more expensive because they're Strads and del Gesus. Do they sound better? Well, they sound like Strads and del Gesus.

Is plain maple just as good acoustically? Of course. You are perfectly free to commission a violin with unflamed wood - many of us have been through this and so many other issues that bother you.

 

In fact, 2 cuttings from the same mother tree may present or not flaming even though they are grown in the same conditions and have the same genetic background..... 

Is there an experiment you can point me to? If so, I would be very happy to revise my understanding.

 

I think you should redefine yourself as an applied epistemologist!

 

If you want another bone to gnaw at ... why would someone buy 5 year old wood if it has reached equilibrium moisture content after one summer's seasoning? And why would people pay any attention to the claims of tonewood dealers when a perfectly functional moisture meter can be had for £20?

 

Ofc flamed or not flamed, either can be used to produce good violins. It is in fact ornamental and not acustic, what I am saying with my post is that the rarity of the flame figure is often times used to justify price jacks with the logic that it's very very rare when in reality it is not as rare as they say. Supply and demand is what set's prices in a free market enterprise, when regarding violin base materials the use of misleading supply and artificial constrictions will and do influence pricing. It's unfair and pretty dirty, if I can illuminate people and help them not buy into these dirty tactics then I sure as hell will! 

 

In terms of scientific articles explaining the ability of maple from the same mother tree presenting or not presenting flame I'm poking folks to produce some English articles so I can post them on here but in the mean time.... You have entire forests of maple in Europe and asia with large sections of the population being nothing more than clones and these same forests are NOT all uniform in terms of having or not having flames. Why is that? Why is it that wood from the same tree and genetic background can present itself as unsuitable for instrument construction and another masterful in terms of violin acoustics?

 

Regarding the fact the golden standard of maple "species" for violin production is in fact present on all continents and extremely hardy to the point of being invasive see the description below.

 

A. negundo is the only American “weed” maple I know of.  It has no figure at all.  None.  It can be used to make sugar, but it tends to be bitter.  As firewood, it smells like a wet dog.  It is a “gap phase” or early successional species.  Unlike most maples, it has a compound leaf.  It also has it’s own bug, the box elder bug, which is as annoyingly common as it’s host.  

Invasive species

Acer pseudoplatanus is considered an environmental weed in some parts of Australia (Yarra Ranges, Victoria),[15] and also Mount Macedon, near Daylesford, parts of the Dandenongs and Tasmania where it is naturalised in the eucalypt forests.[16]

It is also considered to be invasive in New Zealand,[17] Norway,[18] and environmentally sensitive locations in the UK.[19]

The United States Department of Agriculture considers it invasive,[20] as does the State of New York.[21]

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Let he/she who has licensed botanists/Molecular Biologist pedigree and certify every single piece of wood in their OWN stocks throw the quarter sawn, naturally air dried, at least 15 + year old billet!

 

And the winner is...

 

number12-smiley.gif?1292867647

 

Lusitano, for defining a category that only describes himself.  

 

 

 

OBTW, New York in not in New England.   ;)   

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And the winner is...

 

number12-smiley.gif?1292867647

 

Lusitano, for defining a category that only describes himself.  

 

 

 

OBTW, New York in not in New England.   ;)   

New York is not in New England!? I always considered it as New England and am shocked it's actually not! Either way it's east coast and it is nationally recognized as an envasive species.

 

Not all my billetes are identified as I am neither qualified to positively ID them without help from colleagues nor am I a botanist by any means.

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One thing I'm curious about is, why was it introduced so extensively all over the world especially in places where endemic maple abounds like the US. I'm having a hard time not finding this species of acer across the global, it's even apparently invasive in Indonesia which is tropical...

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