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European Sycamore vs American Maple


sospiri
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5 hours ago, sospiri said:

Is there much fiddleback around Sheffield Wolfjk?

There  are quite a few trees I would like to try!

Another good thing about Sheffield (UK) is that within 30mile or half hours drive one can see and observe many North American species of trees.

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8 hours ago, Wolfjk said:

Perhaps theprevailing wind directions are creating the ripples?

The fiddleback figure is often found in leaning trees  where it is caused by compression.

No, the waviness you often see in bent or leaning trees is completely different thing. The waves in the typical curly maple (european) go mostly in tangential direction from my observation the "amplitude" is roughly twice as large than "amplitude" seen under bark. and in good examples goes all around the tree and up into thicker branches. Other maple species often have different character of the waves (interlocking figure or quilt etc...)

I believe it is mostly genetic thing as 4" thick stalk growing from curly stump (visible on the split) was already slightly curly under bark as well. There may be something in the location that supports spreading of the genes though. There has been research paper about curly poplar grown on plantations and thay found that even grafted trees showed curl when the root was also from curly tree but not so much when the root was plain...

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58 minutes ago, HoGo said:

No, the waviness you often see in bent or leaning trees is completely different thing. The waves in the typical curly maple (european) go mostly in tangential direction from my observation the "amplitude" is roughly twice as large than "amplitude" seen under bark. and in good examples goes all around the tree and up into thicker branches. Other maple species often have different character of the waves (interlocking figure or quilt etc...)

I believe it is mostly genetic thing as 4" thick stalk growing from curly stump (visible on the split) was already slightly curly under bark as well. There may be something in the location that supports spreading of the genes though. There has been research paper about curly poplar grown on plantations and thay found that even grafted trees showed curl when the root was also from curly tree but not so much when the root was plain...

 Genetics are widely used in forestry and fruit growing.  In forrestry, some trees follow the genetic make up and growing habits of the stock, others do not. It is especially obvious in tropical trees. Plantation grown rosewood and mahogony is inferior to naturally grown wood. See how they do with pernnambuco?

If genetics were involved in fiddleback maple, there would  have been forrest of it! Some trees don't follow orders:D

 

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This thread reminds me of the importance of participating in a VSA competition. There, you learn what is valued by discerning experts. Curly European maple is the safe bet. Along with appearances, be aware of very dense maple that is common in N. America. There are forests in Europe too where the maple runs on the dense side.

My reading from years ago found that the curls are most likely an inherited trait, not environmental. It's sort of like eye color.

Notice that I avoid using Sycamore because it is a different species in N. America and leads to confusion - at least for me.:wacko:

 

 

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28 minutes ago, TedN said:

I'm not sure I buy the argument that curly maple is genetic. I've never read any scientific literature stating this was the case. If it were true, people would breed for it and grow it specifically for the curly maple properties, which does not seem to happen.

Hi Ted, Try searching through Google scholar.  Work is being done, and heritability of figure has been shown in multiple species including aspen and walnut.  A couple of things to think about.  It's financially difficult to carry on a breeding program with long lived organisms because of the time between generations. Some traits involving only a couple of genes and limited alleles can be fairly straight forward.  Others are much more complicated which can be compounded by plant species tendency toward polyploidism.   The other is in forest management.  If we actively search out every tree with the desired traits we could inadvertently cause genetic drift resulting in reduced occurrence of  the desired trait in a species.  

Cheers,

Jim

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While he was in Dublin Panormo made a bunch of instruments  from American maple. It's the  darker widish grained stuff that feels a bit softer under the  gouge. He's said to have  got it from a scrapped  table from the billiard shop next door. Old Hofmann was told so and would have mentioned  it to Henley. He noted it in his copy when he got it.

The wood is fairly plain but very  pretty. A couple of the instruments are still in Dublin.  I had to patch one years ago  and Bruce Harvey sent me a batch of backs from which I got almost perfectly matching pieces.

 

The wood feels different to European  stuff but worked properly Is very  good. 

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You should ask mandolin makers about the differences... they use all maple speciec commonly.

I personally used Red maple on few mandolins and found it quite softer and less dense than our local maple (Slovakia - Carpathian mountains). Sugar aple is said to be notably harder and denser than European...

After talking to my botanist friend working for arboretum collecting various local tree forms including curly and birdseye maple. They have quite a bunch of figured birch from certain locations of our country (carelian birch shows it clearly on the shape of the main trunk). They always grow the trees from small branch cuttings so DNA is kept.

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4 hours ago, TedN said:

I'm not sure I buy the argument that curly maple is genetic. I've never read any scientific literature stating this was the case. If it were true, people would breed for it and grow it specifically for the curly maple properties, which does not seem to happen.

"The Germans have cloned maple trees with this genetic ‘defect’ and have plantations of rippled maples growing for future use in the backs of violins."

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3 minutes ago, martin swan said:

"The Germans have cloned maple trees with this genetic ‘defect’ and have plantations of rippled maples growing for future use in the backs of violins."

It would be interesting to  see what proportion of the plantation becomes fiddleback maple! All the books I read on the structure of wood indicated that rippled wood is incidental, and from pratical experience I can definitely say that fiddle back figure appears randomly in many different woods from all parts of the globe. The internal structure; figure, texture, specific weigth and  medular rays are more influenced by weather and growing conditions.

Genetics do influence the shape of the tree if there is no other interference. It is especially obvious in pine fir and spruce. Fruit trees have their own shape as well.

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On 1/18/2017 at 1:57 PM, sospiri said:

How closely related are the two species? Are they separated by many millions of years? are they able to cross pollinate?

Also, are the differences tonally and work wise too small to matter much?

Check out Wood-database.com and compare some of the specs.  You can get a sense of what is typical for the species, but I don't know what that would look like if you were actually comparing select maple of the same density.  

To me, though, there appears to be some evidence that it may be more important for the maker to learn to work with what he's got rather than there being the 'ideal' species that yields best tone.  Particularly for violas, celli, and basses you see more diverse wood selection in top quality instruments.  I've heard a couple great modern makers suggest that they like Bigleaf Maple for viola and cello, which I think was implied to be related to the softer, more flexible nature of Bigleaf.  Bigleaf was not recommended for violins, though.  My sense has been that both Red Maple and European Maple can make great instruments, but Red Maple can have a bit of a stigma because it isn't what the old masters used.  My impression is that the stigma is not so prevalent anymore since many great American makers have continued to make great violins with American woods.

In the 1600's-1700's Cremonese violin makers would not have had access to as many varieties of maple as we have today, so you can't really say that there isn't a material that is equal to or better than what the old Cremonese Masters used simply because the best violins of the era were made from what was available locally.

 

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9 hours ago, Wolfjk said:

It would be interesting to  see what proportion of the plantation becomes fiddleback maple! All the books I read on the structure of wood indicated that rippled wood is incidental, and from pratical experience I can definitely say that fiddle back figure appears randomly in many different woods from all parts of the globe. The internal structure; figure, texture, specific weigth and  medular rays are more influenced by weather and growing conditions.

Genetics do influence the shape of the tree if there is no other interference. It is especially obvious in pine fir and spruce. Fruit trees have their own shape as well.

Sorry this was the whole quote. I think this clarifies the difference between environmentally induced figure and "ripple" figure.

http://www.matthewburt.com/wood/rippled/

 

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11 hours ago, martin swan said:

Sorry this was the whole quote. I think this clarifies the difference between environmentally induced figure and "ripple" figure.

http://www.matthewburt.com/wood/rippled/

 

I wonder where he got that knowledge about German plantations...

I think the guy mixed two different figures in wood. The changing direction of growth can be the one seen in striped mahogany (like sapele). I don't think curly can be defined like that. Once the stem is grown up to some height the cambium produces wood fibers that are not lined straight up the tree but are wavy like if the cells produced are slightly (VERY SMALL amount) longer than the underlaying layer of fibers and they are forced to create the waves on the surface. This effect accumulates and gets more visible as the tree grows so the older the tree the larger is the amplitude of the waves. The physical shape of the figuring may be combination of how severe the growth defect is and properties of wood (curly vs. quilt etc...)

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On 1/22/2017 at 9:00 PM, Wolfjk said:

It would be interesting to  see what proportion of the plantation becomes fiddleback maple! All the books I read on the structure of wood indicated that rippled wood is incidental, and from pratical experience I can definitely say that fiddle back figure appears randomly in many different woods from all parts of the globe. The internal structure; figure, texture, specific weigth and  medular rays are more influenced by weather and growing conditions.

Genetics do influence the shape of the tree if there is no other interference. It is especially obvious in pine fir and spruce. Fruit trees have their own shape as well.

Yes, this has always been my understanding. Fiddleback appears randomly in different woods. Perhaps the science has caught up with me. Do you have a link to these German arborists? That would be very interesting to read about.

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On Sunday I continued my search. In one small area I found several trees with figuring, some quite large. In total, it's a huge amount of wood. I have permission to log some of it from the landowner, a jolly nice chap. He said he would also seek permission to let me have another large tree, and maybe some others. On wednesday I found another tree nearby which has fallen, and has ripple also. This tree is very large. It's in a meadow, popular with walkers so getting permission to use it will maybe not possible?

What I saw ties in with a lot of what posters are saying here about genetics and plantations. I think there is some human intervention going on that is not well known; a technique to encourage the genetic response to certain stress conditions that switch on the figuring gene, which maybe lots of acers have? I will leave you to figure it out for yourselves.

 

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On January 22, 2017 at 4:58 PM, Conor Russell said:

While he was in Dublin Panormo made a bunch of instruments  from American maple. It's the  darker widish grained stuff that feels a bit softer under the  gouge. He's said to have  got it from a scrapped  table from the billiard shop next door. Old Hofmann was told so and would have mentioned  it to Henley. He noted it in his copy when he got it.

The wood is fairly plain but very  pretty. A couple of the instruments are still in Dublin.  I had to patch one years ago  and Bruce Harvey sent me a batch of backs from which I got almost perfectly matching pieces.

 

The wood feels different to European  stuff but worked properly Is very  good. 

Conor, 

Bruce Is out on the West coast and deals in mostly "big leaf" maple which is dark, most often soft and sometimes spectacularly figured. I wonder what kind of maple those Panormos were as there are at least three major maple species here and they are all quite variable in both texture and figure. Did you send  Bruce a sample or picture for him to match?

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