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Is it worth spending $500 on a Maple Cap?

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I have started another Les Paul and after cutting it out my jaw dropped, it is gorgeous! So I want to put everything into this one to make it as good as I can with a nicely figured maple top that also has good tonal qualities but the prices can be over $500

Is it worth it?

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Exactly how would you evaluate the tonal properties of a plank? You can tell it's dry by knocking it, and some planks definitely ring better than others. However, carving changes the pitch of the top and unlike acoustics you can't tune it by honing the bracing. Not to mention that the end result will be a combination a layer of glue and the tonal properties of the body, without forgetting that actually the neck is the part of a solid body guitar that vibrates the most!

For what I've understood the body is in a minor role in the tonal palette of a solid body guitar. Is it a third, a quarter or something else, I don't know. Anyhow, although the wood choices matter some, the significance is much less than on acoustics. Thus, tone vise you won't get any improvement by paying more.

For looks, I took a look at various sites selling wood in Europe and US, even tried to Google for some Australian vendors. Agreed, there was a 1" top for €550 but most of the good looking quality stuff was way below $300. If I were you I'd look for something gorgeous with a minor defect either outside the body or within the cavities. For stellar prices I'd also very much would like to hold the very piece in my hands before buying.

All that said, remember that this is just my opinion.
 

 

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6 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

Exactly how would you evaluate the tonal properties of a plank? You can tell it's dry by knocking it, and some planks definitely ring better than others

Thanks for your reply, all opinions matter! Well the problem I have is all the suppliers are over east or overseas and I can't see the pieces before buying. There is a timber supplier that has maple with some nice figure for a much more reasonable price and I've already used some in a recent build. However it has this "nasal" tonal sound that I seem to get with any guitar I build with maple in it. So for me it is a gamble. If I spend up I would hope to get something worth buying

About the price, come to think of it, it might have been a 1" thick piece that I saw for the $500 mark

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I've been spending $300-$400 US for the maple burls and highly figured maples tops I've been using lately. The burls have been roughly 24" in diameter and 2"+ thick and likewise the billets of figured maple have been at least 8" x 24" x2". I keep buying them, so I guess I do think they are worth it--but only from a visual impact point of view. Tone is a crap shoot. The two siblings I just finished are built nearly identically. The neck and body woods are from the same boards. The burl tops are both maple of the same thickness but different pieces of wood. One has a cocobolo fretboard and the other is macassar ebony. Hardware is identical except for the tuners. Both Gotoh, one is locking and the other is the 21:1 501 Deltas. Everything is the same pattern, but the carves are hand done so there are minor variances there. Same scale and bridges and nuts and frets. Strum them acoustically and they sound noticeably different. Plug them in and they sound noticeably different--as intended. One has a set of '59 PAFs (Klein) and the other has two P-90s and a strat single coil in the middle wound and wired like a strat. Played through the same amp at the same settings, those pickups mold the tone.

SR

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50 minutes ago, ScottR said:

Played through the same amp at the same settings, those pickups mold the tone.

Exactly what I've heard.

So, for the looks pay as much as you want. For sound, get a set of pickups you like. For tone make sure your timber is properly dried and your joints are tight.

I came to think about the sums, doesn't $ mean AUD as well as USD so if you're talking about the former then $500 isn't that much for a master quality carved top.

Where does the maple of your local supplier come from? And further, if it's not intended for guitar use, have you allowed it to continue drying in your premises for at least a year?

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Thanks for chiming in

16 hours ago, ScottR said:

Strum them acoustically and they sound noticeably different

Yes I tried 3 different ES-135's once and they all sounded different. I tried one then the other then the other and each time I picked up another one it sounded better than the previous. Then I realised I was going round in circles! So its a funny thing, it can be difficult to assess which sounds better or just different

Playing through an amp levels the playing field but after a while if a guitar doesn't sound nice to me accoustically, I start to notice it plugged in and it nags me LOL

 

15 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

I came to think about the sums, doesn't $ mean AUD as well as USD so if you're talking about the former then $500 isn't that much for a master quality carved top.

Where does the maple of your local supplier come from? And further, if it's not intended for guitar use, have you allowed it to continue drying in your premises for at least a year?

Yes Australian dollars use the same symbol but $400 USD translates to quite a bit more in AUD

The maple from the local place is from North America, 'rock maple' as they call it. US or Canada not sure

 

16 hours ago, ScottR said:

I've been spending $300-$400 US for the maple burls and tops

Well I think this is what I mostly want to hear, that other people do actually buy these things!

cheers!

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