Jump to content

Maple as a topwood?


Recommended Posts

Hi!

I only built solidbody guitars so far and am completely new in acoustic guitars. I would like to build an acoustic steelstring with piezo-bridge. As I love quilted maple as a topwood for solidbodies, I would like to use that as the topwood for the acoustic too. So far I never heard about acoustics with quilted maple top Until I saw the Steve Vai signature acoustic:

EP7.jpg

Is there anything bad about using maple as a topwood? I know it's common for back and sides but not for tops. Whats the bad thing about it? Does it sound worse then spruce or other common woods?

Thanks in advance,

Marcel!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most all figured Maple like that is flat-sawn, and for acoustics you want to use quartersawn wood.

I'd bet you anything that Steve Vai guitar is veneer-topped, it's not a real western maple top.

Ovation does the same thing to some of their acoustics, so what you're seeing most likely is not real wood, it's a veneered top.

Also Western Big Leaf Maple isn't known as a great tone wood, it's a gorgeous figured wood, that's what gets it it's notoriety.

HUGE difference in sound between a quilted western maple top and spruce.

HUGE.

Also, highly figured woods are very prone to warping and cupping, due to the inconsistant grain in the wood.

The very thing that makes you like it's looks (the figure) is it's downfall when it comes to making an acoustic top out of it.

PS, take this for what it's worth...an acoustic guitar should be built around it's TONAL properties, not it's looks.

Tone first, looks second. You can get great looking acoustic woods, but figured maple just isn't one of them as a rule, at least for tops...if you choose woods for looks over tone when building an acoustic, shame on ya. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your help. Seems maple is no good choice at all. Several things:

How many martins do you see with figured tops...

The smaller tighter the grain the much much better

Maple is much denser and harder then spruce for example. What do you mean with smaller & tighter?

I'd bet you anything that Steve Vai guitar is veneer-topped, it's not a real western maple top.

Ovation does the same thing to some of their acoustics, so what you're seeing most likely is not real wood, it's a veneered top.

Interesting.

I only wonder why Ibanez would post the following specs on their site:

- GREEN PEARL VINE Inlay

- RESONANT FOREST GREEN Finish

- QUILTED MAPLE Top

- QUILTED MAPLE Back/Sides

- GROVER SATIN (G) Tuners

- B-BAND UST PICKUP w/ A-5 EQ

And this quite from their site:

The brilliant clear highs of top, back and sides of quilted maple are perfectly balanced with the acclaimed warmth of B-Band’s UST pickup and A5 EQ.

If they would have used a expensive spruce top wouldn't they advertise it? Why should they keep silent about it? They could advertise the new "ibanez veneer top giving you brilliant acoustics and looks" or something like that....:D

Another question: I have access to a veneer press, so I could do the same thing.

But I wonder: Won't gluing a veneer on the top of the guitar dampen the top and make it sound less brilliant? Isn't it nearly the same as putting a super thick finish on an acoustic top which is no good idea?

Thanks,

MK!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, a guitar with a veneered top will most likely sound like um.... what were those rules on profanity again? Well, bad anyhow.

I'd put any money down that that guitar is a twangy POS acoustically, and is intended to sound good amplified. It's a stage guitar, and if that's what you're after, you can follow the same route. If you want a good accoustic, stick with the regular tops woods: Spruce or RW cedar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yup, I agree with Setch.

It's like this: if you want to convince yourself that quilted maple will make a good acoustic, then nothing we say will stop you, and you'll find all the press and brochures to back up whatever you want to believe, so go ahead and do it, but then why ask us?

The easiest thing to do is to go into a guitar store and just play a bunch of them and identify what has what woods in it, it's usually listed.

If you want a great sounding acoustic, you are -seriously- aiming in the wrong direction.

And if you are serious about building a nice acoustic, then you have a LONG way to go to get there, I can tell by the very question you asked where you are with it, which is barely even at the starting line.

So I would recommend you plan it out about a year in advance. That gives you a year to read up on acoustic construction, there is a freaking MOUNTAIN of information out there on the web about building a nice acoustic guitar. One search on the words acoustic guitar should bring you in about a zillion hits.

I would start with a kit first and maybe modify it as you see fit here and there, it will save you a lot in molds and tools.

Now, if you -still- defend that damned quilted maple top, ...then I'm outta here! :DB):D:D:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

smaller and tighter grain I mean like this.

You want the grain (growth lines) to be as close together like this:

|||||||

not:

| | | |

^----- ^-----

figured maple grows is cut like this: |^ |^

The tighter the grain the better sound moves across the boards

If you are sitting round the campfire. you want a large jumbo guitar that is solid wood that projects sound. Ala martin taylor some gibsons

if you are paying on stage through a board it does not matter, they can clean the sound up... hence having a figured veneer

This rings true with electics too but not to the same extend. In terms of sound I would rather have a old gibson gold top that has a non figured maple top than a 10 ten private stock prs. the physics of sound stay the same...

-Derek

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks alot for your answers. Exactly what I wanted to know.

And if you are serious about building a nice acoustic, then you have a LONG way to go to get there, I can tell by the very question you asked where you are with it, which is barely even at the starting line.

I know that very well, but that will not stop me. The Infinity guitar I won the gotm with was my first build ever, so I will definately not shy away from a difficult task.

I am sure with enough patience I can get an acoustic together as well, although I know very well that this is much more difficult then a solidbody.

Now, if you -still- defend that damned quilted maple top, ...then I'm outta here!

Dude....I just asked some question. I don't want to defend that guitar. It's just that I do not believe everything without some more detailed questions.

But you definately are right. Steve Vai only plays this guitar on stage and for recording, which means he only uses the piezo output and as long as that sounds good it doesn't matter to him. As I want a good sounding acoustic that sounds great unplugged as well, I will go with sitka spruce with bearclaw figure. Thanks for stopping me from using maple guys!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think with fully acoustic instruments, you need softwoods because they're lighter and stronger. The lighter the top is, the more efficient it is in converting the strings energy into making sound. Denser top materials would reduce the volume and the treble response. With an electro-acoustics volume isn't an issue. With piezo bridges, the treble can be boosted. Some production archtops use laminated tops... hey, some production flat-tops use laminated tops. You decide what's important in your guitar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but....all the "quality" acoustics I've seen with maple back & sides use flamed maple, and not quilted maple. The difference is that flame maple still shows its figure very well when quartersawn (not always so with quilted), and quartersawn how you want the wood sawn anyway for an acoustic.

I think quilted maple back & sides would be very weak.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but....all the "quality" acoustics I've seen with maple back & sides use flamed maple, and not quilted maple. The difference is that flame maple still shows its figure very well when quartersawn (not always so with quilted), and quartersawn how you want the wood sawn anyway for an acoustic.

I think quilted maple back & sides would be very weak.

Quilted maple is also rarer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not always true.

I would agree that you see more flamed than quilt, but my Bob Benedetto archtop video course has Bob making a highly quilted maple back and sides for the guitar video example, and I've seen lots of archtop pics with quilted maple.

Maybe the flamed is more of a striaght dreadnought acoustic thing...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It all depends on what kind of tone you want out of it.

Generally, they use a harder back, like Maple, to give some definition and clarity to the soft sound of the Spruce top.

Same for Coco-Bolo, Walnut, Koa, they all will help the Spruce out in different ways, but the main tone generators are definitely the top, the overall size, the top bracing technique, and the soundhole design and placement.

The back and sides really just 'augment' the top, they 'lean' it a little...a helping hand as it were...but the tone originates with the top and it's bracing and it's soundhole and it's size really.

Have you considered a Curly Redwood top? Now that's a highly figured top that is also a proper top tone wood too. It's a soft wood like Spruce.

That's about the closest you'll get to your quilted Maple look, but with the proper sound characteristics for a top. Use fresh shellac as your finish. :D

PS, I'd hold the bearclaw for the second acoustic, but that's up to you. You can get great spruce booked top plates for $50.00 on the 'bay.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The back and sides really just 'augment' the top, they 'lean' it a little...a helping hand as it were...but the tone originates with the top and it's bracing and it's soundhole and it's size really.

I think this is correct for flat-top acoustics. As I understand it, the construction of the back, and the wood choice, has more influence on the sound of an archtop (or "voice" as Bob B. would put it) than it does on an acoustic.

I second Drak's recommendation of curly redwood. I have some for an archop project (for the top), it is really beautiful, but the jury is still out on the tonal properties. The tightness of the grain is only like 3-4 lines per inch, whereas good spruce will check in at 10-15 grain lines per inch (because it grows much more slowly). But I guess that's what you get for wood from a 300-ft tree... :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's their job to make you believe the hype so you buy one for chrissakes.

If you didn't believe it, they would'nt be doing their job and would get fired.

Western Maple is soft maple, it's just not a great tone wood IMO.

Last time I will address that quilted junk/trash/wormpuke wood.

If you want a great tone-producing Maple, then get quartersawn Eastern Hardrock Maple. Now THAT'll add a little ZING to the top end.

BOOYAH!!! :DB):D:D

PS, heavy trebles do -not- great acoustic tone make. You can have classic trebles, pristine sharp trebles, annoying harsh trebles, and undefined and crappy overbearing trebles.

Lots of trebles.

And for an acoustic, you really -don't- want a lot of trebles in the first place.

Just spend a few weeks hunting information on acoustic building, it's truthfully all over the 'net. Dozens and dozens of places with opinions and techniques. And go play a bunch. Find one or two with maple tops (Taylor makes one I know, a signature model, but I can't remember the guy's name...David Dykes, Doyle Dykes, Dick Dykes, something like that...:D )

Don't even -think- of buying woods for this until you play a model that sounds appealing to you and you can define the woods and construction. :DB)B)

Electrics, hell, you can make almost anything work, but acoustics are far more dependant on YOU and what you do with the wood, you are much more a 'playuh' in the game when it comes to acoustic construction.

Would you sit down at a poker table with a $100,000 bet only having played bridge before?

:DB)B)B)B)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's their job to make you believe the hype so you buy one for chrissakes.

No....I am not talking about these stupid reviews in magazines, etc. I know someone who quit writing reviews for gitarre & bass here in Germany, because they forced him to take out any negative points from his reviews. I would never believe that crap. What I am talking about are people in forums, etc. writing excellent stuff about the guitar. Granted mainly about the sound when plugged in though....

And go play a bunch. Find one or two with maple tops (Taylor makes one I know, a signature model, but I can't remember the guy's name...David Dykes, Doyle Dykes, Dick Dykes, something like that... )

Thats interesting. As I cannot get access to the Ibanez EP7 I'll have to look arround for another guitar with a maple top. Unfortunately no luck until now....

We'll see....

Anyway, Thanks alot for the info!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...