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Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:38 pm
by Dave Locher
Are Les Paul-style maple guitar tops typically "hard rock" maple, or "soft" maple? I'm wood shopping and seeing examples of both with nice figure to them.
I know that either will work, but I'm asking which one is actually used on Gibsons and similar guitars?

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:03 am
by Michael Lewis
It shouldn't matter much in a solid body, but hard maples are heavier than the softer maples if weight matters to you. Also, soft maple isn't very soft at all. What matters most is how it looks!

For the acoustic instruments I have made I generally use western Big Leaf (soft) maple because it isn't quite as difficult to carve as sugar maple, and it has a bit warmer tone. It's still plenty hard.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:09 am
by Dave Locher
Thank you, Michael.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:12 am
by Larry Davis
"Hard" and "soft" maple express botanical classifications, not relative resistance to denting or scratching. Also keep in mind physical characteristics vary plus or minus 20% in any given species. As often said here, it's not about the species so much as the wood piece in hand.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 12:31 pm
by Dave Locher
"...it's not about the species so much as the wood piece in hand."

I know, but the problem is I'll be buying the wood online. It worked out okay the last time, but it sure would be nice to heft it and knock on it before I buy!

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:03 pm
by David King
Dave,

You don't have the luxury of buying wood for particular sonic attributes (which are of dubious value anyway). Get the best looking piece of wood you can afford and then assign to it whatever sonic attributes you want to hear. If you listen hard enough you will hear them.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:48 pm
by Bryan Bear
Ha! David, you just made the internet furious. I'm not disagreeing with you; I'm just pointing out that, in certain corners of the internet, typing that can get you a virtual stabbing. <G>

Be safe!

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:17 pm
by Dave Locher
Ha!
And so it begins... :shock:

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:53 pm
by David King
If you want lighter weight wood go for soft red or silver maple. If you want a heavier guitar (and when was that ever a good thing?) then obviously sugar maple is the right stuff.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:35 am
by Lincoln Goertzen
You've been given some really good advice. To answer your question specifically, Gibson and PRS, among others, use Western Big Leaf maple, acer macrophyllum.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:45 am
by Todd Stock
David's note is correct as far as acoustic properties being outside the criteria commercial venders use to determine grade and sales price. I think you are on safer ground buying wood based on appearance than taking some vendor's hype about tone in a 1" face-cut slab of curly maple to heart. Ditto on Western big leaf for carved back acoustic or drop top...but none of the common maples will be 'easy' to carve.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:50 pm
by Gordon Bellerose
It seems the consensus is that you buy by the looks for a solid body guitar.
I noticed early in the thread you are buying online.
May I ask who you are buying from?

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:42 am
by Dave Locher
Gordon Bellerose wrote:It seems the consensus is that you buy by the looks for a solid body guitar.
I noticed early in the thread you are buying online.
May I ask who you are buying from?


Is it too late to answer? Sorry, I have been away for a while. I bought some beautiful quilted maple on eBay. If you are interested I can look up who the seller was?
I bought my neck pieces from curlymaple.com.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:35 am
by Eric Baack
It isn't that hard to carve hard maple :p

Image

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:43 pm
by Chuck Tweedy
cheater!! :-)

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:34 pm
by Eric Baack
Not cheating if you build the cnc too

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 4:42 pm
by Clay Schaeffer
"Not cheating if you build the cnc too"

That's just cheating the hard way!

"Soft" maple (red maple, silver maple, etc.) is a little easier to carve and often has stronger figure (curl, tiger stripe, etc.) than most hard maples. It tends to grow faster in wetter conditions and be slightly lighter in weight.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 12:21 am
by Jason Rodgers
When it comes to figure, is bird's eye any more common in hard vs soft maples? Or is it just a growth pattern/phenomenon that is as likely (or unlikely) in one species as it is in another?

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:47 pm
by Barry Daniels
I think it is only found in hard maple.

Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:59 am
by Larry Davis
While not common or commercial, birds eye (true) figure is in Big Leaf Maple (soft) and Euro Maple (soft). I have a billet or two of the Big Leaf birdseye and Raymond Kraut has done a stunning Euro birdseye maple guitar last year. I was skeptic of the specie until visiting his shop and seeing the cut-offs of which he gave me one and I still pick it up for study.

True birdseye occurs in many species including walnut, QLD Maple, zebrawood, pine and any others.