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

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

Post 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?

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

Post 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.

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

Post by Dave Locher »

Thank you, Michael.

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

Post 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.
Larry Davis
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Dave Locher
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Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

Post 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!

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

Post 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.

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

Post 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!
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.

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

Post by Dave Locher »

Ha!
And so it begins... :shock:

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

Post 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.

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

Post 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.

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

Post 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.

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

Post 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?
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!

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

Post 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.

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

Post by Eric Baack »

It isn't that hard to carve hard maple :p

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

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

cheater!! :-)
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

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

Post by Eric Baack »

Not cheating if you build the cnc too

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

Post 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.

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

Post 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?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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

Post by Barry Daniels »

I think it is only found in hard maple.
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Larry Davis
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Re: Hard vs. "soft" maple for a carved top solidbody?

Post 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.
Larry Davis
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