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Trees123 01-09-2019 11:28 AM

Flat grain in curly maple
I purchased a back and side set of soft curly maple. After I got it I realized that the two back pieces have a section of flat grain in the middle with generally vertical grain along the sides. I'm disappointed with the set but was wondering if it might be okay to use since it's my first build. Would it be a waste of time to build with it or would it be likely to crack later? Any thoughts on this would be welcome.[IMG]!AvbaMmoRfIwThdJn_wOPJCLgpI2wog[/IMG]

I have attached some photo links for reference.

JDaniel 01-09-2019 12:01 PM

For a first guitar, generally it's better to build with unfigured, inexpensive wood. Figured maple can be a challenge at times. If you build it with a higher moisture content and then expose it to a dry winter environment, cracking can happen. That might or might not be a factor in playability. If this is your first, learn how to build before using your best wood and this set based on your short description might better used later on.

Trees123 01-09-2019 12:22 PM

thanks J Daniel.
Actually, it's a pretty cheap set that I found on ebay. At the time, I failed to notice that it was not quartersawn.
I'll try again to post the photos.

Halcyon/Tinker 01-09-2019 01:57 PM

Still no photos...

charles Tauber 01-09-2019 02:06 PM

The photos can be downloaded and viewed:

It's a lot of effort to make a guitar. I'd use better materials. They don't have to expensive, just better suited to guitar making.

runamuck 01-09-2019 02:48 PM

I agree with Charles.

Get quarter-sawn material in whatever wood you use. That's an absolute requirement, in my opinion, no matter how many guitars you've built. And speaking of maple, it's not the most stable of woods in terms of expansion and contraction with the seasons.

I've seen many flat-sawn backs crack over the years. It's not a given, but why take the risk when you'll be investing a lot of time.

Carey 01-09-2019 03:10 PM

In my experience, maple *really* likes to move.

John Arnold 01-09-2019 07:07 PM

I would just be sure it is as dry as it will ever be when you brace it. One of my early guitars was made with flatsawn curly ambrosia red maple, and it is still fine today. That was in 1983.

redir 01-09-2019 07:08 PM

It looks like you got a less then desirable part of the center slab cut off of a small tree or a very large branch. I personally would not use it.

Rodger Knox 01-10-2019 12:44 PM

I have no problem with using flat or rift sawn wood, but I wouldn't use that back. I've gotten better maple than that from Home Depot.

printer2 01-10-2019 08:42 PM

I am a maybe. If you have not built a guitar before you can use it as your practice run with an inexpensive top. I would second John's experience, I built a box at 20% RH, it handles the winters just fine. As far as building with that set I would do a very basic build, use plastic binding, nothing fancy. Use a piece of flatsawn maple for the neck, stack the heel and do a scarf joint. Don't be too particular building with it, do the joints right and don't worry about the nicks and dings. Think of it as a brand new beater guitar. Get your process down building this one and see where you will have trouble. A basic finish on it, satin is good. Building a guitar does not take a long time, building one at a higher level does. You might even save the amount of time building your second by the time it took to do the first.

phavriluk 01-10-2019 09:48 PM

I scratchbult two guitars last year. Advice from Printer2 rings dead true to me.
My first scratchbuilt guitar played and sounded nicer than my GS Mini, which I kept as a standard of comparison. Second one, a virtual twin of the first, turned out even nicer and had fewer surprises and headaches. The third, in progress now, might be better than the first two and less of a mystery of geometry.


LouieAtienza 01-12-2019 07:35 AM

If you've seen the many bird's eye and quilt maple (and other species) guitars built by the masters, you should know that all those are built with flatsawn wood. Of course, certain provisions need to be made to ensure stability, but it's done all the time. One would be to leave the plates a bit thicker than normal - this is OK because maple is not as stiff nor dense as some of the other woods used for backs. I'd probably brace it heavier as well, though with most beginner builds, that is never an issue.

That said, curly maple can be had (and is highly desirable) quartersawn. Of course, it will come at a premium. The big issue with the particular set you have is the mixed grain will move at different rates along its width, which can cause certain surface unevenness issues down the road - even pull away from your rim or braces in certain spots. Leaving more thickness can help alleviate that somewhat. You could also try brushing on something like Minwax Wood Hardener to stabilize the plate somewhat...

Bill Kraus 01-13-2019 05:34 PM

Check out American Tonewood Company, they bought out John Prestons Old World tonewood fretted instrument inventory. John now only deals in violin family woods. American Tonewood Company has some very nice quartersawn curly maple.

redir 01-14-2019 06:41 AM


Originally Posted by Bill Kraus (Post 5947686)
Check out American Tonewood Company, they bought out John Prestons Old World tonewood fretted instrument inventory. John now only deals in violin family woods. American Tonewood Company has some very nice quartersawn curly maple.

Hmmmm... Interesting. He doesn't provide a link to this new company and I don't find one in a search for "American Tonewood Company" either. Do have a link?

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