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  #1  
Old 05-28-2019, 05:16 PM
toneseeker toneseeker is offline
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Default Bearclaw

Was bearclaw figure in guitar tops considered a defect back in the 40s and 50s?
Would it have been covered up by a sunburst finish?
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:59 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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It was considered a defect from zero to the 1980's. In the 90's, or so, opinions began to change. Similarly, a satin finish on a guitar was also considered aesthetically undesirable until then. Ditto for sap wood.

Applying a dark finish is one method that has been used to hide a less than stelar piece of wood.
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:15 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Correct. It was Stan Jay at Mandolin Brothers who first began to heavily promote bearclaw figure in spruce tops as being desirable. Prior to that, which fits in the timeline Charles mentioned, for the most part bearclaw was looked at as a disfigurement, when it was even thought about at all.

Personally, I've never cared for the look of bearclaw, much less consider it to be "beautiful." To me it looks like stretch marks:

[CENTER]

Bearclaw

On a human being, stretch marks are a mark of character and personal history. But I'm not that eager to have any on my guitar tops...

Other folks like bearclaw figure just fine, and some are even willing to pay extra money to get it. I think that's great - more power to them. I'm just not among their number.


Wade Hampton Miller

Last edited by Kerbie; 05-28-2019 at 08:40 PM. Reason: Removed pic
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:41 PM
GCWaters GCWaters is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Correct. It was Stan Jay at Mandolin Brothers who first began to heavily promote bearclaw figure in spruce tops as being desirable. Prior to that, which fits in the timeline Charles mentioned, for the most part bearclaw was looked at as a disfigurement, when it was even thought about at all.






Wade Hampton Miller

I miss Stan’s instrument descriptions from the old Mandolin Brothers catalogs....
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:14 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCWaters View Post
I miss Stan’s instrument descriptions from the old Mandolin Brothers catalogs....
They sure made for good reading. No one could match his descriptions. The world is a smaller place since he left.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:16 PM
mercy mercy is offline
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It may be good but I sure hate the look of it
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:44 PM
gfirob gfirob is offline
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Martin used to consider bear claw an esthetic flaw, and they avoided using these tops, at great waste of good spruce.

Mike Longworth, the late Martin historian, wrote this to me in an email before he died:

"Martin had a huge stack of spruce with striations, usually called "bear claw". In a staff meeting they bemoaned having so much rejected material that represented a large investment and they couldn't get rid of it. I was always injecting silly things to lighten up staff meetings. What I suggested was 'There is an easy solution.

You simply start charging EXTRA for it!' If you look at a catalog from a
Luthiery supplier like Luthier's Mercantile today you will see the hype
about how good it is, and the extra price."

And so it came to be...
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:55 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
C


Wade Hampton Miller
Kind of an extreme example?
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:10 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Well, it definitely has a lot of bearclaw on it, I can’t argue that. Whether it’s “extreme” is in the eyes of the beholder, I’d say.

But in terms of me selecting that photo, I just ran a Google image search for “bearclaw figure on a spruce top” and that was one of the first images that popped up. I didn’t go digging for an “extreme” example at all.


whm
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:01 AM
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I got a fever... and the only prescription... is more BEARCLAW!
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Old 05-29-2019, 05:59 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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I have only one guitar with bearclaw, but that one is a rather extreme example. I find no musical advantage to it, but it sure adds visual interest. Ditto for the vertical stripes in Adirondack.
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Old 05-29-2019, 06:07 AM
Ozarkpicker Ozarkpicker is offline
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Everything is subjective when it comes to the appearance of wood grain on the top of a guitar. Some love “bearclaw”, some love “silking”, and some prefer straight-grains. If you promote something as unusual & desirable because of its unusualness...many will pay more for it, just because it’s unique...even though the truth may be that it might be a negative thing to the builder originally. That’s called “perception marketing”.

Please don’t be offended...but could it be that the promotion of “bear claw” or “silking” as more desirable simply a way to make use of pieces of wood that would normally not be used by a guitar company or luthier/builder because in their eyes it was flawed & unattractive?
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Old 05-29-2019, 06:45 AM
godfreydaniel godfreydaniel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozarkpicker View Post
Please don’t be offended...but could it be that the promotion of “bear claw” or “silking” as more desirable simply a way to make use of pieces of wood that would normally not be used by a guitar company or luthier/builder because in their eyes it was flawed & unattractive?
See post number 7 in this thread.
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:20 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bard Rocks View Post
I have only one guitar with bearclaw, but that one is a rather extreme example. I find no musical advantage to it
Well, you can hardly declaw it and see how it sounds then, can you now?

The word "extreme" was used tongue-in-cheek with the examples shown here, right? If not the only thing that seems extreme to me is nitpicking about something you can hardly see...
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:51 AM
Ozarkpicker Ozarkpicker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by godfreydaniel View Post
See post number 7 in this thread.
AhHaaaaaaaaa...

Forgive my inherent laziness. You gotta love marketing.
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