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Thread: Strange wood grain patterns

  1. #1
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    Here's the first picture.
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    Here's another
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    And another
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    Does anyone recognize these grain patterns?
    Good or bad?
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    Where is the correct position to install a strap button?



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    Here's a picture of the back. Is this book matched?
    If not, what?
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    One more of the back.
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    One more of the front.
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    I've seen that look on some fine sounding top drawer mandos.......I've heard it called silking or bear claw. Probably has to do with the cut of the slab in relation to the tree. I'm sure someone like Spruce will jump in & explain it better. And indeed your back looks bookmatched.

  10. #10
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    Rays, or medullary rays are flattened, ribbon like groups of cells in wood that extend outward from the pith or center of the tree.
    When the wood is sawed nearly exactly on the quarter, they show up as silk or ray fleck figure. It's different than bear claw, and it's what you have there. As a matter of fact, that is a good example of silk or ray fleck.
    I've seen it more in sitka spruce than most of the other spruces.

  11. #11
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    What sunburst says about the top...

    The back displays (although it's difficult to see in these pictures) what a few of us in the trade call "fishbone"...

    It's usually seen in Bigleaf maple cut on the slab, which, if I had to guess, I'd say is in your mandolin...
    Fishbone are the markings running at a 45 degree angle to the centerjoint...

    The piece is indeed bookmatched, BTW...

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    SternART,sunburst,and Spruce

    Thank-you for the info in your replies.Which leads me to ask....
    Is there somewhere online where I could see other examples of silking and medullary rays in spruce and fishbone markings in maple?
    Are these features in the tonewoods sought after?

  13. #13
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    I don't know where you might find additional pictures of these grain features.

    As for silk being sought after, yes and no.
    The guitar market values silky tops to some extent. Silk indicates good quarter, and is somewhat of a traditional look in the natural (unstained) finished tops of guitars.

    I was once discussing the details of a custom mandolin with a potential customer. He was looking at a mandolin that I had recently made. The top showed considerable ray fleck, which I was quite proud of. The potential customer pointed it out and said "I don't want my top to look like that". He was (is) a Loar owner, and his Loar doesn't look like that, so he didn't want visible silk.
    Another time, early in my building experience when I was showing mandolins to any experienced builder that I could for criticism, I had a silky topped mandolin, and a more experienced builder instructed me in how to use an airbrush to "cover up that stuff" with stain.

    So, while silk indicates good characteristics in a top, it may not be what the player wants to see.

    It may be noted that a lot of Loar mandolins didn't have tops that were well quartered, and silk is pretty subtle in red spruce as compared to sitka, so silky looking Loar tops probably aren't too common. With Loars being the standard for F5 style mandolins, that could be a reason for some people not prefering the silky look.

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    Cascadepicker I know nothing about tonewoods but I like the look of silking and yours is a great example. I have a top on one of mine that has very subtle silking that you can only see up close. It looks good to me and sounds good too.

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    Registered User mmukav's Avatar
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    My new F9, also from GC, has the same silking on the top as yours. And similar flamed back. I have a 2 year old A9 that has a very straight grain top, more consistent with what I usually see on mandos and guitars.

    At first I was a little bummed, thought maybe the top on the new one was not as good. But the tone, ahh the tone, that told me that there was nothing wrong with it, just different.

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    I would say that your Gibson has some high quality wood in it. To me, those figuring traits are indicators of excellent material.

  17. #17
    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    That top figure is what I was trying to describe in my post in the Bookmatch thread. Thanks cascadepicker; those pics are truly worth 799-1600 words (though a case is not included).

  18. #18

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    That exactly this sort of spruce I look for when I build my mandos . I love the silk aspect and I'm exited when I sand final and make the figure to be appear . A professionnal luthier of my friends have the same felling with this wood .
    Good quality .

  19. #19
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    There are a few useful photos on frets.com in the glossary section on silk, bear claw and book matching.

    Martin

  20. #20
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    Here's a section of a sitka top with a sunburst finish:
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  21. #21
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    Here's a section or a red spruce top without a sunburst:
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  22. #22

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    Fiddlemaker friends put the color in the finish after sealing the wood and dont get as much silk to show in the recurve or at the top of the arch, mandomakers who stain the bare wood accentuate the silk. My current favorite engelmann, supplier thinks it has the most crossgrain stiffness he's seen in guitar tops.
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  23. #23

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    Compared to some wide, light red spruce Old Standard was cutting a few years ago
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  24. #24

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    french polish on unstained compression-grain engelmann
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  25. #25
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    A pic I posted a while back of some nice red spruce
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