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Thread: Why not a maple top?

  1. #1
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    Is there any way to use maple for the top and still produce a desirable tone? What if one were to tweak other areas in an attept to offset the effect of the maple top, for instance, a different bridge material? Any ideas on how to utilize the beauty of maple while maintaining a nice tone would be much appreciated.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Think Les Paul.
    Top woods are chosen for their stiffness to weight ratio. Maple isn't very high in this ratio. The top would be too heavy or too thin, take your pic. A very heavy top would have a world of sustain and almost no loudness......without a pickup....(think Les Paul).

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    Many people are leaning to figured spruce (bearclaw) or curly redwood to bring a little life to the face.
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    A little question here. I've played several koa-topped guitars that had a wonderful, smooth tone with great color. Is koa too unstable to be used as a top?

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    This is a 1930 Martin A-K. All Koa....
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    That's beeeautiful. I have always liked the look of koa topped instruments, kinda like a flamey mahogany.

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    Pick any 2: structure, cosmetics, tone.

    It's possible to make a good sounding mandolin with a curly maple top, but a good spruce top will be more powerful.

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    A local luthier here has experimented with different tonewoods. He has a beautiful all maple mandolin with a light golden brown finish in his shop. He says it's the prettiest mandolin he's ever made but it has no volume to speak of. I played it and agreed. The tone is beautiful but very subdued. He found an old junker upright piano made of gorgeous Brazillian Rosewood and he is building two mandolin bodies now with it and has plenty more yet to be sawed. He's using Red Cedar for one top and spruce for the other. I can't wait to get my hands on one of those.

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    Here's a quilted maple-topped F5, next to one with the traditional Red Spruce...

    But it's designed to be an electric...

    Both mandos by John Sullivan....
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    Brookside, your post about an all koa mando makes me want to make a joke about an aluminum mandolin....but I won't.
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    Well, this is slightly off the original topic, but it's close ...

    Like Koa, Mahogany is commonly used for backs and side, but is also routinely used as a top wood. What makes Mahogany suitable as a top wood? What are its strong points / weak point, etc.

    You'd think I'd know something - owning two all Mahogany instruments, but all I can really say is my mahogany guitar has a very disctinct, unique voice - opinions seem to run either hot or cold on its tone. But I actually know nothing as to why it sounds as it does.

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    I appreciate the responses to my sometimes odd questions. And Spruce, I love the look of the quilted maple top electric. I'm assuming it's an entirely solid body. (what a genius I am, taint no holes in it) Pickinpox, you've got me curious about your joke. I am not easily offended.

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