GUITAR FIGURED MAPLE TOP
The use of
wood tops (boards of small thickness within 20mm) which are glued over a guitar
or bass body to fine tune the instrument tone to a specific frequency range, is very common for both a matter of look (especially
when the body wood is not figured) and tone.
The use of hardwood tops accentuates the string's presence, attack and brightness delivering a more even and balanced tone.
Maple wood is the most used wood for this purpose both for its tonal characteristic and for the wonderful look of its figured species like curly maple, flame maple, spalted maple, quilted maple, etc.
and mahogany body. Pictured above Frudua GFT-Semi Hollow Body.
Maple is a very clear and sometimes highly figured wood and we can take advantage of this to obtain wonderful aniline three dimensional
transparent colours as you see on many very expensive instruments all around the world.
The irregular grain pattern due to a wood disease, is responsible for the beauty of these woods (see picture below).
Here's a brief list of the woods used for tops on electric instruments:
Spruce tops: you can find them on super expensive handmade hollow body guitars. They are usually made out of spruce.
This kind of top is called "sound board" and it normally carved on both top and bottom following very specific measurements using a
thickness caliber to guarantee the best compromise between tone and stiffness (resistance). On the cheaper hollow body models
or in mass production, these tops are made of plywood and pressed through a mould).
- Carved tops: on electric guitars are mainly made of figured maple which thickness may vary from 10 to 22 mm. They can also be sometimes carved both on top and back but it's quite a rare solution (see photo below).
They are glued to a body wood core, which may have tone chambers inside or not
and which commonly sports a totally different look (like mahogany for example) to achieve a very nice colour contrast.
Finally there is another solution called "drop top" or "contoured drop top": in this case a thin layer of maximum
7mm in heat bent over a guitar or bass body which was sometimes also beforehand carved for the forearm contour and
are therefore most commonly seen over tele or strat shapes.
Drop tops also offer the chance to "tune" the overall instrument tone
by adding this bit of extra brightness and attack which some electric guitar made in neutral wood like
mahogany, ash (swamp ash)
and basswood may need.
HINTS AND TIPS
When trying to thickening a blank of flame maple wood, no matter if it's maple or exotic one, instead of planing in the grain direction, try to plane at 45°. This will prevent the flame figure to get damaged by the plane.
covered by the first sealer coat.