Birdseye Maple Strength?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DLemos, May 2, 2016.


  1. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    I am working on a bass. The current design encompasses all of the hardware on the fingerboard- bridge, nut, tuners. The fingerboard is comprised of Birdseye Maple, supposed to be roughly 5/16", or 7.9mm thick. Aside from strong tension, does Birdseye Maple allow for a design like this to be achieved- holding screws and such?
     
  2. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    WarmothConversionNeckMain.jpg
     
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  3. GMC

    GMC

    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    If you are concerned about it, fit a pair of carbon graphite rods under the fingerboard. That'll make it a lot more stiff.
     
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  4. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Birdseye maple is in the same category as Hard Maple, so it should be fine.

    The B.E. Maple neck on my G&L seems as stiff, or perhaps more, than the "regular" maple neck on my Mexican Strat.

    IMG_20160426_145214531.jpg
     
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  5. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    Sweet, thanks guys. I guess I am going to give it a go, then. Wanted to make sure everything would be safe.
     
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  6. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    LA
    my slab birdseye fingerboard has been super stable so far
     
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  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Bird's eye maple is just as straight grained as regular maple.
     
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  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Huh? Bird's Eye maple has a crazy swirling grain that weaves and turns and runs in circles around all the little knots. That's why it has so many problems with warping and cracking as it dries out. Making complete necks out of uncooked Bird's Eye maple is risky. I've had too many failures in the past. I won't use it for my own necks, and I only make necks for clients with it if they provide the wood and assume the risk.

    The cooked (roasted) Bird's Eye is pretty good. The cooking process removes a lot of the internal stresses and makes it more stable. I've made maybe 75 necks from it for one of my clients, with only a couple of problems with hidden cracks. That's what that Warmouth neck is, cooked Bird's Eye.

    There's a lot of variance in the hardness of Bird's Eye maple. Most of the pieces with the little black dots are pretty hard, about like hard maple. But others are fairly soft. You have to look at each board. They also vary a lot in weight.

    For a fingerboard, uncooked Bird's Eye should be okay. It may develop some surface cracks, but they can be filled. You have to put some extra care into sanding and surfacing it, or the little eyes will become little hard bumps.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  9. PDX Rich

    PDX Rich

    Dec 19, 2014
    Portland, OR
    I have yet to see baked birdseye. I bet it looks quite striking! I do have some baked maple stock with light curly figuring that should make for an interesting neck accent. I'm told it is much more stable, but a bit more brittle.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
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  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Birds eye, unless it has a really heavy pattern, is not that bad, unlike quilted or something like that. I'm not a luthier, but have used it in furniture and on the lathe - not had a big issue with it.
     
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  11. I'm using some roasted birdeye maple for a neck tru with a open headstock , its not cleared yet and seems pretty stable so far , smell so nice too
     
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  12. tjclem

    tjclem Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    PDX Rich Here is a photo of one I did with a roasted Birdseye Maple FB 383 Body front.jpg .
     
  13. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Unfortunately, what the customers want on instrument necks is the really heavy pattern Bird's Eye. The stuff with hundreds and hundreds of the little knots. The denser, the better, in their view. The Bird's Eye that's used in most furniture and wall paneling is much less dense, and much more like regular maple.
     
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  14. PDX Rich

    PDX Rich

    Dec 19, 2014
    Portland, OR
    That looks really nice. I will have to keep my eye out for some boards.
     
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  15. Christopher DBG

    Christopher DBG Commercial User

    May 18, 2015
    Westerly, RI
    Luthier/Owner, Christopher Bass Guitar
    That's basically been my experience with it when making back plates for mandolins. I've used it on my own mandolins and it's ok in a climate controlled environment as long as I make the plate then glue it up to the rest of the mandolin quickly. I don't sell birdseye plates to other builders because by the time I ship the plate to them across the country or globe, and it goes through several changes in temp and humidity there's a good chance it will look more like a potato chip than a mandolin back. Plus, the amount of movement from one piece of birdseye to the next varies widely. One is as stable as anything you've ever used, while another keeps cupping more and more for years even in climate controlled storage.

    Birdseye maple is hard maple, Acer Saccharum. None of the other maple's develop that particular figure, just like hard maple and the soft eastern maples like red maple doe not develop quilting, only Big Leaf maple from out west does.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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