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Does curl/stripe in a maple neck affect tone?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by interp, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    I read today that supposedly a single maple curl in a pre-CBS Jazz maple neck has a marked effect on tone, i.e. it acts as a "tone slingshot," enhancing the bass response. This writer further asserted that about 20% of "prime pre-CBS" maple-neck/rosewood FB basses have this very desirable characteristics.

    Has anyone else heard of this, and if so is there a factual basis for it? I am VERY skeptical, but who knows?

    FWIW, I just purchased a 1962 Jazz that has the "one maple curl." This was NOT a factor at all in the purchase and I only heard about this today.
  2. Mr. Majestic

    Mr. Majestic Majestic Wood Supply Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    From Louisiana/In Arkansas
    Majestic Swamp Ash
    Sounds like BS to me. "tone slingshot"???
  3. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    wow - tone curls ... an even greater example of marketing weasels 'genious' attempts to suck $$ out of the ignorant lemming public


    what will they think of next :rolleyes:

    all the best,

  4. I don't know if flame in a neck enhances tone or not, but I have been told by a luthier I trust that it does impact stability of the neck. Flame & birds eye are soft places in the wood, and necks have to endure a lot of stress.

    Notice that G&L now offers a 90 day warranty on birds eye necks, rather than the multi-year warranty on non-figured necks.

    So what does all of this mean in terms of tone? In theory a fair bit, but in reality I doubt you could prove it.

  5. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Let's look at what might be a statistically valid basis for making this statement.

    If as he says, 20% of "prime, pre-CBS" Js have a single maple curl, that is one in five. For me, in order to make this statement, he would have to have seen this at least half a dozen times. That would mean 6 "maple curl, prime, pre-CBS" Js, out of 30 total "prime, pre-CBS" Js inspected.

    So, he must have seen 30 "prime, pre-CBS" Js. If we assume that one out of four "pre-CBS" Js is a "prime, pre-CBS" J, then that would mean that he would necessarily have had access to 120 "pre-CBS" Js, with full tone testing and full inspection of the neck, in order to make this judgement properly.

    That is IMO unlikely, unless he worked in the QC department at Fender at the proper time period, and was tasked with testing, through an amplifier.

    Furthermore, this completely ignores the fact that according to this guy, 80% of "prime, pre-CBS" Js do not have a "maple curl." Funny how he forgot to mention that.

    Furthermore, in order to justify causality, he must simultaneously show that few or none of the "maple curl, pre-CBS" Js were not "prime."

    His claim is unjustified, or at least unsupported, IMO.

    And that's without getting into whether there might or might not be any physical science to back up the statement.
  6. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    There was a build here about a year ago where someone jokingly referred to the imperfection in his body wood as a "tone knot," making fun of the fallacies that get put over on the musician public.
  7. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    I've always found that curly maple does give somewhat of a curly tone. Same goes for flamed maple only it's more of a flamey tone.

  8. ...BS.
    Just a cheap marketing trick, nothing more nothing less...
  9. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    Thanks for the responses. I think you're all right. The "tone" of the guy's comments suggested to me that he was just trying to use a random characteristic of the neck to sell the instrument, regardless of whether it had anything to do with reality.
  10. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Or, trying to turn a potential weak point - possibility of warping at the grain deviation - into a selling point.
  11. First tell me what a maple curl looks like.:meh:
  12. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    What the hell is a tone slingshot?!
  13. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    This post made me actually laugh out loud. How embarrassing at work. :D

    Gotta love that pilot...
  14. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Mythbusters - Я - Us. Or maybe Unintentional Humor - Я - Us.
  15. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com

    Well, multiple curls (darker spots are curls).... good luck finding a piece that has a single curl...

  16. tdogg


    Jan 17, 2001
    Brooklyn Park, MN
    i dunno but i'll take 2 of them:D
  17. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    haha, actually, i had a peice of maple one time, that had one curl. just one right accross the board. it was pretty odd looking
  18. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    And, it could indicate there was stress on the tree at that point, making it reaction wood, which can be unstable.

    Of course on the particular '62-maple-curl-J that the OP bought, any problems would have already shown up.
  19. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Maybe someone should ask this guy, based on all the pre-CBS Js he's seen, which fret position is the ideal location for the tone slingshot. I'm sure he knows and would be glad to tell us.
  20. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    And would two curls sound twice as good? :)

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