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What exactly is a flame top?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skel, Apr 13, 2006.


  1. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    These days it seems like every bass or guitar that is sunburst or some kind of "burst" has a flame top, or at least the flame tops cost more. I gather this means the piece of wood has very defined grain markings? Is this "flame top" something relatively new, as in bass/guitar makers use woods with more "flame" now than they did before?
     
  2. Aj*

    Aj*

    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Flame is indeed a figure of wood. Generally takes the form of horizontal lines. Commonest flamed wood is maple. Is available in different grades from unclassified to 5A (I think). Higher grades have more defined figure. Here's an example of flame maple:

    image81.

    Is it new? Yes and no. For sure the whole figured and exotic wood thing is being taken to new levels lately but there's nothing new about figured woods in instrument making.
     
  3. Linas

    Linas

    Jan 6, 2005
    Chicago
    Not a flame top, but flame maple body.
    CORT001.
     
  4. There's a lot of "Flamed" woods, but more than likely, if the term was thrown out there as a "Flamed" top, it's more than likely Flamed Maple or Tiger Flame Maple.
     
  5. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Flamed maple was actually used in the necks (and sometimes backs) of many orchestral instruments made centuries ago, so it's actually one of the oldest "exotic" woods used in instrument making, although it's hardly exotic. It's been used as bass and guitar tops for several decades now...it's pretty much the most common of the "fancy" tops. It's been used so much that it's not considered that much of an upgrade by some.
     
  6. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    w00t!! Show your flame tops!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    This is great info - just like to learn a few things now and then.

    Thanks!
     
  8. Aj*

    Aj*

    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    I challenge you to a 6 string Cirrus duel!

    redc6_1.

    I'm not convinced that mine counts as a proper flame top but there sure is some flame going on in there. Btw, just got this bass off Vic a couple of days ago, will be posting a review with my own pics after I've gigged it, that's one of his pics from the ad.
     
  9. JansenW

    JansenW

    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
  10. There is also quilted maple. It has more of a "cloud" look to it.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    Mine wins...

    ;)
     
  12. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Besides me looking like a duffus.... this Fodera has some of the most amazing flame maple I've ever seen....

    fodera1.


    Holy cow...a Tara Labs cable also.... what was I thinking back then!?!
     
  13. Aj*

    Aj*

    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Mine has parametrics mids. You lose sir! :oops:
     
  14. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    So what makes maple turn into flame maple?
     
  15. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    Yeah.. Go ahead... Tell yourself whatever you need to hear to make yourself feel better...


    ;) :D
     
  16. Spector_Ray

    Spector_Ray

    Aug 8, 2004
    Texas
    I don't know exactly what you're asking, specifically the flame part of the question or the top part or both. The flame part has been fully answered, but the top part is just that. It's a thin slab of figured wood that's laminated or glued onto the top of the main wood of the body as opposed to the whole body being made of one particular type of wood. That Cirrus is a perfect example.
     
  17. Aj*

    Aj*

    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Haha :D


    I belive the flaming develops due to conditions when the tree is growing. Layers of alternating hard and soft rippling, I think it has something to do with growing in swamps? I remember reading something about it somewhere but google isn't being helpful.
     
  18. incubus2432

    incubus2432

    Mar 21, 2002
    Grafton, Ohio
    And to contrast the more heavily flamed, here is my Ric 4004Cii. I was initially somewhat disappointed in the lack of flame but it didn't take long to grow on me anyway.

    TransGreenBlackenedBody.
    TransGreenBlackenedHeadstock.
    TransGreenBlackenedFull.
     
  19. Linas

    Linas

    Jan 6, 2005
    Chicago
    What kind of wood is this top? Koa?
     

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