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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member Mars Hall's Avatar
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    What causes the flame in maple?

    Perhaps this has been discussed before but when it comes down to it, it's a major reason I was attracted to these instruments. Something about the look, the rippling waves of tiger striping across the hue of changing colors that just resonated in my being. I've heard it said that it's a "disease" in the wood?
    "What's that man movin' cross the stage?
    It looks a lot like the one used by Jimmy Page..." Paul McCartney

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member latestarter's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    I thought it was the compression in the trunk from the huge weight of the tree above it (so the flame is often in lower areas). Over time the grain kinda buckles...we have a tree at work where you can see the outside has this going on in the lower trunk area.
    Last edited by latestarter; 06-20-19 at 08:35 PM. Reason: Siri cannot dictate very well
    Otherwise known as Grant.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member Mars Hall's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by latestarter View Post
    I thought it was the compression in the truck from the huge weight of the tree above it (so the flame is often in lower areas). Over time the grain kinda buckles...we have a tree at work where you can see the outside has this going on in the lower trunk area.
    I do remember hearing this as well. Just trying to separate fact from fiction but this makes sense to me.
    "What's that man movin' cross the stage?
    It looks a lot like the one used by Jimmy Page..." Paul McCartney

  4. #4

    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    There’s no scientific consensus on the cause of tiger/flamed maple.

    It’s weird.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Burl is found in the lower section of trees as a result of weight/stress. Figure can occur over the whole log or a small portion and often looks completely different depending upon cut bias and type, ie; quarterawn, flatsawn etc.. and is not a disease, that would be Spalted, which is a fungal decomp aid.

    Lots of wood can have figure, not just maple.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    Burl is found in the lower section of trees as a result of weight/stress. Figure can occur over the whole log or a small portion and often looks completely different depending upon cut bias and type, ie; quarterawn, flatsawn etc.. and is not a disease, that would be Spalted, which is a fungal decomp aid.

    Lots of wood can have figure, not just maple.
    w/flamed mahogany being one of the coolest

  7. #7

    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    Burl is found in the lower section of trees as a result of weight/stress. Figure can occur over the whole log or a small portion and often looks completely different depending upon cut bias and type, ie; quarterawn, flatsawn etc.. and is not a disease, that would be Spalted, which is a fungal decomp aid.

    Lots of wood can have figure, not just maple.
    Burl is different than tiger or flamed maple, it really is from a disease.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burl

    The cause of flamed/figured/tiger maple remains largely unexplained. There may be a genetic consideration, but again, the studies are inconclusive. (Speaking as a research university professor with a Ph.D. with graduate students and many peer-reviewed publications, I find this inexcusable and embarrassing that this should still be a mystery.)

    Our own LPF link: https://www.lespaulforum.com/slubart...le/figure.html

    An excerpt from the above link: "Even though it has been studied for a long time, very little is known about why figure develops in wood. There are a lot of contradictory theories, and the ultimate causes are largely unknown. Ecological factors have been studied to see if they have an affect on figure, but there are no studies that have shown a definitive correlation of factors like geographic location, climate, soil, bark, foliage, rate of growth, etc. on figure. Most of the best figured wood develops in well formed, straight, healthy trees. All figured wood types occur in almost every part of the world where figure is recognized, although certain areas appear to produce more figured trees than other areas."

    And as a scientist I am further embarrassed that I've used Wikipedia to support my thesis here...the shame...

    The Wikipedia entry on flame maple is particularly interesting because it uses electric guitars to illustrate several different varieties of figured maple. Good luck differentiating among Flame, Tiger Stripe, Fiddle Back and Ribbon! They look the same to me.

    Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flame_maple

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by garywright View Post
    w/flamed mahogany being one of the coolest
    I had some outrageously beautiful fiddleback veneer which I used on a salvaged 54 Jr and for the back of "BOB" a complete rebuild of a trashed mid 50's Jr with flame maple top, dual humbuckers, tobacky w/ Bigsby B5. Still have 'em.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member Triburst's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Hard to believe I haven't seen Mike Slubowski's excellent article here on the forum mentioned yet.

    https://www.lespaulforum.com/slubart...le/figure.html

  10. #10

    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Triburst View Post
    Hard to believe I haven't seen Mike Slubowski's excellent article here on the forum mentioned yet.

    https://www.lespaulforum.com/slubart...le/figure.html
    It will be mentioned as soon as the administrators give my post the OK. (You know, you write a post and it doesn't appear for a few days? Well, that's the story with a post I wrote a few days ago. It should appear soon enough. )

  11. #11

    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    At last. As of Thursday it has been posted. I wrote it on Monday. It's #7.

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member Mars Hall's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    However it happens, it's the stuff of legends...
    "What's that man movin' cross the stage?
    It looks a lot like the one used by Jimmy Page..." Paul McCartney

  13. #13

    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    I had some outrageously beautiful fiddleback veneer which I used on a salvaged 54 Jr and for the back of "BOB" a complete rebuild of a trashed mid 50's Jr with flame maple top, dual humbuckers, tobacky w/ Bigsby B5. Still have 'em.

    Holy shit dude!

    Yer killing me over here! Bigsby too? ---- That's freaking outstanding. Nice.

    EDIT --- By trade I am a woodworker. The vast majority of what we do is maple,I've been at this job for 37 years and can state as an absolute fact.... EVERY load on every truck is different. Completely different. It's still quite amazing to me after all these years. The maple you got yesterday ain't the maple you're getting today.
    Last edited by SpencerD; 06-20-19 at 10:24 PM.
    ​We Are The People We Have Been Waiting For

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member erscorcho's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpencerD View Post
    Holy shit dude!

    Yer killing me over here! Bigsby too? ---- That's freaking outstanding. Nice.

    EDIT --- By trade I am a woodworker. The vast majority of what we do is maple,I've been at this job for 37 years and can state as an absolute fact.... EVERY load on every truck is different. Completely different. It's still quite amazing to me after all these years. The maple you got yesterday ain't the maple you're getting today.
    https://youtu.be/pfRdur8GLBM i knew it😂 🖕🏽

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    It's very scientifical, being based on the player himself. The hotter the licks he plays, the more flame is produced in the maple.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Driscoll View Post
    It's very scientifical, being based on the player himself. The hotter the licks he plays, the more flame is produced in the maple.
    Pauls to the walls!

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  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member CoyotesGator's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    That explains all my pine guitars!

    As I see it, I serve the beat. Groove is everything.

    Big Al

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member jrgtr42's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    I once read that the flame came from the movement of the wood as the tree swayed in the breeze. Don't know how that could be right with the way it's pretty even for a ways, sometimes, then other ways.
    I got a load of firewood last year for my fireplace and mixed in was a half a dozen or so pieces of falmed maple. I'm keeping those mostly aside, though I don't know what I'm going to do with most of them - they're too small to get a guitar's worth out of, without cutting and piecing them all together.
    I did make one into a handle for an old kayak I picked up, the bow loop was broken, so I get the old line out of there, threaded in some new, and I carved this piece into a handle. came out pretty nice, if I do say so...
    If I can figure it out, I'll post up a pic, when I get a chance.
    ********************************
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  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    It is caused by time-walkers that are tree talkers as well. It is the movement of the tree over time as it rotates to listen as the plans are being made by pacing time-walkers as they state their case. If they (the trees) become agitated they can rotate too much causing slight tearing which causes the "mineral streaks" which are really scars. The tree has to be of the mind to become agitated, hence it is usually not the ones who have become more dormant and satisfied with just sleeping. They are just like humans. Some are quick to anger, others not so much.


  20. #20
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by renderit View Post
    It is caused by time-walkers that are tree talkers as well. It is the movement of the tree over time as it rotates to listen as the plans are being made by pacing time-walkers as they state their case. If they (the trees) become agitated they can rotate too much causing slight tearing which causes the "mineral streaks" which are really scars. The tree has to be of the mind to become agitated, hence it is usually not the ones who have become more dormant and satisfied with just sleeping. They are just like humans. Some are quick to anger, others not so much.
    Why talk to the trees when you can talk to the wind? (Warning: Jurassic prog folk-rock ahead):


  21. #21
    Les Paul Forum Member Grog's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by garywright View Post
    w/flamed mahogany being one of the coolest
    Old post, but reminded me of an EB-0 I had & sold a few years back. I've seen 3 of these now & they were all basses. I'm assuming that the figuring was undesirable at the time & they used the wood on basses.


  22. #22

    Re: What causes the flame in maple?



    As a kid in the 60's & 70's i saw figured wood in gun stocks, furniture & some musical instruments like violins but not too many guitars.
    In the 80's the figured woods in guitars really took off.
    Love me some good flame maple on a Les Paul.

  23. #23
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack30 View Post
    As a kid in the 60's & 70's i saw figured wood in gun stocks, furniture & some musical instruments like violins but not too many guitars. In the 80's the figured woods in guitars really took off. Love me some good flame maple on a Les Paul.
    In the heyday of hollowbody jazz guitars, wasn't it traditional for the flamed wood to be on the guitars' backs, ala violins? I remember reading that a few guitarists were a bit confused initially, when the flame-top Les Pauls first started rolling out in 1958.

    (Speaking of which, great looking axe in your photo. )

  24. #24

    Re: What causes the flame in maple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Driscoll View Post
    In the heyday of hollowbody jazz guitars, wasn't it traditional for the flamed wood to be on the guitars' backs, ala violins? I remember reading that a few guitarists were a bit confused initially, when the flame-top Les Pauls first started rolling out in 1958.

    (Speaking of which, great looking axe in your photo. )
    Yes thats true about the figured backs of Jazz types. Only thing for me was most semi hollow i saw as a kid were painted guitars & not sunbursts. I remember the first time i saw a Tobacco burst Les Paul i was instantly & forever star-struck.
    Same thing with Joe Walsh, Gary Richwrath, Jimmy Page & many others they were the genesis of my weakness for Gibson guitars.

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