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BaggyMan

what's the deal with roasted maple...? and wood and that

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the whole  'what wood from where' debate is another level of confusion.  

I asked a question about what companies were the most environmentally aware in a letter to bass player magazine years ago.   The answers were really interesting.  Yamaha were amazing in that they manage their own wood supply from land they own, any off cuts are used to generate power etc.  other side of the coin Mr Peavey referred to me as a tree hugger and the last time he flew over the amazon there seemed to be a lot of trees....that aside its actually a really murky business as illegally logged tree look just like managed one when cut up into guitar shapes.    Going back to the thread i do hope that things like roast maple is an alternative to quickly vanished tropical hardwoods and that we start valuing the latter more so than we do.  (step down off high horse...and relax).

 

 

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12 minutes ago, BaggyMan said:

Mr Peavey referred to me as a tree hugger and the last time he flew over the amazon there seemed to be a lot of trees

yeah, until very recently there's been a lot of special pleading and whataboutism from the guitar manufacturers, that they only account for a tiny part of the decimation of certain species, and anyway they really, really need it because no other wood will do

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On 9 October 2019 at 15:40, Stub Mandrel said:

Don't forget to use snake oil on your roasted maple neck...

No need - it's very similar to normal maple except much darker and none of mine have required any treatment whatsoever. Unlike normal maple which can show the dirt. 

As always, it's best for people to experience something before commenting on it - there are plenty of instruments out there in shops with roasted maple  necks - just go and try one then you'll experience/see for yourself. 

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If its like kiln dried timber in other industries, yeah it gets the stuff to market quicker but it's durability is compromised, sometimes seriously but too far down the line to bother the original processor or manufacturer. I'd rather have something made from timber that was laid up and allowed to season naturally and yes I know it takes years. I know that at my price bracket I'm not going to get it but if I was going to fork out multiple Ks for a premium bass that's what I'd be expecting.

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On 09/10/2019 at 11:09, Cuzzie said:

It’s a way to cure the wood, as stated before it’s a living entity with moisture, drying or roasting helps to eliminate this, and can look nice too.

It’ll cost more, you have to run a kiln/roaster to do it in.

Same as any finish, if it takes more man hours/materials  to do a specific finish, no harm in it costing more

Won't the increase in cost due to running a kiln be at least partly offset by the reduction in warehousing costs, as it doesn't need to be stored as long to mature?

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I pretty sure what is marketed as 'roasted maple' is Thermally Modified Wood. It's heated under certain conditions - no oxygen, pressure etc for a certain time.  It was developed in Sweden a long time ago so that fast growing cheap woods (pine varieties) could be used in place of hardwoods.  Mainly for cladding I believe.

It's not the same as kiln drying and it doesn't mimic the process of ageing. 

It actually modifies the cellular structure of the wood.  You get benefits like resistance to moisture and rot, but it actually makes the wood weaker and more brittle.  So I guess it's a trade off between weight and aesthetics vs ultimate strength.

As far I as can tell, the main benefits for a bass would be the reduction in weight and resistance to taking up water, thereby being much dimensionally stable - pretty big plusses! But as for mimicking ageing, the process alters the properties of the wood so it will not be the same as aged untreated maple (if anyone cared, but it is often lazily marketed in this way). 

 

Edited by No. 8 Wire
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1 hour ago, No. 8 Wire said:

I pretty sure what is marketed as 'roasted maple' is Thermally Modified Wood. It's heated under certain conditions - no oxygen, pressure etc for a certain time.  It was developed in Sweden a long time ago so that fast growing cheap woods (pine varieties) could be used in place of hardwoods.  Mainly for cladding I believe.

It's not the same as kiln drying and it doesn't mimic the process of ageing. 

It actually modifies the cellular structure of the wood.  You get benefits like resistance to moisture and rot, but it actually makes the wood weaker and more brittle.  So I guess it's a trade off between weight and aesthetics vs ultimate strength.

As far I as can tell, the main benefits for a bass would be the reduction in weight and resistance to taking up water, thereby being much dimensionally stable - pretty big plusses! But as for mimicking ageing, the process alters the properties of the wood so it will not be the same as aged untreated maple (if anyone cared, but it is often lazily marketed in this way. 

 

Weaker and more brittle? Are you sure and if so is this marginal and would it actually have any impact in a musical instrument application? Or even in building structures etc etc.

I would very much doubt it otherwise the likes of Roger Sadowski, Fender, Musicman et al would not be using it for some instruments. From someone who owns and uses regularly three basses with roasted maple necks, they all look great, feel better than any other bass to play than I've experienced in 40 odd years playing, and they all hold their tune more than adequately - in fact I'd say they require the least adjustment by season of any bass I have - so it's all good for me - however I'm one of those people who doesn't buy the vintage hoodoo. I'm a bit like it with cars as well - give me air con, ABS, modern construction tolerances, safety and comfort over 50s/60s chic (including rampant corrosion, vacuum powered wipers which stop when you go uphill etc) for everyday use. 

I think there's a lot of conjecture here and the level of relevant fact and theory being quoted by posters is unclear. 

Edited by drTStingray
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35 minutes ago, drTStingray said:

Weaker and more brittle? Are you sure and if so is this marginal and would it actually have any impact in a musical instrument application? Or even in building structures etc etc.

I would very much doubt it otherwise the likes of Roger Sadowski, Fender, Musicman et al would not be using it for some instruments. From someone who owns and uses regularly three basses with roasted maple necks, they all look great, feel better than any other bass to play than I've experienced in 40 odd years playing, and they all hold their tune more than adequately - in fact I'd say they require the least adjustment by season of any bass I have - so it's all good for me - however I'm one of those people who doesn't buy the vintage hoodoo. I'm a bit like it with cars as well - give me air con, ABS, modern construction tolerances, safety and comfort over 50s/60s chic (including rampant corrosion, vacuum powered wipers which stop when you go uphill etc) for everyday use. 

I think there's a lot of conjecture here and the level of relevant fact and theory being quoted by posters is unclear. 

I'm not a wood expert, but I am an Engineer so I understand the figures.

The wood can lose strength up to 30%, but specific to maple I can't see any figures and it could depend on the process used anyway.  TMW isn't used for structural purposes in construction for this reason according to a couple of papers I skim read.

However, what we are talking about is the ultimate strength (ie breaking point) of the wood, there is no way a bass gets anywhere near that!  On the other hand, some papers say there is a slight increase in resistance to bending in TMW - very desirable in a bass.  So that's where you get the brittleness.  ie The wood is stiffer but will break under less load.  Whether it's good or bad depends on the application.

I would say it's a very good trade off to get less weight and better dimensional stability for a small loss of the breaking strength - seeing as instruments never get close to that unless you jump on them!

A good summary here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/thermal-modification

(Just for the avoidance of doubt, I'm saying 'roasted' maple necks are a good thing!)

Edited by No. 8 Wire
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermally_modified_wood#Characteristics_of_thermally_modified_wood

My view is that it's being used for primarily for its aesthetic properties, nothing new or wrong in that.

As for other properties, my guess is the supposed benefits and limitations pretty much balance out.

But in some ways it's rather like the way that highly-figured exotic timbers beloved of boutique instrument makers just happen to be the very best tonewoods...

 

Who knows this could be next for super strong hollow bodies or reinforcing laminations in necks:

https://www.sciencealert.com/new-super-wood-stronger-than-steel

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27 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Who knows this could be next for super strong hollow bodies or reinforcing laminations in necks:

https://www.sciencealert.com/new-super-wood-stronger-than-steel

I read about this a couple of years ago. Haven't kept up with it.

It's interesting, but it's essentially using wood as the base source for creating a polymer, in the same way oil is mostly used at the moment for creating Carbon and plastic.  I guess it's good as it replaces a non renewable source with a renewable one.  Haven't read if it can be recycled or if it is toxic to burn as fuel at end of life.

For musical instruments though, the problem is the end product is not wood any longer and probably won't even look much like wood.  So not a direct replacement.  More like using carbon fibre to make instruments I'd say.

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A few molecules thick sheet of Graphene under the fretboard and the neck will never move again.

Necks could be made thinner, graphite rods, even the truss rods could be dispensed with and neck dive will be a thing of the past.

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12 hours ago, No. 8 Wire said:

I'm not a wood expert, but I am an Engineer so I understand the figures.

The wood can lose strength up to 30%, but specific to maple I can't see any figures and it could depend on the process used anyway.  TMW isn't used for structural purposes in construction for this reason according to a couple of papers I skim read.

However, what we are talking about is the ultimate strength (ie breaking point) of the wood, there is no way a bass gets anywhere near that!  On the other hand, some papers say there is a slight increase in resistance to bending in TMW - very desirable in a bass.  So that's where you get the brittleness.  ie The wood is stiffer but will break under less load.  Whether it's good or bad depends on the application.

I would say it's a very good trade off to get less weight and better dimensional stability for a small loss of the breaking strength - seeing as instruments never get close to that unless you jump on them!

A good summary here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/thermal-modification

(Just for the avoidance of doubt, I'm saying 'roasted' maple necks are a good thing!)

On the one side, in comparing my roasted neck (Ray Starry Night) to non-roasted neck (Sterling), I would say that most of the differences are cosmetic and that any sonic differences are over-ridden by the electronics package and possible the fretboard material (ebony on the Ray, one piece maple on the Sterling). 

As a materials engineer, I'm also interested by the material properties, they could have a bearing on the dimensional stability and the durability (ignoring sonics here).  Strength is a vague term; I was concerned that the brittleness might be higher in the roasted; so far I've been lucky and my neck hasn't suffered impact to demonstrate failure due to brittle fracture.  On the normal maple neck a couple of dings (later steamed out) showed no such tendency.  I'd be interested to see figures for difference in strain/stress to failure (tension - as I'd assume the predominant failure mode would be flexural/tension) and MOE between roasted and non-roasted but I'd assume there was a lot of variance as wood is hardly an homogenous or isotropic material.

In the meantime I'll admire the looks and play it with gusto.

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49 minutes ago, martthebass said:

I'd be interested to see figures for difference in strain/stress to failure (tension - as I'd assume the predominant failure mode would be flexural/tension) and MOE between roasted and non-roasted but I'd assume there was a lot of variance as wood is hardly an homogenous or isotropic material.

The papers I skim read were looking at softwoods, seeing as the main push with the research is to get fast growing softwoods to be water and rot resistant and dimensionally stable for cladding and flooring etc.  They were looking at up to 30% loss of MOR but only a few % increase in MOE. 

I've only had a cursory look, but couldn't find anything on Hardrock Maple (some studies on soft maple but obviously not applicable).  I would think because hardrock maple isn't going to be used for construction there won't be research into it.

There are some hardwood studies, but ultimately the process can be so different between suppliers and factoring in the variability of the wood itself... you can only really talk in generalities unless a neck supplier produces pass off tests for wood batches.

One thing I haven't looked at is durability - which you alluded to.  Some papers allude to a reduction in durability, but I haven't read further to know in what context.

It would also be interesting to know if figuring like flame has a more detrimental effect or whether the curing process stabilises the 'imperfections'.

I'm pretty sure these roasted maple necks are serving their purpose though... I have extreme GAS for a stingray 5 with a roasted maple neck and ebony board...

 

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2 hours ago, No. 8 Wire said:

The papers I skim read were looking at softwoods, seeing as the main push with the research is to get fast growing softwoods to be water and rot resistant and dimensionally stable for cladding and flooring etc.  They were looking at up to 30% loss of MOR but only a few % increase in MOE. 

 

 

That's interesting.  A loss of 30% in MOR would make you think that durability would be reduced with respect to tensile stress induced cracking (and subsequent propagation).  If these results are carried over to hardwoods then the minor change in MOE wouldn't help stability though - I guess Sterling Ball wouldn't want to hear this.  I suspect that in the typical loadings on basses however that the effects are minimal.

Edited by martthebass
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17 minutes ago, martthebass said:

If these results are carried over to hardwoods then the minor change in MOE wouldn't help stability though

I'd probably disagree with that.  When talking about about stability, for a bass neck we are really talking about dimensional stability  - ie the amount of moisture a wood will take and/or how it will change with temperature, thus throwing out tuning and relief etc.

So, for thermally modified wood, the greatest gain is the increase in dimensional stability, ie it will have less hygroscopicity (tendency to take up water) and move less with heat.  I don't think the reduction in MOR, even if it was 30%, would matter, as it normal use these necks would get nowhere near breaking point (maybe don't make a Les Paul neck out of it though!).

Durability in general - not something I've looked up.

 

Edited by No. 8 Wire

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I'm guessing the effect is marginal in terms of overall strength in the requirements of a bass guitar. I haven't noticed a difference - they still dent and ding like regular maple. 

One thing no-one has mentioned is a very minor, but interesting side effect - the smell of maple syrup if you get your nose very close to the neck. I noticed it when I first got my MM Sabre - it was after a long gig in very humid conditions - I leaned over the bass whilst getting a gig bag to put it in. Now before people rush to Andertons (or any other popular stockist) and start sniffing Stingray necks, it was not me who said this!! 😂

MM standard v roasted maple - they look very similar (NB this is not a Stingray Special neck - it's a flamed neck on a limited edition bass)

image.thumb.jpeg.64d47be3e2a1eb37b5717ca4186a1171.jpeg

Edited by drTStingray
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26 minutes ago, No. 8 Wire said:

I'd probably disagree with that.  When talking about about stability, for a bass neck we are really talking about dimensional stability  - ie the amount of moisture a wood will take and/or how it will change with temperature, thus throwing out tuning and relief etc.

 

 

I was referring more to the stiffness rather than the movement of the neck with change in moisture (linked to expansion/contraction) but I see your point. If the stiffness has increased significantly then there could have been claim that deformation under load would be reduced and therefore stability increased - less need for rod turning with string load changes. Claims of graphite like improvement (non-hygroscopicicity not withstanding).

Edited by martthebass
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1 hour ago, drTStingray said:

I'm guessing the effect is marginal in terms of overall strength in the requirements of a bass guitar. I haven't noticed a difference - they still dent and ding like regular maple. 

One thing no-one has mentioned is a very minor, but interesting side effect - the smell of maple syrup if you get your nose very close to the neck. I noticed it when I first got my MM Sabre - it was after a long gig in very humid conditions - I leaned over the bass whilst getting a gig bag to put it in. Now before people rush to Andertons (or any other popular stockist) and start sniffing Stingray necks, it was not me who said this!! 😂

MM standard v roasted maple - they look very similar (NB this is not a Stingray Special neck - it's a flamed neck on a limited edition bass)

image.thumb.jpeg.64d47be3e2a1eb37b5717ca4186a1171.jpeg

Just had to sniff mine.......I’d never noticed this but you are totally correct it does smell of maple syrup lol.

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As far as I'm aware it's the same process that is done to cedar shingles for roofing to make them more stable and weather resistant. 

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Does a more dried out neck mean less need to adjust the truss rod in spring/autumn? As it seems to be atmospheric changes which I assume affect the necks due to moisture?

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13 hours ago, tauzero said:

I wonder how much denser than an untreated hardwood like maple that would be.

Approximately five times by the look of it - you'd be using it like graphite inserts or thin moulded sheets.

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