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Thread: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

  1. #1
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    Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    That is often done by furniture or piano makers (at least back when they were using quality wood). Any ideas behind the PRS logic? For that matter, why are one-piece tops rare?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    I think all Prs tops are book matched. To the best of their ability.

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    Member The Ratchet's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Did somebody say....."bookmatching" ??? :mrgreen:

    I have a whole lot of thoughts on what constitutes acceptable bookmatching of a guitar top. To sum it up, I think some look great, and some baffle me.

    Different tastes for different people.
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by DGTplayer
    That is often done by furniture or piano makers (at least back when they were using quality wood). Any ideas behind the PRS logic? For that matter, why are one-piece tops rare?
    Thanks!
    They are bookmatched!

    Here's an article from Wiki on book matching; note the back of the violin used as an example.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bookmatched
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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    10 o'Clubs OsirisProtocol's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    What people fail to understand is that the grain pattern changes as you cut down into a piece of wood. You can have a billet of maple that after being flatsawn is perfectly bookmatched. But as you carve into the wood to get the curvature of a carved top guitar the grain may not always run straight the whole way through giving some bookmatched guitars an off look. It's natural in any wood species that has any visible figuring.
    -Denny
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  6. #6

    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by OsirisProtocol
    What people fail to understand is that the grain pattern changes as you cut down into a piece of wood. You can have a billet of maple that after being flatsawn is perfectly bookmatched. But as you carve into the wood to get the curvature of a carved top guitar the grain may not always run straight the whole way through giving some bookmatched guitars an off look. It's natural in any wood species that has any visible figuring.

    This.

    I've cut a solid block of wood down the middle, flipped it open, glued it down the middle and as soon as I started carving/sanding the two halves, they started to look like they were from different trees. The heavier the figure, the more pronounced the variation between the halves were.

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    olslowhand John Mann's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    They are book matched!
    When the wood is cut, planed and the machined there is some shift that occurs due to the loss of material where it was originally cut. Wood grain constantly changes throughout the wood.
    John Mann

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    Member The Ratchet's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by OsirisProtocol
    But as you carve into the wood to get the curvature of a carved top guitar the grain may not always run straight the whole way through giving some bookmatched guitars an off look.
    Quote Originally Posted by Baimun
    I've cut a solid block of wood down the middle, flipped it open, glued it down the middle and as soon as I started carving/sanding the two halves, they started to look like they were from different trees.
    Hence, the invention of the wood chipper. :mrgreen:
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  9. #9

    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Is this a good book-match? I am a pretty picky guy and I am struggling to follow the conversation. Show some examples, please.

    One Life

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    Junior Member dprather's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Mann
    They are book matched!
    When the wood is cut, planed and the machined there is some shift that occurs due to the loss of material where it was originally cut. Wood grain constantly changes throughout the wood.
    I think these grain variations can sometimes make things more interesting. Here's one that I have, as the carve goes further into the maple on the left side of the picture, the flames actually branch out making V-shapes appear. The right side didn't have the same thing happen, although the grain was extremely well matched, the two sides are not a mirror of each other after the carving and I don't have a problem with that at all. I think it gives a little natural character to the top and makes it a little bit unique in appearance.


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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    I was just curious as to why the tops tend not be mirror images of each other (my understanding of bookmatching which might be incorrect). You do tend to see that with furniture.
    Any ideas why one-piece tops are unusual?

  12. #12

    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by DGTplayer
    I was just curious as to why the tops tend not be mirror images of each other (my understanding of bookmatching which might be incorrect). You do tend to see that with furniture.
    Any ideas why one-piece tops are unusual?
    With respect:

    First, your understanding of bookmatching is indeed incorrect. I don't know if you read the Wiki link I posted, but it tells you the story, as does the picture of the antique violin with the bookmatched back. When the wood is sawn and split open like a book, the grain goes in different directions, and reflects light differently.

    You also have to understand the difference between bookmatched wood that is then carved, and flat pieces of veneer that are used by furniture makers that is not carved, but is simply glued onto another piece of wood that may be carved. A flat, thin piece of wood is going to be more uniform because you're not carving it and thereby going to a deeper part of the piece of wood.

    (By the way, even very fine furniture makers use veneers, and have for hundreds upon hundreds of years. It is (and always was) unusual for furniture makers to use solid wood for decorative inserts, etc., though in the old days (pre late 1800s) it was hard to get a paper thin veneer, so the wood was a bit thicker. The reason veneers were used for this purpose was exactly the fact that the wood was merely decorative.)

    Furniture isn't made for tone, so fancy wood has no other purpose than decor. However, a guitar top is made for a primary purpose of sounding good, and its secondary purpose is looks. So it needs to be solid and if it's carved, the grain is going to change the deeper the carve.

    Most furniture veneers are paper-thin if the furniture was made in the last 120 years. Even older antique furniture (mid 19th C and earlier) used relatively thin, flat veneers glued to curved surfaces.

    PRS tops are carved and three dimensional. The wood that they start with is thicker in the middle and lots of wood is carved away. You're going deeper into the piece of wood with the carver. So the pattern of the wood grain that one starts with isn't going to be exactly the identical wood grain once the wood is removed during carving. This is the price that is paid for a solid wood top.

    As to one piece tops being unusual, it should be obvious: It's harder to find a single piece of wood that's as wide as a guitar with a nice pattern going from edge to edge!
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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  13. #13

    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Les, very well said!!

  14. #14
    Member The Ratchet's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Neither of the tops posted by Hans or dprather seem to exhibit anything untoward that catches my eye too much.

    The types of things that bother my eye, and this is just personal taste - are heavy streaking on just one side of the top. And in regards to these, it seems to me I've seen more of these come out in recent years. Having not worked at PRS and seen every guitar ever to come out of there, it may be the same % percentage as there ever was going back 20 years or whatever, but I think the OP may be saying the same - that he's seeing alot more of these kinds of tops.

    And the types of tops I'm mentioning are in the photos here below. Now wood is wood, and it looks how it looks, so if you like, well you buy it. Even diamonds have what are called 'inclusions'. And these inclusions are not necessarily 'flaws', but again it's in the eye of the beholder. So to me, here's some example of tops that make me scratch my head a bit:







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    Bobble Head Moderator JMintzer's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ratchet
    Neither of the tops posted by Hans or dprather seem to exhibit anything untoward that catches my eye too much.

    The types of things that bother my eye, and this is just personal taste - are heavy streaking on just one side of the top. And in regards to these, it seems to me I've seen more of these come out in recent years. Having not worked at PRS and seen every guitar ever to come out of there, it may be the same % percentage as there ever was going back 20 years or whatever, but I think the OP may be saying the same - that he's seeing alot more of these kinds of tops.

    And the types of tops I'm mentioning are in the photos here below. Now wood is wood, and it looks how it looks, so if you like, well you buy it. Even diamonds have what are called 'inclusions'. And these inclusions are not necessarily 'flaws', but again it's in the eye of the beholder. So to me, here's some example of tops that make me scratch my head a bit:







    In each of those pics, you are looking at the top at an angle. Rotate the top, and the flame will move...


    Jamie
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMintzer
    In each of those pics, you are looking at the top at an angle. Rotate the top, and the flame will move...
    Jamie
    I know what you mean, that in some cases, depending on the angle/flash/etc some things will show up while others won't. But on those pics, each was pulled from a series of photos, where in every photo the "interesting" part of the flame as I shall call it, was clearly visible from every angle.

    But as DirtyMoonsRJT said, he really likes those tops, and I'm sure other people do to. I've just become accustomed over the years to most of the time seeing/buying very well matched (from a visual perspective, not a technical perspective) flame tops, and not...

    Where one half of the top had a lot more contrast than the other side, or on one side there was some kind of heavy streak present. And for me, my brain must have some Rain Man type OCD need for parity/alignment/similarity between the two sides of the top, because it really is like fingernails on a chalkboard when I see it lol.

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  17. #17
    Bobble Head Moderator JMintzer's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ratchet
    Quote Originally Posted by JMintzer
    In each of those pics, you are looking at the top at an angle. Rotate the top, and the flame will move...
    Jamie
    I know what you mean, that in some cases, depending on the angle/flash/etc some things will show up while others won't. But on those pics, each was pulled from a series of photos, where in every photo the "interesting" part of the flame as I shall call it, was clearly visible from every angle.

    But as DirtyMoonsRJT said, he really likes those tops, and I'm sure other people do to. I've just become accustomed over the years to most of the time seeing/buying very well matched (from a visual perspective, not a technical perspective) flame tops, and not...

    Where one half of the top had a lot more contrast than the other side, or on one side there was some kind of heavy streak present. And for me, my brain must have some Rain Man type OCD need for parity/alignment/similarity between the two sides of the top, because it really is like fingernails on a chalkboard when I see it lol.

    Well, if you ever visit the factory, and you see how they -do- book match the tops, you'll understand that it is the variance in the wood, not the lack of book matching that you're seeing...


    Jamie
    ---Jamie---

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  18. #18
    Carvin Striations cwhenke's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ratchet
    1 and 4 are really good examples...3 is a little tricky and I would hold off judgement until seeing it from another angle, but that one....PERFECT! That center seam is matched from one end to the other. The top isn't exactly what I would pick, but the question is about bookmatching, and it is.
    Too many and never enough...

  19. #19

    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    This could be a great SNL skit.

    I'm curious about something. If these tops aren't bookmatched, then what are they? Halves from different trees?

  20. #20
    Bobble Head Moderator JMintzer's Avatar
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    Re: Why are 10-tops typically not book-matched?

    Quote Originally Posted by PRSHB2
    This could be a great SNL skit.

    I'm curious about something. If these tops aren't bookmatched, then what are they? Halves from different trees?
    They -are- book matched...
    ---Jamie---

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