Q. What is the difference between Hard Curly Maple, Birdseye Maple, Rock maple, Sugar maple, Eastern Flamed Maple, Eastern Soft Maple, Western Flamed Maple, Quilted Maple, Big Leaf Maple, German Maple and European Maple?

“The answer will be a bit lengthy so in a summarized fashion we will try to explain. If you are seeking a comparison in figure then please consult our wood descriptions section as you can visually see the difference there.”

A1. Birdseye Maple, Hard Curly Maple, Rock Maple & Sugar Maple: They all have a common botanical name “Acer Sacchrum”. This wood is very strong and stiff. The heartwood is brown and sapwood is creamy golden color. We use Sapwood most of the time for making guitar neck blanks and pool cue shafts. Heartwood and Sapwood may be used for making furniture and flooring. The wood weighs approximately 4.0 – 4.3 Lbs. per board foot.
A2. Eastern Flamed Maple & Eastern Soft Maple: We actually get two types Soft Maple in our area. Red Maple “Acer Rubrum” and Silver Maple ” Acer Saccharinum”. The sapwood can have varying degrees of figure or it can be just plain. Sapwood and Heartwood can both be used for furniture. The wood is not as strong as Hard Maple and so Sapwood can be used for guitar bodies. It is generally not used for Pool cue shaftwood as it is not stiff enough. The wood weighs approximately 3.25 – 3.75 Lbs. per board foot.
A3. Western Flamed Maple, Quilted Maple & Big Leaf Maple: All these woods are one wood called Big Leaf Maple. The species is ” Acer Macrophyllum”. The sapwood from Flamed and Quilted trees is used for guitar bodies, guitar laminate tops, arch top guitar backs & sides and fine expensive furniture. Quarter sawn Flamed Maple provides a fine intense figure and so do some pieces of Quilted Maple. Quilted Maple is getting to be more and more rare and selected blocks are very expensive. Plain Big Leaf Maple can be used for regular furniture. The wood is less stiff than Eastern Soft Maple and Hard Maple. The wood weighs 3.00 – 3.25 Lbs. board foot.
A4. German or European Maple: It is not a Maple. It belongs to Sycamore family and it is botanically called ” Acer Pseudoplatanus” Quarter sawn Sapwood pieces can have beautiful fiddle back figure. The wood is light in weight: 2.75 – 3.25 Lbs. per board foot. It is the preferred wood for violin family instruments. Many violins and cellos from great masters are made from this wood.

Q. I received a piece of Hard Curly Maple but it does not seem to be the grade I would have hoped for.
A. The flame comparison between Hard Maple (Rock Maple) and the Softer Maples such as Eastern Flamed, Western Flamed, and European Maple is not a comparison. What we mean is Hard Maple does not produce curls like the softer maples do, therefore the flame scale between 5A Eastern Flame Maple and 5A Hard Curly Maple are very different. The flame will be less prominent in hard maple than it would in soft maples but however may appear to be tighter. In other words it is harder to see curl in hard maple and the curls maybe appear closer together than in soft maples, but soft maple is more likely to have a large more pronounced flame which is easy to see and prominent. So what is the benefit in using Hard Maple you may ask? Hard maple is much more dense and stronger than Soft Maples, so on specially made guitars that will endure larger amounts of pressure on their necks and head stocks may use Hard Maple to with stand the tensions applied by the strings, however this does not mean that the softer maples are not up for the job, but there is more security in using the hard. Sometimes you may find Eastern Flamed Maple being sold as Hard Maple with curl but we are not in the practice of alternating species. When ordering Maples please acknowledge the specie that you are purchasing, our success is only as good as your satisfaction.

Q. How is figured maple graded, and what are your standards for it?
A. Below is a list of what kind of characteristics the wood must have to fit into their grading category.
Grade’5A’: It is the best practical grade possible. The wood will have high quality figure through out the board and there will not be any blank areas in the board. Naturally the price is the highest for this grade.
Grade’4A’: It is just a notch below the ‘5A’ grade. There will be some blank areas in the wood, but most of the wood will have good to intense figure. As the possibility of getting this type of figure is higher, the price is considerably lower.
Grade’3A’: It is the middle ground grade maple. We call it average figure and is found in most logs. It will still have some decent figure, but it is nothing to write home about. The price is very modest for this type of figure and is abundant.
Grade’2A’: We try not to call this grade a figured maple. It will have more bald spots than figured and is sold as plain lumber in most of our stocks. There will be some spots with a curl to it but is dominated by bald spots, and generally wont work for instruments since most of the time you will be cutting any figure out.
Grade’1A’: The figure in this wood if very minimal, we don’t bother grading it, and is sold as plain lumber in our stocks. If figure is present it will need a stain to help it show if any figure is present.

Q. How is Ebony graded and what is A, B, and Select Grade?
A. Ebony is graded upon how black the material is. The tree it self grows with brown, and the heartwood of an Ebony tree is what grows black. The brown or sap wood in ebony shows up normally as spots,streaks, long uniform stripes, or splotches.
Grade ‘B’: A ‘B grade’ piece of ebony will always have black in it however brown or sap wood is moderately present in the piece, the browning can also play in to giving the piece unique character.
Grade ‘A’: An ‘A Grade’ Piece of ebony is black, the brown that shows up in A grade ebony is generally minor, minimal, and small.
Grade ‘Select’: A ‘Select Grade’ Piece of Ebony is pure black, the piece has no signs of any sap wood and is a solid black heartwood cut.

Q. What is a Board foot? How does it compare to a Square Foot?
A. Square foot is a two dimensional measure. The thickness of a material is not taken into account when speaking of square feet. It is equal to the area of the material, and units are generally a square foot. It is used for measurement of material such as Veneers and thin slices up to a 5/8″ thickness. A Square foot = Length X Width ÷ 144. A board foot is a volumetric measure and is generally used for lumber. It means a material’s thickness is taken into account. A board foot’s formula is Length X Width X Thickness ÷ 144. 1 Cubic Foot which would be a perfect 12″ on all sides square which is equal to 12 Board Feet. Except for the USA, the whole world uses cubic meters as measurement of lumber. 1 Cubic Meter = Approximately 424 Board Feet.

Q. Where can I specify the dimensions I want to purchase from your lumber section, and also I need it to be clear of knots or any defects.
A. If you have not reviewed the specs on our lumber section we would like to fully explain the conditions of our lumber material located in our “bulk lumber” section. Wood from our lumber section is lumber quality and not instrument quality. This section was intended for skid loads of lumber however small orders are more than welcome , but because of this the wood comes in random lengths and widths from this section. The lumber like all lumber companies unless special services are provided, must be expected to have defects on it and some timbers are naturally over defective compared to others, an example of these wood types are holly and alder, just to name a couple off hand which grow naturally riddled with knots and stains. It is possible to purchase lumber from the lumber section and you may receive wood that is fit for an instrument however these lumbers are not inspected by Exotic Woods and we do not guarantee that these lumbers will yield clear grade instrument pieces and in the case that the wood is discovered to have a defect, as explained the lumber is sold as is and Exotic Woods can not replace lumber which comes as lumber quality, if you seek instrument grade woods then please seek out our instrument blanks woods which we guarantee them for their purposes and will replace them if the situation should arise. We would like our customers to understand if they insist on purchasing lumber for instruments on our lumbers section then please acknowledge that there is a risk factor that the wood may not be instrument quality and may turn out to be non useful for an instrument however maybe very useful for other projects non instrument related, also please acknowledge that there is no replacement for lumber material with checks.

Q. Do you have some kind of brochure or price list, and how can I receive one?
A. Yes, we actually have several price lists which you can request. Our price lists are classified by Guitar price list, Lumber price list, Inlay Material Price list, Squares price list, and Violin price list. Please choose the ones you are interested in and you can receive them by contacting us via E-Mail or phone, before sending your name and mailing address, please double check to make sure your information is complete, and you will then be added to our list of
recipients for our next mass mailing period.

Q. What do you mean by 8/4 in your lumber price list?
A. 8/4 is a fractional term referring to how thick a material is, the fraction maybe be improper but if you look at the denominator of 4 as a total of one inch then dividing the denominator into the numerator will give you how thick the material is, for example 12/4 is equal to 3 inches while 6/4 is equal to 1-1/2 inches, and of course 4/4 would be 1 inch. The pronunciation of 8/4 would be “Eight Quarter”, in the world of wood.

Q. On the website, where can I specify to have products machined to my prefered dimensions and or if I want a faster shipping method?
A. During your checkout process, there will be a customer notes box at the bottom of the page. Feel free to use this box to specify anything you like to us including your preffered shipping method, or use it to ask questions where we can respond to you via phone or E-mail.

Q. How soon can I expect my shipment to go out?
A.Order processing time depends upon the type of item.
1. Stock(ed) items ) Items that are stocked onto a shelf such as fret boards, that only need to be packaged and shipped are the fastest types of products to leave our warehouse.
2. Stock items ) Items that are called stock items, but are not manufactured and shelved, rather they are made in batches. Sometimes these batches become fully used leaving none for stock. These types of items generally take 4 to 5 days before they can be prepared for shipping.
3. Non-stock items ) These items take the longest to process accordingly to our customer’s specifications. Generally these items take up to 10 to 15 days to complete

All of these items are still affected by the workload that our shop has at the time of an order. Trying to rush the production of any item can create problems with planning and scheduling and in turn generates more back logs.
Please have patience or plan ahead when ordering, and we will try and do a good job for you. It is important to remember that our success is only as good as your satisfaction with our product and service.

Q. The photos that are on the website, are they the exact piece of wood that I will get if I order?
A. The answer is no excluding the Specialty Woods and Special Sales sections. The amount of time and attention it would require to track/take photos of/document/and inventory each piece of wood as well as individually number them to match photos upon thousands of thousands of pieces of lumber is just not a feasible task. The photos do however represent the timber type as well as a shape of the product but the dimension of the wood will almost always be listed with the product under it’s information column.

Q. My vision is’nt what it used to be, is there anyway to make the text on your site larger?
A.Yes if your web browser is up to date you can magnify the website by holding down the “Ctrl” key and either using ” – ” to shrink or ” + ” to magnify.

– Abbreviation Index –

In the world of woods and in our company terms and commonly used phrases are sometimes abbreviated below is a list to help you decipher some of them.

FS – Flat Sawn
QS – Quarter Sawn
RW – Rosewood
EIRW – East Indian Rosewood
HCM – Hard Curly Maple
HF – Hard Flamed
EFM – Eastern Flamed Maple
WFM – Western Flamed Maple
BEM – Bird’s eye Maple
QM – Quilted Maple
Mad. RW – Madagascar Rosewood
Mad. King – Madagascar Kingwood
UL – Ultra Light
Tele – Telecaster “Fender Body Style”
Strat – Stratocaster “Fender Body Style”
BDR – Bois De Rose
Dread. – Dreadnought
Sqft. – Square Foot
Bdft. – Board Foot
S.A. Mah. – South American Mahogany
FB – Fingerboard
Lam. – Laminate