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  • Writer's picturemarcoosioliutaio

Mountain Maple: The Fine Wood of Stringed Instrument Making

A versatile wood, appreciated not only for its acoustic properties, but also for its aesthetic beauty, making it a popular choice among luthiers worldwide.

Directly from Cremona, the city that gave birth to Stradivari and the great masters of lutherie, today I will talk about Mountain Maple, also known as Balkan or Carpathian Maple, a fine wood used in lutherie to build the backs, sides, and necks of stringed instruments. Characterized by remarkable aesthetic and acoustic properties, mountain maple is a very popular choice among professional luthiers around the world.

Thanks to its distinctive texture and grain, the elegant aesthetic appearance of this wood is highly valued in the construction of high-quality stringed instruments. The color ranges from white to light blond, with different shades that create a unique and refined effect.

But not only is mountain maple used for the construction of stringed instruments. Woods such as poplar, willow, and field maple are often chosen for the backs, sides, and necks of instruments. There are also numerous examples of successful instruments built with these woods. However, mountain maple remains the predominant wood used for the construction of stringed instruments.

In addition to its aesthetic appearance, mountain maple has remarkable acoustic properties that make it an ideal material for lutherie. Lightweight and compact, with a perfect density for the construction of musical instruments, it is known for its ability to produce a warm, powerful, and balanced sound, with a quick response and excellent projection.

Personally, I prefer maples with narrow and regular grain and uniform flame for greater control over the wood used, which allows me to more easily achieve the ideal sound for each instrument.

I also believe that the choice of the ideal wood can be compared to the construction of the foundations of a palace. It is not possible to build a high-quality palace without solid and well-designed foundations, so the choice of the perfect wood is fundamental for the creation of a high-quality musical instrument. Like the foundations of a palace, the wood used in lutherie must be carefully chosen to ensure a final result that is resistant, durable, and with a balanced sound.

Unfortunately, sourcing superior quality mountain maple is no longer as easy as it once was. Up to 20 years ago, the indiscriminate cutting of trees made it easy to obtain this raw material, but now that cutting is regulated, the availability of high-quality wood has become much more limited, and consequently, the cost has increased considerably.

Despite this, maple wood remains a cornerstone in lutherie, a timeless choice that gives our instruments an unparalleled sound and beauty. With its unique aesthetic and acoustic properties, mountain maple continues to be one of the most beloved and appreciated woods in modern lutherie.



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