Tops - one piece versus two piece

PRSAK

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The recent thread on Les's new 30th Anniversary CU24 (http://prsguitars.com/forum/showthread.php?13417-Out-For-Delivery-30th) got me thinking about this. Why/when is the decision made to "bookmatch" the top on the guitar versus just using the one piece. It seems to me that the effect that is trying to be achieved with two pieces is a high degree of symmetry anyway. That top on Les's guitar is a GREAT example. You have to look closely to see it's not one piece. Obviously, many guitars DO get made with one piece tops but the overwhelming majority do not. I'm just curious. Does it take more effort to make one piece tops? Waste more wood? Just wonderin'.
 

jimistephen

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You take one think piece of wood saw it in half and you have a nice book matched top. To get a one piece top you have to have a tree twice as thick to have a solid piece. Lot less trees that size and they cost a lot more money.
 

sleary

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I really thought this thread was gonna go in a whole new direction...
 

11top

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Well, it's not quite that simple. It's also more difficult to find a one piece top that has good symmetry. Book matching lends itself to symmetry.

(as I now look back and see the OP questioned).
 
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PRSAK

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Yeah...this western boy had it in mind that hard maple (sugar maple) was a pretty good sized tree (avg 2-3' diameter) and that a suitable sized piece wasn't really the issue. Just watched a pretty cool video by Deadwood guitars that goes all the way through the guitar making process - felling a tree to hitting that first chord - and I do think the challenge is more around finding that nice uniform pattern in the grain. If you figure the top on a PRS Custom is 15 in wide, it makes sense that it is easier to finding good grain and symmetry in a 7.5in width and bookmatch than to find it in the full 15" width. But the even bigger question is where they find those special trees with the Gold inside! (Goldtop.) :biggrin:
 

LSchefman

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Interesting post (and thanks for the shout-out!). I have no preference for one over the other, though a beautiful book match is an instrument makers' tradition going back hundreds of years. Still, the one-piece tops are terrific for other reasons.

I honestly think that the reason that the top on my guitar appears to book match so well is simply down to the vintage yellow stain. Seems to me that the darker or brighter the stain, the more contrast is absorbed into the wood's grain, so the differences caused by the depth of carving on each side are less evident.
 

tabl10s

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You take one think piece of wood saw it in half and you have a nice book matched top. To get a one piece top you have to have a tree twice as thick to have a solid piece. Lot less trees that size and they cost a lot more money.

If this is the case, why have I seen some ugly examples where the two halves are a quarter or more apart?
 

Whitecat

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If this is the case, why have I seen some ugly examples where the two halves are a quarter or more apart?

The figure doesn't always go 'straight down' on any given board. Cutting, then carving & sanding, will often mess around with the 'mirror image'.
 
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