Maple has long been a popular wood among instrument builders. It is particularly well-suited for guitar and bass necks because of its strength and bright tone. Roasted Maple (also known as Baked, Caramelized, or Torrified Maple) is Maple that has been heat-treated in a specialized vacuum oven. This roasting process removes sugars, moisture, and other impurities.
“Roasting” Maple provides several benefits. First, it turns the Maple a beautiful golden color, which is consistent throughout the wood. This means any new surfaces that become exposed through sanding or cutting will also exhibit the golden color. Also, any grain figures that are present, such as Flame and Birdseye, are accentuated.
Second, it makes Maple even more stable. This enhanced stability means that unlike regular Maple, a hard finish is not required. When played this way, Roasted Maple necks deliver the ultra-fast, smooth and satiny feel many players love. Maple that has undergone this process is also slightly lighter in weight than normal, while the musical tone remains bright and clear, similar to standard Maple.
Another amazing benefit: newly worked Roasted Maple often smells like maple syrup!
Enjoying the benefits of Roasted Maple does require some extra care when working with it. It has different qualities that standard Maple. I like to illustrate these differences by drawing a comparison with a slice of bread, and that same slice once it has been toasted. Before it is toasted, the slice is pliable. You can bend it and it won’t break. You can run your hand lightly over the surface without pulling it apart. However, it is not stable or rigid enough to stand on its own. If you hold it horizontally by one edge, it will just flop over. Once toasted, you can hold the same slice of bread by its edge, and it will be strong enough to maintain its horizontal position on its own. It is much more stable. However, it’s also more brittle. Bend it, and it will crack in half. Run your hand lightly over the surface and crumbs will fly off.
Similarly, Roasted Maple is more likely to crack and split when mishandled, and extra caution is required during assembly. Don’t try to force screws and tuner bushings into inadequately or improperly drilled guide holes. Screw guide-holes should be drilled one size larger than normal. Be especially cautious of wood screws with a wider banded area at the end of the shank (like those supplied with Kluson tuners), which require a two-step-drilled hole. When installing tuner bushings, you should be able to push them easily into place, by hand. Measure carefully, don’t force anything, and your build is sure to be a success.
Roasted Maple is available on guitar and bass necks in our In-Stock showcase and Custom Builder. Check it out and see if one might be right for you.