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Spalted maple wood guitars - why is this still a thing?


I've never understood why anybody thinks this looks good.

Spalted maple is not a wood species but rather the result of fungus breaking down the wood. I'm not kidding. This doesn't mean it's unstable, as the wood is dried thoroughly during guitar construction so it doesn't break down any further, and obviously sealed properly. But I do wonder why anybody thought this looked any good to begin with.

I remember when luthiers started using this wood type for guitar and bass construction. It was only seen on high end instruments, and obviously commanded a high price. But these days, you can get it for cheap, such as with the Jackson seen above as well as other examples. The days of this look being high-end-only are long gone.

Even though the price is low to get this look now, not once did I ever think this type of look was worth paying extra for to begin with. But for some stupid reason, there are many guitar players out there that think having a guitar that looks like a coffee table to be an exquisite fancy dan look.

It's not.

I've long held the opinion that guitars looking like furniture is a bad idea. While I don't mind seeing some wood grain here and there, spalted maple looks unfinished in a bad way. Even when the body is completely finished and all shined up, it looks like it's in a to-be-painted state instead of completed... yet it is completed. Not a good look.

Wood grain that looks good to my eye is the subtle type, like Fender Vintage Blonde. Any time you see that finish, such as on this Telecaster Deluxe model, the guitar is painted but in a way where there's just enough transparency on the body to see the grain come through - and that's a great look.

Spalted maple, on the other hand, is just right in your face. A "loud" grain, if you will. Nope. Does not look good. Never has and never will.


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