FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

Named after the "faux" technique. . .
"Flamed" Maple
© Frank Ford, 12/23/99; Photos by FF

Figured maple with regular parallel curly waves is often called "fiddleback," "tiger" or "flamed" maple:

There's an old time technique of faking this curly figure. The finisher would pass a lighted candle under the work piece, depositing stripes of soot from the flame directly on the wood. In skilled hands, this technique was remarkably effective.

Here's a cheap imitation of the faux flaming process. In this example the flaming, or wood figure is simulated by stripes of airbrushed pigment:

Close up, you can see the techinique is rather subtle, considering the low budget of this Stella tenor guitar:

We currently use the term "flamed" to denote very high grade figured woods. Curious, isn't it?

2/19/01: Bill Hicklin of Richmond, VA, sends this interesting note:
Back in the days of long rifles (up until the 1870's!) a curly maple stock
was the thing to have. But for those who wanted the look without the
price, the gunmaker would "figure" a plain maple stock like this: a length
of hemp twine (the shaggier the better) was soaked in kerosene or lamp oil,
and then wrapped around the stock from butt to fore-end, spaced at roughly
1/4 to 3/8 intervals. Flame was applied, and the soaked twine would
smolder obligingly for some time. When done, the soot and debris was
scrubbed off, and a very passable fiddleback was scorched into the wood.

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