How many A’s would you give this flame top?

jk60LPTH

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The OP's (dscottyg) flame (the technical term for this effect is 'chatoyance' (taken from a french word for 'cat's eye' because of how it changes as the object moves, giving it a 3D-like appearance) is minimal. However, even though the 'lines' are very narrow and have relatively wide spacing, are very well defined, and as truckermde said, very tasteful. the burst itself has a very gradual transition and the overall coloration is very nicely executed. While it's not the greatest example of flame, overall, I think it's a very attractive-looking guitar. But let's not take our eye's off the prize, because what really matters the most is how it plays and how it sounds, because that's what's most important unless you're just going to hang it on the wall and use it for a piece artwork, which really isn't what guitars are ultimately made for.
 

Patek

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Aren’t all the maple tops on standards all stain enhanced like PRS? So they pop more from all angles. Customshop other than one ‘factory burst’ 59 reissue in 2019 is non enhanced. So the grades used are irrelevant and a marketing gimmick for the lower end standards.
 

jk60LPTH

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Lighting can enhance the effect, the more it comes from a single direction, the more pronounced the effect. Indoors, the light is more diffuse, and the percentage of direct light rays to the rays that bounced off walls or other objects in the room is small and the effect is muted. Outdoors the light rays come from a far distant point and are very strong and the ratio of direct light rays to those reflected is much higher, and if the wood has a strong chatoyance, it's even more pronounced in the sunlight. The angle that the guitar is viewed from can also make a difference... some, when view head-on look their best, with others the effect is most pronounced when viewed from an angle.
Same guitar, different lighting, different angles.
Gibson 60th Anniversary 1959 Les Paul-Ice Tea Fade VOS-03.jpg
Gibson 60th Anniversary 1959 Les Paul-Ice Tea Fade VOS-04.jpg
Gibson 60th Anniversary 1959 Les Paul-Ice Tea Fade VOS-19.jpg
 

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jk60LPTH

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This Dark Burst example has a more muted flame but the lines are very regular in width and spacing.
LP True Historic Dark Burst.jpg
 
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FingerLakesFan

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It the guitar in the picture really a Slash NB? from the 2020 collection? That top is incredibly beautiful. I am saving for a Slash Victoria, but with that top I would go for it instead! wow!
Yeah, I saw it on Wildwood Guitar's Instagram account and knew I had to have it. Nicest top I've ever seen. I have a guitar cave and it is the first one anyone who visits me goes to look at. She is pretty special.
 

moreles

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It's interesting to read so much obsession with the nature and extent of "flame" with little regard for the overall apearance of various tops. The one in the OP is, IMO, a pretty boring and unexciting top, and whether you list it up or down the AA/AAA borderline where it exists is a trivial and subjective, secondary matter. Ditto, IMO, for the numerous tops with heavy, thin flame but also really unattractive perpendicular grain lines. That straight graining totally compromises the effect of the flame and from a visual standpoint (once you forget about grading the flame and just look at the guitar) is a detriment. Makers are marketing what buyers understand to be good, so we no longer see ribbon curl or wide flames anymore because everyone with a veneered Epi on up is obsessed with flames per inch, high contrast and even mineral streaks (once considered a defect). It's a really formulaic and ultimately boring grading standard, IMO, and yields tops and guitars that all look fundamentally the same. Some of the most beautiful old bursts had irregular tops, variation in presence/kind/degree of flame, etc. These modern tops all look like fotoflame overlaid with too much finish. My most beautiful burst is not a Gibson, and has an arctic birch top with flames that are in places 3 inches wide. It would probably be graded A for failing to look like every other top, but it's the one everybody looks at.
 

flamesarewicked

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I could be wrong but I think the rating system is sort of like... here is a dozen of top blanks that are rated AAA. some may be AAAA but it’s a minimum of a AAA across the board. I wanna say I read that somewhere but I could be wrong..

Could could explain why some seem to be more than AAA than others while being rated the same..
 

landguitar

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Like myself and others have said, Sweetwater doesn't do themselves any favors with their current angle and lighting choices. There's also human perception involved. This thread proves that. I've seen guitars that were insanely figured and rated only "AA" or non-10 top and others that received that distinction that were real head scratchers. Buy what YOU like regardless of what others rate it.
I think it's a bit like "doneness" on a steak...what I think of as medium, some think of as medium rare, etc. I know there is an objective rating system I have seen, but because it's used by humans, it will be subjective! I'd call this one AA just because it's more subtle...

And I don't think it's at all like a BBQ top, but that's based on what I have seen called "BBQ". And that it's a gloss takes away from the flame, IMO. But the pic doesn't reflect the flame well, as many have noted.
 

mudface

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Gitter

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I think it's a bit like "doneness" on a steak...what I think of as medium, some think of as medium rare, etc. I know there is an objective rating system I have seen, but because it's used by humans, it will be subjective! I'd call this one AA just because it's more subtle...

And I don't think it's at all like a BBQ top, but that's based on what I have seen called "BBQ". And that it's a gloss takes away from the flame, IMO. But the pic doesn't reflect the flame well, as many have noted.
My opinion was (and remains) that it looks like a "AA" top to me. My post you quoted was a response to the OP saying Sweetwater rated it "AAA". I also never called it a BBQ top.
 

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I didn’t really get into the science of the tops until I started seriously considering one of the recent Brazilian 17/18 Les Pauls, but still ended up going with what appealed to me (and there was very little inventory to pick from by the time I heard about them). My first Brazilian has very wide flame, almost finger width, and from what I’ve read, it could be eastern maple, but not certain.

I really wanted a 60th anniversary R9 and the top really appealed to me (two pics with one top) It’s tighter than any top I currently have, and when you add more light, it seems like the top has equally strong vertical lines. Are these the grain, mineral streaks or both? Anyone know what this top would be classified as, with regard to “A” and eastern or western maple?

A long time ago I read that if you look at the age/growth circles (rings) on a log cross section, a thin distance between circles indicates a lean growing year. Possibly drought, long hard winter, and the opposite for a wider distance between the growth circles. If that is indeed true, my 60th top may have been made out of wood that had quite a few lean years with the grain as tight as it is. Anyone know which maple - eastern/western, tight flame, wide flame, Curley, has the most desirable sonic qualities, if such a thing exists?
 

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