I haven't noticed any particular figure within the same species of wood affecting the tone. What's more important in maple is the density (at least for what I'm going for.) I prefer Eastern hard maple over Big Leaf. The harder maples from Europe are also very nice sounding.
Yes, certain sets of wood are like taking a Rorschach test. A couple of years ago I was re-sawing some Claro walnut late at night and I put the bookmatched pieces of wood together and this H.R. Giger looking alien was staring back at me. Sent a shiver down my spine. I'm going to make a tenor uke with it one of these days. I'm expecting it to have magic powers.
In the first photo there's a pattern that looks exactly like one of the old death masks, almost dead center (no pun etc). The center strip obliterated it. In fact, looking at it again it looks like a life mask of Sibelius in his younger days.
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