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abobby 01-24-2010 05:48 PM

solid wood versus laminate
Is having a laminate guitar a bad thing? I have noticed that some fairly expensive taylors and there are probaly many more. I would like some advice as to only purchase a solid wood sides and back, or would laminate be okay.

PorkPieGuy 01-24-2010 05:57 PM

I'll be one of the first to answer. No, laminate is not a bad thing. Historically, they are cheaper than solid wood guitars, but this does not mean that they automatically sound bad just b/c of laminate back and sides. For example, my Tak, which is laminate back and sides, sounds a lot better than many solid wood guitars.

Most more-expensive guitars are solid back and sides; however, many expensive builders still use laminate sides.

More qualified folks will respond very shortly.

devellis 01-24-2010 05:58 PM

Ultimately, only you can decide. A solid top, I think, is well worth it. For back and sides, it depends on what you want to spend. I've heard some pretty nice guitars made with laminates. My general rule of thumb is to pay first for sound and only after that, worry about looks. So, if I had a choice between a laminate guitar with lots of pearl inlay and a plainer equivalent with solid back and sides, I'd go with the latter. But if my budget were tight, I wouldn't rule out laminated back and sides. Seagull guitars, for example, are laminated and sound quite good. But I'd watch out for a really fancy looking guitar made with laminates. That suggests to me a greater concern on the builder's part with wowing customers visually than with making the best-sounding guitar.

Kindness 01-24-2010 06:19 PM

I think it depends on the guitar, but remember, most of the sound comes from the top, so if that is a solid wood that does make a big difference. I don't think laminate is necessarily a bad thing, but the most important thing is to try the guitar out that you are considering.

dmoss74 01-24-2010 06:30 PM

i'm strumming around right now with a gibson gospel from the 90s. it has a solid top and laminated sides and a formed/carved back, ala the old guild d-25s. it sounds very nice.

if you know what you are doing, you can make a great sounding laminate guitar.

oldandintheway 01-24-2010 08:30 PM

It depends a little on how the laminate is constructed. Some manufacturers use thin sheets sandwiched around a wood filler. Martin uses mahogany and mahogany with a thin slice of Sapele in the middle. With rosewood the outer two layers are rosewood with a Sapele center. Laminate guitars are very strong and resist brekage. I've owned 2 Martin laminates and I really couldn't
hear any difference between the laminates and the solid woods as long as they were in a similar price range.

sidneystreet 01-24-2010 09:03 PM

My 30-year-old Yamaha G231 classical is my #1 favorite guitar. It is all laminated wood: top, back and sides.

The tone is pretty darn nice, and seems to have developed with age. I don't think that most blind-folded players could tell whether it was solid wood or not.

Judge each guitar on its own merits. If it plays well and sounds nice, the details don't matter much.

Kitchen Guitars 01-24-2010 09:12 PM

Laminated guitars are some of my best friends.

Glennwillow 01-24-2010 09:13 PM

I just purchased a new Voyage-Air VAOM-6 guitar with a solid spruce top and laminate mahogany back and sides. I bought the guitar from Tarpman here on the AGF (LA Guitar Sales). He assured me it sounded good, so I gave it a try -- and he was right. This is proof positive to me that a guitar made with a good top and proper bracing and a laminate back and sides can sound very good.

Bt the way, the folding neck is very cool. I bought this as a travel guitar but am leaving it work when I'm not traveling for the occasional playing during lunch with the office door closed.

Regards, Glenn

bfloyd6969 01-25-2010 05:42 AM

Heck, my Tak with laminate top has a pretty amazing sound for being all laminate:) My old Yamaha FG 410 sounds pretty good for all laminate as well...

Still, with that said, my solid top guitars all have laminate backs and sides and just sound amazing.

32Ford 01-25-2010 05:57 AM

I've been going back and forth between getting an all solid wood or another back and sides laminate. Right now I have a Tak EG531SSC. Nice guitar but it needs about $200 worth of work. The action is super high due to the top starting to lift off some of the bracing. The saddle could probably be sanded down a bit more but not much because the string would be sitting right on the bridge. So long story short I'm looking at either a Masterbilt which is all solid wood or the Yamaha FGX730SC which is laminate back and sides. I've tried both out and they both sound really good. So I guess it might come down to preference of brand at this point for me. But for some reason I keep leaning towards the Masterbilt.

Rosco NZ 01-25-2010 12:52 PM

Well my laminate Tak EG522C sounds really great. I have been trying various more expensive solid top classicals but so far not one has said "Me".


AllThumbsBruce 01-25-2010 12:59 PM

My solid Collings sounds better than our laminated Yamaha.;)

66strummer 01-25-2010 01:05 PM

A well braced solid top guitar goes a long way whether laminated or solid wood back/ sides. A heavily braced (to the point of inhibiting tone) guitar will suffer whether all solid wood or partially laminated (back/sides). I worry more about how the top is built, a much bigger factor IMO.



Originally Posted by AllThumbsBruce (Post 2101284)
My solid Collings sounds better than our laminated Yamaha.;)

You got ripped off on that Yamaha :mad:.


Jeff M 01-25-2010 01:06 PM

As a generalization...I think most folks will tell you that solid wood guitars are "better" than laminated (talking back and sides here), but with a lot of caveats and exceptions.

When it comes to top, again, most folks will tell you solid top is the way to go (not getting into multi-layer tops that some builders are using.)

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