TONE TALK | Solid and Laminated Tops
Shopping for an acoustic guitar is like shopping for candy in a candy shop. There are so many to choose from, the shape, the size, the finish, the electronics, the brand, the looks, and of course, the price.
As you go about the options, you will encounter guitars with solid wood tops and laminated ones. And you'll notice that laminated ones have lower prices. But what is a laminated top anyway? We'll be covering solid wood tops and laminated tops and their pros and cons in this issue.
Acoustic Guitar Top
Unlike electric guitars where the wood, hardware, pickups, and electronic parts all play a role. When it comes to acoustics, the wood is the star of the show.
While the whole acoustic guitar can be made of different woods, each complementing the other. However, most argue that the top, also known as the soundboard, is the most important component. As you may have already guessed, this is the piece of wood on top of the guitar where the strings and bridge are connected. It's the guitar's point of contact with the strings – and where their vibration reaches the rest of the body which then produces the sound of your instrument.
Nowadays, manufacturers use a variety of wood types and their alternatives to avoid hefty fees in production. In more competitive markets, manufacturers turn to laminated woods instead of solid woods. But what's the difference?
Solid Top Acoustic Guitars
A solid top is basically a single piece of wood that has been carefully picked, carved, shaped, and fitted. This single piece of wood remains a single piece from the source all the way to the instrument.
A solid top acoustic guitar will have a visible cross-section of the grain when you look at the sides of the soundhole.
Laminated Top Acoustic Guitars
As the term suggests, a laminated top has layers of very thin pieces of wood. Joined together using methods that include heat, pressure, and adhesives.
Laminating wood is a fairly common process as it helps manufacturers produce more while using less wood. It also allows the use of cheaper materials to make up the rest of the laminated wood. Laminated wood also helps with aesthetics, you can have beautiful grains shown on top and use other materials under it.
If you look at the soundhole below, you can just about make out the different layers of wood – the grain from the top doesn’t continue all the way through
The biggest debate would be the sound. But keep in mind that if you like the sound of a guitar, and you like how it feels and plays, then that's that. You are the judge of your personal tone.
Since acoustic tops play such a vital role in the sound of your instrument, the answer is yes, there is a difference in sound.
A solid piece of wood is more consistent in grain and density. These factors tend to give you better sustain and richer resonance. Different tonewoods have different characteristics and tonal flavors. As long as it's a solid piece of wood, chances are it will sound great.
Solid wood is known to be more susceptible to change: temperature, humidity, and age. This is because solid wood relies purely on its own strength, thickness, and bracing, the solid piece can fall prey to cracking and warping. So if you're a musician traveling and playing in different locations and climates, you may want to review the care guide for solid top acoustic guitars.
Laminates, on the other hand, tend to do better against the elements. Since it's made of layers and has adhesives in between, they are more resilient. It will take more than rapid changes in temperature to wreak havoc on a laminated acoustic guitar top
Just remember, to find the guitar that fits all your needs, you need to go and try them out in person and find the right balance between looks, sound and durability.
FEATURED GUITAR | Phoebus PG20 and PG30
The Phoebus PG-20 and PG-30, Guitar Pusher's most beloved acoustic guitars. Since the early years of Guitar Pusher, we have always wanted to give musicians the best quality instruments at the best price. The Phoebus PG-20 and PG-30 helped us deliver that to you.
The Phoebus Version 3 gives you the best of V1 and V2 but in one awesome package. With the quality improved by 200%, what more can one ask with an acoustic guitar at this quality and price? Both models come with original Graphtech Nubone Nut and Saddle, closed pore satin finish, a padded gig bag, and the electric versions are equipped with a Fishman Presys I Pickups. Guitar Pusher took care of all those so you won't have to do anything else but enjoy and rock out.
Size/Shape: Dreadnought/Orchestra Model (OM/000)
Back & Sides: Mahogany
Rosette: Abalone Rosette
Finish: Matte Finish
Nut & Saddle: Graphtech Nubone
Machine Heads: Black
Strings: Factory Strings
Pickups: Fishman Presys I
FEATURED GEAR | PREFOX CE101 WATER-RESISTANT CASE
In an ideal setting, we would love to take our instruments anywhere, but we know that we can't rely on the weatherman here in our country. So here's something to help you keep your instrument safe from the weather and the unexpected drops and bumps in transit. The Prefox Water-Resistant Cases are molded for strats, teles, and dreadnaughts. Snug fit, soft interior, durable shell, water-resistant and reliable clasps. You can rest easy knowing that your investment is safe and sound.