Laminated guitar? Solid top or solid wood, what’s the difference?
There are so many different types of guitars out there, how do you know which is best for you? At Max Rock, we are committed to helping find the best sound for you! classical, acoustic, rock or electric we will be with you every step.
Firstly let’s talk composition, what the guitar is made of directly affects the sound you are going to produce usually the sound of an acoustic guitar is created by the ‘solidness’ of the wood on the body. Guitars with a laminated body, ones with a solid top and all-solid models all have certain advantages and disadvantages, its a good idea to familiarise yourself with them before you commit. Once you’ve decided it is much easier to narrow down the model that is right for you.
Simply put the hollow body of an acoustic guitar is made up of different parts; the top, the back and the sides. These can either be made from a single piece of wood wrapped around or several layers referred to as either solid or laminated. The term ‘solid’ refers to an electric model guitar, not a hollow acoustic.
What exactly is laminated wood?
In order to make a piece of laminated wood, you would have to take several layers of thin wood and adhesive sandwiched together. The grains of each thin layer of wood are overlapped before they are pressed together, this makes laminated wood less likely to damage due to changing temperatures or moisture. Typically laminated guitars are more durable and tolerate more extreme environmental changes, they are also often less expensive. Just to make things more complicated laminated guitars are also referred to as plywood.
What is solid wood?
Solid wood creates a more powerful and open sound and often are more expensive, this is because a larger piece of a tree needs to be cut to make the body. Typically the solid top or solid back are made from ‘book matched’ pieces of wood. This means that the wood is sawn i half and then glue together in mirror image. This technique creates a perfectly mirrored wood gain not only does it look incredibly luxurious but it also ensures that the forces extend upon the guitar and are evenly distributed over the entire body.
Fully laminated guitar
This is the most inexpensive form of guitar, perfect if you’re just starting out or on a budget, laminate in general means that the product will be slightly cheaper and more durable. Making it much easier to look after great for taking with you wherever you go just in case of a spontaneous jamming session!
Guitar with solid top
As previously mentioned solid wood tends to generate a fuller, deeper sound if this sounds like something you want a solid top might be the way to go although it’ll cost a little more. As its name suggests, a model like this will have a top made of solid wood, while the back and sides will still be made of laminate. This means that it’ll still be fairly resistant to environmental factors, but the solid top will give it a more lively sound overall. Incidentally, many advanced guitarists prefer to leave their expensive all-solid models at home and take a solid-top guitar with them when they’re playing intimate gigs or they want to take their instrument with them on holiday, for instance.
The hold grail All-solid
When top-quality sound is paramount, you’ll want to get your hands on an all-solid acoustic or classical guitar. A model like this is perfect for use in the studio as well as at home and on stage. As you’ve probably already guessed, an all-solid guitar has a solid top, back and sides. That means it has exceptional resonance and significantly more sustain than laminated and solid-top models. An all-solid guitar is generally seen as the best-sounding instrument an acoustic guitarist can get. As you may expect, this also means you’re probably going to have to pay the most for an all-solid guitar.
Pay attention to humidity!
If you’ve decided to invest in an expensive solid-top or all-solid guitar, there are a few things you should be aware of. In general, acoustic guitars are far more sensitive to environmental factors than electric guitars, especially when it comes to humidity. If you really want to take care of your new guitar maybe think about buying a hydrometer (a device that measures humidity). Ideally, you want it to show a value of around 50%. Anywhere between 45% and 55% is perfectly acceptable, while between 40% and 60% is acceptable too. If the value goes above 60%, the instrument should be exposed to drier air, if possible.
Why is a good case important?
Obviously, you’ll want to take care of your expensive guitar whether its solid wood or laminate so we really recommend investing in a good case. To be extra safe and your planning on playing your guitar for a while or you’re taking it outdoors, putting a humidifier in the case is a good idea. Remember that solid wood is more susceptible to damaging environmental factors than laminated wood and it’s much better to prevent any problems from happening in the first place. That way, you’ll be able to ensure that you can enjoy your instrument for a long time to come.
Deciding between laminate and solid parts on a guitar is important, don’t forget that many other things contribute to the overall quality of an instrument as well. Generally speaking, the more expensive an instrument is the better it should be. For that reason, you may want to consider whether a relatively cheap all-solid guitar is likely to sound as good as an expensive model with a solid-top, for instance. Why not head down to one of our open days, they’re free and you get to have a play around see what fits for you! Look forward to seeing you!