solid back/sides v. laminate

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

solid back/sides v. laminate

Post by Sean » Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:16 am

I have some questions for luthiers here regarding the constitution of the back and sides of classical guitars. I understand the difference between laminated sides as opposed to solid wood; my question lies in the inherent sound/tonal characteristics for each. Is it not true that a guitar with solid back and sides exhibits a 'bigger' sound than a laminated counterpart? What are the advantages and disadvantages of solid wood? Are there any advantages for laminate?

Thank you,


Marcus Dominelli
Posts: 2860
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:47 pm

Hi Sean, This is a question that comes up a lot. You might want to read some of the old threads on this topic too.
It cannot be said with certaintly that laminated backs and /or sides will result in a bigger sounding guitar; there are too many other variables at work that affect an instruments loudness.
Some luthiers, like David Schramm, heavily laminate thier backs and sides. By stiffening up the sides, there is less vibrational loss from the soundboard to other parts of the body. In theory, this will make the guitar more efficient at projecting the sound outward. In practice, the results are inconsistent, and laminating the sides is no guarantee that the guitar will have better volume.
The real advantage to lamination is in its strength and resistance to cracks and warpage due to changes in relative humidity. For sides I think that lamination is pretty much a win/win combination. For backs, my feeling is that tone quality may be sacrificed. But I don't laminate backs at all, so my opinion on this is based on my experience with instruments other than my own.
I hope this helps.
Marcus Dominelli
Dominelli Guitars

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