Solid vs Laminate

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Nick Trapani
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Solid vs Laminate

Post by Nick Trapani » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:31 am

Is there a significant difference in a guitar with a solid top, sides and back versus one with a solid top, and laminate sides and back. If so what are they and how significant are they?

Thanks,
Nick

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prawnheed
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by prawnheed » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:33 am

Without being more specific about which two guitars you are referring to, the only real assertion that can be made is that the back and sides are of different material. Anything else would be a speculative generalisation which may or may not be true.

GuitarsWeB
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by GuitarsWeB » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:35 am

Lots of nice guitars with laminated sides and back. 99% of all the guitars from Japan are laminated sides and back. Now, there’s a difference between laminated sides and double sides.

Wuuthrad
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by Wuuthrad » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:22 am

Generally speaking, a laminated guitar will be less susceptible to temperature and humidity variation, but very few Luthiers bother making them. People do claim they sound inferior, but I believe that's a generalization, one which is not supported by my experience in every circumstance.

Factory guitars that are built with laminates are often much cheaper than all solids. If you're planning to travel, gig and play outside, a solid top might be too precious of an instrument to risk, whereas a laminate might have more durability or be easier to replace.

There is certainly a mystique and almost legendary status to all solid wood guitars. Whether or not this is relevant to the quality of the guitar is up to the individual!

I think it's also important to know the purpose of the instrument to make the right decision, as a hand built solid wood instrument usually does cost (up to quite a bit) more, but determining the real value is something open to interpretation.
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CarbonElitist
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by CarbonElitist » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:55 am

Laminate guitars are more durable than solid wood, but they lack distinct tones. I believe this is because you have two sets of grains running across each other and that affects how sound is transmitted.
Last edited by CarbonElitist on Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Seter
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by Seter » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:18 pm

Laminate back and sides are themselves not necessarily bad, they just tend to be indicative of a lower overall quality as far as hardware, wood, fit and finish etc goes, with a company's all solid wood models getting better treatment. There are some companies known for decent laminates, for instance Giannini used laminate back and sides on their nicer guitars in their heyday in the 70s, the Godin family instruments do laminates well, and nicer Japanese guitars built for foreign trade. Not all lamination is created equal, you'll find a wide range in quality.

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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by doug » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:42 pm

I have a Kenny Hill Estudio, which has a solid top and laminate back and sides. I also have a Kenny Hill Player, which is all solid wood. There is a very small difference in the sound of the two guitars, but it is not significant. The Player has a little better sustain, and I think the notes are ever so slightly clearer. ....but the Player also costs about twice what the Estudio does.
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by simonm » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:26 pm

@ Nick.

I strongly suggest you do a search here. There are dozens, maybe 100+, threads about the this here. "Laminate" covers are vast array of instruments from the cheapest of the cheap to some some of the most expensive in the world. About the only generalizations you can make is that lamination gives more dimensional stability for a given weight and allows the maker to use prettier wood at a lower price. As to whether those are good things or a bad things, all you can say is "it depends".

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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by simonm » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:21 am

Nick Trapani wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:31 am
Is there a significant difference in a guitar with a solid top, sides and back versus one with a solid top, and laminate sides and back. ...

Forgot something in my comment.

If the guitar is "factory made" then the laminated sides will be cheaper.
If the guitar is by a single luthier, the laminated one will most likely be more expensive and it might even have a "laminated" top.

Nick Trapani
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by Nick Trapani » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:05 pm

Thank you, great information. I currently have a Cordoba C7 Spruce, which is quite nice, but starting to think about my next guitar as I progress from beginner to the next low intermediate level. Probably early next year would be my time frame. I would like a cedar guitar to compliment my current guitar, but trying to decide if I should go to something solid on the sides and back as well as the top.

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souldier
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by souldier » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:04 am

Nick Trapani wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:05 pm
Thank you, great information. I currently have a Cordoba C7 Spruce, which is quite nice, but starting to think about my next guitar as I progress from beginner to the next low intermediate level. Probably early next year would be my time frame. I would like a cedar guitar to compliment my current guitar, but trying to decide if I should go to something solid on the sides and back as well as the top.
Solid vs laminate back and sides generally won't make a huge difference, but this is just one piece of the puzzle. Guitars with cheap laminate sides tend to cheap out on other aspects as well so you may not be sure why one guitar sounds better than another. In the end it is often best to just try out another guitar without focusing so much on the materials, etc. and just judge the guitar based on sound and playability.

When it comes to the C7, I'm assuming you might be thinking of bumping up to something like a C9/C10 that has solid woods all around? You may see an improvement, but you may not... I've tried a tonne of Cordoba guitars are as you'd expect there will be inconsistencies and some sound better than others. I owned a C7 then soon sold it so that I could get a C9 for a similar price. I never got to compare them side by side, but honestly the C7 sounded every bit as good as the C9 as far as I can remember. For your next instrument if you want something that really sounds different, I'd probably look at something like a Yamaha GC22 or 32.
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Keith
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by Keith » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:49 am

I think we need to segregate the laminates. On one end there are high end guitars with laminated sides that are done with a specific intent. Ramirez and Smallman come to mind. On the other end there are factory guitars with laminated sides and backs which are done for economic reasons. Tied to those economic reasons are less that stellar tops and blue printed, hammered out guitars, many which are built like tanks. The bottom line, when discussing lamination one has to address the intent of lamination. If it is done for economic reasons then it is likely the rest of the guitar was built accordingly.
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Mr.Rain
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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by Mr.Rain » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:30 pm

When the construction process is manual and the lamination happens before the construction(not like laminating the sides when bending them), lamination has only 2 advantages,no need to season the wood (storing it for years before using it) and obtaining a stable instrument,less affected by weather changes.

As said before double layer rosewoods are called laminated too,as well as others using some "white wood" as the core (needless to say they sound different,in some case the white wood can be cypress while most of the time it is the cheapest material around for factory made guitars)

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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by Peter_T » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:19 pm

I wouldn't agree with "only" two advantages, actually. A 2-ply side can also:

- Offer greater rigidity in all directions, possibly resulting in lighter linings
- Be lighter-weight than a full-thickness rosewood (if inner lam is lighter wood)
- Remove and spring-back tendencies, resulting in less built-in tension in the final box
- Aid in avoiding cupping/lumps in the grain direction of the sides
- Reduce structural concern for grain inconsistencies, e.g. whorls, pinholes, or highly-figured sections
- Depending on how you do it, it can aid in pore depth and need to fill later

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Re: Solid vs Laminate

Post by printer2 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:31 am

Most exterior laminate layers are about 10% of the total thickness. The inner wood will provide the bulk of the plate's properties.
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