March 8th, 2012, 03:51 AM
What is the difference between an all mahogany guitar versus a spruce top with mahogany sides and back? What are the draw backs of each? What about sapele?
When people say laminate, is that like a particle board type material? Is the only difference tone? Does one last longer/more durable?
New to the acoustic scene, thanks.
March 8th, 2012, 04:21 AM
here is a nice primer on acoustics ... http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/guitars/acoustic/buying-guide.php the secret is to find one you like in your price range ... for example, i have owned an all solid wood $1000 ++ guitar, but preferred my $100 mahogany laminate ... if you play enough of them, you will find the right one ...
March 8th, 2012, 04:26 AM
Mahogany is a nice warm tone wood that supports low frequencies well and gives old J 45's that wonderful 'chunk' they're famous for. Mahogany tops aren't that common, mind you. Martin used to make a Woody Guthrie model that was all mahogany, top included. Thats the only model I'm familiar with and it is a fine sounding guitar. Spruce is far more common as a top wood and I'm thinking a spruce top might be a bit louder as well.
I'm not too familiar with sapele as a tone wood, so I can't say much there.
Laminate can be any number of things. Some laminate is like formica counter tops. Not really musical but very water resistant. So it might make a good paddle as well. Some laminate is solid wood plys. The sides are frequently laminate in acoustic guitars because they tend to stiffen the body and not have as much effect on the tone as the back and the top.
Good instrument wood is becoming scarce and big builders have experimented with laminates as an alternative supply of material. Martin has a bunch of laminates. They don't sound so good to my ears, but I'm a snob. It makes crappy flooring, too.
March 8th, 2012, 04:35 AM
Ultimately you have to let your ears make the decision for you. As Rangecaster says, play as many as you can - and get someone else to play the ones you like best while you listen, so you get to know how they sound out front. Don't get too hung up on wood types.
However I have found that a solid top is usually a big contributor to the sound quality. I have an all solid guitar and two with a solid top and laminate back and sides and they all sound good. Most all-laminate guitars I've played aren't as good (although no doubt there are some exceptions) and I usually advise friends to invest the extra money it takes to get a guitar with at least a solid top.
March 21st, 2012, 01:42 PM
I have an all mahogany Martin 000-15s. The guitar is warm and mellow with a soft hand, bluesy and boxy with a strong pick. For myself and many of my friends, this is a Very Special Guitar. (burymewithit)
My other guitar is a Martin D-18GE. This is about as Spruce-on-Steroids as you can get. It is loud and punchy with long sustain and thick tone on single notes. As a singer, I can strum chords so loud I stay in charge no matter what happens (you hearing me banjo-man?).
But I do think the difference is more than simply Hog vs Spruce. There is just so much to say about acoustic guitar tone. The internal bracing is at least as important as top wood selection.
If you're new to acoustics than take the advice above and go play, listen, read ... play, listen, repeat. I took a decade off electric-guitar to go explore acoustic tones. Good times.
Also, used acoustics can be a good value, where you often get all your dollars back if you decided to move it along.
March 22nd, 2012, 02:30 PM
In general, solid wood makes for better sound in acoustics. However, laminates are much tougher and less vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity, so if you play outdoors much it's worth searching for a good laminated "camp guitar". Many sound pretty good, really. An example would be Takamine's F-349, all laminated mahogany.
March 22nd, 2012, 02:38 PM
Guilds laminated curved backs in their JF guitars are very high quality.
March 24th, 2012, 05:27 PM
I think sapele, as used in many acoustic guitars for sides and backs, is laminate these days.
March 24th, 2012, 07:21 PM
[QUOTE=rangercaster;3989274]here is a nice primer on acoustics ... http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/guitars/acoustic/buying-guide.php the secret is to find one you like in your price range ... for example, i have owned an all solid wood $1000 ++ guitar, but preferred my $100 mahogany laminate ... if you play enough of them, you will find the right one ...[/QUOTE
Thx for the link Rangercaster...interesting read ! :grin: