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are Gretsch's really plywood?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Lee Harvey, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. macaroonie

    macaroonie Friend of Leo's

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    With respect I think you are missing a subtle distinction here. Gretsch and Gibson do not use plywood as you would know it. They do not go scooting off to Latvia or wherever you get cost effective ply in 8 x 4 sheets.
    What they do do is make laminated tops and backs. Why so ? Well its easy , you would struggle to make an archtop from one or two ( Bookmatch ) pieces of solid anything and expect it to remain stable. Yes it can be done but you must use the very very best of slow growth woods for this ( Engleman spruce for example ). These woods cost a kings ransom and are in short supply. You also need bracing and that is. time consuming and costly .
    Getting back to Gretsch , they heat press each top as a laminate process but what is interesting is that the plywood you refer to is not really ply as you would know it. It is about 0.16" thick and i woud estimate that 75% of that is a poplar core. the rest is a show veneer , which is what you see on the outside and on the inside of the top is a compensating veneer for strength and stability.
    Each top of a 335 or a Falcon etc is laid up on its own and then heat formed and cured to give it its shape.
    They have thought this through , its not a cheat process I can assure you.

    Frankly your salesman only displayed his lack of knowledge and sowed seeds in your mind that are swaying you off of some of the best guitars ever made.

    Hope that helps M
     
  2. Frontier9

    Frontier9 Friend of Leo's

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    Oh my gosh. Sit down and play one. You will realize that a Gretsch is pure magic.
     
  3. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Friend of Leo's

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    Not a subtle distinction at all, IMO....

    I imagine the laminates respond better to changes in humidity & temperature than a thin piece of wood too.

    Steinway's are made with laminates too, BTW....
     
  4. jguitarman

    jguitarman Tele-Afflicted

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    Lee Harvey, don't think in terms of plywood like you see in Lowe's or Home Depot. As stated above, many guitars are made of multiply wood. Multiply wood is used in many applications. If you look at exposed wooden trusses you will see multiply laminates. A lot of wood floors are made of engineered wood which is layered or laminated wood. Again, as mentioned above the laminate adds strength and keeps the wood from warping.
    I own an old Gretsch which has a "plywood", laminated top. It's a very cool sounding archtop guitar. I have to admit that when I learned it was made of plywood I thought it was cheap. Again, it's our concept of what "plywood" is.
     
  5. macaroonie

    macaroonie Friend of Leo's

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    Understatement and irony rolled into one small word. It was intentional.
     
  6. tucten

    tucten TDPRI Member

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    I see. Solid maple.
     

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  7. Ryan0594

    Ryan0594 Tele-Holic

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    You're missing the point I'm trying to raise. You obviously think plywood is in someway not good, when in fact I'm giving examples of why it's fine... I mean, solid gold is nicer than maple, but I wouldn't want to make a guitar neck from it. :')
     
  8. nadzab

    nadzab Friend of Leo's

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    When I saw the OP's name, I wondered when Jack Ruby would show up...
     
  9. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    That's not plywood, son...that's a high-quality laminate!
     
  10. paratus

    paratus Friend of Leo's

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    Tucten...have you no shame?

    LMAO!!!!!!
     
  11. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    Best sounding guitar I have is a 73 Gretsch Country Gentleman Chet Atkins signature model with original frets.

    I also have solids for use on gigs (74 LP Custom, 68 tele, Epi SG).

    As long as I was getting applause I never cared what they were made out of but never pay more than $1,000 approx for an axe to gig with.

    The tele cost $325 new, the Les Paul was a trade for my Norman 12 string ($230). Guess I came out ahead on that one even with the SD pickups and fret job I had to do.
     
  12. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    What colour would you like? It'll be cheaper than anger management classes.

    The point I believe you've missed here is you are indirectly discrediting guitars that many members here know and love (and the world knows and loves) merely for their construction techniques, not their merits.

    I know you didn't mean to come across this way - but by ranting about "plywood" in such a derogatory manner you've been lucky to recieve such amiable replies, IMO.

    And lastly, who is going to hand-carve this top and back for the price your hard-earned money is willing to afford? Not someone in the USA my friend. And I have a strong feeling that you prefer American-made guitars as much as you dislike plywood.
     
  13. StoogeSurfer

    StoogeSurfer Tele-Afflicted

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    Interesting that this should come up, because I just bought a new Gretsch Duo Jet, because I played one off a rack at a local shop and its playability and tone impressed the living hell out of me. Have been pretty much all Fender/Gibson guy my whole life until this one came along. It looks sort of OK too.
     

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  14. dconeill

    dconeill Tele-Afflicted

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    That's certainly your choice. But all of the Gibson ESs are plywood, just about all archtops that aren't carved are plywood, etc. Amost all Gretsches are plywood. It's been used for decades. Even some boutique guitars are plywood.

    For electric guitars, many (not all) think plywood sounds better than solid wood. The standard jazz guitar for many years was the ES-175, which was plywood.
     
  15. superbadj

    superbadj Poster Extraordinaire

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    Oh mah gawd guys my tele is made from a daggone plank of maple freaking bolted on to a durn butcher-block-style plank made from a couple-o pieces of ash there isn't even any special tone glue used to mount the neck and it's flat and stuff not turned back like fancee guitars are supposed to be or some such! Well tickle my toes gingerboy that just ain't something i'm-a gonna stand for anymore chuckles! Fender is gonna get a piece of my mind and they're a-gonna git it good man!

    ----
    aww poo, imagine that in allcaps and it's a heck of a lot more fun (durn auto-correct!)
     
  16. KBCL

    KBCL Tele-Meister

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    Why did I read this far?
     
  17. Dr. Bill

    Dr. Bill Tele-Afflicted

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    +1
    Has anybody else noticed that the signal-to-noise ratio has gone down on this site recently?
     
  18. StoogeSurfer

    StoogeSurfer Tele-Afflicted

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    The ratio has not changed, but it is now a laminated signal.
     
  19. jwsamuel

    jwsamuel Friend of Leo's

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    If you are looking in the $3K range, you are going to have a hard time finding something that is not a laminate.

    The reason is that there are only two ways to make a hollow or semi-hollow top and back. They can either press the shapes into may layers of thin wood and then laminate them, or they can be carved out of maple or other wood.

    Hand carving is a very time-intensive process, so to get one you are looking at the higher end models from Benedetto, Buscarino and others. Buscarinos start at $9,000. Benedetto's $4,000 and $4,500 guitars are laminates and you have to get about twice that to get carved bodies.

    Jim
     
  20. jwsamuel

    jwsamuel Friend of Leo's

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    There are several makers who build hand carve guitars: Buscarino, Benedetto, Bill Moll, etc. Lowest price I've seen is $9,000 and many are in the $20,000 range.

    Jim
     
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