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are Gretsch's really plywood?

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

  1. gpasq

    gpasq Friend of Leo's

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    I was going to buy one until I discovered they're made with white glue. I used to put that on my fingers, let it dry, roll it off and pretend it was boogers. No way am I going to spend good money on a booguitar.
     
  2. savofenno

    savofenno Tele-Afflicted

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    There is plywood of many different quality level. Gretsch uses high quality laminated wood, as does Gibson (ES-175, ES-335, etc.), and many other brands, not to be mixed up with your cheap everyday plywood.;)
     
  3. Black Rooster

    Black Rooster TDPRI Member

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    Interesting info/conversation/education--thanks to all.

    Along these same lines of conversation, I've been wondering for a very long time..... does anyone know if the "ply" wood laminate construction used to build the more affodable $350 GFS hollow-body guitars or the ones from Epiphone differ any from materials used in the ply laminate construction of the wood used to build the Gretsch hollow-body guitars, or the Gibson hollow-bodies (335, etc).

    I understand that none of the guitars makers use the kind of ply that's used to make skateboard ramps and I know that part of the additional cost for the high dollar-guitars is for the "name" and for nitro finish (where applicable), and for better hardware, etc. But, as far as the sheets of wood that make up the actual plies that the body of the guitar is constructed of....is there any difference???

    Another way to ask the question: If I have examples of a 335 from Gibson ($2000+) and one from Epiphone ($350), If I take away the headstock shape, the finish and the high end parts (and discount the scarf joint at the neck).....am I left holding the same guitar bodies?

    Thanks for reply.
     
  4. 63dot

    63dot Friend of Leo's

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    It should only matter in guitars which have no pickups. If you get a fully acoustic archtop with no pickups, then only go for solid top.

    The pickup pretty much makes the solid arched top vs. laminated arched top a mute point. Actually the greater vibration in a solid top will make an archtop feedback with the addition of pickups. Like one has said, look at the legendary Gibson ES-335.
     
  5. 63dot

    63dot Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, mostly.

    One place where the Gibson will be better besides parts is the fret work. Epihphones are OK but Gibsons are somewhat better on frets. A good player could make both sound equally good and if outfitted with same pickups, they could make the two sound identical.

    In terms of build the Epiphones are great instruments. However, with the Gibson label on the headstock, not only will the guitar in the short run retain a good percentage of its value, it will possibly go up in value in the long run.
     
  6. toddfan

    toddfan Tele-Holic

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    Interesting reading: http://misc.msorensen.net/laminates.html

    Don't forget that there are different construction methods for putting together that plywood, er...laminate, which some would say also affect the tone. Is it X- braced? Is it trestle braced? What is the bracing made of? Is there a sound post? Is the laminate 3 layer? 5-layer? All of these things (and a myriad of others) will affect the tone of a guitar....whether one is better than another is purely subjective and YMMV.

    I've just picked up a plywood Gretsch 5120 myself....from what I read, it is a 5-layer plywood...<<cough>>...laminate body with a sound post. All I know is that I love the way it plays and sounds and right now, out of 13 guitars at my fingertips, it is the one I am dying to get home to and hold in my arms and play!

    :D The OP should definitely not buy a Gretsch. I doubt he could appreciate it, anyway.
     
  7. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    In fact, regardless of price level with this type of guitar laminate is the norm rather than the exception. The reasons for that are the same reasons a builder of anything uses when choosing his materials. Laminate tone woods are not used in the construction of thin line and semi hollow body guitars simply because the are less expensive. There are very good reasons other than that for their use.

    1. For a thin line electric guitar a laminate top serves the design purpose almost if not just as well as one made of solid wood. For illustration purposes lets use the example of a Martin D 28 flat top acoustic that has a bear claw solid spruce top with optimal grain density and perfectly scalloped bracing. It sounds like a dream. Now lets imagine that we built that same guitar using the same wood but place a 6" wide solid mahogany board the full length of the body and glue it to the top and back. I think we can all agree that would pretty much cancel the ability of that Martins top to resonate. In addition the vibration of a guitars top happens primarily in the center and decreases to zero going towards the perimeter. When, (as in the case of a semi hollow guitar) the top and back are glued rigidly to a solid board the majority of the vibrating area isn't vibrating at all. It's not that top vibration doesn't effect tone on a thin line guitar, it certainly does. It's that given the guitars design the importance of top vibration is much closer to that of a solid body than a flat top acoustic.

    2. Even given the fairly marginal amount of top resonance thin line guitars possess feed back is still a huge problem since they are designed to be played at high volumes. There is one school of thought that believes the use of laminates aids builders in their efforts to control that.

    3. Another benefit to the use of laminate tops is strength. That is due to something engineers and designers call "shear value". Take a thin piece of wood and try to break it across the grain. Then try to break it with the grain. Which grain direction shows more resistance? With laminate tops the layered grains are run in opposite directions and therefore are much stronger than solid wood tops.

    4. Finally there is the tone consideration. The common belief is that solid wood tops automatically sound better than laminate wood tops and, with flat top acoustic guitars that is absolutely true. But, what defines better? For me better means," that it produce the tone I expect". Laminate tops on semi acoustic guitars is not something that manufacturers spontaneously decided to do for cost cutting purposes. Their use is something that evolved over time to the point that to many it has become the material that produces the tone they expect to hear from thin line and semi acoustic electric guitars in general.

    My humble opinion is that (on balance) and, in this case, the use of laminates by guitar makers is simply the best choice of materials for this design.
     
  8. Turtleface

    Turtleface Tele-Meister

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    Aren't Rickenbackers solid semi-hollows? CNC carved, if I recall correctly.
     
  9. 63dot

    63dot Friend of Leo's

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    Excellent Post.

    +1
     
  10. notdave

    notdave Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm willing to take all of your PoS skateboard ramp guitars off your hands, even those rubbish White Falcons that no guitar con-a-sewer would be seen dead with, completely free of charge. Send them to me, I'll even pay the postage.

    No need to thank me.

    Informative thread actually. I learned some stuff.
     
  11. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    I have to wonder what the OP's dealer was tryng to sell at the time. Obviously not a Gretsch.
    Don
     
  12. ianasdfg

    ianasdfg Tele-Afflicted

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    Get your plywood archtops while you can, in future they'll all be alternate layers of richlite and baked alaska.
     
  13. daddyopapa

    daddyopapa Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm with Lee Harvey on this one - no plywood for me - in fact, I don't want a joint of any kind. Just whittle me a guitar from a single big ole piece of mahogany, thank you.
     
  14. combstone

    combstone TDPRI Member

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    I have toilet paper racks made out of solid wood. That doesn't make solid wood unsuitable for a guitar.
     
  15. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    This plywood Gibson is just so jubilant ... er, happy, um, joyous ... ebullient ... um, no - I just can't find the right word to describe it! :D

    Happy and rainbows ... what's that word I'm looking for? :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
  16. toddfan

    toddfan Tele-Holic

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    Don't knock it 'til you try it...I happen to OWN one of those...and it makes an EXCELLENT "heavy rock" guitar. I can go out and play any other guitar that I own, and not get one single comment upon the guitar....but, if I take the Zoot Suit out of the case, someone ALWAYS comments about that "cool" guitar....so, it obviously "puts on the show"! It's only real weakness is that its hot pickups are mostly suited for rock and metal type rock...it's not all that versatile....

    ....and, its appearance is definitely, shall I say...."polarizing". :lol:

     
  17. Ed Miller

    Ed Miller Tele-Meister

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    Don't forget 175's, 350's, trini lopez's standard and custom, tal farlows, herb ellis models, barney kessels, All chet atkins models both gibson and gretsch. and every hollowbody gretsch ever put a pickup in.

    leaving super 400's, L-5's, Byrdlands,Johnny Smith's, Super 5's but beware, many have Laminated backs so they can't possibly sound good either.

    Oooor, you can judge them on their individual merits. Laminated construction is not the end of the world.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2012
  18. LeroyBlues

    LeroyBlues Tele-Holic

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    I think the OP got mad and ran off.
     
  19. Lee Harvey

    Lee Harvey Banned

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    I apologize. I was having a bad day..

    I took the comments the wrong way..
     
  20. MrCairo46

    MrCairo46 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Well , here my plywood abonimation ;-)
    Lee you are among friends here. The story behind mine was , back in 2006, me and some business friends set some sales/profit goals for our businesses. If we hit them we would reward ourselves.
    One guy wanted an F-250 Pick up
    One wanted BMW
    One wanted a guitar. I starting shopping in Late January, going to GC every couple weeks playing all sorts of guitars. I thought I'd fall in love with a PRS McCarty. Never found one that I fell in love with. Finally fell in love with the Gretsch 6120 Brian Setzer in Green.
    All three of us hit our goals, only one wife allowed him to by his prize. I took the pick guard off to show off the wood as soon as I brought her home.
     

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