Are Laminate back and sides stronger than solid hard woods?

Charlie Bernstein

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PT 109 may not be the best example...
Sure it is! Would you rather be rammed by a destroyer in a PT boat or a birch bark canoe?

Now 'scuse me while I get back to my birch bark Tele. . . .

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Freeman Keller

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I remember reading an article about the Takamine EF341 guitar always having laminated sides and back because they could be made stronger and lighter than traditional solid woods. It has always been a popular guitar and seems to sound good, but I could never wrap my arms around the price since it is not a solid wood body guitar, which I always viewed as a cost cutting measure and inferior.

Help me out here, is Tak slinging BS or is that true? Are they really worth the price?
Laminated woods can make very nice guitars, in fact some styles of guitar requires laminations. As far as the Tak's are concerned, if you like the way it sounds then you have answered your question.
 

Boreas

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What I miss on a laminate wood guitar is the vibration I feel on my arms and belly. To me, a really well-made acoustic is light as a balloon and vibrates all over. Most mahogany body Martins do that for me - especially when they are older than me.
 

Killing Floor

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Laminates are stronger in nearly every application. Is that what you’re asking? Your house is mostly laminate construction. Your airplane is. Race cars. Lots of guitar necks. My bicycle and my cycling shoes. And my robot assassin army I’m finna unleash after Christmas (because Santa takes 1 day off from watching everything on Boxing Day)
 

padreraven

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Just don't buy a laminate top. Cheaper acoustic guitars are made that way, and cheaper acoustic-electrics. They have three problems: 1) the middle tones drop out and bass tones are weaker; the sound bounces off of the top instead of causing the wood to vibrate. Treble is usually fine. 2) The tone does not sweeten when played like a solid top does. 3) I had a laminate top acoustic when it was all I could afford, and the string pressure eventually caused the bridge to pull the top laminate layer off.

I too have a Martin D-1 that I bought new in 1995 and the only problems I've had were needing to reset the neck and having to replace the tuning keys. No issues with the wood.
 

mandoloony

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The back on my Ashborn has some checks in the outer veneer, but the cross-lamination has successfully prevented a crack from going all the way through for 168 years. Seems like it's working.
 

arlum

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The Gibson ES-335 is proof that laminated wood can yield great electric guitar tone while also adding resistance to the cracks that sometimes occur in solid wood semi-hollow and hollow bodied guitars. The tone is different but, when used as part of a well thought out build, contributes to something excellent.
 

Swirling Snow

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One of the more expensive guitars I used to sell were the Hill classical guitars. Upwards of $4,000 and they had laminated tops.

Like so many things, it's not how you do it, but do you do it well enough. ;)

If you like the sound, how they got it doesn't matter, really.
 

maxvintage

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I have a really great selmer style guitar that has laminated sides and back. Macaferri designed them this way: he reasoned that a stiffer, less resonant back and side would concentrate vibration in the top, rather than the back and sides. It's a great guitar. I've played the hell out of it. I know a well regarded maker of sel-mac guitars who lays up his own plywood for exactly this reason.
 

jrblue

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Yes, it's stronger. But that's a BS excuse for using it because it's used because it's cheaper, and solid sides are plenty strong enough unless you are using the guitar as a weapon. Some laminate guitars sound fine, and some companies are getting into engineered laminates rather than buck-saving laminates (which are really just an exercise in veneering to look good, cheaply) but most laminates are simply cost-cutting builds. Of course they lose something acoustically, since the layers have graining running in different directions, and clue between, which does not work well. But -- and this is big -- at stage volume, or in many recording situations, you may not want the most responsive guitar possible since you're not huddling with the band around one mike at the state fair. These tighter, deader guitars won't win the trophy for pure acoustic performance, but may well work better in some settings.
 

padreraven

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It got sunk when a destroyer sliced through it and the Prez had to swim for it.
That reminds me of a quote (one of those things that stays with you, heaven knows why). Some kid asked Kennedy how he became a war hero, and he said "It was involuntary. They sunk my boat."
 

rockinstephen

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Some great comments here! Yes, it stands to reason that laminated (plywood) is stronger than solid wood due to the grain patterns. Also, a solid wood top will resonate better than one that is laminated. If you plug in to play, it really doesn't matter too much. I have a 3/4 size laminated Luna guitar that sounds fine when plugged in. I also have a 6 & 12 string Blueridge; both are all solid woods. As always, try to play before you buy to see if it's for you.
 




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