Solid wood vs Laminated acoustic guitars, is a recurring debate. A variety of woods can be used for manufacturing an acoustic guitar. The major kinds include mahogany, spruce, and maple. But the most important aspect that governs the decision is to make a choice between solid wood and laminate acoustic guitars.
The main difference between solid wood and laminated acoustic guitars is, Solid wood guitars can have a single piece of wood or two identical pieces of wood, and Laminate wood guitars contain many layers of very slender pieces of wood. These pieces are then attached using adhesives and heat.
This article enlists major differences between both guitars.
Key Differences Between Solid Wood and Laminated Acoustic Guitars
There are a variety of criteria on which these two guitars are different from each other. The first difference is the price of these guitars. Solid wood guitars are more expensive than laminate wood guitars. The reason Is that these guitars include high-quality woods such as mahogany. Laminate guitars include woods of lower quality except for the top layer.
Laminated wood guitars show better resistance to environmental and weather changes. The tone of both guitars is also strikingly different. Solid wood guitars have a more resonant sound. Laminate guitars produce less vibrant sounds. Solid wood guitars also sustain sound better.
The carving and shaping processes result in a solid wood guitar’s price being costlier than a laminate guitar. Additionally, the woods are very much expensive and scarce. Laminate guitars are easier to manufacture and except for the top layer, veneered wood includes many cheaper layers.
Average solid wood guitars range from 700-1500$. Laminate wood guitars range from 150-700$ mostly. All solid wood guitars come in price ranges of 1000-1900$. But, solid wood guitars retain their value in the long run. Because of the good aging features of these guitars, their value appreciates in the long run. Laminate wood guitars depreciate in value in the long run.
Solid Wood Acoustic Guitars
High-quality acoustic guitars contain solid wood. It is a high-quality wood that luthiers convert into a guitar shape. Solid wood guitars can have single or double pieces of wood. The material of the front back and sides may be different. For example, a single guitar can have a spruce top and maple back and sides.
The two pieces of wood are identical to each other in terms of size and shape. These pieces are joined together to get the hollow guitar body. Solid wood guitars are long-lasting and offer bend sound quality. These are more costly compared to laminated guitars.
The appearance of a solid wood guitar depends on the type of wood. The major wood types include ebony, mahogany, maple, and spruce. Spruce wood has its own classification as well. Secondly, it also depends on the body shape. Luthiers mold wood in many different shapes such as double O, dreadnought, parlor, grand auditorium, and cutaway.
The topmost wood in laminated guitars is also of high quality. Thus, even laminated guitars can have exotic and beautiful appearances. Additionally, these guitars come in similar body shapes. So, there is not much of a difference between the two guitars when it comes to appearance. Only experienced guitarists and luthiers can differentiate between these two guitars.
The solid wood guitars may contain a single or double piece of wood. An observable division can be seen in the middle of the guitar body for double solid wood guitars. There are other divisions as well. In most cases, the top of the guitar body is made of solid wood. The sides and back of the guitar body are made from laminated wood. Most expensive and highest quality acoustic guitars also have a back of solid wood.
The basic structure is the same. The guitar body is hollow. You can observe the key structural feature close to the sound hole. The grain cross section is very visible near the brink of the sound hole. It is an indication of a solid wood guitar.
The biggest perk of a solid wood guitar is its tone. A single piece of high-quality wood opens as time passes. So, these guitars age better. You are bound to get a better sound with a solid wood guitar. Additionally, the sound sustainability and resonance are also better with a solid wood guitar.
Solid wood acoustic guitars create a vibrant sound. These guitars are equally good for strumming, picking, and fingerpicking. Solid woods dry as they age, so these guitars gain their value over time. Low-end on a solid wood guitar is also more than a laminated wood guitar. Thus, the sounds coming from a solid wood guitar tend to be smoother and warmer.
Laminate Wood Acoustic Guitars
Laminate wood guitars include three or four different layers of wood. These are also known as veneered layers. The purpose is to limit the guitar price. Also, guitar woods are becoming scarce. So, laminated wood guitars include some cheaper alternative woods such as plywood. All these layers are glued, and heat treated to get a guitar top.
Laminate wood guitars of good quality do not lose the quality of sound with age. Expensive woods are on the topmost layer while the lower layers are of mediocre or low quality. Laminate wood guitars are a better option for you if you want a guitar but do not have a lot of money.
As I have said earlier, it is very difficult to differentiate between these guitars at the first glance. Guitar manufacturers have become very smart with this. So, even if the lower layers are of plywood the top layer is of good quality. Additionally, a guitar with a good finish is always a visual spectacle.
For instance, consider getting a laminated wood guitar with having rosewood top. It will make you fall in love with it, at first sight, at least I will. The body shapes are also independent of the material. So, these guitars come in the same body shapes as a solid wood guitar.
So far, you are already familiar with the basic structure of a laminated wood guitar. All body parts of a laminated wood guitar contained veneered wood. The layers are fixed with each other using adhesives and heat. This turns them into a single piece of wood for the front, back, and sides.
Again, you can recognize a laminated wood guitar by paying close attention to the sound hole. A mere glance at the guitar body will not give any useful hints. If you can not see any wood grain when you look at the brink of the sound hole, the top is laminated.
The tone of a solid wood guitar also depends on the type of wood.
Tonewood is a very major concept regarding guitar tone. At the beginner level, you will not notice any significant difference.
Some manufacturers manufacture laminated wood guitars with commendable guitar tones.
After spending some time playing both guitars, you will start to notice a difference.
The tones of laminated wood guitar are inferior to solid wood. The tones are less vibrant and less resonant. Also, they do not offer as much sustainability as solid wood as far as tone is concerned. These guitars also do not age as well as a solid wood guitar. Still, a good, laminated wood guitar can offer good tonal quality.
Pros and Cons of Solid Wood Acoustic Guitars
Pros and Cons of Laminated Wood Acoustic Guitars
Recommended Solid Wood and Laminated Acoustic Guitars
Solid wood guitars are usually high priced, but you should not worry. We have some good recommendations for you that can meet your price range. All these guitars are solid guitars meaning their front, back, and sides all contain solid wood.
These guitars are priced between 650$ to 999$. So, it will be a great deal for you to get an all-solid wood guitar for under 700$. You can get orangewood ava off the orangewood amazon store.
Is Solid Top Better Than Laminate?
Overall, solid wood guitars have an edge over laminated wood guitars. The tonal quality of a solid wood guitar is much better than a laminated wood guitar. They can produce more vibrant and smoother sounds. These sounds are the courtesy of more low-end solid wood guitars offer. Additionally, these guitars age better than laminated wood guitars. So, their music gets better and better.
These qualities of solid wood guitars are the reason for their popularity. Every guitarist wants to get his hands on a solid wood acoustic guitar. These guitars never lose their value instead their value appreciates with time.
Can Laminate Guitars Sound Good?
Laminate guitars do not sound bad. Laminate wood guitars with good manufacturing sound are almost as good as a solid wood guitars. Laminated guitars have a lower low-end than a solid wood guitars. So, the sound of these guitars is brighter than solid wood guitars. Additionally, these guitars can also withstand temperature fluctuations better. So, the sound of these guitars stays the same over time.
Laminated guitars just do not sound as good as a solid wood guitar. Also, these guitars do not age as well as solid wood guitars. Initially, the difference will be inconsiderable to a beginner. Experienced guitarists pick the difference quickly.
How Do You Tell If a Guitar Is Solid or Laminate?
It is impossible to tell if a guitar is solid wood or laminated by looking at the surface. Only luthiers can tell the difference with a mere glance. The trick is to look through the sound hole. Try peeking inside the sound hole. If the wood grains are visible at the edge of the sound hole, it is solid wood. If you can not see the grains, then the guitar is laminated wood.
The other method is to tell the difference by ear. Solid wood guitars have more low-end. So, their sound is more vibrant than a laminated wood guitar.
Do Laminate Guitars Improve with Age?
Laminate wood guitars do not improve with age. Their tonal quality remains the same throughout. Solid wood guitars have a solid wood that dries and opens with time. This enhances the tonal quality of the guitar. Laminated guitars have veneered wood. They contain three or more layers of wood.
Adhesives and heat are used to attach these layers to each other. This does not allow the wood to open. Additionally, the layers are very thin. So, they cannot expand. Thus, these guitars do not age better. Their value also depreciates with time.
How Do You Take Care of a Solid Wood Guitar?
Stick to the basics first. Clean your guitar regularly. Do not put pressure on the neck. Change your strings every month. Solid wood guitars ought to be cleaned with lemon oil. Do not use damp cloths for cleaning. Moisture ruins the wood of solid wood guitars. Use microfiber cloths. Keep the body free of scratches.
Solid wood guitars are more susceptible to temperature and humidity changes. So, try keeping them indoors mostly. These guitars are not fit for travel. Travel with a guitar case if you take your guitar with you. Keep your guitar at a humidity of 45-55% and a temperature of 25-30 degrees Celsius if possible.
Can You Make an Acoustic Guitar Out of Plywood?
Yes, you can manufacture an entire guitar out of plywood. However, plywood can be one of the layers of a laminated wood guitar. Professional guitars have at least one solid wood part mostly the top. Beginner guitars have plywood as a part. Some beginner guitars have plywood in its entirety. Such guitars are known as plywood guitars.
Plywood guitars are less durable than other guitars. The recent times have seen many unorthodox materials for guitar manufacturing. Many materials are serving as wood alternatives for guitars. The most prominent ones are the carbon fiber guitars. Carbon fiber guitars are gaining immense popularity on YouTube.
Solid wood and laminated wood are the two most prominent types of acoustic guitars. Solid wood guitars have a single kind of wood for at least one part of the body of the guitar. Laminated wood guitars have veneered wood. They include thinner layers of three different wood types. Both guitars have their own pros and cons.
Solid wood guitars offer better tonal quality and age better with time. However, these guitars are expensive. These are also more susceptible to moisture and temperature.
Laminated wood guitars do not age better with time. These guitars are cheaper and more resistant to weather extremes.