Solid Top or Laminated?
When shopping for an acoustic guitar, one faces a dilemma: should I get a solid top or laminated top guitar?
The answer isn't simple because it deals with not only quality and craftsmanship, but tone as well.
Solid wood ages better, costs more, and in most guitarists opinion, sounds "better". A solid wood will resonate more truly than a laminated surface as the layers of glue don't allow all the layers of wood to vibrate precisely as one piece.
On the other hand, a laminated top is considerably stronger than a solid top and is less likely to suffer warping or rippling from extreme weather changes. Also a heavily lacquered finished solid top may not sound as open as satin (virtually looks and feels unfinished) finish laminate. The Lacquer is basically a glove around the wood and if applied heavily can stifle resonance.
Both types of acoustic guitar has been used extensively on stage and in recording studios. To help you judge whether or not a guitar has a solid top here are a few hints for inspection:
The key lies in the sound hole. Follow the grain on the top and see if it wraps around inside the sound hole. You should be able to follow it right inside the body - this means it is a solid top. If the grain ends, you should be able to detect the lamination - because the layers of lamination are visible. If this is not possible, then consult the manufacturers website for official status.
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