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Discussion Starter #1
Any acoustic players note a difference in tonality and responsiveness between the 2 when playing soft to louder? Either fingerstyle or flatpick/hybrid will do. Reason I'm wondering is I have 3 solid tops with laminate sides and have no experience with all solid wood acoustics. If I really dig into my acoustics I find I have to hold off on getting super aggressive with them. I have a good idea with the differences between the heavier string gauges and action heights, but I want to know if the solid vs laminate thing is also a factor or not.

Now I'm off to the dentist so thanks for the response in advance. I may not respond back for a bit.
 

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It may or may not make a difference-depends on the guitar. Companies like Gibson and Guild made guitars in the 60's and 70's and did not tell people they were using laminates for the back and sides and people bought them with no complaints.

I bought a late 60's J 50 and decided to drill a hole in the side for a jack, when I noticed this.-This was before the days of piezo pickups and endpin jacks etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've read that laminate is stronger than solid and is a little more reflective. Is the solid more of a compressed sound when you go at it harder? Apparently many very high end Classical guitars use laminate. I'll assume for sound projection. From my experience, although limited in the Acoustic genre, that the Seagull S6 I use is a pretty loud guitar....which is good.

Keep in mind I'm not wanting to go to the idea that one is/isn't better than the other. I'm asking for maybe suggestions on which type people find more ideal in certain playing situations. Whether in a band mix, group of acoustic players mix, practice, and recording situation(s). Just an overview of the differences.
 

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Laminated sides make for a more ridged frame, and most luthiers like that. Some high end luthiers make laminated backs, usually of very good tonewood veneers, laminated in a radius dish, sometimes in a vacuumed bag. Truthfully, the sound board is the determining factor. The species, the number of annular rings per inch, how close to vertical the grain, grain runout, the bracing pattern, top thickness, the quality of the joinery (maybe the most important). Probably, the best tops are reserved for all solid wood guitars, as they demand the highest prices.
If you find the sound getting a bit muddy when you play harder, it probably isn't the the body wood, but possibly the top isn't braced stiff enough for hard playing.
Many guitars are braced for light strings so they will play well with fingers or a flat pick. That is how I make my guitars. Not a stretch to have a lightly braced guitar for finger style and a heavier braced guitar for heavier flatpicking. Not that I'm trying to sell guitars. Lol. Russ Parker
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the well worded and very easy to understand response @RGPGuitars Guitars. Right to the point. Much appreciated. I guess that will lead to another question. How does the average joe guitar guy determine if the bracing is stiff enough. Are there certain types of bracing that we should be aware of that lend itself/themselves to a more rigid structure? Will the gauge of the string be a hint?
 

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I would go to a reputable guitar shop and and ask a salesperson who is also a guitar player. Tell them what you are playing and how you play. Most guitars these days are strung with light gauge. Bigger guitars like dreads and jumbos can take advantage of heavier strings (usually). Ask if they know which guitars are strung with mediums..Bluegrass players seem to play dreadnoughts usually, and that's with a pick and harder playing. Enjoy the search, find what responds to your playing style, and then if you want the best deal, try and find a good used one. Russ
 

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From what I have seen, guitars with solid back and sides usually, but not always have the best tops that go with them. That is likely the biggest reason that guitars with solid back and sides are noticeably pricier and more often, better sounding than their laminate counterparts. More attentions may be paid to the bracing and other parts of the guitar as well, making the whole guitar a better sounding and playing instrument.

That said, there are always exceptions due to factors that could be discussed until the cows come home.
 
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I had took for granted that solid wood back and sides was better.

My experience with Eastman AC122ce, impressed me !

As others said, bracing and top quality may go along laminated or solid back & sides.

But, what is the difference between solid and laminated ? The first is solid while the other has glue between two (or three) layers of thin wood.

While the soundboard matters most for sound production, we would then say solid wood back helps. How does it help ? I am not sure... I mean we want to have clear notes, but what happens if the longer sustain of solid wood make notes melt within each others ? Does it sound like laminated wood that produces less defined notes ?

Based on my recent experience with Eastman AC122ce, I admit I am not as sure as I tought I was and I fear I put too much money on the great solid woods I got... :-/ but those days, laminated were not great... ;-)
 

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Backs can be responsive or reflective. An arch back or an Ovation body/back are reflective, and give very little sound as they don't vibrate much , or as much as a typical slightly arched back. They are more responsive. Adding sound, hopefully. The problem is conflicting frequencies of the top and back, cancelling each other and reducing sound production. Herman Hauser was, as far as I know, the first Luthier to tune the back to a sympathetic frequency with the top. Less or no frequency cancelling. Sagovia called his Hauser guitar the "guitar of the epoch"
David Wren tunes his back to a sympathetic frequency to the top. If you have ever played one of Dave's guitars you will understand. Not sure how many high end builders do this, but it's beyond me, sorry to say.
Greg Smallman uses a heavy laminated arch back on his classicals, so as not to rob energy from the vibrating plate. His entire build method is to have all the string energy concentrated in the vibrating plate below the sound hole only. If you have never seen pics of his build method it's worth checking out. Totally outside the box approach.
I tap my backs when carving the braces, and can improve the responsiveness of the back if the lower bout isn't as responsive as say the upper bout.
Of course, all that goes out the window if you stand up when you play and the back is muffled by pressing against your body. Lol. Russ
 

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I'm not too fussed about whether the sides are laminate as they're so stiff anyway. All other things being equal I do want the sides to match the back in appearance and since I want the back solid then I always end up with solid sides as well. Some of my guitars have few if any side braces, other have lots.

Regardless, on the whole, I find that all solid woods gives me what I want. It's often hard to be sure of tone when a guitar is brand new, but over time of breaking in, maturity, strings changes, and use in a variety of rooms and environments, my ears make their decision. How much of this is established conditioning, evolving conditioning, aural fantasy, delusion, or actual firm I know what I like, I'm not certain.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
tune the back to a sympathetic frequency with the top
I found this very interesting because that's part of the way I try to determine a good guitar. Although I'm not in the higher end guitar game, my choice of the Godin brands seems to reflect just this. I noted it a while ago that when I tune my Seagull with the 12 fret harmonics, if I pick just under where typical neck pickup is on the electric for that "sweet spot" I can quite easily get the major 4th on each of the strings instead of the pitch I'm aiming for....EG: High E will give me an in tune A. I actually spent a good hour testing and refining this phenomenon. Is it a good assumption that Godin tunes their guitar's back or sides the same way? I just put it down before this post to "it's just a nice guitar".....and that's one of the things I try to attempt to do with any other guitars I test if I might be interested in buying. I've just been calling them positive harmonics.

And @Mooh ....great post. I think everything you hear is basically experienced and tonally trained ears due to years of training, practice and playing/teaching. That's where the Mojo is at.
 

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Backs can be responsive or reflective. An arch back or an Ovation body/back are reflective, and give very little sound as they don't vibrate much , or as much as a typical slightly arched back. They are more responsive. Adding sound, hopefully. The problem is conflicting frequencies of the top and back, cancelling each other and reducing sound production. Herman Hauser was, as far as I know, the first Luthier to tune the back to a sympathetic frequency with the top. Less or no frequency cancelling. Sagovia called his Hauser guitar the "guitar of the epoch"
David Wren tunes his back to a sympathetic frequency to the top. If you have ever played one of Dave's guitars you will understand. Not sure how many high end builders do this, but it's beyond me, sorry to say.
Greg Smallman uses a heavy laminated arch back on his classicals, so as not to rob energy from the vibrating plate. His entire build method is to have all the string energy concentrated in the vibrating plate below the sound hole only. If you have never seen pics of his build method it's worth checking out. Totally outside the box approach.
I tap my backs when carving the braces, and can improve the responsiveness of the back if the lower bout isn't as responsive as say the upper bout.
Of course, all that goes out the window if you stand up when you play and the back is muffled by pressing against your body. Lol. Russ
That is just one more thing I have never thought of. I usually play sitting down and have arm rests on my acoustics. Maybe someone should design a belly rest.:)
 

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Sides don't add to the sound, which is why you want stiff sides to support the soundboard. I would be very and happily surprised if Godin or any other major manufacturer took the time to tune their backs to the top frequency, as each top has its own frequency. As I understand it, it is a time consuming process. What is that saying? Time is money. Lol.
 

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I have a Gibson J185 and a Yamaki from the mid-seventies. Both sound glorious and different. The Yamaki, with it's solid top and laminated back/sides is certainly is more robust environmentally and the Gibson (all solid) is a princess and needs careful temperature and humidity control.

The Yamaki is still my all-time favourite and held up perfectly against my friends HD28 this past weekend.
 

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But that is also why they charge $6000.00 to start with their guitars for those tops and backs to work together and lets here it for Yamaki's they really are great guitars had a Yamaki made Washburn that was freakin awesome all solid but was tougher then others which cost me shit loads more
 
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