All laminate Vs solid top

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ZonularZonular Frets: 27
Hey guys, after a bit of research I've discovered my steel string acoustic I've had for close to 20 years is a all laminate construction, it sounds good to me.

Im shopping around for a parlour guitar, for some fingerpicking blues.im looking to keep it under 200 quid if possible

From your wealth of experience, how much difference would I hear between cheaper all laminate parlour Vs a cheaper solid wood like a Harley Benton? 


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  • english_bobenglish_bob Frets: 3516
    In my limited experience I'm not sure it makes as much difference as you might think. I've heard some amazing all-laminate guitars (albeit at twice the price you're looking to spend) and some unspectactular cheaper solid top guitars.

    Shops are open again. I'd say that the tried and tested advice is still the best: go play some.

    Don't talk politics and don't throw stones. Your royal highnesses.

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  • ZonularZonular Frets: 27
    Sadly in Dublin, so shop ain't open yet
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 145
    In my limited experience I'm not sure it makes as much difference as you might think. I've heard some amazing all-laminate guitars (albeit at twice the price you're looking to spend) and some unspectactular cheaper solid top guitars.

    Shops are open again. I'd say that the tried and tested advice is still the best: go play some.
    I agree with the above. Generally I would say guitars with solid tops are better because they are usually used on better instruments overall. However, a decent laminate used by a good builder can sound extremely good - although, in my experience the sound of good laminate top is more controlled than a solid top.

    Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules. You have to try them to find out.
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  • english_bobenglish_bob Frets: 3516
    GTC said:
    However, a decent laminate used by a good builder can sound extremely good - although, in my experience the sound of good laminate top is more controlled than a solid top.


    Yep. It's been a while since I went acoustic guitar shopping, but the last time I did I spent a lot of time trying out solid top acoustics in the ~£400 range. The laminate Martins for a few hundred quid more sounded significantly better. 

    That said, I don't think the OP is going to encounter that sort of dilemma in the hunt for a £200 parlour guitar. If I was forced to buy blind I'd probably steer towards the solid tops for the same reason you gave, but I'd much rather get my hands on some actual guitars.

    Don't talk politics and don't throw stones. Your royal highnesses.

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  • GandalphGandalph Frets: 592
    If you don’t mind the narrow nut I’d consider an all laminate Gretsch Jim Dandy over a solid top Harley Benton for some finger picking blues. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 56983
    It's definitely true that in general a solid top sounds better than ply, but there is some considerable overlap.

    However, if you want a smaller-size guitar for fingerpicking blues, I would [caution: stuck record :) ] recommend the Vintage V300M - it's a solid mahogany-topped small-bodied guitar, roughly midway between a parlour and a 000, sounds great, and is under £200 new. They do a spruce-topped model as well, but the mahogany has more character in my opinion.

    I actually play mine more than my Gibson Dove...

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • ZonularZonular Frets: 27
    Realistically at lower price points I figure construction is going to win over "better materials" 
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 2158
    edited April 15
    Gandalph said:
    If you don’t mind the narrow nut I’d consider an all laminate Gretsch Jim Dandy over a solid top Harley Benton for some finger picking blues. 
    Some people love em some dont, but a (laminate) Gretsch Jim Dandy, is to me, a nice little parloury,  acoustic, I didnt even realise the nut is “narrow”
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • ZonularZonular Frets: 27
    ICBM said:
    It's definitely true that in general a solid top sounds better than ply, but there is some considerable overlap.

    However, if you want a smaller-size guitar for fingerpicking blues, I would [caution: stuck record :) ] recommend the Vintage V300M - it's a solid mahogany-topped small-bodied guitar, roughly midway between a parlour and a 000, sounds great, and is under £200 new. They do a spruce-topped model as well, but the mahogany has more character in my opinion.

    I actually play mine more than my Gibson Dove...
    I think I may have read the ngd post of your picking it up for 20 quid , if that's a steal!

    Funny I like the boxy sounding blues sound, yet I'm worrying about quality of wood
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 56983
    Zonular said:

    I think I may have read the ngd post of your picking it up for 20 quid , if that's a steal!
    Yes, I did - although to be fair it needed a lot of work. I have to admit that I probably wouldn't have given one much thought if I'd just seen them in shops at the normal price and never played one, but having found it by accident I'd happily buy another.

    Zonular said:

    Funny I like the boxy sounding blues sound, yet I'm worrying about quality of wood
    For me it splits the difference perfectly - it's got that barky midrangy bluesy tone, but with enough inherent quality that it doesn't just sound rough.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • LastMantraLastMantra Frets: 1821
    edited April 15
    I don't really know but I've got (my son has) a little seagull acoustic which is laminate and it sounds pretty good to me. But then I'm not really into fancy acoustics. 

    I've heard it said that a solid top will improve with age whereas a laminate top won't. What it sounds like now is how it will always sound. 
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  • GandalphGandalph Frets: 592
    paulnb57 said:
    Gandalph said:
    If you don’t mind the narrow nut I’d consider an all laminate Gretsch Jim Dandy over a solid top Harley Benton for some finger picking blues. 
    Some people love em some dont, but a (laminate) Gretsch Jim Dandy, is to me, a nice little parloury,  acoustic, I didnt even realise the nut is “narrow”
    I sold mine not too long ago to another forum member and regretted it as soon as it left. 
     
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 56983

    I've heard it said that a solid top will improve with age whereas a laminate top won't. What it sounds like now is how it will always sound. 
    Often said - whether from ignorance or snobbery, I'm not sure - but not true. Laminate might age a bit more slowly, but it still does.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • LastMantraLastMantra Frets: 1821
    edited April 15
    ICBM said:

    I've heard it said that a solid top will improve with age whereas a laminate top won't. What it sounds like now is how it will always sound. 
    Often said - whether from ignorance or snobbery, I'm not sure - but not true. Laminate might age a bit more slowly, but it still does.

    Ah OK. I'd have thought the glue would make a difference there but maybe not.

    I've never noticed.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 56983
    LastMantra said:

    Ah OK. I'd have thought the glue would make a difference there but maybe not.

    I've never noticed.
    The glue does make a difference, but plywood is still at least 90% wood.

    Old ply guitars don't sound like new ply guitars, they sound 'old' - which is difficult to define, but you know it when you hear it :).

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • KilgoreKilgore Frets: 4589
    edited April 15
    At that sort of price range I don't think it makes a great deal of difference for finger picked blues.
    Recording King have a number of parlours with either laminate or solid spruce tops for under £200.

    Sigma have some "parlours" actually 00s around the £300 mark that might be worth a look. 

    If you're looking for a solid top "blues box"  I would spend some time deciding whether you prefer the sound of mahogany or spruce. 
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  • LastMantraLastMantra Frets: 1821
    ICBM said:
    LastMantra said:

    Ah OK. I'd have thought the glue would make a difference there but maybe not.

    I've never noticed.
    The glue does make a difference, but plywood is still at least 90% wood.

    Old ply guitars don't sound like new ply guitars, they sound 'old' - which is difficult to define, but you know it when you hear it :).

    Cool then I look forward to hearing it when my son is actually old enough to play it properly (he's only 4). Atm it's tuned to open e and he lies it across his lap and strums. Often with a slide, like that Healey chap  :)

    I suppose it could depend on how much glue has soaked into the wood. Plus it's not a given that it will sound *better* with age I presume? 


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  • BingManBingMan Frets: 33
    beat me to it
    Was going to say for £200 there isn't much point deciding between solid and laminate, its better to just find a guitar that fits the bill. Blues sounds great on laminate guitars... unless you want a more sophisticated tone (think Clapton unplugged)... but for some delta stuff, the cheaper the better most of the time, you just want them to be playable

    Recording King do their Dirty 30 range which are really great for that depression era blues sound and seriously cheap. Would probably fit the bill nicely

    https://www.coda-music.com/catalogsearch/result/?cat=0&q=recording+king&order=relevance&dir=desc










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  • In that price bracket and a bluesy sound, definitely Recording King. With a little patience I'm sure you will find something second hand on Adverts.ie
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  • bugilemanbugileman Frets: 33
    edited April 24
    I used to go in for the hype that a solid top is better. But after years of collecting, buying etc its all a load of BS! I'd put my old Takamine or Yairi laminate top, up against alot of guitar's and they sound superb. They do give tone projection etc like a solid top should, but you have to remember its also down to how the guitar was built in the first place! High pressure laminate tops are actually very good, unlike some of the more generic ones.
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