Solid top or laminated

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Daren
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Solid top or laminated

Post by Daren » June 10th, 2008, 9:54 pm

Im going to buy a classical guitar and I am a beginner just starting out. I got my eye on either a yamaha C40 for £70 which is laminated but is supposily a good sounding guitar,or I could splash out a £200 and get a Raimundo 104B which is entry level solid ceder top spannish guitar.
Question is will I notice any difference between the two being a beginner that I am,I have read in some guitar reviews that a cheap guitar can sound and play just as good as a more expensive quality guitar.

Thanks
Daz

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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by TwistedLefty » June 11th, 2008, 12:08 am

i do not know about yamahas rep with classical style guitars, but i have a yamaha dred that has lasted me over 30 years and is still going strong.
i say as a beginner you should have someone you trust check it out and play it yourself as well, then play the other you mentioned and make a choice based on what you feel and hear.
a laminated top should serve you fine, but if you really feel that you are going to stick with it, get as much quality as you can afford.
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by Alan Green » June 11th, 2008, 3:40 am

If you're just starting out on Classical, go for the Yamaha - you will not have any problems with anything that says Yamaha on it (I have a keyboard, drum machine and a bass).

The difference between all wood tops and laminate tops is that the laminate top should sound nice and bright now and that's what it will sound like for ever. Wooden tops mature with age as you play them in and will sound more rounded in five years' time. As a beginner, I'd go for a laminate because you probably won't hear any difference between wood or laminate until you've been playing a good few years - I'm not sure I could tell just by listening and I've been playing Classical since time began.


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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by MaxRumble » June 11th, 2008, 9:54 am

I would advise you to buy the solid top if you can afford it. It has been my experience that solid tops sound significantly better immediately and as stated will only improve with age. You may not be able to tell the difference immediately, especially since you have yet to develope good tecnique, but it will not take long for you to hear the difference. Have you looked at any used guitars?
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by Blueline » June 11th, 2008, 12:10 pm

My first guitar was a laminated top. I still play it. Love the sound. If you closed your eyes and had someone play both guitars, would you be able to tell which was laminated? Save yourself the $ and get the lammie. I'm sure it will be fine.
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by Ricochet » June 11th, 2008, 5:50 pm

Right now I'm playing my first guitar, a Washburn D-11 dreadnought with a laminated top. Laminated "Mountain Ash," no less. It's still a great sounding guitar, and I love it!
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by Ghost Rider » June 11th, 2008, 9:58 pm

Whatever guitar you get, I hope you enjoy it.

I am of the school that if a guitar feels good, and makes you want to play it, it doesn't really matter. Go for it.
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Nick
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by Nick » June 12th, 2008, 3:29 am

I buy guitar by ear, or I keep guitar by ear. I've bought several over the Internet so I can't say I buy them all by listening, but I only keep the ones that appeal to me as a listener and player. In the vault I've found I don't have a single laminated top guitar. I've never bought one having given a listen.

That's not to say it won't appeal to you. For me laminates have a distinctive sound that doesn't appeal to me as much as a solid top. I was really trying to say give it a listen, it may appeal to you, it may not. Have you considered a used guitar? That could save you bucks, or euros, or pounds. Either way, there are some very good laminates out there.

Laminate is strong. It is great for a guitar that might get knocked about, won't stay in it's case, will go camping, get played by the kids, wait I take the last one back, strong I said, not indestructible.

If you think used might be an option, click the link in my signature for my articles and go down to number 13, how to buy a used acoustic.
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by NoteBoat » June 12th, 2008, 4:43 am

If it were a steel string, I'd be in complete agreement with Nick. Most of my guitars are solid top, but one is laminate... and I bought it for the sound.

But you're not looking for a steel string, you're looking for a classical.

The construction differences are considerable, and there's a reason classicals are so different. Compared to steel string guitars, they're incredibly light - the tops are thinner, the bracing is sometimes made of balsa, etc. That's because you need a really responsive top to get a good classical tone.

So the question in my mind is why do you want a classical?

If you think nylon strings will be easier on your fingers for learning, by all means consider the laminate. If you're just playing for your own enjoyment, or strumming chords, as a beginner you may never even notice the difference.

But if you're going to study classical guitar, I'd say a solid top is an absolute requirement.

Classical guitarists have a much broader range of techniques to color the tone than steel string guitarists do. The reason they've got so much fine control is the light top. A solid top classical rewards correct posture and hand position with great tone, and punishes bad technique with a muffled sound. These differences in tone are much smaller with a laminate.

On a steel string those differences are there, but steel strings (compared to nylon) have such a big booming sound that the differences in top tone are subtle. On a classical, it's a real slap in the face. And that means on a classical with a laminate top it's going to be much harder to develop good control over your tone.

I know most rock guitarists are going to think that's a lot of bull, but there's a simple experiment you can do if you know a couple of guitarists. Have a classically trained guitarist and a non-classical guitarist play both guitars while you listen. You'll find there's some difference in sound between the two guitarists on a laminate, but an astounding difference on the solid top. As a beginner, a solid top will reward correct technique with a noticeable improvement in tone - and that means you'll develop better habits from the start.

If budget is an issue, get a cheaper one, or a used one, but stick with solid. I picked up a new solid top Gianini with a finish blemish a couple years ago for $175 so I could have one for students to use if they were curious about classical. My son owns a Kay classical with a laminate top that's just a little less expensive. The difference between the sound of the two guitars is literally night and day. The Gianini is a "student" model; I also own a "concert" Gianini that was considerably more expensive... it sounds better than the cheap one, but the difference between the two solid tops, which are hundreds of dollars apart in cost, is tiny compared to the difference between the two inexpensive guitars.
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by CitiZenNoir » June 12th, 2008, 5:50 am

I pretty much agree with Noteboat here.

With any acoustic guitar: Steel or Classical; The top acts as the speaker cone of the sound system.
Solid cedar or solid spruce are fantastic choices for solid tops; each having their own characteristic sound.

A laminated top acoustic really doesn't have the vibrational qualities to give the sound any.... 'character' (?).
What you end up hearing mostly is the bounce back out of the sound hole.

Cedar tops are a great choice for fingerstyle playing on either nylon or steel strung acoustics.
Cedar is lighter than spruce, providing more subtle nuance possibilities.

It's been said that cedar tops never improve with age.... well, that's all right.
They offer a different kind of sound from the begining that spruce will never have.
Spruce tops often sound 'tight' when new and mellow out with age.

About the only type of guitar I would consider a laminated top on would be a hollow body archtop electric....
Like the jazz boxes made by Epiphone these days.
They sound pretty darn good and are pretty tough.
They may never have that really dry tone that a solid spruce top/solid maple sides & back guitar has....
Though for a price difference of $600.00 for the laminated, or $10,000.00 for the solid....

Anyway; I say try and find a nice entry level classical with a cedar top.

Ken
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by Phinnin » June 12th, 2008, 7:50 am

When I was buying my first guitar I was given the same piece of advice from several people:

"No matter what you get, at least get a solid top. Everything else is negotiable"

That was advice from A: The professional I know B: My teacher C: Every friend I had who played.

For what that's worth....

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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by kingpatzer » June 12th, 2008, 9:18 am

CitiZenNoir wrote:
They may never have that really dry tone that a solid spruce top/solid maple sides & back guitar has....
Though for a price difference of $600.00 for the laminated, or $10,000.00 for the solid....
I have a hand-made, all solid wood 17" jazz box, with far better pickups than anything produced by Epiphone that cost me just slightly more than $2,000.

The idea that solid tops have to break the bank is simply wrong.
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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by abcxyz » June 13th, 2008, 1:58 pm

I don't know how solid top classical sounds. It may be great or may be not.

But, anyhow, my yamaha classical (laminate top) sounds pretty good to me. It plays wells, feels good and is a strong guit.

Ideally, if money was not your constraint, you should have gone for the *best* guitar you could comfortably afford. But, since here you are on a stretch (and you are only starting to learn), my advice would be to go with the Yamaha C-40.

It won't fail you and will possibly be your guitar for life (if you take care of it).

Good Luck !

P.S. - To know how my classical sounds, check out any song on my sound page.

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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by Daren » June 15th, 2008, 12:09 pm

Well I spent time at a guitar store this weekend and tried the Yamaha C40 laminatet top and then I played a spanish Admira Virtuosa which is solid ceder top and solid rosewood back and sides and was amazed how much clearer and better sound it was.

So my mind now is made up I will go a little bit extra cash and go with wood.
Thanks for all your advice.
I will probably buy the Amira Virtuoso,I will let you know.

Daz

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Re: Solid top or laminated

Post by CitiZenNoir » June 15th, 2008, 2:28 pm

Cedar on rosewood.... GREAT choice!
kingpatzer wrote:
CitiZenNoir wrote:
They may never have that really dry tone that a solid spruce top/solid maple sides & back guitar has....
Though for a price difference of $600.00 for the laminated, or $10,000.00 for the solid....
I have a hand-made, all solid wood 17" jazz box, with far better pickups than anything produced by Epiphone that cost me just slightly more than $2,000.

The idea that solid tops have to break the bank is simply wrong.
KP - I have a vague recolection of us having this conversation once before.... Long ago.
I'd be interested in knowing a bit more about your jazz box :D

Ken
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