Here at Breedlove Guitars we sit in both camps of this debate. We love any and all guitars here really, but we thought it’d be better to break down the pros and cons, if you will, of laminate and solid wood guitars. They each have their benefits, and reasons for being used in acoustic guitars, and we’re here to explain why.
What are they
More upper end professional guitars are made with cuts of solid wood. Some beginner models are built with laminate, or pressed plywood. Pressed plywood is made up of multiple layers of processed wood, typically pressed and bonded together with adhesive. This process makes the wood strong and stable. Some people believe that beginners should opt for laminate wood guitars, while professionals should choose solid wood instruments. Most of this is based upon the price point that one can spend on these guitars, but it’s misleading as each type of acoustic guitar can serve a different purpose to different players.
Unfortunately, the way guitars look factor more into purchases behaviors, than other various factors. The way the wood looks can determine if a guitar is bought or not, with buyers leaning toward the guitar that they like the look of best, with the sound and tone falling by the wayside at times. While boutique guitar builders such as Breedlove, love to feature the guitars made with beautiful tonewoods, like mahogany, rosewood, koa, cocobolo or others, some of these woods make price points difficult.
Laminate guitars can be made in a more cost-effective way, highlighting color variations and grain patterns in the wood. While laminate guitars are not made with solid pieces of tonewood, they are able to be made to look like solid pieces of wood.
As any musician knows, wood is a fickle thing, and depending on where you live, taking care of your guitar can take some time investment. Living in either a dry or humid climate, can make care of your acoustic guitar a nightmare. If it’s constantly dry, ensuring that there’s enough moisture where you store your guitar is crucial. When a guitar is made from a solid cut of wood, it depends on the bracing of the guitar to stay in the same shape. When a guitar’s wood goes through fast changes in temperature and humidity, the wood can develop cracks or glued joints can change. If you’re considering a guitar, and planning to travel a lot with it, a laminate guitar will stand up to many different climates and temperatures better than a solid wood guitar.
While experts believe that tone is everything, and trust it’s it is major, it’s not everything. Some believe that only guitars made with exotic tonewoods can produce great sound, but at the end of the day tone is subjective to the listener and the player. You should choose the guitar that you like best, aesthetically and tonally.