Laminate back and sides?

Hey guys! Please excuse my ignorance, but what exactly does it mean for a guitar to have laminate back and sides? Is this generally considered a good or bad thing? How does it effect the sound and durability? Thank you very much.


  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,819

    Laminated veneers like plywood rather than solid one piece wood all the way thru the thickness.

    It is my understanding that Selmacs were mostly laminated except for the top which was solid spruce.

    Sound and durability are fine.

  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Paris swing, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    edited May 15 Posts: 181

    Even Djangos guitar was laminate back and sides, which in those days was a new thing . It’s generally looked down upon nowadays for a typical acoustic guitar player but these guitars are a completely different animal. They sound good with laminate back sides. Contributes to the gypsy twang we all know and love

  • edited May 15 Posts: 9

    Thank you very much for your help.

  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca, Catelluccia, Bucolo, Martino, Hofner, Hoyer, Burns
    Posts: 512

    Also laminates being effectively a sandwich of different plies means there are different grain directions which should add strength. I am not a luthier but have had considerable experience building race cars with with composite materials, carbon fiber, glass fiber, kevlar etc and learned a lot about the strength according to the orientation of the plies. In the event of knock that might cause a crack it would be more likely to travel along the grain of a solid piece than it would in a laminate.

    Any luthiers care to comment?

  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 733

    The Selmers were designed with laminated back and sides as Mario Maccaferri believed it offered a stronger construction and changed the sound of the instrument. I think he was looking to produced a clear focussed sound without too many overtones.

    There's also an argument about how much the back and sides affect the sound. I think the grest luthier Torres conducted experiments using all sorts of things for the back and sides and concluded that the most important contributor to a guutars sound is the top.

    I know a lot of modern builders of gypsy guitars use solid woods for back and sides and that seems to work well. From a builders point of view using laminates, certainly for the sides, can be an easier process than bending solid woods.

    always learning
  • KlausUSKlausUS AustriaNew Dupont MD50, AJL Silent
    edited May 16 Posts: 18

    For a Gypsy jazz guitar and its specific sound, laminate works obviously just perfect. Many, if not Most of the expensive Gypsy guitars are offered With laminated back and sides.

    For a high end Acoustic flattop it is another story. The solid wood construction gives you a richer, fuller tone in the long run, which is desired for this genre.

    A luthier of high end Austrian classical guitars said on YouTube, if I remember correctly, (apart from the general construction) that at least 80% of the sound comes from the top and the remaining 20% from back and side, neck, etc.,..

  • Posts: 13

    Ive a few Sicilian gypsy/folk guitars that predate the Selmac, all used laminate backs it seems to give better attack and brightness to the sound. Not just for structural reasons as good bracing still used. These guitars also have a few other features that are to be found in the early gypsy jazz guitars.

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