Balsa vs. Nomex doubletops

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Arash Ahmadi
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Balsa vs. Nomex doubletops

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:09 pm

Nomex double tops have been widely criticized by many luthiers and players for its not so natural sound and probably less longevity. On the other hand, there is a newer Balsa approach which seems to be less criticized (or maybe I have heard no negative feedback about it so far). Again, it differs from luthier to luthier.

What do you think? If you were to buy a new guitar and money was no issue, what would you buy, Nomex DT, Balsa DT or a one layer/normal guitar? why?
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Re: Balsa vs. Nomex doubletops

Post by Rasputin » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:33 pm

It depends so much on what you are going to do with it, not to mention your personal tonal preferences.

I would go for traditional construction unless I was expecting to be playing to reasonable size audiences without amplification (which I'm not BTW). To me the doubletop is a compromise which involves giving up some of the tone in exchange for more volume. From that point of view it doesn't make sense unless you need the volume, but of course your taste may be different. If you happen to prefer the doubletop tone (not that they all sound the same - but there's a family resemblance) the extra volume is a free bonus.

I think that amplifying a guitar of traditional construction is a better way of getting more volume than switching to a doubletop, but again that is a subjective thing and anyway the decision on amplification is not always in the hands of the player.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Balsa vs. Nomex doubletops

Post by Adrian Allan » Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:57 pm

As I said in another thread, it depends on so many different factors that it is almost impossible to generalise.

I have a double top that has a fairly traditional sound, but that might be because it is two layers of spruce. Many double tops tend to have at least one layer of cedar, normally on the outside. The most important factor is trying out lots of guitars, or commissioning a guitar from a maker that you can trust.
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Alan Carruth
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Re: Balsa vs. Nomex doubletops

Post by Alan Carruth » Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:40 pm

The object in making the sandwich is to reduce the weight of the top. Since most of the stiffness comes from the surface layers, you can use almost anything in the middle, so long as it will glue well, hold up to the forces involved, and is mostly air to keep the weight down. End-grain balsa has been used in this sort of structure for a long time, and works well. The main issue with it may be that it weighs more that honeycomb, so you don't get as much weight reduction. One might expect that the balsa core would not be as loud as a top with Nomex, but could sound a bit more 'traditional'. AS has been said, and as always with guitars, you can't say much for sure without the instrument in your lap.

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