Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Taylor 25
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by Taylor 25 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:12 pm

Rpavish- Since you have both guitars coming in, I would do a blind test to see if you actually prefer one over the other. If one doesn't stand out above the other, then go with the cheaper one. :)

As for your question, I think it should be noted that laminated back and sides for an economically priced "factory" guitar vs. a handmade luthier guitar are two very different things. In short, it all comes down to the quality of the wood being used. In the former, the more expensive quality wood pieces are avoided in order to keep the cost down. To compensate for this, economically priced guitars will often use a very thin layer of nice wood, then use a thicker cheap wood filler (plywood), followed by another thin layer of nice wood to give the appearance of a solid wood cut.

Whereas, with handmade luthier instruments, the purpose of laminated the back and sides is not to keep the cost down, but to stiffen the guitar and thereby increase its responsiveness. Unlike what often happens with economically priced guitars, two expensive quality woods are put together without any cheap wood filler in between.

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joachim33
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by joachim33 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:06 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:51 pm
joachim33 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:34 pm
Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:43 pm
There's always going to be a better guitar (pretty much!) - budgeting to keep the strings fairly new can make a bigger difference.
...
My tutor tells me off for changing strings to often :o :shock: :o
That's just rather weird - is it a problem of having unstable tuning too often? If so, just get basses and leave the trebles on.
It is about spending your time and energies on the important things: practicing, playing the instrument, developing proper technique. Strings can be another form of “gear acquisition syndrome” and a detraction from what is important.

To me the cost of a string set lies in the effort taken to change them. I would say I totally loose 2 days of playing: 1 due to the time it takes me to change them and a second for the strings being unstable. This is followed by a period of about 1 to 2 weeks in which the guitar sounds not so great. I like my strings to ”open up” a bit. It is simply not economic to invest that every two to three weeks.

I played Savarez 510CR and 510CJ that long as well as D’Addario EXP46.

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joachim33
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by joachim33 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:09 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:30 pm
My tutor tells me off for changing strings to often :o :shock: :o
I do it every 3 month (100 to 120 h of play) now.

Wow. I change mine much sooner than that--but my hand oils seem to eat through strings. Nevertheless, on my spruce guitar in particular, new strings make it sound half again better--even with frequent re-stringing. So, do you notice an improvement in tone when you put on new strings? For me, it's like getting a new, better guitar every couple of weeks!

...

p.s. I seem to be able to keep strings on my cedarTakamine for a longer period of time without losing good tone. What's that about?
Jeffery,

Two comments:
  1. Did you try coated strings, e.g. D'Addario EXP, Hannabach 815? They should be more protected from your hands.
  2. Yes, my instrument has a Cedar top.
J.

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chrispeppler
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by chrispeppler » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:48 pm

Another factor is that laminated sides are usually stronger than solids and also less susceptible to humidity-induced issues. Some top-end guitars have lined sides (i.e Cyprus lining to rosewood sides).

rpavich
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by rpavich » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:00 pm

Just to wrap this thread up. I received the C7 and having played it for a day I can say two things:

1.) I prefer the sound (as compared to what I remember of the C9 I had in 2010) and

2.) Worrying about laminated vs solid at this stage is fruitless because most of the variables are in my skill/talent level, not subtleties of the guitar construction.

I'm happy with this guitar, it doesn't have any obvious flaws that cause me to regret the purchase. It sounds good to my ear, I'm pleased with it. It was even set up well enough that I don't feel like doing a set up on it just yet. Normally I'd have obsessed with that first thing.

One day in the future I'm sure I'll get a desire to try another guitar and "move up" but for now, I'm going to concentrate on doing things the right way and not taking my bad "electric rock" habits with me. I realize now that when I played before I didn't truly stop and learn the fundamentals of Classical guitar from the ground up; I learned pieces and thought I was doing things the right way but now looking back, I see that I was taking shortcuts.

In any case, I'm happy to be a novice just learning how to sit, have my hands positioned correctly, and how to sound a clean note with the proper finger and associate that note with what's on the staff. :)
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razz
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by razz » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:19 pm

If you like the sound of the guitar and you find it comfortable to play, I don't think that you should be concerned about the back and sides.

Torrescaster
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by Torrescaster » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:58 pm

I've got several solid and laminate side guitars, including a Cordoba C7.

My answer is that the top is WAY more important than the sides, and that, in my experience, you largely get what you pay for. A well built guitar with a good top and laminate sides will sound better than a solid side guitar with a poor top. Cordoba C7 definitely sounds better than *some* lower end guitars with solid sides I've tried.

That said, speaking in general, solid side guitars usually cost more and that extra cost also is reflected in other areas, including tuners, etc. I think you have to do a guitar by guitar comparison to know.

On C7, I really like mine, and play it a lot. Mine came set up perfectly out of the box. Tuners are good, it looks great, and sounds good. Neck has a nice profile, its thin and much more like an electric guitar than most traditional classical guitars. Also has pearloid side markers, which is a nice touch. Has a truss rod. . .which I didn't need to adjust and probably never will. I think bang/buck on this is good; I'd recommend it as an "intermediate" guitar for someone who is more than a beginner.

It is as good as my Spanish luthier built instruments? Not even close. It just doesn't have the volume/projection.
How does it compare to C9? No idea. . .never tried one.

Only other caveat I'd say is the grey padded Cordoba gig bag it comes with is pretty flimsy. I got mine at a bargain price because it got squished inside that bag (had to repair it). I'd suggest a hard case.

rpavich
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by rpavich » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:06 pm

Thanks for your comments torrescaster, my experience mirrors yours. I chose to keep the C7 for now, it was perfectly adjusted right out of the box and sounds fine for me. One day ill move up to something better but for now, this is working for me. I got a humicase for it.
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dory
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by dory » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:37 am

I live in a medium sized town. I actually waited to buy a guitar until I could try one that I liked because I was scared to buy a guitar by mail. That is, I kept trying the limited range of guitars here and waited to buy until I found one I liked. There is one thing to think about. You can always buy a new guitar when you are less of a "newbie." I sort of recommend starting with a modest priced guitar and upgrading.
Dory

ddray
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by ddray » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:43 am

rpavich wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:06 pm
Thanks for your comments torrescaster, my experience mirrors yours. I chose to keep the C7 for now, it was perfectly adjusted right out of the box and sounds fine for me. One day ill move up to something better but for now, this is working for me. I got a humicase for it.
If you like, that's what matters. I have a $300 factory-made guitar and unapologetically love it and have no intentions of "upgrading" any time soon.
razz wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:19 pm
If you like the sound of the guitar and you find it comfortable to play, I don't think that you should be concerned about the back and sides.
The classical music world seems to be extremely concerned about having just the right (ultra-expensive) instrument to conform to some standard somewhere. I'm not referring to the OP, just a general observation. I've found it applies to all instruments.

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Contreras
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by Contreras » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:38 am

Mike Atkinson wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:58 pm
The sad challenge is you have to order the guitars to try them. It is a constant struggle; to find a collection of instruments in an appropriate range to try.
A good reason to look into the pre-loved market. New is nice (or can be ... ) but more bang for your buck when used ... and you can try it.
Anyone else think Fakebook has done enough damage yet?

soufiej
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by soufiej » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 am

In my experience, laminations make for a guitar that requires more effort to play well. You must work a bit harder to achieve similar subtleties on a laminated body, if you can do so at all. Tone, timbre and dynamics simply do not come to life as they do with a finer build when you are instead working with lower grade materials. Yet, you must also realize that for most of us, there will always be higher grade materials which we simply cannot rationalize into our budget. Do not get yourself caught in the trap of thinking your guitar is the reason you are not progressing. The laws of diminishing returns clearly state there will be a point for everyone where more money in does not equal a similar amount out. Your task, should you decide to accept it, is to find that point for yourself today.

"Laminate" covers a good bit of territory and not all laminates are equal. I would say you should consider a laminated material to be of an overall lower grade of center material until proven otherwise. So your nice rosewood looking guitar may be cheap pine on the middle layer, knots and voids and all. Or it may be three layers of higher grade woods all similar in type and quality, just not as visually appealing as the skin layer. Experienced builders will tell you looks do not truly predict tone and some very ugly woods can sound quite beautiful.


Therefore, there are laminates and there are laminates, saying a guitar has laminated sides is like saying a car has a V6. So? Given the fact a guitar is a fine blend of ideas and constructions, maybe saying a guitar is using laminates is more like saying a car is equipped with 15" wheels. Only when you understand, and can exploit, a preferene for 17" wheels vs 15" wheels in conjunction with the entire power train and suspension, only then can you pre-judge the difference wheel diameter alone will make.

Until then, you are mostly chasing fairy dust you may have only read about. That get's expensive fast. Once you have the woods, you'll need the tuners. Once you have the tuners, you'll need the bridge. Once you have the bridge, you're on your way to soon becoming obsessed with what you still don't have. Mostly, what you have yet to experience. We all want that "experience". Once you have it, what will you do with it?

A higher quality guitar will make a lower skilled player sound better simply because the instrument is capable of more subtlety and more complexity even when the player does not yet fully comprehend how to achieve "subtle" or "complex". Yet, a more skilled and talented performer will sound quite good - basically like themself - on even a less expensive guitar because they understand the nature of "guitar". They are unlikely to select a lower grade instrument because they must work harder to achieve the same ends that come more easily on a higher grade instrument.

Until you feel it is most definitely your guitar that is hindering your progress as a player, the instrument you play is almost completely secondary. Until you can go into a shop and find a guitar that suddenly makes you realize what you have been working so hard to achieve is all present in this guitar, don't worry about your guitar. Just learn. The more you learn, the more you will eventually appreciate a finer instrument.

ddray
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by ddray » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:44 am

soufiej wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 am


A higher quality guitar will make a lower skilled player sound better simply because the instrument is capable of more subtlety and more complexity even when the player does not yet fully comprehend how to achieve "subtle" or "complex". Yet, a more skilled and talented performer will sound quite good - basically like themself - on even a less expensive guitar because they understand the nature of "guitar". They are unlikely to select a lower grade instrument because they must work harder to achieve the same ends that come more easily on a higher grade instrument.
I disagree. I think that line of thought leads beginners to believe that if they plunk down a small fortune for an instrument, they'll sound like a virtuoso in no time. A high quality instrument has the potential to make a highly skilled player sound better. A beginner or intermediate is going to sound as such regardless of how expensive the instrument. IMO a low-skilled player using an expensive handmade guitar is like buying a Steinway to play "Chopsticks".

soufiej
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by soufiej » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:52 pm

"I disagree. I think that line of thought leads beginners to believe that if they plunk down a small fortune for an instrument, they'll sound like a virtuoso in no time."


While I agree with your sentiment, your thinking does not disprove my experience. Of course beginners will over buy because they want to look and sound like their guitar heroes. The logic of that thinking goes back to the old NASCAR slogan of "race it on Sunday, sell it on Monday". Buyers selected cars that won over cars that lost.

People who have not dedicated the time and effort to realize just how difficult certain tasks are to achieve will consistently think everything they see being done is easily accomplished. The "better" you are, the more you make it look simple and easy. The popularity of DIY Channel and The Food Network prove that line of belief will never die.

Stories of failed guitar players would fill the halls of any library but would all have more or less the same plot line; "I thought I'd be great." There is no shortage of (even intermediate level) players who know of someone - at least one - who bought a guitar - of any level - and put it aside after a few short weeks due to the frustrations of not being fabulous after three weeks of just owning a guitar.

On the other hand, the second part of my empirical evidence says an accomplished player will indeed sound like an accomplished player - like themself - with a lower grade instrument. Ask yourself what it is that attracts you to a player. Is it only the music they play? Is it only the guitar they play? If they pick up another guitar, will they suddenly not sound like your favorite player?

"Accomplished" players sound so because they have learned the techniques and the "tricks" of playing. Hand them any level of instrument and that ability is not suddenly lost.

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prawnheed
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Re: Are laminated side guitars really that bad?

Post by prawnheed » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:00 pm

There is also the issue that a really good instrument can be harder to play cleanly than a poorer one. String noise, undamped resonances, slightly misfretted notes etc. are much more obvious on a clear, loud instrument than on a dead sounding beater.

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