What Is the Advantage of a Laminated Maple Top on a Guitar?

by Annelies de Groot Google
Planked guitar tops sound different to the trained ear than a solid top guitar.

Planked guitar tops sound different to the trained ear than a solid top guitar.

Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

The type of wood a guitar is made of influences the sound the instrument makes. Each type of wood carries the sound vibrations differently, subtly infusing the notes with more or fewer vibrations from different ends of the audible registry. The way the top of the guitar is made changes the sounds as well. A laminated maple top is made of planks of maple wood, as opposed to a solid-body maple top made of a single piece of maple.

Price

Laminated tops are significantly cheaper to produce than carved tops, as the shape can be directed over several pieces instead of being meticulously carved out of a single piece. This results in a better price for the buyer, and all beginning guitars will carry a laminate top. More discerning and more experienced players may prefer a solid-top guitar due to the integrity the single piece of wood brings to the sound, but for a beginner the difference is not worth the price. Maple is a more expensive wood than spruce or oak, but due to the quality added to the sound and construction, it is worth considering a maple top guitar even for a beginning player.

Sound

Many musicians love the sounds of maple on their guitars, as the porosity of the wood heightens the sounds of the upper registry and deepens the notes in the middle, particularly when the guitar is plugged into an appropriate amplifier. This can be great for harmonies and particular parts of rock songs. Some bands with multiple members try to include a maple top guitar to round out the sound spectrum of their songs. The sounds produced by maple necked guitars are brighter and quicker than those of guitars made of spruce or oak.

Appearance

Maple is an attractive wood to place on the top of guitars, as the wavy designs in the wood grain can run parallel or perpendicular to the straight lines on the guitar itself. The colors of big leaf, sugar and bearclaw maples range in the darker red-toned browns that can be accentuated with gold hardware. Different varnishes can play against the lighter tones of the wavy wood grain or deepen the red in the background of the laminate pieces.

Aging

A laminate top guitar will hold up consistently to time and humidity to a different degree than a solid top will. The continued strength resulting from gluing pieces of maple together will carry the guitar through more years with the same sound. The sound of a solid maple top improves over time, but the construction of the guitar itself will not last as long.

About the Author

Annelies de Groot was first published in 2007. She has contributed to local east coast papers and has worked for environmental and educational nonprofits. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John's College in Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images