View Full Version : Identifying laminate vs solid

03-09-2010, 05:14 PM
Are there easy ways of telling if a uke is solid wood or laminate from looking in the sound hole? I only have a laminate, so I'm not sure what to look for (if I happen to come across one that isn't at a dealer to verify).

03-09-2010, 05:31 PM
Depending on the wood it can be very easy or more difficult to tell. You look through the soundhole to see if the grain pattern on the inside matches that of the outside. They will look different with a laminate, if fact many times you will see two different kinds of wood. Sometimes however, you may have a mahogany laminate. Because mahogany often does not have a distinct grain pattern and both the inside and outside are mahogany, it can be more difficult to tell. Hope that helps.


03-09-2010, 06:29 PM
In addition to what Bradford said, you can sometimes see the layers of the laminate in the soundhole edges if you use a strong light. Of course this doesn't help if it's a solid top!

03-09-2010, 06:33 PM
See this thread (http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?9989) or this one (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?8739).

03-10-2010, 04:18 AM
Sometimes you just have to rely on the manufacturers specs. If it's solid most manufacturers will want you to know that to justify their price. If the description doesn't mention it and it's a really good price I would think that it would be a laminate. That's not always bad. If you a Jazz nut like I am and decide on an arch top uke, to make the arch even expensive brands will use a laminate top.

03-10-2010, 04:45 AM
Here's a handy guide from Music Folk, a great acoustic instrument shop in St. Louis. It's where I bought my Hilo, Flea and Fluke, as well as my son's acoustic guitar. Love them!


1. Solid 2. Laminate

03-10-2010, 06:24 AM
Here's a handy guide from Music Folk, a great acoustic instrument shop in St. Louis.

That's very helpful. Thanks!

03-11-2010, 12:12 PM
That's very helpful. Thanks!

Gotta say that I wish companies would use the word laminate when it is a laminate...

03-11-2010, 12:38 PM
Watch out for the word "select". Select = laminate. Some companies will advertize a uke as having solid koa (or other tone wood) top and select koa (or other tone wood) sides and back. I have no problems with laminates. They certainly have their place in the ukulele marketplace. But I want to know for sure what I'm buying....

03-11-2010, 12:43 PM
2 rules: 1. If it doesn't say SOLID, it's laminate. 2. when in doubt refer to rule 1.

03-11-2010, 12:49 PM
I know that higher end guitar companies sometimes use laminate for sides and will generally specify laminate sides because they're doing it to increase structural integrity or do something else to enhance some aspect of the instrument that they need laminate to do. They will always state this outright because it's a selling point and players in the market for those instruments understand why it's being done.