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Thread: Laminate vs Solid Mahogany: A Question of Mellowness

  1. #21

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    So I have gathered two things:

    1. Buy what sounds good to you.

    2. For most solid wood instruments to be an improvement over a well made laminate, be prepared to shell out a nice amount of cash instead of simply "the next step up". That is of course unless my first observation applies and you simply like or have found a different sound.
    Cordoba Tenor Bocote

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Madsen View Post
    Brian Griffin of Griffin Ukes, just made up 12 shakers with different woods as an experiment in sound differences. There is a vast difference in sound.http://www.griffinukuleles.com/blog. Towards the bottom.
    Since those are solid wood the sound will vary quite a bit. My earlier question has to do with different wood used in laminate tops. Kiwaya not withstanding (they rival solids), does it really matter if the top ply is mahogany or koa on a laminate? It kind of goes back to the OPís original question that maybe a laminate regardless of top veneer is probably going to be more mellow. If that is the case, then the build quality of the laminate is everything.

    John

  3. #23
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    I suppose that there can be huge differences in laminate instruments, depending on the technique that is used for lamination. That, along with making the top thin and stiff, is probably more relevant for the sound than the ultra-thin layer of veneer that is glued on to make it look nice. Hence, I'd think it has little influence on the sound whether this sheet is made of Acacia, Koa, Mahogany, Rosewood, Ziricote or what-have-you.

    It has been said before that a well-done laminate uke like Kiwaya will most likely sound better than a poorly made solid instrument. But that applies to really bad brands only, I would think. From the well respected brands, I'd take an all solid Kiwaya or Kala over a laminate one any day.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    Since those are solid wood the sound will vary quite a bit. My earlier question has to do with different wood used in laminate tops. Kiwaya not withstanding (they rival solids), does it really matter if the top ply is mahogany or koa on a laminate? It kind of goes back to the OP’s original question that maybe a laminate regardless of top veneer is probably going to be more mellow. If that is the case, then the build quality of the laminate is everything.

    John
    If we look to guitar manufactures, which have a much larger sample base then the answer is usually no. Bob Taylor of Taylor guitars talked about this with his GS mini model. It comes with a solid spruce top and laminated back and sides of sapelle, rosewood, walnut or maple. He has said it makes no difference to the sound. When making laminate the core is always the same, many times poplar or birch then a very very thin veneer is glued to each side.

    If you really want to muddy the waters then the core layer will deliver a different tone......poplar vs birch. Like everything else there is no hard and fast rules. To the OP, trust your ears and buy what sounds good to you
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 01-13-2019 at 02:00 AM.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    Another question we could raise in this context is whether it matters at all for sound what the top veneer of a laminate is mahogany, koa, or any other exotic wood. I think for many laminate instruments a variety of woods can be mixed, but only the highest layer veneer is typically named as it provides the "look" of the instrument. One very popular choice for laminate cores is poplar, which is known to provide a very sweet sound. Surprisingly this is never used as a tone wood in its own right.

    So should we just distinguish the ukes by the solid wood they are made off, and lump all laminates together regardless of their specific composition?
    For some reason nobody really seems to have picked up on the above however, to my mind, the point is crucial to any logical thinking about this topic. I’m certain that all laminate materials will not be of equal quality or have equal characteristics but other than some statement of the top/veneer layer we are given no other details. Surely, from the perspective of making an informed purchase, that’s just plain daft.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 01-13-2019 at 03:24 AM.

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