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Thread: Is the advantage of solid wood a myth?

  1. #1
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    Default Is the advantage of solid wood a myth?

    I play guitar and am new to ukulele. In the guitar world there is a belief that solid wood is better than laminate because of how it transforms with age.
    No one claims that laminates cannot sound good. In fact there are many laminate guitars that sound awesome.

    In the ukulele world, it seems the distinction is far more clearcut. Solid wood is considered better sounding than laminate.


    I find this counter intuitive. In a uke the soundboard is so much smaller so to my naive mind it should have a lower contribution to the overall sound. According to my reasoning the distinction between a solid top and laminate should be smaller.

    What is the truth. How much of a difference does a solid top really make?

  2. #2
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    The impact of wood in uke world is different but it exists.. laminate can sound good but the quality of wood or laminate and how the uke is built has an impact else all sopranos would sound the same which is not true.. some sopranos do sound better.
    There is one trend from guitar world that I do not see in ukes, it is the choice of using double wood tops.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by snshami View Post
    I play guitar and am new to ukulele. In the guitar world there is a belief that solid wood is better than laminate because of how it transforms with age.
    No one claims that laminates cannot sound good. In fact there are many laminate guitars that sound awesome.

    In the ukulele world, it seems the distinction is far more clearcut. Solid wood is considered better sounding than laminate.


    I find this counter intuitive. In a uke the soundboard is so much smaller so to my naive mind it should have a lower contribution to the overall sound. According to my reasoning the distinction between a solid top and laminate should be smaller.

    What is the truth. How much of a difference does a solid top really make?
    Laminates are thin sheets glued together. The glue doesn't vibrate like solid. There will be less sustain and deader sound. The size of the instrument won't change this. If anything it would enhance the difference.

  4. #4
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    There are laminates and there are laminates. Some sound very nice. Probably what makes the real difference is a player’s ability to play.

  5. #5
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    [QUOT In a uke the soundboard is so much smaller so to my naive mind it should have a lower contribution to the overall sound. According to my reasoning the distinction between a solid top and laminate should be smaller.

    What is the truth. How much of a difference does a solid top really make?[/QUOTE]

    The line of reasoning in uke construction goes down a different path. Because of the lower surface area of the body and most importantly the top of the body uke construction seeks to maximize the ability of the uke to convert the energy of string vibrations into sound. In a nutshell, that’s the story.

    Though there are some great exceptions I’d bet that it would be less than .0001 percent of actual ukes in the world.

  6. #6
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    Yes, there is a slight difference in tone & feel between solid mahogany & laminate mahogany, just one sample, so it does make a difference, but mainly on single notes, I think, strumming loses some of the difference, to my mind. They also resonate for a little longer, in my experience.

    Solid tops are probably the most cost effective option, as it is the top that vibrates to give out the sound mainly, with strings obviously counting in the equation too.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffelele View Post

    Though there are some great exceptions I’d bet that it would be less than .0001 percent of actual ukes in the world.
    So what are the exceptions? I'm looking for a low cost tenor.

  8. #8
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    You said there are many laminate guitars that sound "awesome", I have never heard anyone from the guitar world say that. Certainly not guitars with laminate tops. There is a trend for very heavy laminated back and sides with a solid wood top in classical guitars. That kind of back makes a great reflector for a high quality solid wood top, which produces most of the sound
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by snshami View Post
    So what are the exceptions? I'm looking for a low cost tenor.
    What is your actual budget??? Low cost can be $50 to one person and $500 to another
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  10. #10
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    I bet it's 99% myth - based on absolutely no facts whatsoever - just my opinion.

    Blind listening tests between a Stradivarius and other violins have not shown the Strad to be superior. I bet it would be the same with a solid/laminate comparison. There are so many variables involved in producing a sound from a ukulele, that solid or laminate 3mm wood on the top is not going to be a deciding factor. I'd like to see a test between a solid Tiny Tenor and a laminate (which I have). Maybe someone could distinguish a difference in the sound, but would one be superior? There are two times when solid/laminate makes a difference: buying and selling. : )
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

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