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Martin Laminated Dreadnaught Kits
Author
Post
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 984
How does the laminated wood guitar sound in comparison to the solid wood?

Feb 21, 08 | 11:49 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Specifically the EIR kits they are now selling at $360 each. Seems like quite a deal!
Has anyone built one of these? I know Bill built a Martin laminated Brazilian Rosewood model. Bill, how does that guitar compare?
Thanks.

Feb 21, 08 | 11:50 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hi Kevin -- the martin laminated Braz (thin Braz outside/crossgrain mahogany center/thin braz inside) actually sounds very nice. I ahve t strung with extra light strings and a very low action for my daughter, and when fingerpicked, it has a nice even tone. If it was still mine, I would play it frequently.

Many luthiers are using laminated sides of two quality woods. I watched Michael Bashkin as he bent and glued a brazilian side to an inside of EIR. When I held them and compared the stiffness compared to a single side, the laminated sides were much stiffer even though lighter and thinner.

Bil

Feb 21, 08 | 3:04 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I have heard a few people say that the laminated guitars actually perform better and louder with light guage strings rather than the medium gauge strings. just a thought, but I too have heard the lam kits sound great. My dad did a 'hog lam kit. it looks good, but I think my EIR Jumbo solid wood sounds better, but there are any number of reasons for the difference. His sounds very nice, just not the sound I look for in a gutiar.

Feb 21, 08 | 7:08 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
There are a few points that need to be brought out on this. Laminated kits from Martin are also the A frame braced kits so you can't compare them to a D 18 or D 28 . The bracing is very different.
I have build them with standard bracing and with good results. I don't thing they are as nice as solid wood but as a beginner you save about $100 and the top is still about 85% of the sound anyway
john

Feb 21, 08 | 8:13 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
A new and even an experienced wood worker can make a real mess (cut through) in an instant, if EXTREME care is not taken during scraping and sanding processes. The veneer is only .028" thick. For this reason alone I would not recommend a laminated for the new wood worker.

Ken

Feb 21, 08 | 11:03 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
Lamintated kits do have some building concerns . The one advantage is the stability issue and you have less change of serious cracking. Wood guitars can

Feb 22, 08 | 4:15 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ken Cierp --et al -- I observed with the Martin Brazilian laminated kit I built that the back and sides were much smoother with shallower and smaller pores, requiring very little surface preparation prior to pore filling, and less pore filling when it came to that. So the danger of sanding through was lessened, and I was able to avoid it.

You are right; the laminate is extremely thin -- I found it to be uniformly about the same thickness as five sheets of paper.

I found myself wondering if they laminate it then bend it, or bend it then laminate it.

Feb 22, 08 | 5:08 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
The laminated is applied and then bent Bill. Martin lam kits are a good beginner kit but they do have different issue than solid wood. The big advantage is cost . They are a bit more durable and forgiving to rough handling.
Besides the sand through issue , the veneer will be tricky in the binding stages , especially the tail piece. you need to be sure to score it well and clean to avoid tear out. Other than that , they are easier to prep and less prone to spring back.
john hall

Feb 22, 08 | 6:38 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
I appreciate the input. I'm not concerned about spending the $$$ for the solid wood, but my understanding has been that solid wood made a better sounding guitar. I can see the issues involved with the laminate if it is that thin.....and I don't want to have to worry about that on my first build for sure.
I played one of the Martin composite 000 guitars at Guitar Center a couple of months back and was very impressed with the mellow sound, but the projection wasn't there, so I wondered if the wood laminate would be similar to that.
I think I am still leaning toward an LMI kit with solid Palo Escrito....I just love that wood, and am hoping it will make a good sounding instrument...we will see. Thanks again you guys for your knowledge and insite.
Kevin

Feb 22, 08 | 7:18 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
John -- Thanks -- That makes sense, now that I think it through.

I guess I got lucky with the tearout issue -- I didn't have any at all.

Bill

Feb 22, 08 | 7:54 am
SteveCourtright

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 81
I built a laminated BRW kit about 18 months ago. In sound it compares favorably to guitars at my local shop in the $2-4,000 range. In fact, it sounds better than the solid wood Martin OMs in the shop; louder, clearer and with a bell like top end.

I think it is because I took a lot of care in narrowing and shaving the braces, it is a lighter braced guitar than what comes off the assembly line. I also thinned the top quite a bit.

Highly recommended, even if it is not your first kit, it is still a keeper.

I also agree with John's caution. I found the laminate splintery when doing the binding channels and the end wedge. I might have wash coated with shellac before the work, to reduce that problem.


Feb 22, 08 | 1:46 pm
000lover

Total Topics: 71
Total Posts: 330
A few questions:

Can you buy laminate rosewood at LMI or another luthier supply?

Do you think it (laminate) would have better tonal qualities than a low grade rosewood (at LMI they call it "2nd grade" & ERI back and sides for only $53)?

Last, is john Hall the man to talk to about laminate kits? Martin's website only had cutaway laminate kits.

Jul 05, 08 | 7:50 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
A laminated guitar is OK for out door use around the campfire etc. In my view if you are going to take the time to build a guitar don't make it out of plywood -- that's what they sell at the Big Box stores. Also, grading is about apprearance not tonal qualities. On the other hand the treausred Selmers are indeed made of plywood.

Ken

Jul 05, 08 | 8:06 am
000lover

Total Topics: 71
Total Posts: 330
I care more about tone than appearance, so maybe the 2nd grad rosewood is a better option. The only thing that catches my thoughts is just what you said, "A laminated guitar is OK for out door use around the campfire etc."

I have 2 nice guitars that I hate to take outside in the heat and humidity, but I love to play outside and sometimes by the campfire. I would kind of like the next build to be something to take on trips and take outside that would still be something to be proud of and sound good. Then again, the laminate may be for me...

Jul 05, 08 | 8:58 am
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
My campfire guitar is a laminate Ibanez dreadnaught that was on sale at Guitar Center for $75. It sounds surprisingly good. It has a durable poly finish on it so I don't have to worry about dinging it up.

If I were to build a camping guitar, I think I would go with 2nd quality solid woods, a very simple binding pattern and a wipe-on poly finish. I might even go for a colored finish! Build it neatly but don't shoot for perfection.

Jul 06, 08 | 1:55 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Personally, I wouldn't put the time and effort of building into a guitar for the campfire. Buy one cheap and use your energies for the nice ones you don't plan to take into the woods.

Just an opinion.

Jul 06, 08 | 5:06 pm
000lover

Total Topics: 71
Total Posts: 330
I wish you could meet my wife :)

The is no way in the hot place that she would let me buy another guitar. She MIGHT let me build another. On the kit wizzard I made a cheap kit for less than $200 bucks using 2nd grade woods and a neck blank (worth a try for only $20). It would be very close to a scratch build but I could take my time and get experience. I know it may not be as nice as a 500 dollar kit, but worth a try i think. I would probably end up spending 125 to 150 on a solid top campfire guitar. I would much rather take the chance and get the oportunity to build than just go buy a sub-par guitar.

Jul 07, 08 | 9:38 am
jhowell

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 676
I agree with Bill's opinion. Your time and labor are worth something. If your looking for a campfire guitar, go to e-Bay and get a Yamaha for $100. The new ones are only $199 and they are pretty decent and very sturdy guitars. With the economy in the shape that it is, its a buyers market right now.

Jul 07, 08 | 1:22 pm
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
After LMII implemented their Kit Wizard I thought about ordering a 2nd grade set of materials for a practice build. I just looked the cost of materials was just over $183 plus shipping plus finishing materials. You can do better on cost going with the Yamaha or a Jasimine from Musicians Friend or another online retailer. But you would get practice with the materials.

I love my wife. I recently purchased an Eastman Uptown AR803CE number 9 at this time (arrived on Thursday). This is along with an electronic keyboard and a mandolin (can't play either of these but plan to learn someday). And my wife never complains.

Jul 07, 08 | 3:30 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Part of the exercise is the joy of the exercise, not just getting a guitar. At least for me, it goes beyond getting a playable instrument. If I want to enjoy playing, I suppose I could play what I have. needing a campfire guitar gives me a, well, an excuse to exercise the other half of this thing I have fallen in love with. I wouldn't mind building one for the campfire. I wouldn't mind building one for any reason.

Jul 07, 08 | 11:09 pm
000lover

Total Topics: 71
Total Posts: 330
Exactly my thought ken!

Jul 09, 08 | 12:01 pm
000lover

Total Topics: 71
Total Posts: 330
Just thought I would add that on martin's website today, the added a OM rosewood laminate kit for only250!

HOW IRONIC...

This presents a dilemma for me. Do I get the LMI kit for about 190 with real rosewood but no pre-shaped neck (which is very expensive compared to the piece of raw mahogany in the LMI kit), or do I get the martin kit for 50 bucks more that has the sides bent( i think) and neck and bolts where they should be(since this part scares me the most when making my own neck)?

Oh well. i hope they keep the kit available for long enough to try to talk the wife into it ;)

Jul 11, 08 | 4:54 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Matt -- the 000 laminated kit you refer to is not bad; I built one, and it was interesting. It has the Martin Style 2 bracing and a flat (unradiused) top. Mine was a Brazilian laminate and has nice tone. Like all laminates, it doesn't react as much to humidity changes. It might be a good one for your campfire plans.

It's the guitar on its side in the cover picture on my Martin manual, here.


Bill

Jul 11, 08 | 5:31 pm



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