View Full Version : Top of mandolin-wood?
What the differant between the plywood and laminate on cheap mandolin, what the better of the two???no jokes, need to know !!!!
I've had two plywood topped mandolins my first , a Lotus, was terrible. It was an A style with F holes, it wouldn't stay in tune and the top sank. It also rattled. My second is an A style with oval hole by the Bestler company and it's pretty good. Stays in tune travels with me and goes from hot or cold car to locker at work ect. sounds good unless you play it right next to a "good" solid top and then it's a little thin. I guess my point is you have to listen to and play them. I know some good quality laminates are out there as well as shelf paper covered cardboard. For that matter I met a guy from Montana about 5 years ago who built a pretty decent sounding guitar with a cardboard body.
In normal usage, laminate = plywood. #Two ways of saying the same thing. #There are some laminates that incorporate a layer of some other substance, and these can range from a wood and carbon fiber laminate that I understand is used to top some classical guitars (very pricey), to the "wood-like substances" used in cheaper furniture etc.
You have a posting in the "Builders/Repair" section where you ask about nato laminates. #Nato is a variant of mahogany, which has generally been considered as inferior to spruce as a tone wood, at least for instrument tops. #Martin Guitars, for example, had its mahogany-topped instruments as its lowest-end models -- that is, before Martin started making guitars out of Formica and plastic and what-have-you! #However, I wouldn't generalize over whether a mahogany-plywood top would sound better or worse than a spruce-plywood top on a mandolin. #You'd have to stack the two instruments up against each other and play them.
I would hazard a guess, however, that any laminated substance, on a cheap instrument, that wasn't plywood -- that is, included "shelf-paper-covered cardboard" as Jim cited, or another non-wood substance -- would probably be evidence of a terminally cheaply made, inferior instrument. #Plywood instruments generally aren't as good-sounding as solid wood instruments, but there are plywood-topped instruments that sound decent. #My cheapo Strad-O-Lin is an example. #I would guess that even Jim's friend's "pretty decent sounding guitar with a cardboard body" had a wooden top.
I would guess that even Jim's friend's "pretty decent sounding guitar with a cardboard body" had a wooden top.
Actually Allen it did not have a wooden top it was cardboard as well. It had a wooden bridge and neck, I don't know what the bracing was and I think it was lacquered or varnished.
My impression was that C F Martin made up the HPL in their facility and it was a laminate of wood, done at high pressure. rather than Formica a plastic sheet with an Image on the surface.
Plugged my Plastic Mix in and played it for hours at a "usual Suspects" jam saturday.
Peter, start on a modern plastic version of a plastic Maccafari guitar next?
The Martins use the same type of HPL that WilsonArt, Nevamar, Formica, etc. use for kitchen counters and HPL flooring just a bit thicker. It is basically made from resin infused paper. Really serviceable for counters and floors and it can be better than some of the plywood/laminate topped guitars and mandolins.
Curious , [long ways from Nazareth PA] seen the 'wood' picture wear off
[or scraps of the material?]
I have seen that on countertops.
FWIW - Djangolin which I like, uses mahogany/rosewood laminate , 2 layers, one of each.
If you're going for cheap go with the one that plays the best. If you can use it to learn the basic fretting and picking techniques then you'll have a treat when you move to a good mandolin. Have an understanding mando player help you out. They'll know the difference between a playable mando that needs adjustment and a complete piece of junk. The local Taylor dealer has been carrying Fender mandolins for while and just added an even cheaper Montana model. The Montana is a better mando, at least the couple I've played.