If cheap acoustic guitars sound bad because the tops are thick, then wouldn't drilling a lot of very tiny holes in the top improve the tone and volume at all? I mean VERY TINY holes...

  • The top would still be thick. It’s not my area of expertise but I think theoretically (that means don’t try this at home!) making the sound hole bigger or adding another one might have more effect than very tiny holes. Dec 5, 2022 at 18:00
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    Not mine either, but: If the material of which a "soundbox" is made matters at all, then the only things that can matter are its reflective properties, ORrrr... its ability to vibrate. I assume the problem is that thick tops don't vibrate. Think of it as a drum head—if your drum head were failing to vibrate, adding holes wouldn't help! Dec 5, 2022 at 18:19
  • It would certainly change the harmonic content, not necessarily in a good way. One thing to consider when designing acoustic instruments is… people have has a long time to test alternative constructions, including putting multiple holes in them. Ovation made an entire series of guitars with seemingly 'pointless' extra holes - but they really relied on a transducer for their sound, so the holes may have been ornamental, or perhaps to tune out some lower harmonics the pickups didn't get along with.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 5, 2022 at 18:37
  • Cheap acoustic guitar tops that sound bad are not necessarily any thicker than great acoustic guitar tops. Top thickness is not the essential problem of cheap guitars Dec 6, 2022 at 4:45
  • There's a HUGE difference between drilling through-holes and drilling blind holes from the underside. Dec 6, 2022 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


No. The problem with a top too thick is that it is too stiff and too heavy to properly vibrate, especially at lower frequencies that have higher amplitude. So the sound will be small and tinny. Drilling holes in the top would solve the weight issue, but it will not make the top more flexible.

But the top has an important function: The top is a membrane that is supposed to transfer the vibrations into the air. Creating lots of small holes in the top will reduce the amount of surface you have, reducing the ability to move air. Also the big total opening will reduce the effect of the resonance chamber.

Also cheap acoustical guitar tops might be made from less than optimal wood, which affects vibrations, or occasionally even plywood (this is common in cheap curved tops, as you do not need to carve, but you can simply glue plywood into a matrix under heat and pressure. But plywood strongly inhibits vibrations).

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    Actually, drilling holes in the top will make it more flexible. If the top is really too thick, the only solution would be to sand or plane it down- an operation that would cost more than most guitars are worth. Dec 6, 2022 at 11:31
  • @ScottWallace yes to more flexible, no to responding in a desirable way to the frequencies of interest. Aside from the original material probably being of [redacted] quality, shaping and thinning to achieve a plate which responds well for the desired Zernike polynomial terms (drum-head vibrations) is a nontrivial task. Dec 6, 2022 at 14:32
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    @CarlWitthoft Yes indeed, drilling holes is not going to help the response- quite the opposite. And as I also said, it's probably not worth trying to thin the plates. Dec 7, 2022 at 14:34

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