How do I check whether a guitar is solid top or laminated top? Are there any huge differences in the sound and appearance so that I can differentiate between them? I want to buy a solid top guitar and I don't want to get fooled by the guitar sales person. Please help.

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    Why do you care whether it's laminated? Because of the sound. So forget about the reasons for the sound. If you like how it sounds, buy it even if it's laminated. If you don't like how it sounds, don't buy it even if it's solid-top.
    – slim
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 7:10
  • Personally I would research the exact model and see what the manufacturer themselves claim is the construction of the guitar, and then determine how much I trust the manufacturer - which will almost always be more than the retailer. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 13:43
  • @slim Solid wood continues to age and cure and the sound from solid wood guitars becomes richer over time. I once compared two otherwise identical guitars - one fifteen years old and the other brand new, both 100% solid wood acoustics. The difference was startling. The brand new one sounded great and balanced, but overall pretty boring. The fifteen year old one made the new one sound cheap by comparison. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 13:49

5 Answers 5


Look at the edges of the soundhole. If the top is laminate, the soundhole will look like a sandwich. If the top is solid, the grain pattern will continue. More at this link. http://sixstrings.com.my/the-3-acoustic-guitars/

  • If you add that there are too many other variables between guitars (bracing type, wood type, construction type etc) to identity the top type on tonal properties this will be a complete answer.
    – Fergus
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 22:04
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    Is there an other way? Coz the guitar that i already have, has a painted soundhole edge. I know its probably laminated as it is dirt cheap, still... Any other things that i should look for? Commented May 8, 2014 at 21:35
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    I'm getting less sure about this, but without looking at the grain where you can see through, you can't be sure. I'd say, if they painted over the top of it, it's less likely to be solid. Could be wrong. If you like your current guitar, it's a good guitar whether it's a solid top or not. I'd say don't worry about it, but check out your next guitar. Commented May 9, 2014 at 18:22

Looking at the edges of the soundhole is the best method; in addition, you can look at the grain of the soundboard: cheap laminates usually aren't made to be good looking, often they use lower quality woods, if you see nice spruce patterns it's probably solid; also, the bracing on a solid top is different, but that has to be judged by a luthier. Anyway, the difference in sound between a solid and a laminate is big, if you confront the guitar with any other in the price range 200-300$ (in that price range usually all guitars are solid-top) I think you can hear by yourself the difference.

If this is not enough, you can always check the producer's website, or contact them. They don't lie.

In addition: even though is true that the sound, and not the construction, is the main factor when choosing a guitar, there are other things to consider. Solid wood is stronger than cheap laminate and resist better to the tension of the strings (this may not be true for good laminates but I think it's not your case). Also with a solid top the tone will improve over time and the instrument will respond more to ambient variations (which is not necessarily a good thing). In this price range there's plenty of alternatives, choose according to your needs.

  • Sorry to revive an old thread, but manufacturer's will absolutely lie. They will use misleading terms like "select spruce" to make you believe that it is actually a solid top.
    – Shidouuu
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 18:29

I had an RD8C Alvarez acoustic which cost between $200-$300 new and it had a laminated top. You couldn't tell if it was laminated top just by looking at it. It had a box sound. I had it for 20 yrs. and the top never changed color and the sound never improved. The sound was the same as it was when it came out o the box. Unlike a Martin D-28 that I have. Nevertheless I liked the guitar it had onboard electronics and had its distinctive sound. However, most laminate guitars sound weak when played next to a solid wood guitar. Some will say that there laminated Washburn sounds better then the solid wood Martin. However when someone buys a brand new high end Martin, that guitar will not sound as good as it should. That is the worst it will sound. As time goes by and you play the heck out of it the top wood will expand and change color as it ages, the guitar (as they say) will open up and start to improve in tone. That is the benefit of a solid wood acoustic guitar. And that is why those old Martins cost a fortune. Unlike the laminated guitar, Laminate is a nice word for plywood. The glue between the layers can break down, therefore creating tonal problems. Laminated wood does not expand or change color so what you hear out of the box is what it will always sound like for ever. Sure of course not every one can afford a high end Martin but Martin also makes guitars made of laminated materials which they call HPL (high pressure laminate) which sound great and are affordable and you still have a quality guitar with a quality materials and a quality name.


If you can't look to the sound hole you can take off a peg and look inside the peghole...when you are experienced you only need to hit the top the same way you knock a door and the sound reveals the nature of the top.

Said that, judge by your ears, there are some nice laminated!!

  • 1
    A "peg"? In the top? I'm not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean the strap button? That might help for determining if the sides of the guitar are solid, but my strap buttons are all attached using a screw with a fairly small diameter that would leave a hole so small I'm not sure I could tell anything about the construction. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 13:41
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    @ToddWilcox I would assume that by "peg" he means "bridge pin".
    – user28
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 21:34

other way that may useful, put a high intense lamp in sound box if the top is quiet thin the pattern of the wood will be shown and tells it. I have standard classic of very thin spruce top, this method sufficiently works with my guitar.

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