Top laminate question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by turindev, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. turindev

    turindev Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2005
    Chattanooga, Tennessee USA
    I am invoking the "no stupid questions" rule for this one. Often under a figured/laminate top I notice a thin layer of very dark wood between the body and the top that gives it a nice clean line. Is this just a very thin laminate of ebony/wenge or some other dark wood? I am planning a future build and want to incorporate something like that.
  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    My Warwick has a layer of walnut between the maple top and ash body, I had a Spector with a similar construction (top was zebra wood, back maple, sliver of walnut in between). I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure it's just cosmetic and the woods are chosen for contrast.
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    The most cost effective thing for you would be dyed poplar. In your case probably black.

    Poplar veneers are available in many colors and are pretty accessible.

    If you wanted to stay exotic, there are specialty stores that can hook you up.

    This is one in my neck of the woods.

    Certainly Wood | Full-service veneer merchants since 1983
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  4. turindev

    turindev Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2005
    Chattanooga, Tennessee USA
    Thanks for the tips!
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  5. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    I either make a large thin billet that I can hide the seams in, and then glue that down to the body before I chamber it (top goes on last), or I will use large sheets of walnut veneer and just stack them. I can buy 96" x 18" wide veneer rolls locally so I can use a single piece in a body without having to carefully seam them up from pieces. I've stacked three sheets together to make a single 3/32" line before - you can't tell when it's done.

    Also, to answer a question not asked, I use epoxy glue to avoid the whole warpage with moisture problem... :D
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  6. I have used the dyed poplar in builds for the thin black line in both bodies and necks. It makes for a nice break between two light colored woods. If you build with it you should glue it in with other layers, so if you are sandwiching it between two pieces of maple, you should glue it up all at once. I tried gluing the laminate by itself once and it warped badly and the absorption of the glue meant that the warped piece was hard as well, so I couldn't squeeze it flat. It definitely can be challenging to get all that ready.

    I need to buy more now, I have had a hard time finding the thin dyed laminate without paper backing. I'll check that link above, but if anyone else has someone they order from I'd appreciate it!
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  7. turindev

    turindev Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2005
    Chattanooga, Tennessee USA
    Wow great tips here, I'll see what I can source. The dyed poplar or walnut veneer both sound like a good way to go.
  8. Gary_M

    Gary_M Do you know where your towel is? Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Northern Indiana
    Yep, dyed poplar for me as well. I've bought from jsowoodproducts on eBay. The quality is very nice.
  9. Rôckhewer

    Rôckhewer Commercial User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Owner/Builder- RockHewer Custom Guitars LLC
    Sure, dyed Poplar... economical weight reduction..... etc... great.
    If you are a fan of true "exotics" ...
    ...or kind of a wood snob purist ...
    (Hey, I resemble that remark).
    AND.... you still want to save money....??:eyebrow:

    You can pick up ebony that is pre cut into turning blanks at most lumber sellers.
    ( for duck calls & such)
    Get a few...
    True up the edges & glue together.
    (Nice joints in ebony are invisible)
    Then re-saw it into veneer as if it were a solid blank.

    Why? Because it's hard & expensive to find a full size blank of ebony to cut veneer.
    (Likely involving shipping $$)
    ... but ebony "turning blanks" are everywhere.
    For now...

    Knock on wood :cautious:

    Edit... If you don't have a drum sander or something to do final thicknessing... you might need to find somebody who does.
    Making your own veneer can be tricky.
    (And can get wasteful....quickly as well)
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  10. MichaelOz

    MichaelOz Commercial User

    Sep 10, 2014
    Melbourne, Australia
    Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass
    I use both, veneers (light or dark) and actual sheets of timber.
    In the picture you can see the walnut body, a thin light veneer, a layer of wenge (about 5 - 6 mm thick) and the top (which is amboyna burl in this case).


    Early build stage, looks a little "cleaner" now ;) .

    The neck, well, that’s a whole different story.

    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  11. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Shoals Indiana
    Rather than using a veneer, I used 1/4" of purpleheart. Any wood in any thickness gives a nice effect.
  12. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    It's just topped with a nice piece of wood for looks. Very very common.