Question about buying a guitar - all-wood vs. laminate?
Might as well tap all the resources I have available, such as these lovely mustard boards!
Background: I am shopping for a guitar for my 11-year-old son. He has been playing DADGAD for about six months and is playing on a yardsale relic that he is quickly outgrowing. He plays at a weekly session, with the blessing and mentorship of the session regulars, who are remarkably supportive of his learning.
We’re headed out to check out the offerings at the second of two local music shops today. We’ve figured out that he wants a OOO or OM size Martin-style with 14 frets (he’s currently playing on an OOO size with 12 frets). Budget is around $500. They have about a half-dozen for him to try in our price range.
I need more input on all-wood (which I will refer to as wood) vs. wood-top-with-laminate-sides (which I will refer to as laminate). I realize that our all-wood options will be limited in our price range. We may go up a bit in price if we decide it’s needed.
I have gotten conflicting advice about which would be best and I would welcome more opinions. I’m not a guitarist and this is all new to me.
I am told wood is more responsive, gives a better sound, and will give him better feedback/reward for playing well as he learns.
Laminate seems sturdier/stronger and maybe more prudent for a typical 11yo boy, who, though he is generally mature and responsible, still ends up being a bit clumsy and rough with things (and has younger siblings and pets). I worry about bangs and dents, and I worry about climate-induced cracks.
We live in a climate with humid summers and harsh, dry winters, so humidification is an issue, but we have an all-room humidifier in the music room already and we would also humidify his case. I’m assuming we’ll try to get him a hard case to minimize potential “doorway bangs” and so forth.
How big a difference does all-wood make in the sound and responsiveness? Is it very significant (compared to laminate) or is it more of a subtle difference? Would it be significant to a relatively new player within a few years’ time?
How hard is it to keep an all-wood instrument safe from impact or climate damage?
Being the moneyspender, I want to make sure we make the right choice and a smart investment.
I’d welcome your thoughts if you have experience in this area. Thanks.