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What is a Double Top Guitar?

What is a Double Top Guitar
What is a Double Top Guitar
What is a double top guitar?

A double top guitar has two tops. Simple. But while easy to describe, the benefits of this type of construction far outweigh the sum of its parts. Read our guide to find out why you should consider a double top guitar.

What is a double top guitar?

A double top acoustic guitar is almost exactly what you think – it has two tonewoods for its top. But acoustic guitars have been constructed with a single top for hundreds of years, so why would we want two?   

For any acoustic guitar, the top material and bracing are two of the most important factors affecting how the instrument sounds and responds. The key improvements to building an acoustic guitar with a double top include enhanced dynamic range, nuance, tonal range, sustain, and stability.

Sounds good! So, why aren’t all guitars made like this? Well, it’s not quite as simple as sticking two pieces of wood together. Let’s have a look at how a double top is constructed to see how it can bring all these benefits to an acoustic guitar.

How is a double top made?

A Double Top guitar, also known as a Composite Top or Sandwich Top, is actually a three-layer design. The top is made with two outer layers of hardwood and a special inner layer of strengthening material. In the case of the Hartwood Libretto Double Top Acoustic Guitar and the Hartwood Libretto Double Top Classical Guitar, the middle layer is made from a unique space-age material called Nomex.

What’s Nomex?

Nomex is a Kevlar polymer produced in a honeycomb-like hexagonal structure. It was originally designed for use in the aerospace industry by DuPont and is used today in a huge range of applications, “From keeping people safe while drilling beneath the earth’s core to rocketing into space”

Back down to earth, a double top guitar uses a thin layer of Nomex placed between two hardwood timbers such as spruce or cedar. This three-layer construction provides structural and tonal benefits compared to a single top guitar.

How does a double top guitar compare to a single top guitar?

The physical benefits of a double top versus a traditional solid top include an increase in strength, enhanced flexibility, and a noticeable reduction in weight. The result of this construction is an instrument which responds with superior resonance and responsiveness.

A double top guitar is able to provide a larger sound from a smaller body, and you’ll notice a sharper attack to notes which will feel crisp and articulate when playing.

All of these benefits will become noticeable when you realise how well a double top guitar responds to your playing. Every detail and dynamic will be enhanced; every nuance and subtlety accurately recreated. These types of guitars enhance the most delicate fingerpicking, powerful strumming, and everything in-between.

Watch this comparison between a Hartwood Libretto classical guitar (double top) and a Hartwood Renaissance classical guitar (single top)

Watch this comparison between a Hartwood Libretto acoustic guitar (double top) and a Hartwood Villanelle acoustic guitar (single top)

Is a double top thicker than a single top?

A double top is relatively thick when compared to a standard laminate top guitar. As such, a double top acoustic guitar will respond more like a solid top instrument, with a familiar palette of tones.

The difference to a solid top guitar is the layered construction. While the tonal palette will be similar to that of a solid top guitar, the double top construction will bring the added benefits of high-quality lamination, encouraging a broadened range of both low and high frequencies.

Does a double top guitar need bracing?

A double top guitar still needs traditional bracing. However, with the Nomex and hardwood layers in the top providing all the strength and flexibility, the bracing inside the instrument can be used in a different way to traditional guitars.

Traditional bracing on single top guitars is used to both support and tune the response of a guitar. In a double top guitar, the strength has already been provided by the layered construction and the Nomex. The bracing can therefore be utilised to tune the voice of the instrument exclusively, rather than being compromised with the additional task of keeping the body top in shape.

The benefits don’t just stop at the sound hole either. A double top is less likely to crack than a traditional solid top guitar as the pockets of air inside the Nomex layer allow it to breathe. As a result, a double top is far more resistant to changes in humidity and temperature.

In the real world, the double top’s layered construction improves tuning stability and provides a more consistent tonal response in a variety of climates.  You’ll also get the reassurance that your guitar will withstand years of performance, practice, and recording.

Should I buy a double top guitar?

If you’re an acoustic or classical guitarist, a guitar is the tool you use to channel your inner musicality. You need an instrument which has the dynamic range to convey any emotion, and the tonal subtlety to bring out all the nuances of your technique.

No matter what your style of playing, you’ll immediately feel the benefit of a double top instrument. The layered top construction is purpose-built to enhance all the things you know and love about traditional acoustic guitars. Sustain? Dynamic range? Tonal balance? It’s all there, and it’s all enhanced with a double top guitar.

At Gear4music, we sell two guitars with a double top construction, the Hartwood Libretto Double Top Acoustic Guitar and the Hartwood Libretto Double Top Classical Guitar. Whether you’re a student looking for more acoustic volume and sustain, or a seasoned player looking for more nuance and responsiveness, a double top instrument is well-worth a further look.
Hartwood Libretto Double Top Classical Guitar

Read More | See the latest Music Gear News at Gear4music

By Matt Wilkinson

Posted on 16 Aug 2019 13:17 to category : Instruments News

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A double top guitar has two tops. Simple. But while easy to describe, the benefits of this type of construction far outweigh the sum of its parts. Read our guide to find out why you should consider a double top guitar.

16 Aug 2019 13:17