Laminate Tops (or Lam Tops) are thin sheets of highly figured or exotic wood that allow you to enhance the look of your instrument while preserving the tone of the underlying core wood.
Most Lam Tops are created in "bookmatch" fashion. This is accomplished by first sawing a plank lengthwise. The resulting halves are opened like a book and glued in the center. This yields a symmetrical pattern along the body centerline. Occasionally laminate tops are created with a single piece of wood, but it is rare.
Opened like a book
Pattern is symmetrical
The Lam Top is then affixed to the body core wood. Because the Lam Top is only 1/8" thick the body will retain the tone signature of the core wood. The neck and the bridge will still be anchored to the core wood.
Two-piece body - glue joints aligned
Three-piece body - glue joints staggered
A Drop Top is a 1/8" Lam Top that has been formed to follow the downward curve of a guitar body's Forearm Contour. This process, developed by Warmoth, yields beautiful, symmetrical laminate tops with forearm contours identical to the original shape.
Drop-Tops follow forearm contours
A Double Lam Top (DL Top) is a figured 1/16" Lam Top that has been formed to follow the contours of a carved, non-figured sub-laminate. Together they form the DL Top, which is then applied to the body core. Binding around the perimeter covers the seams.
DL Tops follow body contours, with binding on the edge
In order to preserve their tonal signature, DL Top woods are typically of the same species. Carved-top bodies like the Regal, VIP, and Royale are created using this technique.
Traditionally the contours of Carved-top laminates were cut from a single piece of figured wood 3/4" thick. However, sourcing woods in this thickness with high-quality, consistent grain figure has become difficult and costly. DL Tops offer an equally beaufitul look, with better symmetry than traditional Single Lam Carve-tops, while helping to reduce costs and conserve rare woods.
A Pinstripe is a very thin line around the perimiter of a Laminate Top guitar body that creates a pleasing, bordered look. It is created by sandwiching a thin (0.030") layer of contrasting wood between the body core and Laminate Top. Light Pinstripes are Maple. Dark Pinstripes are Walnut. Once the body is shaped and sanded this thin layer forms a perfect line around the perimeter of the Laminate Top.