Hi has anyone actually used plywood successfully used plywood as a soundboard?

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Comment by Daniel James Frahm on March 24, 2015 at 5:45pm

I've used 1/8" plywood on a couple 4 stringers.  Worked well for me.

Comment by Peter J Thorne on March 24, 2015 at 11:20am
I use interior door skins. Cheap!
Comment by TN Twang on March 24, 2015 at 9:50am

Ken,

Yep, Aviation-grade plywood" is available and priced by the square inch (or probably by the square cm.)

I'm sure the Chinese box factories are not paying those prices, and their stuff, while adequate in appearance, is not as blemish-free as the aircraft material that I've seen.

Question is, where can I buy cheap Chinese-box quality thin plywood? The sound is really quite nice. Better than most cigar boxes, but I don't want to become the guy who makes guitars out of Michael's pre-made craft boxes.

Michael's sells an unfinished tea tray for about $8 USD that uses the 1/16 ply for a flimsy bottom. I have seriously considered purchasing a tray and trying to make 3 soundboards out of the bottom piece. That may be my cheapest way to acquire the stuff.

Comment by Ken Baker on March 24, 2015 at 5:50am

Plywood for mainly model aircraft making is available in thicknesses down to 1/64" in 1/32", 1/16" It is also available in Metric measurements in UK, probably in USA also.. It gets more expensive the thinner you go. However it is available from 4' x 1' down to 1' sq. This is more or less marine ply standard. Finnish ply is best if you can get it. Obtainable from model suppliers. I am in Bristol, UK but Americans are great modellers so I'm sure it is readily available in USA.

Comment by Ron "Oily" Sprague on March 19, 2015 at 3:46pm
I do it all the time. 3/16" lauan is great for soundboards.
Comment by TN Twang on March 18, 2015 at 11:11am

I've used 1/8" ply from the hobby shops with fair results. Partly my fault for putting decoupage on the wood.

Michael's sells Chinese-made boxes with 1/16" ply tops. Apparently the stuff is 2 layers of very thin veneer with a mylar (or some such synthetic) core. I've made 3 (?) instruments using their boxes just to get the thin plywood. It's almost (but not quite) worth buying their boxes just to get the plywood and throw the box away.

I've racked the web looking for "craft plywood" but can't find anything this thin at a reasonable price. Aviation-grade plywood is more expensive than spruce. If anyone knows where I can buy such a plywood product in sheets without paying top dollar, please advise. (Remember, I'm looking for 1/16" or about 1.5 mm--not 1/8".)

Comment by rob bryon on March 17, 2015 at 5:25pm

thanks guys, I suspected it may work....unfortunately I am downunder so its hard to get quality stuff down here....I think the best I can get is pine ply....but I plan to use a floating soundboard.....thanks for your help...rob

Comment by gary sheldon on March 17, 2015 at 1:42pm

Yes, p;ywood works.  And can sound good.  Not as good as a perfect slab of Spruce, but good.  There have been manufactured plenty of instruments with ply tops.

I use Ashton boxes with a ply top and they sound excellent.  I ahve also used ply when I replaced the MDF top on a couple of CBGs.  I think I have used door skin ply also.  The ply I generally use is birch faced, has no plugs and is about 1/8".  Works well and is plenty strong.

Comment by Bad Finger (Eric) on March 17, 2015 at 7:46am

Plenty of Padron cigar boxes have cedar plywood tops and bottoms.  Builders love them.  Others have used luan sheets for flooring and door skins from home improvement stores.

I have built a couple of the Padron boxes myself and they sound spectacular.  The Punch boxes I have used are also thicker plywood.

Also, tons (literally) of student model factory string instruments such as violin, viola, cello and double bass use a plywood top. 

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