Wood vs. Carbon-Fiber vs. HPL: Can You Tell the Difference?

In recent years, carbon fiber has caught on as an alternative material for building acoustic guitars. Its strength lets guitar makers build bodies without braces, allowing the instruments to have greater acoustic volume, while the all-graphite construction boasts crystalline and detailed tone.

So goes the claim. But how does a carbon-fiber acoustic guitar stack up against a traditional wood example?

Darrell Braun likes to compare the tone of guitars. He’s pitted Squiers against Fenders, Mexican-made Teles against U.S. Teles, Les Pauls against Strats, and much more.In the first video below, Darrell compares a RainSong carbon-fiber guitar and a wood Stonebridge single-cutaway acoustic guitar. RainSong, as you probably know, is one of the premier makers of carbon-fiber guitars. If you’re not familiar with Stonebridge, the Czech Republic–based company builds very fine high-end acoustics that are popular with fingerstyle guitarists.

Take a look, give the guitars a listen and see what you think.

Then, get ready for the fun part as Darrell presents a blind test challenge featuring the RainSong, the Stonebridge and a third guitar—a Martin X Series acoustic made with High Pressure Laminate (HPL). See if you can tell the difference between three guitars each made from a different material.

And when you’re done, check out Darrell’s other great videos on his YouTube page.

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Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.