Top Five Maple Body Dreadnought Guitars For Serious Amateurs or Professionals
Maple As A Tonewood
Maple is one of the traditional tonewoods for acoustic instruments. Right there with maple are rosewood, mahogany, spruce, ebony, and all the varieties of species of those trees. Maple as a tonewood for bodies or backs and sides of a guitar can sometimes be described as a transparent tonewood. What is meant by "transparent?" Well, with a maple body, the maple provides less in the way of its own tone, and instead, accentuates the tone of the wood used on the top of the instrument. For this reason, maple bodies guitars should feature the best soundboards available.
The other major factor coming into play with maple bodied guitars is the density of the wood used. The harder or denser the wood, the more the tonal characteristics of the maple in use will resemble mahogany, the softer - more tonal transparency. For all intents and practical purposes all characteristics of maple as a tonewood also apply to walnut as a tonewood, however, we will only be discussing maple with the instruments below.
Now obviously, maple isn't so often used in a dreadnought guitar as either mahogany or rosewood, and it looks very different, being nearly as light in color as the normal spruce soundboard. Maple, however, makes for an outstanding guitar, and especially for someone who is looking for something that might look and sound just different enough to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.
The Martin D-40QM "Quilted Maple."
The Martin D-40QM "Quilted Maple."
Now I have certainly had my hands on a Martin D-40QM, and I loved the thing. My suspicions were up, as when I played it at the North Dallas Guitar Center on Central Expressway, I thought it odd I'd never seen or heard of the model prior to that, especially after seeing how beautiful were its quilted maple back and sides, and how its tone was that of a Martin guitar in every way, as was its play-ability, of course.
Why had I never heard of these guitars? Well, they just aren't made too often. Why Martin would produce this specific guitar for a few years, and then stop, another mystery altogether. Style 40 appointments aren't common at all, and neither is a maple bodied Martin dreadnought. All in all, the D-40QM is a rare bird that isn't going to be found or seen often. Martin does have a custom shop, and so maple body Martin dreadnoughts can be had from there anytime a player wants one.
If you see one of these on consignment or for sale used from having been traded on something else, sit down and play it, then compare it to a Martin D-18 and decide what you like best.
Nice Song Done With A Martin Maple Dreadnought Guitar.
The Breedlove Focus Dreadnought Guitar - Maple and Spruce
The Breedlove Focus
Now I'm a big fan of Breedlove guitars, and it would be very hard for me not to be. I adore traditional guitars, but Breedlove's offerings are anything BUT traditional. They are totally alternative in design, feature sharp edges, and all sorts of design elements that the folks down at Gibson, or Martin would never much care to put their names on. Guess what? Breedlove guitars are every bit as nice as a Martin, Gibson, Taylor, or "insert traditional manufacturer of choice."
The Breedlove focus is an acoustic electric guitar with a soft cutaway, or Venetian cutaway - whichever way you wish to describe it. It is built with curly maple for it's back and sides, and Sitka spruce for its soundboard. Now, please do take note: Not all Breedlove Focus guitars have maple backs and sides, some are rosewood, and probably, the majority are rosewood.
All Breedlove Focus guitars are acoustic electric, with an easily accessible L.R. Baggs Dual Element pickup via the soundhole surrounded by abalone rosette. The pre-amp, of course, is located on the top side of the instrument, as is usual. Breedlove offers outstanding quality, alternative styling, excellent play-ability, and terrific sound in all models, not just this one. This guitar isn't cheap, and neither should anyone think it would be. I've priced it at four thousand dollars, about what one would pay for a brand new Martin D-40QM, but the Martin wouldn't have the electronics on it unless those were also ordered, or you happened to luck into seeing one at your guitar dealership.
The Breedlove Focus.
The Taylor 610Ce
The Taylor 610Ce
Now the Taylor 610Ce differs from the Martin and the Breedlove instruments mentioned in that it is, in fact, a standard production instrument. Taylor produces these guitars regularly, yearly, and every Taylor 600 series instrument is a maple and spruce all solid wood guitar. With Taylor instruments, the first number denotes the series, and the second the body style. So, "600" means maple and spruce, and "610" means maple and spruce dreadnought. "Ce," with Taylor, means "cutaway electric." So what we have here is a dreadnought with pre-amp and pickup with a cutaway and it is made with maple back and sides, and a spruce top.
Make no mistake when shopping for this fine Taylor guitar, it was created to be LOUD with or without it being plugged into anything. Taylor guitars are rather bright and loud already, but with the Big Leaf Maple back and sides and spruce top, this combination of woods and Taylor's terrific building and bracing will make this guitar really project, and especially should the player have a strong pick hand attack, and use a heavy pick. Fingerstylist? Hey, this might be just what you are looking for too. Check them out, they go for around three grand.
Don't want electronics or a cutaway? The standard Taylor 610 is out there built just that way as well. Never settle for something that isn't exactly what you want, the model with the exact specifications you desire is out there, and especially with all the options offered by Taylor guitars.
The Taylor 600 Series - Big Leaf Maple and Spruce.
The Gibson Dove Featuring Beautiful Quilted Maple.
The Gibson Dove
Now the is a standard production instrument as is the Taylor guitar. Gibson Dove guitars have a very interesting history, and are altogether beautiful from any angle one is viewed. Now, before my reader gets extremely perturbed by the extreme beauty of the figured maple example of the Gibson Dove to the right, I should point out that because the Dove has been in production since the 1960s, and early on in that time period, there are quite a lot of these out there, and there are several different standard production models offered now. Gibson Dove guitar
Simply put, the guitar to the right is a Dove, and it is an exceedingly beautiful one. There are lots of species of maple, and it should be obvious the figured maple on the image I've provided from Ebay, is not the norm, but rather, an example that is used, and more costly than some less stunning cuts of wood. Don't get me wrong, visually beautiful guitars are wonderful, but I myself am into guitar tone very heavily, and so I must point out the fact the most beautiful to the eye guitars might not be the ones that sound best - but likely, are the ones that cost the most.
So far as the current market for Gibson Dove guitars, I'm seeing a lot of variables and variations. There is the Gibson Modern Classics version of the Dove,, something called the "Super Dove," and then there are Doves with different finishes available. Most impressive (and expensive) of all, there is the Doves In Flight, model. There are also used models of the Gibson Dove available from the 60's to present. You're looking at a wide array of options, and some are acoustic electric, some are not. Like the Taylor 610 dreadnought, there are a number of things to consider insofar as personal preference is concerned, and a pretty wide gap involving price of various and sundry Dove configurations.
The Gibson Dove
The Guild D-30
The Guild D-30 Maple, Spruce, and Tradition
When thinking of traditional guitars, it is unwise to ever overlook Guild's offering. The Guild D-30, however, isn't a standard production instrument either. It may, or may not be more common on the used market than the Martin D-40QM, but the Guild D-30 guitar is something that competes directly with the Martin in a way that none of the other guitars listed compete with the Martin, or any other instrument.
Yes, Gibson, of course, is a traditional manufacturer of American acoustic guitars, and most of their models are trend setters or classics, but Gibson acoustic guitars are not so often built for the fleet fingered flatpicker, those are what Martin,Taylor, and Guild are there to do - provide solid wood performance guitars for persons that want to be a country boy Django Reinhardt, or maybe the next Clarence White. Gibson guitars are country blues and rhythm kings.
Anyway, Guild guitars are often forgotten in the mix, and they shouldn't be - they are only a late commer to the game, and a defector from Gibson/Epiphone guitars - and they are built for traditional style players, and to traditional style specifications.
The Guild D-30 is bound to be a cannon of a guitar, and an instrument for all styles of music.
I'm Spotting these American Classic acoustic guitars of maple and spruce on the used market for between six hundred and one thousand dollars, I just want to jump up and scream AWESOME DEAL!!!!!!
A Guild D-30 Dreadnought, and Some Nice Fingerstyle Playing.
Maple Body Dreadnought Guitars - Conclusion
With only one standard production instrument in the list of five from five different manufacturers(Gibson produces several different productions of it's Gibson Dove) something is said by default, and that something is that maple body guitars aren't in huge demand. While maple is a traditional tonewood for acoustic guitars, it is most often found in the jumbo guitars produced. Perhaps people think maple sounds too similar to mahogany in the manifestation of the dreadnought sized instrument? I'm not sure, and I don't truly think it sounds so very similar to mahogany, but it is somewhat similar, and besides that, the physical looks of it are obviously very different.
While I hope I've not bound you up in consternation for having mentioned several models not in production, and models that only have a maple option, I do hope you've enjoyed this, and I hope that if you are a player, that you'll take some time next stop in a guitar store, and play any maple body acoustics there, even if you are just window shopping, or looking for strings, or something else entirely. The great Stradivari violins were made of maple back and sides, now those are another animal entirely, but maple ought not to be so rare in what is the most common size of the most common solo instrument in most forms of music nowadays. Yes, electric guitars are often of maple too, and yes, when I said "solo instrument," I wasn't just referring to acoustic guitar. As always, if I can be of assistance, feel free to contact me.