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Top Five Maple Body Dreadnought Guitars for Serious Amateurs or Professionals

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

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 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.

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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.

Taylor 610ce guitar features:

  • Type/Shape: 6-String Dreadnought
  • Back & Sides: Big Leaf Maple
  • Top: Sitka Spruce
  • Soundhole Rosette: Abalone
  • Neck: Hard Rock Maple
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • Fretboard Inlay: Pearl "Leaf" Pattern
  • Headstock Overlay: Ebony
  • Binding White Plastic
  • Bridge Ebony
  • Nut & Saddle: Tusq
  • Tuning Machines: Gold-plated Taylor Tuners
  • Scale Length: 25 1/2 Inches
  • Truss Rod: Adjustable
  • Neck Width at Nut: 1 3/4 Inches
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Fretboard Radius: 15 Inches
  • Bracing: Standard II (Forward Shifted Pattern W/Relief Rout)
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Color Options: Natural
  • Sunburst Options: Tobacco, Honey (Top Only)
  • Cutaway: Venetian
  • Electronics: Taylor Expression System„¢
  • Body Width: 16 Inches
  • Body Depth: 4 5/8 Inches
  • Body Length: 20 Inches
  • Overall Length: 41 Inches

Taylor 600 Series 2015 610ce Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Gibson Dove Featuring Beautiful Quilted Maple


The Gibson Dove

Now the Gibson Dove guitar 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.

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.

Gibson Dove guitar specifications:

  • Body Body type: Jumbo Cutaway: Non-cutaway
  • Top wood: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Back & sides: Maple
  • Bracing pattern: Traditional scalloped X
  • Body finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer Ebony
  • Orientation: Right handed
  • Neck Neck shape: Round
  • Nut width: 1.725 in. (43.8 mm)
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Neck wood: Maple
  • Scale length: 25.5 in.
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Neck finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer Ebony<
  • "Since its introduction in 1962, the Dove has gained a reputation as the guitar for players looking for a bold, unique look with great rhythm capabilites and tonal qualities
  • Designed for backing vocals, the Dove has a warm, smooth sound that compliments the voice
  • The long scale, combined with maple back and sides
  • yields a loud, crisp sound

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: What do you think of the Guild Jumbo Maple?

Answer: I like the Jumbo Junior models. Because they're shaped like jumbos, but are actually closer to dreadnought size, I quite like them for their original body design/size, but I am hesitant to consider them jumbos in the traditional sense. The great big Guild jumbo guitars I've got to see were all 12 string guitars, and so that is another subject altogether. The Guild Junior Jumbo with the maple back and sides is very comparable to the guitars mentioned on this page.

Question: Do you have any insights regarding the Larrivee L-09 made with the maple body?

Answer: First of all, with a maple body, you have a tonewood which is somewhat "transparent." What I mean by that is the body wood does not color the tone so much as it would with something like rosewood or with mahogany. Whenever you have a maple body, what becomes most important, besides the general build quality, is the soundboard, or top. You're usually going to get Sitka spruce for the top on that guitar, and Sitka can be fantastic. Of course, there are different grades of Sitka spruce top, as with any. Larrivee is probably using extremely good tops. I've had a huge lot of respect for that great Canadian make since the very first time I ever got to see one, and not too far away, there is a store which is a Larrivee distributor. I must confess here every L-09 I've seen was of rosewood back and sides. It's the binding and heel caps which were maple. That ebony fingerboard is something I sure love, and definitely, prefer over a rosewood board too.

© 2012 Wesman Todd Shaw


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 18, 2018:


No, I dare not speculate. I've certainly been to Boulder, but not in long years. This is the golden age of fine guitar building, and knowledge and skill abound. Wish I had some of either, but I do not.

Sometimes a fine guitar is made and the thing, when fresh, doesn't doesn't do much. Sometimes it takes a few years for an acoustic to get broke in, and then it is like the change from a child to an adult - vast differences in character.

John McMillin on January 18, 2018:

Speaking of Maple, last month I was out prowling the pawns, looking for "something a little better." And there it was, hanging there, right at the top of my price range. A beautiful electro-acoustic, single cutaway Jumbo... what? The headstock was mute, with nothing but quilted Maple veneer over the Mahogany neck. In the middle of that Spruce top, no label was seen, not even any initials in pencil. Just the back side of the back, gleaming with the same quilted Maple pattern visible on the outside. No clues to the maker, no papers, no pedigree. Only one oddity- the first fingerboard dot at the third fret is missing, though it's present in the second octave series up the neck.

Included was a three-way Artek pickup system and a hard case. For $600, I was defenseless- there was no way not to buy this guitar! It's a keeper. Notes seem to leap from it "like the cliff divers at Acapulco," as Dr. Oz once said about his good bowel habits. When I use a hard pick like my cocoanut shell or V-Pick, it's like plugging in! I just wish I didn't live in such a dry climate, so I could leave it hanging on the wall, maple side outwards.

Who would make such a fine instrument and not leave a trace? The shop thought is was "some luthier up in Boulder." Some day I'll take it up there and show it around. I'd invite your speculations, or proposed nicknames. It's awkward without one. For now, it's my Whatchamacallit.

DoItForHer on August 07, 2012:

I meant the D-40 QM, the others are quite impressive, too. The Dove is so elaborate it doesn't look natural!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 07, 2012:

Hey Willie, did you mean the red and black on that Gibson Dove?

I'd guess that the one you were referring to - that is some gorgeous stuff, but (I'm guessing....strong guess) the red and black in a custom finish to make the exact instrument shown....a total work of art.

Gibson photo on this page doesn't show it so much, but the Dove models all have a lot of precision abalone inlay on them too...they are very pretty, and usually very pricey, but they also make some less expensive ones too.

That "flamed" pattern....I only see that in reference to maple....but it looks like about the same thing as "bearclaw" to me...but what do I know?

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 07, 2012:

Paraglider, thanks very much for the visit!!!!!!!

When I was younger and forever working, and living still with my parents....I ought to have been slapped upside the head for the way I spent money...I wasted tons of it, but renting some place would have been a waste too in some ways - but anyway, in those years I did play guitar a lot more than I currently do, and I could and did afford some very expensive guitars.

I've just always had a fetish for really really nice acoustic guitars, it runs in my Mother's side of the family, really, and that is where I got it.

Yamaha makes damn fine guitars - and for all intents and practical purposes...most of us don't play well enough or have the spare money to buy a high end all solid wood acoustic costing in the thousand bucks or much much more range.

When a guitar has a solid top or soundboard - it is going to be a good guitar so long as it is cared for, and Yamaha makes some great playing guitars on ever price level - I've played unknown but huge numbers of them.

My late maternal grandfather made dealing used guitars his personal hobby....and I spent lots of time at it with him...

Also, great guitars make good investments!!!!!! The downside is...they are fragile!!!

DoItForHer on August 05, 2012:

The quilted maple is possibly the most beautiful guitar I have ever seen.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on August 05, 2012:

These are all beautiful instruments. I can only rise to a Yamaha APX 900 electro-acoustic. Not in the same league, but it still does have the qualities of the maple back & sides and spruce table. Maybe if I win the lottery. . .

Suzie from Carson City on August 04, 2012:

Well, change that down to up....quick. It can "happen" for you at any moment. and I believe it will. Nuff said!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 04, 2012:

Well, best wishes on the longevity, and thanks for the compliment.....but I sure hope to not live so long....oh hell no, they can keep this shit, I'm hoping for something better when my due date is up.

....but guitars, yeah - Love them sons of bucks!

Nothing I do here seems to increase my earnings by much....I might ought to try on some other sites, as this one seems to have me pegged as "worth this much, and no more," or maybe it is Google that does that.

I'm a downer...but this gig ain't happening so well as it ought to.

Suzie from Carson City on August 04, 2012:

Oh...I didn't tell you? I plan on living til I'm will have made it by then....but you'll be too damned old to be getting married!!!LOL is said..."write what you love and what you know about!!!!" Problem with you is you know so much about everything!!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 04, 2012:

LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!! You best get on one helluva health plan, Paula, if you're waiting to hear about that million dollars!!!!!!!!!!!

LOL! YES! This is what *might be thought to be* "evergreen," but, as it goes - I friggin' love guitars, and especially acoustic steel string gee tars, so it ain't no nevuh mind to me to spend some time producing yet another page about them :)

Suzie from Carson City on August 04, 2012:

Wes....When I read your title in small print, I thought it said....."For Seniors and Amateurs.......and I said, "Look at this...Wesman wants me to know I'm not too old to learn how to play the GEE-tar!! Woo-EEE!

I was wrong.......but of course, I read your hub anyway because you're such a damned great writer.

These guitar hubs you write are what's known as "evergreen," right? Because people will always and forever be googling for info on guitars.? you must pull in a good deal of $$ on your hubs....especially since word gets around that you give the best info and facts...........Good for you.

When you hit a million $$, let me know. I'll pay for the wedding between you and my granddaughter......don't forget! Hey, What would be better than having Effer as a Grand-Mother-in-law!!!

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