Types Of Acoustic Guitars: Shapes and Sizes Explained

From the gentle strums of a love song to the soulful resonance of the blues, the acoustic guitar has been a cornerstone of musical expression for centuries. As diverse as the genres it inhabits, the acoustic guitar comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Each with its own distinct characteristics and allure.

In this captivating exploration of the world of acoustic guitars, we’ll delve into the rich variety of types. We will discover their unique attributes, and guide you on the journey to find the perfect match for your musical aspirations.

So, whether you’re a budding musician or a seasoned player, join us as we uncover the enchanting universe of acoustic guitars. We will unlock the secrets to finding your ultimate musical companion.

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Acoustic Guitar Types Explained

When it comes to acoustic guitar designs, there are some options. And each one is unique in many ways. Here are the more common styles.

Steel String Acoustic

Steel String Acoustic Guitar.

The steel string acoustic guitar is the most common type. It’s characterized by its bright sound, dynamic range, and versatility. Steel string guitars are popular among singer-songwriters and are suitable for strumming, flat picking, and fingerpicking.

The steel strings offer a wide sonic range and produce clear highs, defined mids, and powerful lows. Bracing patterns, such as scalloped or parabolic, can influence the volume and resonance of the guitar.

Steel-String Acoustic Electric

The steel-string acoustic electric guitar combines the best of both worlds! These guitars come with built-in electronics, such as a pickup and EQ, that allow the player to amplify the sound. But also to adjust the frequency, amplitude, and presence.

This feature enhances the guitar’s performance in recording and live settings, where feedback control and sound clarity are crucial.

Nylon Strings Acoustic (Classical or Spanish Guitar)

Nylon string classical guitar.

The nylon strung acoustic, also known as the classical or Spanish guitar, is characterized by its mellower and warmer sound. These guitars typically have a wider neck, making them ideal for fingerstyle playing and fingerpicking techniques.

The nylon strings, originally made from sheep gut, produce a softer sound with a unique tonal quality that is well-suited for classical music.

Nylon Strung Acoustic Electric

This guitar design combines the warm tone of the nylon strings with the convenience of built-in electronics. This allows the player to amplify and modify the sound in the same ways as the steel-string electric acoustic.

The nylon strung acoustic-electric guitar offers a unique blend of traditional and modern sounds, providing greater versatility across the sonic spectrum.

Silent Guitar

The silent guitar is a unique type of acoustic designed for practice, recording, and performance situations where minimizing external noise is crucial. Some of these guitars are equipped with a headphone output, allowing the player to hear the sound without disturbing others.

Silent guitars typically feature a slim body design that reduces the resonance and volume of the instrument. This allows the player to practice or perform with minimal acoustic sound.

Acoustic Guitar Sizes

Small-size acoustic guitars are generally defined as having smaller bodies than others. It makes them easier to handle and play for those with smaller body frames or for travel purposes. There are several types of small-size acoustic guitars. Below you will find the most common sizes.

Mini Guitars

Mini guitars, also known as half or 3/4 size, are a popular choice for those seeking a compact and portable instrument.

These guitars maintain the essential characteristics of a full-sized acoustic guitar while offering the convenience of a smaller size. Mini guitars typically come in a few different sizes to cater to various needs and preferences.

Piccolo Guitars

Piccolo Guitar.

Piccolo or requinto guitars, are another type of mini with a unique, higher-pitched sound. These instruments usually have a scale length between 18 and 20 inches, making them even smaller than the 1/2 size guitars.

They are typically tuned a fourth or fifth higher than a standard guitar, resulting in a brighter tone. Piccolo guitars are often used in ensemble settings or for solo performances where a distinct and higher-pitched sound is desired.

Their compact size and distinct tonal qualities make them an interesting and versatile option within the mini guitar category.

1/2 Size Guitars

The 1/2 size are generally around 30 to 32 inches in length. These guitars are an excellent option for children between the ages of 5 and 8, as they provide a comfortable fit for smaller people.

Due to their size, these guitars are also perfect for those who want an ultraportable instrument for practice sessions.

3/4 Size Guitars

The 3/4 size guitars are slightly larger than the half models, with a length of about 36 inches. These are suitable for older children or adults with smaller hands. But also those looking for a more compact and lightweight instrument for travel.

The 3/4 size retains much of the tonal quality of a full-sized guitar while being easier to handle and transport.

7/8 Size Guitars

The largest of the mini guitars, 7/8 size, are around 39 inches in length. These guitars provide a slightly bigger body and longer scale length, delivering a fuller sound and greater projection.

They are an ideal choice for players with smaller hands who still want the fullness of tone and volume that a full-sized guitar offers. But also for those who need a portable instrument without sacrificing too much in sound quality.

Travel Size

Acoustic Travel Guitar.
Travel Acoustic.

Travel guitars are designed specifically for portability. With a smaller size and often a compact shape. They can fit in an airplane overhead compartment or a backpack. They usually have a shorter scale length than other guitars.

This can make them more comfortable to play for those with smaller hands. However, due to their smaller size, they may not have the same level of projection. Volume levels are often lower than larger guitars.

Martin makes a travel guitar called the backpacker, which sounds pretty good for its size. The price tag is small and so having it around for those business trips works out great! They tune well and sound decent and are great for travel.


Parlor Guitar.
Parlor Guitar.

Parlor guitars are one of the oldest styles of acoustics. Dating back to the late 19th century! They have a smaller body than most other acoustic guitars. This is because they were originally designed for use in small parlors or drawing rooms.

The parlor, being smaller, also had a softer mid-range sound. It’s the perfect choice for entertaining guests. And so they are often prized for their sweet, mellow tone. Many players favor them because they can work well for fingerpicking styles or blues.

Mini Acoustic

Mini Acoustic Guitar.
Mini Acoustic.

Mini guitars are often marketed as children’s or practice instruments. They are easy to handle and can be a good option for those with very small hands. Or even those who are just starting out with the instrument. However, due to their small size, they may not have the same level of sound quality as larger guitars.

Some also come with electronics and other options that provide a great experience. The GS mini is a smaller version of the grand symphony body style produced by Taylor. When properly designed, a mini acoustic can be a great experience.


Concert Size Acoustic Guitar.
Concert Sized Acoustic.

Concert-sized guitars are slightly larger than the parlor. But, they are still smaller than traditional dreadnought or jumbo acoustic guitars. They are often more comfortable to play than larger guitars and have a balanced tone.

They can work well for a variety of styles. The concert size is popular with fingerstyle players. They appreciate their responsiveness and clarity. With this size, the scale length becomes longer.

Yet, the string tension is still lower than a dreadnought. So you get strings that are easy to press and a larger frequency range that can add flexibility to your sound.

Grand Concert

Grand Concert Guitar Body.
Grand Concert Acoustic.

The grand concert is louder and offers more benefits. They were introduced in 1984 to meet the needs of fingerstyle players. They are perfect for anyone who wanted more comfort and a pronounced version.

The body is still smaller than the dreadnought-style guitars. They have lower string tension and a slightly smaller scale length. The tapered waist and wider neck are a fingerpicker’s dream. The grand concert doesn’t have a huge bass sound, but is fine-tuned to keep the overtones in check. This is all thanks to the tapered waist.

The Grand concert is an excellent choice when there are a lot of other instruments in a mix. It’s a perfect fit for performances or recordings. So when looking at acoustic guitar sizes and shapes, you should consider this design.​


Auditorium guitars are slightly larger than the concert size. They have a rounded shape that provides a fuller, more balanced sound.

They are versatile instruments that can be used for a variety of playing styles. This includes fingerpicking, strumming, and flatpicking. They are popular with acoustic and folk musicians due to their rich, warm sound.

Grand Auditorium

Grand Auditorium
Grand Auditorium Guitar.

The grand auditorium is another mid-sized acoustic guitar. It was designed to be well-balanced in sound. This is where a finger, and a flat picker, can come together and meet in the middle.

Introduced in 1994 by Taylor acoustic guitars, it became popular for its versatility. Musicians have embraced the smaller body shape and well-balanced sound.

The grand auditorium’s body shape can cover many playing styles. It can also hold up well in many genres of music. It also has some great features like electronics on board and a cutaway. These options alone make this a versatile acoustic with a comfortable scale length!

Grand Symphony

Grand Symphony Guitar.
Grand Symphony acoustic size.

Introduced in 2006, the grand symphony body style delivers a rich and powerful sound. It’s pretty much a full-sized guitar! The dimensions of the guitar are larger than that of the grand auditorium. This gives it a boost in sound and volume.

The lower bout is a bit larger than the auditorium body style. It also has a wider waist, expanding the bass and lower mid-range.

The string tension is tighter. A driving pick attack will produce fullness, volume, and sustain. This makes it popular for strummers, but responsive enough for fast picking runs as well!


Dreadnought Guitar
Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar.

The dreadnought acoustic guitar was developed by C.F. Martin & Co. in 1916 and is the most common style. The deep low-end, mid-range, and articulate treble, have caught the attention of musicians.

With a wider waist and larger body style, the dreadnought will sit higher in your lap. But might be big for smaller musicians. Yet, the powerful tone and loudness are often reason enough to overlook the size.

Options like onboard electronics and a cutaway begin to serve the player’s needs. This makes the dreadnought an even more powerful tool. Over the years, manufacturers have refined the shape to make it more comfortable. Making it easy for anyone to get into a dreadnought.

The dreadnought body style is recommended for musicians who need a workhorse of a guitar. One that meets most demands no matter what the situation. From recording to touring or campfires and travel, this is a well-rounded model. It’s the most common for a reason in the full-sized guitar category.


Taylor Grand Orchestra Acoustic Guitar
Jumbo Acoustic Size.

The jumbo acoustic size adds even more volume and frequency response. It’s perfect for those who want more! This body style has a larger lower bout and a more pronounced waist. It’s produced with small differences depending on the manufacturer.

The jumbo can still get some good response from a light touch, but the real volume is created when you give it more!

If you are a smaller musician, it may be a challenge to play the jumbo guitar. Reaching over the larger waist and getting comfortable could be difficult. Even though the scale length is similar to a dreadnought

But if you can swing it and want that extra punch from your instrument, the jumbo is where it’s at as a full-sized guitar!


Choosing the right size acoustic guitar is vital for a comfortable and enjoyable playing experience. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player! There are several factors to consider when selecting a guitar size.

Ultimately, the best way to find the right guitar size is to try out different models. Then, see which one feels most comfortable and sounds best to you. Never be reluctant to seek help from seasoned players or staff members at music stores. With the right guitar size, you can fully enjoy the wonderful experience of playing.


What is the standard size?

The standard size or most common acoustic guitar is the dreadnought. Even though this model can feel big and clunky to some players, it’s the easiest to adapt to.

Even a smaller person can get used to this size the more they use it. There are more dreadnought acoustic guitars in music stores than any other. So players gravitate to them by default.

They play nice and sound good with their full big bass response. People don’t normally complain about the acoustic guitar body. Not until they have had a chance to try a different model or a smaller form. And because you can get them with and without electronics, they are also very versatile.

Which are best for beginners?

For an adult that is getting started, a dreadnought will tend to be the best acoustic guitar size. Yet, this depends on their stature and hand size. For a child that is just beginning to learn, normally a 3/4 size guitar is a better fit. But this depends on their age and height.

What types of acoustic guitars are best for fingerpicking?

Concert and parlor guitars are well-suited for fingerpicking, as they offer a balanced sound with a focus on mid-range frequencies.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!