Unless you are an experienced player, the amount of different acoustic guitar sizes and shapes available might surprise you.
The acoustic guitar is an ancient instrument that has a history that goes back almost 4000 years! So it is no surprise that there are so many styles.
With such a large selection of options available, this can make it hard to know what’s right for you and your style!
So in this article, we are going to take a look at the different acoustic guitars and see how they compare.
If you are new to playing, perhaps it is a good idea to know what is available, so you end up with the right fit.
Acoustic Guitar Sizes Explained
Acoustic guitar sizes and shapes are something that really need to be considered for the best experience!
And because the range varies so widely, it is best to do some research and learn about the options available. Each guitar size will provide different responses, sounds and comfort levels. And on top of all that, each player varies in size, weight, and skill to name a few.
Let’s look at the different sizes and shapes.
There are a few different travel guitars on the market, some are silent, some are not. Some offer decent sound for their size and others do not.
This is the type of instrument that you throw in your backpack and take with you when you travel. Obviously with minimum expectations, but the price tag is just right.
Some of them fold up for even more convenience. To be able to throw one in a suitcase becomes even easier!
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 great for travel. And are small at a size of:
- 33″ Length
- 7.25″ Width
- 1.95″ Deep
Travel Model Cons
Now, while we make mention of the travel guitar, let’s talk about what it is not. This is not a good way to get started if you are just beginning. While it is cheap, it will not offer you the sound or comfort you need to get started.
The strings on some of these models are a very light because of the less rigid bodies. They wouldn’t be able to handle regular steel strings.
So just make sure you are aware of the drawbacks of trying to use one when getting started as a beginner. You might be disappointed, and there are better options available in regular size acoustic guitars for a great price.
The parlor guitar was quite popular in the 19th century up until the 1950s. This model was the common choice of entertainment, and in wealthier homes would be found in the parlor room.
The parlor, being smaller than a size No. 0 (set by C.F. Martin Guitar Company), also had a softer, mid-range sound and would be the perfect choice for guest entertainment.
While normally referred to as a travel instrument today, it was really the only choice back in the 1800s. Usually loaded with gut strings (yes, real guts) these instruments were in demand!
Today we have many options including the mini acoustic guitars which are slightly smaller than the parlor model.
A longer body than the mini and a standard size nut. In some cases, however, the mini has more frets and smaller scale length.
Today, it also comes in many shapes. While the long and narrow depth is standard, you can also find them with a cut away and wider bouts. Perhaps even a body resembling mini acoustic guitars in shape but slightly larger.
A popular model is the Breedlove Pursuit, it has dimensions of:
- 36″ Length
- 13.5″ Width
- 4″ Deep
Who is a Parlor Guitar For?
So who would best fit the parlor guitar? The parlor serves many needs. Anyone who can play a normal dreadnought and is looking for a travel instrument but prefers a standard neck size.
Or even someone who needs a more traditional sound with a softer tone without the oomph of a larger guitar. The parlor does have a vibe of its own, even when compared to the mini models.
So when looking at acoustic guitar sizes and shapes, you might consider the parlor. Because if you need smaller body guitars, this might be the one. It’s no Ukulele, but may be a better fit for you in size and sound!
Mini Acoustic Guitar
Mini acoustic guitars, while smaller than a full size, should not be considered a toy by any means. The mini models are roughly half and 3/4 the size of a dreadnought, for example, but still sound and play great. They also have a smaller scale length.
These are mainly made for children and people who do not find regular size acoustic guitars very comfortable. The mini is made by some top manufacturers in the world and use body shapes and materials that create big, balanced sounds.
In fact, some of them are so full that even if you can fit a larger guitar, these are a wonderful selection!
The price on the mini varies by manufacturer and the options built into them. But, depending on what you are looking for, there is plenty to choose from.
The mini acoustic guitars are also a great choice for travel as they are quite small and offer great sound and volume projection. However, bass content will be less than a larger dreadnought.
We have looked at a couple of the Taylor GS Mini acoustic guitar bodies, and we were quite impressed with what they had to offer.
The size of this style is normally:
- 36.6″ Length
- 14.35″ Width
- 4.45″ Deep
Some also come with electronics and other options that really provide a great experience and versatility.
The GS mini is a smaller version of the grand symphony body style produced by Taylor. The grand symphony is a larger auditorium and offers a wider waist and lower bout.
Concert Model (O)
As we continue to climb the acoustic guitar ladder, we run into the Concert guitars also called “O” size (C.F. Martin & Co.).
The Concert is thinner than the larger models and slightly smaller overall, which would make it comfortable if you are a smaller musician but normally retain the same scale length.
They are more distinct as they have stronger middle and upper range sound to them. The overall volume isn’t quite as pronounced, but the concert body is very articulate!
The Concert guitars style usually have lower string tension and as a result are a great pick for finger picking.
Their well-balanced tone also works well for vocal accompaniment or sound great at full strum.
The Concert body is a popular choice if you don’t need the deep bass of a full size dreadnought guitar. But thanks to the larger lower bout of the concert style, there is plenty of bass.
The more common dimensions of this shape:
- 36.5″ Length
- 13.45″ Width
- 4.35″ Deep
Grand Concert Model (OO)
The grand concert (OO) is larger and as a result is louder and offers more benefits.
The grand concert guitars was introduced in 1984 to meet the needs of finger style players who wanted more comfort and a more pronounced version.
The body is still smaller than the dreadnought style guitars, has lower string tension and a slightly smaller scale length. The tapered waist and wider neck are a finger pickers 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 is a perfect fit for performances or recordings.
So when looking at acoustic sizes and shapes, you may consider this guitar.
Measurements of this shape are roughly:
- 40.2″ Length
- 15.45″ Width
- 4.75″ Deep
Grand Auditorium Model (OM)
The grand (OM) or sometimes referred to as Auditorium (OOO) is a mid-sized acoustic guitar. It was designed to be well-balanced in sound.
This model falls between a dreadnought and a grand concert for body size. Primarily designed to be a pretty versatile instrument.
This is where a finger picker and a flat picker can come together and meet in the middle.
Introduced in 1994 by Taylor acoustic guitars, it quickly became a popular design for its versatility and sound.
Musicians have embraced the smaller body shape and well-balanced sound. Consequently, making this a great performance guitar for players normally on the road.
The grand auditorium body shape can cover many types of playing styles. It can also hold up well in many genres of music.
The Grand Auditorium also sports some great features like electronics on board and even the option of a cut away. These options alone really make this a versatile acoustic with a comfortable scale length!
The grand auditorium dimensions:
- 39.2″ Length
- 15.1″ Width
- 4.4″ Deep
Introduced in 2006 by Taylor acoustic guitars, the grand symphony body style delivers a rich and powerful sound and is pretty much a full sized guitar!
The dimensions of the model overall are larger than that of the grand auditorium, giving this model a boost in sound and volume.
This is where we begin to get into larger acoustic guitars that now begin to deliver a deeper, meaty bass yet staying balanced!
The grand symphony was considered such a powerful guitar that the miniseries from Taylor were modeled after this body style.
The lower bout is a bit larger than the auditorium body style, as well as a wider waist, expanding the bass and lower mid-range.
The string tension is tighter and so a driving attack will produce fullness, volume and great sustain, making this popular for strummers, but responsive enough for fast picking runs as well!
Grand symphony dimensions:
- 42.2″ Length
- 16.25″ Width
- 4.55″ Deep
The dreadnought acoustic guitar was developed by C.F. Martin & Co. in 1916 and is the most common style.
The robust low end, incredibly responsive mid-range and shimmering treble have caught the attention of musicians all around the globe.
With a wider waist and larger body style, the dreadnought will sit higher in your lap and may be big for smaller musicians.
However, the powerful tone and loudness offered when playing is often reason enough to overlook the size.
Added option like on board electronics and a cut away in the body begin to serve the player’s evolving needs, making the dreadnought an even more powerful tool in the chest.
Over the years, manufacturers have refined the shape to make it more sleek and comfortable, making it easy to get into a dreadnought.
This dreadnought body style is recommended for musicians who need a workhorse of a guitar that meets most demands no matter what the situation.
From recording to touring to campfires and travel, this well-rounded model style is the most common for a reason in the full sized guitar category.
So when considering an acoustic guitar body size, this might be the one for you.
- 40.5″ Length
- 15.75″ Width
- 4.75″ Deep
While the Dreadnought guitar body styles are very popular for their volume and well-balanced sound, there are some that crave even more horsepower from their tone!
This leads us to our last type, the Jumbo acoustic.
This body style has a larger lower bout and more pronounced waist and is produced with small differences depending on the manufacturer.
Taylor’s biggest acoustic is called the Grand orchestra and has a larger body than the dreadnought and can get some pretty good volume with its bigger lower bout and size.
The jumbo form can still get some good response from 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 guitars, reaching over the larger waist and getting comfort with the larger bout could prove 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!
Jumbo style dimensions:
- 41.5″ Length
- 17.25″ Width
- 5.12″ Deep
Classical Guitar Size
The one type we couldn’t leave out are the classical guitars. This model was influenced by earlier instruments such as the Lute and Baroque. This type plays a large role in the evolution of the type and is still very popular today.
One of the main things about the classical is that it uses nylon strings. This changes the build requirement of the instrument, as it doesn’t have to deal with the tension of steel strings and is somewhat lighter.
But because of the need for a full-bodied sound from a classical, they are built to be as big as concert body acoustic guitars with a similar scale length. There are many sizes, but primarily this is what you will find.
Acoustic Guitar Size for Adults
While most adults think they need a full sized guitar when getting started, the truth is, any size is just fine. There are plenty of mini guitars made for travel that an adult can play without any issues. These guitars are normally made for travel, but are used by many players, great and small.
If you are a very small adult, then the size will matter, as a large acoustic will be harder to play. But for most people, the size will be determined mainly by the sound you need. If you want a loud acoustic with a bold bass response, then a larger guitar will be best.
Acoustic guitar bodies are designed to provide certain tones, and this is where the size plays a large role.
Guitar Size Chart For Adults
While your age doesn’t matter when it comes to the guitar size you play, your stature might. The chart below will help give you an idea of the guitar size that will be best for you.
While you may find that some bigger acoustic guitars are comfortable for performances, this chart is aimed more at regular practicing.
It is always best to try an acoustic out before you buy it to make sure you like it. Our chart is a rough estimate as everyone is so different. If you are between 5 and 6 feet tall, a dreadnought is a pretty safe bet, while a jumbo might be more uncomfortable for some to learn on.
|Player Height||Recommended Guitar Size|
|4 feet||3/4 Size Guitars: Mini Acoustics, Parlor, Travel|
|5 Feet||3/4 Size Guitars and Dreadnought|
|5.5 Feet||3/4 Size Guitars, Dreadnought and Jumbo|
|6+ Feet||3/4 and All Full Size Guitars|
Acoustic Guitar Body Width and Depth
For more experienced players, the sound produced by the guitar is very important. A full deep bass might be a requirement. It is essential to know how each size will respond to the string vibration.
It probably comes as no surprise that bigger and deeper body styles will produce more low-end frequency. The trouble is, not everyone can play a large acoustic comfortably.
The dreadnought is a common selection because its bold, full sound is desirable, and it is still reasonably comfortable. But as you begin to play smaller acoustic body shapes and sizes, you will find more of a strong mid-range presence and a lack of bass content.
For some, this is no big deal, and so it is best to also keep this in mind when selecting a model. One suggestion is to find out what type of guitars were used in some of your favorite songs. The artists that play them are probably quite similar to you and enjoy the same types of sounds.
How To Choose an Acoustic Guitar Size
There are many reasons why you should be familiar with the different sizes and shapes available, as the style of a player might be quite complex.
Whether you are a business person who is on the road a lot and needs a travel guitar to fit in play time. Or a performer looking for the right fit and sound for your music!
To choose the right acoustic guitar body style, you first begin by knowing your options. Understanding the sizes available and knowing who they are made to fit. Once you understand the shapes, you will begin to know where to look for your acoustic.
And if you are a beginner learning to play, starting out with the right fit for you is one of the biggest considerations in selecting a guitar!
While bodies and shapes differ between some manufacturers, we are going to just try and keep to the industry standard sizes.
And maybe throw in a few tidbits as we go, because the more you know the better!
Things To Consider When Choosing A Body Size
200 Years ago, there was really only one body style. So acoustic guitar sizes and shapes were pretty easy. The instrument could fit any player and the sound was pretty good.
However, today musicians have evolved and the needs are so much different from what they once were.
Luckily, we have those options, now the only thing left to do is pick the one that is right for you. So when you are selecting an acoustic, begin with where you are at as a player.
Are you just starting out, been playing for a year, or just play at home? Then you probably don’t need a jumbo or even a dreadnought.
Do you travel a lot? Or maybe you are a smaller musician? Then perhaps a mini might be a better fit for you!
Always approach acoustic guitar sizes and shapes by where you are at as a player. Always look at what your needs really are.
Most of the body styles we have looked at have some amazing sounding models available. All of them made by world-class manufacturers. So tone wise, you are probably going to be great!
And when you look at it from a budget point of view, there are also many great sounding acoustic guitar body styles. They are pretty good for the price, just try and be more selective in your choice if it’s budget based.
How to Measure an Acoustic Guitar
Now that you know the most common acoustic guitar sizes, you may have one that can be measured. Most people are not sure what size they have, and so figuring this out can be very beneficial.
Perhaps you have been playing something too big for a long time now. Maybe it has been affecting your play style poorly, and so figuring this out can be a great help!
The main way to measure your guitar is from end to end in length. Simply take a measuring tape, begin at the end of the head stock and measure right down to the end of the body.
This will give you the size of the model you have been playing for a while. Has it been comfortable? If not, then you may want to start exploring different models.
If your guitar is too big, find something smaller and try it out. If too small, then something larger. Which ever way it goes, make sure to end up with something that is easy and comfortable to play. You will be rewarded with improved skill and performance at the very least!
These models are high quality, will serve most musicians, and won’t break the bank.
We hope you enjoyed looking at the different models with us and hope it brought you value. The acoustic guitar sizes and shapes can be tough to settle on! But we hope you have narrowed one down, even if they are mini guitars!
What is the Standard Size for Acoustic Guitars?
The standard size or most common acoustic guitar is the dreadnought. Even though this model can feel big and clunky to some players, it is the easiest to adapt to.
Even a smaller person can get used to this model the more they use it. There are more dreadnought acoustic guitars in music stores, and so players normally 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 styles until they have had a chance to try a different model of a smaller form. And because you can get them with and without electronics, they are also very versatile.
Are 3/4 guitars for adults?
Yes, adults can play 3/4-sized guitars and are encouraged to when a full size is simply not comfortable. Not everyone is the same, and so some adults might prefer the smaller size. The one thing that you might notice is that the sound of a smaller guitar is not quite as bold.
But even jumbo acoustic guitars might be a bit too loud for some circumstances, and so explore the different sizes until you find the ones that fit you best.
What is the best size acoustic guitar for beginners?
For an adult that is just starting, a dreadnought will tend to be the best acoustic guitar size. However, 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 size.