Unless you are an experienced player, a lot of the different acoustic guitar sizes and shapes available might surprise you.
The acoustic guitar is an ancient instrument which has a history that goes back almost 4000 years! So you would think there might be a few different options on the market, right?
All jokes aside, the acoustic has a large selection of options available! This makes it very hard to know whats right for you and your style!
So in this article, we are going to take a look at the different body shapes and sizes.
If you are new to playing, perhaps its a good idea to know what is available to you so you end up with the right fit for you.
Why is it Important?
There are many reasons a player should be familiar with the different guitar 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!
It is important to know that the size of your guitar plays a big role in getting what you need.
And if you are a beginner, starting out with the right fit for you is one of the biggest considerations in selecting a guitar!
While acoustic 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!
What are the different acoustic guitar sizes?
Well we are glad you asked! We have a great article here for you that should clear up the question!
And maybe even give you a better understanding of what you need for an acoustic guitar!
Acoustic guitar sizes and shape selection is something that really needs to be considered for the best experience!
Lets get started!
Traveler Acoustic Guitar
There are a few different travel guitars on the market, some are silent, some are not. Some offer some decent sound for their size and some do not!
Certainly just something you use to practice with but don't sound very good or make sound at all!
This is the type of thing that you throw in your back pack and take with you when you travel. Obviously with minimum expectations, but the price tag is small too.
Some of these guitars even fold up for even extra convenience. To be able to throw one in the suitcase becomes even easier!
Martin makes a travel guitar called the back packer 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 will do very well for travel.
Now, while we make mention of the travel guitar, lets talk about what it is not. The travel guitar is not a good way to get started if your 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 the travel guitars are a very light gauge 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 for getting started as a beginner or recording.
You will be very disappointed and there are better options available in regular size acoustics for a great price.
Recommended for: Travel
Mini Acoustic Guitar
The mini acoustic guitar while smaller then a full size, should not be considered a toy by any means.
The mini acoustics are roughly half and 3/4 the size of a dreadnought, for example but still sound and play great.
These guitars are mainly made for children and people who do not find regular size acoustics very comfortable.
The mini acoustics are made by some of the top manufacturers in the world and use body shapes and materials that create big balanced sound.
In fact, some of them sound so full that even if you can fit a larger guitar, these are a wonderful selection!
The price on the mini guitars 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 acoustics are also a great choice for travel as they are still quite small but offer great sound and volume. Bass content may be less than a larger dreadnought.
However, depending on the guitar its usually quite nice.
We have reviewed a couple of the Taylor GS Mini acoustics and we were quite impressed with what they had to offer.
Some also come with electronics and other options that really provide a great experience and versatility.
The Taylor GS mini is a smaller version of the grand symphony body style produced by Taylor. The grand symphony is a larger grand auditorium essentially and offers a wider waist and lower bout.
Recommended for: Kids, Smaller people with small hands, Travel
The parlor guitar was quite popular in the 19th century up until the 1950s. This parlor guitar was the common choice of entertainment and in wealthier homes would be found in the parlor room.
The parlor guitar being smaller then a size No. 0 (set by C.F. Martin & Co.), also had a softer, mid range sound and would be the perfect choice for guest entertainment.
While the parlor guitar is normally referred to as a travel guitar today, it was really the only choice back in the 1800s. Usually loaded with gut strings (yes, real guts) these guitars were in demand!
Today we have many different options including the mini acoustics which are slightly smaller then the parlor guitar.
The parlor guitar has a longer body then the mini and a standard size nut. In some cases however the mini has more frets.
The parlor guitar today also comes in many different shapes. While the long body and narrow depth is standard, you can also find them with a cut away and wider bouts. Perhaps even a body resembling more of a mini acoustic shape but a slightly larger body.
So Who Would It Fit?
So who would best fit the parlor guitar? Well i would think that the parlor serves many needs.
Anyone who can play a normal dreadnought size guitar and is looking for a travel guitar 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. I mean the parlor guitar does have a sound of its own, even when compared to the mini acoustics.
So when looking at acoustic guitar sizes and shape selection, you might consider the parlor. Because if you need a smaller guitar, this might be the one. I mean its no Ukulele but may be a better fit for you in size and sound!
Concert Acoustic Guitar (O)
As we continue to climb the acoustic size ladder, we run into the Concert Acoustic size guitars also called "O" size (C.F. Martin & Co.).
The Concert acoustic is thinner then the larger acoustics and slightly smaller overall which would make it comfortable if your a smaller musician.
They are distinct from larger acoustics as they have stronger middle and upper range sound to them. The overall volume isn't quite as pronounced but the concert acoustic body is very articulate!
The Concert style guitars usually have lower string tension and as a result are a great pick for finger picking.
Their well balanced sound also work real well for vocal accompaniment or sound great at full strum.
The Concert acoustic body is a popular choice if you don't need the deep bass of a dreadnought. But don't worry, thanks to the larger lower bout of the concert style body, there is plenty of bass.
Grand Concert Acoustic Guitar (OO)
The grand concert (OO) is larger then the concert style body and as a result is louder and offers more benefits.
The grand concert was introduced in 1984 to meet the needs of finger style players who wanted more comfort and a more pronounced version of the concert.
The body is still smaller then the dreadnought style guitars and string tension lower. The tapered waist and wider neck are a finger pickers dream.
The grand concert doesn't have a boomier 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 consideration when there are a lot of other instruments in the mix. Environments might be things such as performance or recording.
So when looking at acoustic guitar sizes and shape selection, you may consider this guitar.
Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar (OM)
The grand auditorium (OM) or sometimes referred to as Auditorium (OOO) is a mid-sized acoustic guitar. It was designed to be well balanced in sound.
This acoustic guitar falls between a dreadnought and a grand concert for body size. Primarily designed to be a pretty versatile acoustic guitar.
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 different types of playing styles and with its bigger body. It can also hold up well in many different 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!
Grand Symphony Acoustic Guitar
Introduced in 2006 by Taylor acoustic guitars, the grand symphony body shape delivers a rich and powerful sound!
The dimensions of the guitar overall are larger then that of the grand auditorium giving this acoustic a boost in sound and volume.
This is where we begin to get into larger body acoustics that now begin to deliver a deeper meaty bass yet staying balanced!
The grand symphony was considered such a powerful acoustic guitar that the mini series of acoustics from Taylor were modeled after this body style.
The lower bout is a bit larger then the auditorium body shape as well as a wider waist expanding the bass and lower mids.
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!
Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The dreadnought acoustic guitar was developed by C.F. Martin & Co. in 1916 and is the most common body style for acoustic guitars.
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 shape, 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 players evolving needs making the dreadnought an even more powerful tool in the tool chest.
Over the years, manufacturers have refined the body shape to make it more sleek and comfortable making it easy to get into a dreadnought.
This dreadnought body shape 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 acoustic body style is the most common for a reason.
So when considering acoustic guitar sizes and shape selection, this might be the one.
Jumbo Acoustic Guitar
While the Dreadnought guitar body is very popular for its volume and well balanced sound, there are some that crave even more horsepower from their tone!
This leads us to our last guitar body style, the Jumbo acoustic body.
This body 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 then the dreadnought and can get some pretty good volume with its bigger lower bout and body size.
The jumbo acoustic body can still get some good response from light touch but the real volume is created when you give it more!
If your 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.
But if you can swing it and want that extra punch from your instrument, the jumbo is where its at!
Things To Consider When Choosing An Acoustic Body
200 Years ago there was really only one acoustic size. So acoustic guitar sizes and shape selection was pretty easy. The guitar could fit any player and the sound was pretty good.
However, today musicians have evolved and the needs are so much different then 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 your 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.
Narrow it Down
Do you travel a lot, or maybe your a smaller musician, then perhaps a mini might be a better fit for you!
Always approach acoustic guitar sizes and shape selection 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 acoustic guitars available. All of them made by world class manufacturers. So sound wise, your probably going to be great!
And when you look at it from a budget point of view, there also many great sounding acoustics. They are pretty good for the price, just try and be more selective in your choice if its budget based.
We have put together some reviews on our top picks in the under $500 dollar range and the under $1000 dollar range.
These acoustics are high quality, will serve most musicians and wont break the bank. So if your looking for more information, be sure to take a look at the reviews below.
We hope you enjoyed looking at the different acoustic guitar sizes with us and hope it brought you value. The acoustic guitar sizes and shape selection can be tough!
So if you have anything to add or have any questions, leave a comment below and let the community know your thoughts!