Acoustic guitars come in many sizes and shapes. It is these differences that make each guitar special. If you are looking for a guitar to buy, an understanding of the different guitar body types and the distinctive sound each type produces will be helpful in your choice.
Of course, sound is an important consideration in making a decision about which acoustic guitar to get. When you know the kind of sound you want, you can narrow down your choice.
One of the things you need to take note of is that different manufacturers will create acoustic guitars that sound different, even if the body shape is exactly the same.
In the end it is your ears that will do the deciding for you, but it does not hurt to understand how each body type affects the sound.
What’s in an acoustic guitar body shape?
In this section we shall list some of the most common acoustic guitar body shapes and the kind of sound associated with the shape.
Bear in mind that the sound can differ from one guitar manufacturer to another. Some guitar makers even invent their own names for existing guitar shapes, so treat this article as a general reference for the different types.
1. The Parlor Guitar
Parlor guitars are the smallest of acoustic guitars. Ideal for fingerpicking, they generally have a light and balanced sound, making them the first choice of folk and indie music players. Because of their size and slender body, parlor guitars are very portable and can be carried easily in a case. Ideal for musicians who are constantly on the go!
2. The Concert Guitar
Also known as Model “O,” the concert guitar is just a tad bigger than the parlor guitar, and is also well suited for fingerpicking. This body type plays a lively treble sound.
3. The Grand Concert Guitar
This body type,has rounded shoulders and a shallow body.
Also called Model “OO,” the grand concert’s shape is patterned after that of the classical guitar. Although quieter and more subdued, this body type produces a solid mid-range sound that makes it a great all-around guitar.
4. The Auditorium Guitar
Also referred to as orchestra, this acoustic guitar body type is medium-sized and produces a loud, balanced and projected sound.
This sound is livelier than the sound parlor guitars make, but has less depth of bass compared to larger models, making the auditorium type ideal for the finger-style kind of playing.
The auditorium guitar has a waist thinner than the dreadnought, a broad upper bout and flat shoulders.
5. The Grand Auditorium Guitar
Second to the dreadnought in terms of popularity, the grand auditorium guitar is similar to the concert in terms of shape. However, the difference lies in the size of the great auditorium’s lower bout, which is bigger.
In terms of size, this body type comes between the concert and the dreadnought. It has great playability and a clear and brilliant tone and volume, which is why it is widely used in playing different kinds of music.
6. The Dreadnought Guitar
The dreadnought is the most common among all the acoustic guitar shapes. This popular guitar body type has a deep body, a wide waist and a small upper bout – so its shape looks more like a square than rounded.
P.S – This is my favourite body type for a guitar!
7. The Jumbo Guitar
Just like the name implies, this is the largest of all the acoustic body types. Similar to the grand auditorium in terms of proportion, the jumbo guitar is a great instrument for strumming.
It produces loud music and booming bass, so it’s ideal for playing acoustically to a large gathering of people.
Which guitar shape is the best for you?
To arrive at the best decision, you must think of three things:
• your playing style
• your physical size
• personal preference.
After taking these questions into account you should ask yourself what sort of music you’re looking to play. Do you need more treble or more bass? Are you going to be playing lead or rhythm guitar?
What is your playing style – are you more comfortable with flatpicking or finger style playing? Your answers to these questions will be a great help in choosing the guitar body type that is right for you.
You must also take into consideration your physical size. Are you a heavy-set male or a petite female? This is important in determining the size and body type of guitar that you would get, since it will greatly affect your playing comfort.
Lastly, you should also consider about how you feel toward the instrument: do you like how it looks and feels in your hand? This is important especially if you will be performing on stage.
You can probably make a list of the shapes you want to check out, and then use this list as a guide when you visit the music store to sample your choices.
I hope this helps you on your venture to buy that new best-friend that will be your guitar!