Imagine yourself walking through your local guitar shop, seeing all the beautiful and diverse types of acoustic guitars hanging from the wall or propped on display on the showroom floor. Each has unique aesthetic characteristics, like wood type, grain pattern, color, and even the number of strings. From an acoustic guitar with 12 strings to limited edition six string guitars with custom hardware, there's a guitar for every musician's needs.
Even with all these varieties, some of the most prominent and noteworthy differences among guitars are the many types of acoustic guitar bodies available. Whether you're looking at vintage sunburst guitars, HPL acoustic guitars, koa acoustic guitars, or special edition options, the body size and shape directly impacts the guitar's volume and tone.
Wherever you are in your journey, we hope this guide will help you find the acoustic guitar body size and shape that is right for you.
Loud projective tone with strong bass.
When most people think of an acoustic guitar, they picture a Dreadnought guitar. Dreadnoughts are large with upper bouts that are only slightly smaller in width than the lower bouts. This look differs from many other types of acoustic guitars, which are much thinner near the soundhole.
Due to their large size, Dreadnoughts put out impressive volume levels for light and heavy playstyles alike. You get a boomy tone with a fair amount of sustain, which is great for playing with other musicians. It's a popular acoustic guitar body style for genres like pop, rock, country and bluegrass — basically any genre that features guitar-driven music.
Jumbo (J) Grand Auditorium (0000)
Rich, projective tone with distinction between the treble and bass.
As the name suggests, Jumbo guitars (and Grand Auditorium guitars) are larger than Dreadnoughts with wider lower and upper bouts. The depth, length and waist width are similar to Dreadnoughts, but the wider areas make it noticeably larger at first glance. The extra-large size can definitely take some getting used to if you've only ever played smaller acoustic guitar body styles before.
These guitars provide impressive volume with a wide frequency range. The cavernous body lends itself to creating a more percussive sound, and it can also handle lowered string tunings. Any musician who needs a louder, boomier sound will enjoy Jumbo and Grand Auditorium guitars, especially in band or gig settings.
Auditorium (000) and Orchestra (OM)
Balanced tone across all six strings.
Auditorium and Orchestra guitars strike a balance between small and large body sizes. Perhaps the most noticeable feature is that the top of the guitar is much smaller proportionally to the bottom compared to other body styles. It shares some similarities in appearance with classical guitars, but it can also include a cutaway acoustic depending on the model.
The sound of an auditorium or Orchestra guitar achieves balance with tamed bass frequencies and smooth highs. This makes it versatile to fit many playing styles. Auditorium guitars fit any genre where a flat, quieter sound is desirable. The only difference between a 000 and an OM is the scale length.
Softest in the spectrum with clear, crisp trebles and delicate bass.
Like parlor guitars, concert guitars are another dimension-decreased version of Dreadnoughts while maintaining more of their body thickness. They share a similar shape as classical guitars, which makes them instantly recognizable and familiar.
Concert guitars are ideal for concert settings. They feature a balanced sound with equally present bass and high frequencies. Musicians of all playstyles will enjoy concert guitars, whether they are lightly fingerpicking or aggressively strumming. Concert guitars are in their element in jazz music, but their sound can fit into any genre.
Grand Concert (00)
Soft in the spectrum with clear trebles complemented with warm bass.
Just like the Concert style guitars, Grand Concert models have an appealing curvy shape, but they are larger and provide more volume and more warm bass tones. This is a popular style across genres
Produces a warm boomy bass sound with reduced high-end frequencies.
The slope-shoulder acoustic guitar body style takes the Dreadnought shape and curves it out a bit. Whereas the top of a Dreadnought body is more squared off, the slope-shoulder introduces more nuanced curves with a smaller waist.
Many guitarists prefer the elegant curves of the slope-shoulder body style over the Dreadnought, but the tone also deserves recognition. Slope-shoulder guitars maintain a good bassy, boomy sound. But the decrease in the size of the upper bout tames the high-end frequencies, resulting in a markedly warm sound.
Produces a warm, rich sound that makes both chords and fingerpicking a pleasure to hear.
The precursors to modern, metal-stringed guitars, classical guitars feature a deep body with thick wood to help project the softer sound produced by their nylon or gut strings. The shape is instantly recognizable, and the body joins the neck at the 12th fret and some have a cutaway.
Classical guitar bodies create a warm, rich sound that makes both chords and fingerpicking a pleasure to hear. And since most classical guitars use wound strings on the lower three strings and single-wire strings on the top three strings, the low and high frequencies each deliver a distinct timbre. Classical guitar bodies provide a soft attack with a long, detailed sustain. These guitars are ideal for classical music, orchestra work, and solos.
Delicate sound with distinct treble and reduced bass frequencies.
The parlor body style takes the acoustic guitar dimensions from the previous styles and drastically reduces them. It's also a low-profile neck guitar, as the body generally meets the neck at the 12th fret instead of the 14th fret like on many other modern acoustic guitar body styles.
The small body of parlor guitars gives them a low volume and the tone is subtle with distinct treble and reduced bass frequencies. Parlor guitars shine in the midrange, making them a great option for intricate melody lines.