Acoustic guitars are a great way of starting your journey into the world of instruments and music.
However, you might be wondering:
How do I choose the right one?
I’ve discussed various features to look for in our Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginners Guide, like tonewood and type of strings, but now it’s time to talk about different body sizes and types.
After reading this article, you will have a clear image of the type and size that’s perfect for your needs.
We will go over the benefits of each type, the genre of music they’re most suitable for, as well good models you can consider purchasing!
Here’s a quick overview of the different shapes and sizes acoustic guitars come in:
Type Body Size Best Guitar For
Concert / Grand Concert 13- 14” Smaller musicians, versatile in terms of sound.
Auditorium / Grand Auditorium 16″ Very balanced sound, great volume range.
Dreadnought 20″ The most popular size and design, great for bluegrass.Jumbo17″Your standard “cowboy guitar”, good for country music.
Travel/ Mini Acoustics Various Smaller musicians, traveling.
Size Matters – The Feel and the Sound
So, you might be thinking:
If I’m not of particularly small or big build, does the size of the acoustic guitar really matter?
The answer is yes!
As you’ve had the chance to see in our quick overview table, differently sized guitars offer certain traits that come in handy when playing certain styles or genres of music.
But how exactly do different sizes and shapes behave, and what’s the difference?
Comfortable Playing Experience is Half the Battle
Unless you are a professional guitar player that can take pretty much grab any guitar and play away, chances are that certain models just don’t feel right.
As a beginner, it’s important to choose a guitar that feels, sits, and plays comfortably in your own hands.
If you neglect this fact, you may end up quitting before you’ve actually learned anything!
Here’s the deal:
The size comes first, and the shape comes second.
Think about the rest of the things you use and own, and their size. For example, do you wear medium, small, or large gloves?
This can easily tell you which size to go with.
If you have a friend that owns a guitar, try it out! Ask them about the size of their particular model, and try to estimate if it feels comfortable or not.
Having medium-sized hands is always easier, as you can focus on the actual shape of the guitar, and not worry about not getting the right size.
In terms of shape, some models are just more comfortable than others. It again depends on your personal preferences.
Buying a guitar which features a cutaway design is very practical for reaching those last few frets.
Do you plan on playing your guitar sitting down, or standing up? A classical sitting stance, with the guitar resting on your left leg (if you’re right-handed) feels different than playing with the instrument resting on your right leg.
Take all of these factors into consideration when choosing a model for yourself.
How Shape and Size Affect the Sound
You might be wondering: don’t all acoustic guitars sound pretty much the same? How do different shapes change the way certain models sound?
While the actual physics behind the sound being generated in an acoustic instrument is pretty complex, let’s take a look at a simplified version.
Generally speaking, bigger guitars feature a bigger volume (in terms of actual space) for the sound waves to resonate through.
The combination of different tonewood choices and the shape and size of an acoustic guitar defines the tonal characteristics of a model.
So, depending on what you’re looking for, you choose a certain tonewood and a shape and size to get, for example, more volume, but more pronounced midrange.
What’s the bottom line?
Look at it this way, bigger guitars generally offer a longer scale (distance between the nut and the saddle).
A longer scale means that the strings are very tight, and the tone you get is punchy, crisp, and much louder.
A shorter scale, on the other hand, leaves more room for easier and better sounding bends, and altogether gives the musician to express more emotion in details when it comes to the technique.
Now that you have a better image of the actual mechanics and why size and shape are important, let’s take a look at them individually!