The Different Sizes Of Acoustic Electric Guitars

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Do acoustic Electric Guitars come in various sizes?

The answer is yes, they do. The difference in size is basically, of course, for sound. The bigger, the louder! In the days when amplification was not available, they got bigger and bigger.

However, today with the current amplification available, there are still various sizes to choose from. Smaller ones are easier to travel with, but larger ones give different tonal characteristics and they are louder.

There are two things to look for when considering what size of acoustic electric guitar you will need:

  • Playability
  • Sound quality

There are some odd-ball, bizarre shapes and sizes out there, but I want to present to you the most common ones. Let’s look at twelve of them.

The 12 Common Sizes Of Acoustic Electric Guitars

Mini Guitars

These come in ½ or ¾ size and are designed mostly for children. Consequently, they are very small. Quieter and less full sounding than larger guitars, they are also less expensive. They are perfect for a child’s first guitar, but they also may be used as a traditionally shaped travel guitar.

Travel Guitars

For traveling musicians who play in different places, these are the smallest and the least expensive acoustic electric guitars. They only weigh about three pounds. Their sound is thin. If you have no need for volume and fullness of tone, do consider a travel guitar.

Classical Guitars (Spanish Guitars)

Best for classical and Spanish type music, they are somewhat smaller than regular sized acoustic electric guitars. Of particular note, they use nylon strings as opposed to the steel strings used on electric and other acoustic guitars.

These guitars have a soft, warm sound quality. Usually, they are smaller than concert guitars but larger than minis. If you like the feel and tone of a classical guitar, consider if this one is the best for you.

Parlor Guitars

These are the smallest steel stringed guitars except for the mini and the travel sized. Some guitarists of late like the traditional and unique sound of this old-style size and shape. They usually have 12 frets, meaning that the neck of the guitar joins the body at the 12th fret.

Concert Guitars

They are 6 stringed guitars. Nylon strings give them a soft sound quality, but steel strings may be used for a lighter, brighter sound.  Martin calls this guitar a “0”, depending on the length and thickness of the guitar. (The larger the guitar, the more 0’s are used to represent it…this is definitely a “Martin” thing.)

Grand Concert Guitars

Larger and more expensive than the Concert Guitar, they are also louder, due to their size. If you try to play these guitars loudly, they will not be as loud as some of the larger guitars. They are best used for softly played and warm tones and are at optimum with fingerstyle playing. With the Grand Concert, you have the option (usually) of 12 or 14 frets.

Dreadnaught Guitars

Considered to be the most common types of guitars, they have a large body that gives deep, strong bass sounds. They are quite loud, and they do not work well for smaller people, A small person will most likely find them uncomfortable, plus the “look” of a large guitar on a small person may be a bit odd.

They are great for bluegrass music and favor players who prefer to strum and flat pick. They are not so suitable for fingerstyle picking.  Play them loud and they will not disappoint, but if you prefer a soft touch, it is more difficult to get good sound from them. Soft touch would sound better on a Grand Concert, a D in Martin’s System.

Auditorium Guitars

They are larger than a Grand Concert but have a similar shape. Martin’s Grand Performance shape could fit into this size category. Their body is thinner, and the waist is more defined than the dreadnought.

Grand Auditorium Guitars

These are a great all-around guitar. They are Taylor’s most popular shape. They are roughly the same size as, or maybe a bit larger than dreadnaughts, but the shape is different with a narrower waist. (Remember there are variables with different manufacturers.) They are boxier than dreadnaughts with a wider waist and a larger top soundboard.

Their sound is large enough to play loudly, but they also respond to a softer touch. Their tone on highs, lows, and mids are nicely balanced. They are great to strum, flat pick, and finger pick.

Grand Symphony Guitars

Taylor’s second largest shape and size in terms of lower bout width, it is slightly larger than the Grand Auditorium.

Grand Orchestra Guitars

Taylor’s largest sized guitar, it has a lower bout width of 16 ¾”. It is braced well for a light touch but is excellent for loud tones as well. Play it like a Grand Concert for smooth tones or loudly for the boom!

Jumbo Guitars

You guessed it, these are the largest! Not only are they large but they produce a very loud, powerful sound and are best for players with a strong strumming style. Some Jumbos have a lower bout width of 17” and they tend to be more expensive than their smaller counterparts. Their shape is more of a concert/auditorium style with a more defined waist. They are also considerably larger.

Acoustic Electric Guitar Size Wrap Up:

You are in control here! It is my hope that this article has given you valuable information that you can use in determining which size acoustic electric guitar is best for you. Remember, the larger, the louder! There are a number of factors that come to play in order for you to make your best choice.

Most importantly are the type of music that you want to play and your physical characteristics. Will you be traveling with your acoustic electric or will you mostly be playing in one location? Do you want to be loud or soft in your playing? What mood do you mainly wish to evoke? You decide and enjoy the results!

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Duke Taber has been a Senior Pastor of various churches since 1988. Prior to that, he was involved in the Christian rock scene opening for such notables as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Rez Band, and once played briefly with Darrel Mansfield. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.Currently he is serving as a Technology Consultant for Living Waters Fellowship In Mesquite Nv.