Do Acoustic Guitars Come In Various Sizes?
Acoustic guitars certainly have many variations in size. Playability and sound quality are the most important things to consider when looking for an acoustic guitar, but, equally important, it must have the right fit. One of my guitarist friends explained how it must conform to your body and feel comfortable when in playing position.
Each size has its own set of pros and cons, but the ultimate choice is yours. Will you be traveling, or will you be playing mostly in the same location? While smaller guitars are obviously easier to carry around, some of the larger ones are louder and offer different tonal characteristics.
Know that each brand has subtle differences in size, but the Martin and Taylor sizes are pretty much the industry standard. Of course, there are deviations beyond the standard sizes because sometimes a guitarist wants to create something new to express his/her personality and artistry.
These are the most common sizes of acoustic guitars:
- Mini guitars
- Travel guitars
- Classical guitars
- Parlor guitars
- Concert Guitars
- Grand Concert Guitars
- Auditorium Guitars
- Grand Auditorium Guitars
- Grand Symphony Guitars
- Dreadnought Guitars
- Grand Orchestra Guitars
- Jumbo Guitars
Here are the things that make for the difference in sound:
Mini Guitars are half and ¾ size guitars and are specifically designed for children. They are quieter with a more basic sound than full-sized guitars. They are also less expensive and are perfect for a child or as a small travel guitar.
Travel Guitars are great if you travel around playing in different places. They are the smallest and least expensive acoustic guitars. They weigh about three pounds and have a thin sound. If you don’t need volume and a full tone, they are great to take along with you wherever you may go to play.
Classical Guitars, also known as Spanish Guitars, are used mainly to play classical and Spanish style music. They use nylon strings instead of the steel strings used on electric and other small acoustic guitars. These guitars have a soft, warm quality of sound and are smaller than concert guitars yet larger than mini guitars. There can be a bit of size variation between classical guitars. Listen and see if a classical guitar sound is what you want.
Parlor Guitars are the smallest steel stringed guitars besides travel and mini guitars. They are usually 12 fret models where the neck of the guitar joins the body at the 12th fret. An old-style size and shape, some guitarists like them because of their traditional and unique sound.
(A word here about nomenclature: Martin calls a concert guitar a ‘0’ depending on its length and thickness. The larger the guitar, the more 0’s are used to describe it. A 00 is larger than a 0 but smaller than a 000.)
Concert Guitars (0) have 6 steel strings which give them a sound that is brighter and louder than a classical guitar with nylon strings.
Grand Concert Guitars (00) are larger than concert guitars and usually cost more. Because they are larger, they are louder than concert guitars. They have good volume but there is a lower volume ceiling than on larger acoustic guitars. This size guitar is best when played fingerstyle. Often they have the option of coming in a 12-fret or a 14-fret model.
Auditorium Guitars (000/Grand Performance) is shaped like a grand concert guitar but are larger in size. Martin’s Grand Performance shape also fits into this size. These guitars have a thinner body and a more defined waist than a dreadnought.
Grand Auditorium Guitars (0000/M) are similar in size and shape as the Grand Concert and Auditorium guitars, although there is some variation in size and shape between manufacturers. They are similar in size to a dreadnought in lower bout width and body length, but they have a smaller waist which makes for a different shape. Their sound is sufficiently loud, but they also work well with softer sounds. Great for either finger or flat picking, they offer a balanced tone between, highs, lows, and mids in sound.
Grand Symphony Guitars is Taylor’s second largest shape. They are slightly larger than the Grand Auditorium Guitars.
Dreadnought Guitars are by far the most common type of guitars. They have a large boxy body with a wide waist for strong bass notes. Because of their size, they are not very well suited for small people. Super for playing bluegrass, they are best suited to strumming and flatpicking styles, not so much for finger plucking. They have a high-volume ceiling and sound great when you play them loudly.
Grand Orchestra Guitars are Taylor’s largest guitar with a lower bout width of 16 ¾ inches. They have a balanced sound that sounds good when played loudly or softly. If you play them with a light touch, you will get good volume, but for loudness the volume ceiling is high.
Jumbo Guitars are the largest guitars, as their name implies. They often have a lower bout width of 17 inches, and they tend to be more expensive than their smaller counterparts. Their sound is loud and powerful, and they work best for players with a strong strumming style. Their shape is similar to a concert or auditorium style guitar, but they are much larger.
Summing up all of the information on sizes of acoustic guitars:
You can see that there are many shapes to choose from in acoustic guitars. Your choice involves the type of music you will be playing, whether you will be traveling and playing in different venues and on your personal physical characteristics. Consider before you choose:
- How is the playability and sound quality of the guitar?
- Is it in your price range?
- Does it fit well with your body size and shape?
- Will you be traveling or stationary in your playing?
- What type of music will you be playing?
You now know what the various sizes of acoustic guitars are and what/who each is best suited for. Enjoy your search and then enjoy your playing!