All Types of Acoustic Guitar Bodies Explained

acoustic guitar body types

Acoustic guitars do fascinate everyone. In fact, they are the reason why many people have an interest in guitars in the first place. But, some users are so attracted to the idea of playing the guitar, they completely forget that there are so many types of acoustic guitar bodies available.

And that can be a huge mistake. Everyone should buy an acoustic guitar by looking at the different sizes and body shapes in the market. Give a full-grown adult a 1/4 guitar, and you’ll have something to laugh at. On the other hand, give a dreadnought guitar to a kid, and he won’t be able to play it properly.

This is why it is important to learn about the different kinds of acoustic guitar and their body types. Knowing this information will surely help you in choosing a guitar of the perfect size that suits you.

Type vs. Body Type

Many people confuse ‘types of acoustic guitar‘ with ‘acoustic guitar body types‘. And that’s acceptable as well because there aren’t many sources on the internet that explain this topic properly.

There is a huge difference between these two phrases. When you’re referring to a ‘guitar type’, you will be talking about its body, its shape, and its mechanism. And when you just say ‘body type”, you will know exactly what you’re trying to say.

And that’s why it is important to separate these two topics. Because trying to explain both of them simultaneously will result in utter confusion.

Types of Acoustic Guitars

Here we have mentioned the major types of Acoustic Guitars. Any acoustic guitar that you have seen can be included in one of these three types.

1. Nylon Stringed Guitars

The name explains it all. Nylon stringed guitars have nylon strings that stretch from the bridge of the guitar to the nut. These guitars are better known as “Classical Guitars” or “Spanish Guitar“. They are a precursor to modern guitars which have metal strings on them.

Usually, the classical guitar has twelve open frets. It is played with a proper posture – the guitar is placed entirely on the left leg.

nylon stringed guitar posture
Image Credit: This is Classical Guitar on YouTube

Some examples of Nylon-stringed guitars are:

  • Classical guitar
  • Vihuela
  • Gittern
  • Baroque guitar
  • Romantic guitar
  • Flamenco guitar
  • Lute

2. Steel Stringed Guitars

Steel stringed guitars are derived from nylon-stringed guitars. These guitars have strings made up of metal (generally, steel) and are played by resting the guitar horizontally on the legs.

acoustic guitar posture

These guitars come in various shapes and sizes – the smallest one being Mini-Jumbo and the largest one, the Dreadnought. Steel stringed guitars have a varying number of frets on them, 14 being the norm.

Some examples of Steel-stringed guitars are:

  • Twelve-string guitar
  • Resonator guitar
  • Archtop guitar
  • Selmer/Maccaferri (Manouche) guitar
  • Battente guitar
  • Lap steel guitar
  • Lap slide guitar
  • Parlor guitar
  • Lyre-guitar

3. Other Guitar Types

In addition to steel-stringed and nylon-stringed guitars, there are other types of guitars as well. Although these guitars have now slowly eroded out of fashion, some people do have a hobby of collecting them.

  • Harp guitar
  • Pikasso Guitar
  • Contraguitar
  • Acoustic bass guitar
  • Banjo guitar

Acoustic Guitar Body Types

Acoustic guitar body shapes are generally classified by the size of the guitar. Below are all the guitar body types, listed from small to large.

types of guitar bodies
Acoustic guitar size chart

1. Range (Mini Jumbo) Guitars

Range guitars, commonly known as 3/4 guitars or Mini Jumbo guitars, are 3/4th the size of a normal jumbo guitar. They are perfect for small kids who have just started learning guitar. They do not have as many frets as a large-sized dreadnought or jumbo guitar.

These guitars have a curved back, which makes up for the loss of projection due to the small size.

2. Parlor Guitars

Parlor guitars have gained recognition in recent times. They are quite small in size and are ideal for anyone who faces problems playing dreadnought or jumbo-sized guitars.

These guitars have a bit of punchy sound that seems enjoyable alongside the soft vocals of a singer. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of strumming or fingerpicking, a Parlor guitar will fulfill all your needs.

3. Grand Concert Guitars

Don’t get confused when you see “Grand” in the name. Grand Concert guitars are actually mid-sized guitars with a full waist. The smaller body provides a controlled overtone. This guitar will be perfect for those who aren’t comfortable with the Dreadnought size.

4. Auditorium Guitars

Auditorium guitars are similar to Dreadnought guitars in body shape and size. The difference lies in the curve and size of the waist. Unlike Dreadnought, Auditorium guitars have a curvy body that makes some sounds stand out from the others.

This guitar shape is sometimes also known as “orchestra guitar“. However, this term is only used by some specific manufacturers.

5. Dreadnought Guitars

Dreadnought is the most common guitar body type that you can find nowadays. This design was first implemented by Martin Guitars, which was a huge success. These guitars produce a deeper sound when compared to other body types.

These guitars have a large body but are not as curvy as Auditorium guitars. Usually, there are 14 frets in a dreadnought guitar.

6. Jumbo Guitars

Jumbo guitars are the largest of all guitars. The body shape is similar to an Auditorium guitar, the main difference is in the size of the body. Just like a dreadnought guitar, these guitars also produce a deep sound. The sound gets deeper as the size of the body is increased.

The first Jumbo Guitar was manufactured by Gibson and was made to compete with the Dreadnought guitar designed by Martin Guitars.

Guitar Body Shapes and Types Explained

So that was our take on the different guitar bodies. There aren’t many sources on the internet that explain this topic well. Most people can’t differentiate between the type of acoustic guitar and the acoustic guitar body types.

There are three primary kinds of acoustic guitars: Nylon-Stringed, Steel-Stringed, and other historic variants of the modern-day guitar.

Talking about the body types, acoustic guitars can be divided into the following types – Range, Parlor, Grand Concert, Auditorium, Dreadnought, and Jumbo Guitars (from small to large).

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