Different Sizes of Acoustic Guitars – EXPLAINED (Your Easy Guide)

Published Categorized as Buying Guides, Guitar selection

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Not everyone is well versed in the different types and sizes of acoustic guitars that are available. So when they set out to buy one, they end up buying the wrong fit.

The most important things to note when looking at different acoustic guitar sizes are the playability and sound qualities.

While smaller guitars are easier to travel around with, bigger acoustic guitars, are louder with different tonal characteristics.

Table of Contents

Why Do Acoustic Guitars Have Different Sizes?

Acoustic guitars come in various sizes due to historical evolution and practical considerations around sound production and playability. Smaller-bodied guitars like parlors first emerged in the 19th century as “parlor guitars” for more intimate home music making. Jumbos and dreadnoughts appeared in the early 20th century to project louder volume for performance settings.

Different shapes also suit various playing styles – fingerpickers may prefer narrow-waisted auditoriums while aggressive strummers lean towards boomy dreadnoughts.

Why Size Matters

Larger-bodied guitars like dreadnoughts and jumbos tend to be louder and project sound more efficiently thanks to their greater surface area. Their bigger size produces stronger bass notes and allows aggressive strumming styles. 

However, small-bodied guitars like parlors have a focused, articulate tone perfect for fingerpicking. Their compact shape makes them easier to hold and play for long periods without fatigue. Ultimately, guitarists must balance sound projection and ergonomic design based on their playing style, musical needs, and physical attributes. Someone with small hands might find wide nut widths uncomfortable while fingerstylists prefer a responsive top. Testing different sizes directly can clarify preferences. 

Remember, there are always trade-offs – light guitars offer portability but may lack acoustic power and sustain. By understanding how size impacts volume, tone, and comfort, guitarists can discover their ideal fit.

Guitar Body Width/Depth vs. Playability

Wider-bodied guitars like jumbos and dreadnoughts may prove challenging for smaller players to handle. Their expansive lower bouts stretch the fretting hand’s reach and their substantial rib cages can fatigue strumming arms during prolonged playing. Conversely, narrow-waisted parlors and Auditorium styles feel more maneuverable.

Guitar Ergonomics

Before purchasing an acoustic, analyze your arm span, sitting position, and hand size. Smaller players often favor compact parlor, concert, and Auditorium shapes. These narrower guitars with tapered rib cages reduce stressful over-stretching, promoting fluidity. Their slimmer necks also assist in forming basic chord shapes for shorter fingers. Bulkier players tend towards plus-sized dreadnoughts and jumbos suiting their sturdier builds. Try diverse body shapes and trust your comfort. An ergonomically mismatched guitar inhibits progress through discomfort and fatigue. Discover your ideal balance of sonic power and playing ease guided by your unique physicality.

Player Experience

Avoid over-burdensome mass and scale. Nimble freedom empowers creativity, inspiring practice. Seek tonal bloom, not just brute force volume. Even small concert frames produce rich tones when expertly crafted.

Acoustic Guitar Sizes Chart

There are some other more bizarre sizes and shapes but these are the most common ones.

Guitar SizeAgeSize in cmSize in inches
Size 1/42-5 yrs old77 x 27 cm30 x 11 inch
Size 1/25-8 yrs old86 x 30 cm33 x 12 inch
Size 3/48-14 yrs old92 x 34 cm36 x 13 inch
Full Sizeadult100 x 38 cm39 x 15inch

Note that it’s hard to categorize guitar sizes and shapes into tight categories because each brand’s sizes and shapes are subtly different.

guitar sizes

This post is mostly focused on Martin and Taylor shapes – most other shapes mimic these shapes.

Guitar sizes 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 : Smaller than Full Size

Guitar sizes 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 are indeed smaller than full-size guitars. These fractional sizes are commonly used by younger players or individuals with smaller hands.

These fractional-sized guitars are designed to provide younger or smaller players with a more comfortable playing experience by reducing the overall dimensions of the instrument. This allows for easier reach and better control over the fretboard and strings.

It’s important to note that while smaller guitars can be suitable for beginners or those with specific needs, as players progress and grow, they typically transition to full-size guitars to accommodate their developing skills and physical attributes.

Mini Guitars

mini guitar

These Half- and 3/4-size guitars are designed specifically for children so they’re very small. They’re quieter and less full sounding than full-sized guitars but also cheaper. They’re perfect for children beginning to learn to play guitar.

They can also be good as travel guitars if you’re looking for a more traditionally shaped travel guitar.

Our Top Pick Mini Guitar

Travel Guitars

travel guitar

These are the smallest and cheapest acoustic guitars available, ideal for those players who travel around a lot and need to play in different places. Travel guitars weigh around 3 pounds and have a thin sound.

If you don’t need volume and a full tone and just want something to hack around on that’s easy to travel with then a travel guitar might be an option.

Our Top Pick Travel Guitar

Full-Size Guitars


A full-size acoustic guitar, also known as a standard-size guitar is designed for adult players and is typically considered the most common size for guitars. It is the largest size available and is intended to provide optimal playability and sound for adult musicians.

The dimensions and specifications of a full-size guitar can vary slightly depending on the manufacturer but there are general standards that define a full-size instrument. Here are some typical characteristics:

  1. Length: A full-size guitar usually measures around 36 to 41 inches ( 98 to 106 cm) in total length from the end of the body to the top of the headstock. Although, the Parlor is only 38 inches and still considered a full-size guitar. As you can see measurements here vary as well.
  2. Scale length: The scale length refers to the distance between the nut and the bridge of the guitar. For a full-size guitar, the scale length is typically around 24.75 to 25.5 inches (63 to 65 cm). Scale length affects the spacing between frets and the overall feel of the instrument.
  3. Body size and shape: Full-size acoustic guitars often have a larger body compared to smaller sizes, providing a rich and resonant sound. The body shape can vary, with popular designs that I will dive into deeper in a moment.
  4. Fretboard size: The width and thickness of the fretboard on a full-size guitar are designed to accommodate the hands of adult players comfortably. The frets are spaced at regular intervals, allowing for accurate finger placement and easy playing.
  5. Neck dimensions: The neck of a full-size guitar is typically wider and thicker compared to smaller-sized guitars, providing more space between the strings. This allows for better finger positioning and facilitates techniques such as chords, scales, and bending.

Overall, a full-size guitar is designed to offer a balance between playability, sound projection, and comfort for adult players, making it suitable for a wide range of musical genres and styles.

Full size guitars

Parlor

parlor guitar

The parlor-sized guitar is the smallest steel-string guitar size apart from Travel and Mini guitars. This is an old-style size/shape but it’s gained somewhat of a cult following/resurgence in recent times with some guitarists looking for a traditional sound or a unique sound.

Our Top Pick Parlor Guitar

Classical Guitar

classical guitar

Also known as a Spanish guitar and used mostly to play classical music and Spanish-style guitar. This guitar uses nylon strings as opposed to the steel strings used on electric and acoustic guitars and is a smaller size.

The sound quality of these guitars is soft and warm. They are generally smaller than concert guitars and larger than mini-guitars but there are some different types and sizes of classical guitars.

But only go with a classical guitar if that’s the sound you’re looking for or because you like the feel of how it plays.

Our Top Pick Classical Guitar

Parlors are usually 12-fret models (the neck of the guitar joins the body at the 12th fret).

If you’re unsure about these types of guitars, visit our what is a 12 fret guitar and why get one article!

Concert Guitar (0)

concert guitar

A concert guitar is part of the 6-string family of acoustic guitars with steel strings. While the nylon strings of classical guitars give them a soft sound quality, the steel strings in this guitar give a brighter, louder sound.

In Martin’s nomenclature, a concert guitar is usually a 0, depending on the length of the guitar and its thickness. (The rule is that the bigger the guitar, the more 0’s are used to represent it. A 00 is smaller than 000 but larger than an 0).

Grand Concert (00)

An 00 guitar (Martin Sizes), or Grand Concert (Taylor Sizes) – style acoustic guitar is larger than the concert guitar and typically more expensive. These guitars are louder than their concert cousins due to their size.

They don’t take as much oomph as louder guitars to get good volume though. For example, if you play softly on a Grand Concert/00, then it will be louder than if you played softly on one of the larger-bodied guitars. But if you try to play loudly, there is a lower volume ceiling – so you will only be able to play so loud no matter how hard you strum.

This size guitar is most suited to finger-style playing. You definitely still can strum and flat-pick but it’s better for the player who would play finger-style more than half the time.

Grand Concerts (00) these days often have the option of coming in a 12-fret or a standard 14-fret model.

Auditorium (000/Grand Performance)

These Auditorium (or 000) guitars have a similar shape to Grand Concert guitars but are bigger in size. Martin’s Grand Performance shape could also fit into this size category

These guitars have a thinner body and a more defined waist than the likes of the dreadnought.

Grand Auditorium (0000/M)

These sized guitars tend to have a shape similar to the previous couple of shapes (though, again, shapes and sizes differ between manufacturers).

These guitars are around the same size (or slightly bigger) as a dreadnought in terms of lower bout width and body length but the shape is different with a narrower waist. The more boxy dreadnought has a wider waist so a bigger top (soundboard) overall.

The Grand Auditorium/0000 size is a great all-rounder. They have a big enough sound in terms of being able to play quite loud but they also respond pretty well to a softer touch. They have a balanced tone in terms of emphasis on highs, lows, and mids.  

They are great if you like to strum, flat-pick and finger-pick.

Grand Symphony

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

Dreadnought

Dreadnoughts are the most common types of guitar (though for Taylor the Grand Auditorium is actually their most popular shape), with a large body that gives deep, strong bass notes. A large size, a D in Martin’s system, dreadnoughts are quite loud and not ideal for smaller people.

They favor players who prefer to strum and flat-pick and are less suitable for finger-style. These guitars are great for playing bluegrass.

They have a high volume ceiling so you can play them hard and they will play loud – but if you play with a soft touch it’s harder to get a good sound out of them, than if you were playing a smaller size like a Grand Concert (00).

Grand Orchestra

This is Taylor’s largest-sized guitar. It has a lower bout width of 16 3/4″.

It has a balanced sound for a large guitar though and the guitar has been braced in such a way that you still get a good response from a light touch. So you can play it like a Grand Concert and get good volume from a light touch or you can give it more and the volume ceiling is also high.

Jumbo

Jumbos are largest of all guitar sizes. They have a very loud, powerful sound and are ideal for players with a strong strumming style.

Due to their large size, a Jumbo acoustic guitar may have a 17″ lower bout width, they tend to be more expensive.

They have more of a concert/auditorium style shape with a more defined waist but are considerably larger.

Related: Guitar Reviews by Body Shape/Size

acoustic guitar sizes

Our Favorite Guitars

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How to Choose the Right Guitar Size?

As you may already know, there are numerous sizes of guitars available on the market. The size of your guitar will mostly depend on your age and height. Children are more likely to play the guitar of a smaller size as this will make the instrument a lot more comfortable to play.

If you’re an adult, a full-size guitar is the best option for you. The size of a full-size guitar is between 36 to 41 inches. This measurement is to be taken from the bottom of the guitar, all the way up its neck to the highest point of the instrument.

There is no standard size set in stone for full-sized guitars so keep that in mind if you’re looking to get one. Depending on the brand of guitar, the total length of the instrument will vary. If you’re unsure which length guitar to get, go into the store to see what is comfortable for you.

Tips for Determining the Right Acoustic Guitar Size for You

  1. Focus first on assessing your body type and playing style needs. Smaller guitar bodies like parlors suit shorter players desiring mid-range tones and intricate fingerpicking. Bulkier builds gravitate towards booming jumbos and dreads.
  2. Visit shops to hold diverse acoustic shapes, noting comfort and ergonomics. Move through chord shapes while seated to gauge fretting hand stretch. Strum vigorously across various waist spans monitoring ease. Wider lower bouts strain smaller arms. Determine if straps alleviate or hinder motions.
  3. Consider your musical goals too. Frequent practice and portability may dictate reduced dimensions while regular public performers require greater projection. Growth matters also – youths transitioning to full size avoid costly intermediary upgrades selecting roomy scales permitting years of progress. Patiently test numerous frames until discover your ideal balance of power, tone, and playing ease.

What Size Guitar Does a Child Need?

When they’re first learning to play the guitar, it’s important to have an instrument that i’s the appropriate size for your child’s height, otherwise they may struggle more than they have to as the guitar could be too small or too big for them to comfortably hold.

As anyone with kids will understand, their attention span is difficult to maintain as it is, so making it as easy for them as possible will mean they’re less likely to give up.

Here are some size guides to help you find the right size guitar for your child:

Electric Guitar

AgeHeight (cm)Recommended Size
5 – 880 – 1001/2 Size
8 – 12100 – 1253/4 Size
12+125+Full Size 
Electric Guitar Size Guide Table

Acoustic Guitar

AgeHeight (cm)Recommended Size
5 – 12100 – 1203/4 Size 
12 – 15120 – 165Full size with Small Body 
15+ 165+Full Size
Acoustic Guitar Size Guide Table

Classical Guitar

AgeHeight (cm)Recommended Size
2 – 575 – 1001/4 Size 
5 – 8100 – 1251/2 Size
8 – 12125 – 1653/4 Size
12+165+Full Size
Classical Guitar Size Guide Table

Why Have Just One Guitar?

Expanding your guitar collection allows you to tailor your sound for different musical contexts. The guitars you use in a small jazz combo may differ greatly from a raucous garage rock band or even an acoustic open mic. Each guitar has its own tonal qualities and lends itself to particular genres.

Owning several guitars makes you a more versatile musician, able to adapt your gear to suit the needs of any musical situation. A broader guitar collection also enables you to switch up your practice routine and continue honing techniques on different neck shapes and string gauges.

Final Thoughts

The shape and size of the guitar that you should choose will depend on a number of factors including your physical characteristics and the style of music you like to play.

As I said before, this post is based mostly on Martin and Taylor shapes.

Finally, visit our how to choose the size of an acoustic guitar help you to decide what type of guitar is best for you depending on your style, ability, and physical size.

Now that you’re familiar with guitar types, may I interest you in ideas for what to name your guitar?

FAQs

What are the sizes of acoustic guitars?

Acoustic guitars come in various sizes, each with its own unique characteristics and intended use. Here are some common sizes of acoustic guitars: Parlor/Travel Size, 3/4 Size, Concert Size, Auditorium Size, Dreadnought Size, and Jumbo Size.

It’s important to note that these size classifications may vary slightly between manufacturers, and there can be additional size variations within each category. It’s always a good idea to try out different sizes to find the one that feels comfortable and suits your playing style.

How big is a 3/4 size guitar?

A 3/4 size guitar is a smaller version of a standard-sized acoustic guitar. While exact dimensions may vary between manufacturers, a typical 3/4 size guitar generally has the following approximate measurements – Overall Length: Around 36 to 39 inches (91 to 99 cm) Scale Length: Approximately 22 to 23 inches (56 to 58 cm).

Compared to a full-size or standard-sized acoustic guitar, which typically measures around 40 to 41 inches (102 to 107 cm) in length, a 3/4 size guitar is smaller and more suitable for younger players or individuals with smaller hands. The shorter scale length also makes it easier to reach the frets, making it a popular choice for beginners or those who find a full-size guitar uncomfortable to play.

Is acoustic or electric guitar bigger?

In general, both acoustic and electric guitars come in various sizes, so it’s difficult to categorize one as universally bigger than the other. However, if we compare guitars of similar size, electric guitars tend to have a slimmer body compared to acoustic guitars. Ultimately, the size of a guitar depends on the specific model and style, rather than whether it is acoustic or electric.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

6 comments

    1. Hi Keith

      I’ve never played a Farida before and from a quick search I couldn’t find that info on the Farida M 15e. Strange that they don’t publish that info on their site – or any where else I looked! It does seem like they tend to either have 1 11/16″ or 1 3/4″ nut widths – but I know that’s not helpful as those are two really common widths and doesn’t give the width of the M 15e. I think you’re quickest answer might be to contact Farida and ask them – http://www.faridaguitars.co.uk/contact/

      Hope this helps somewhat

  1. Hello and Thank you for taking my questions.
    I currently have a parlor guitar. I have scheduled lessons for the new year.
    My first question is

    Is this the best type of guitar to learn on ?

    The guitar needs to be restrung,

    Steel or Nylon strings?

    I currently play the blues harmonica style.

    Could the Parlor guitar be the guitar that is a good accompaniment?

    1. Hey Julie.

      Thanks for trusting our judgment. Some say that it is better to start tykes out on a full size guitar so they grow into it, while others say the opposite, that they should start with a guitar relative to their size. Either is as true as the other so it is worth assessing just how small your child is and how they might grow into a full size guitar. Hope this helps.

      Nate.

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