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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 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.
Here are the Main Different Sizes of Acoustic Guitars:
There are some other more bizarre sizes and shapes but these are the most common ones.
Note that it’s hard to categorize guitar sizes and shapes into tight categories because each brands sizes and shapes are subtly different. This post is mostly focused around Martin and Taylor shapes – most other shapes mimic these shapes.
Our Favorite Guitars
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
- 6-string Acoustic Guitar with Mahogany Top
- Layered Sapele Back
- Sides - Natural
- Neck Width 1-11/16 inch
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 24 3/4" Scale acoustic-electric travel guitar
- Fits in airline overhead bins. Only 2 lbs. 15 oz. & 28" Long!
- One-piece Eastern American hard Maple neck-through-body design
- Features a Traveler piezo pickup with standard 1/4" Output
- Includes Gig Bag
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 other 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
- Solid red western cedar top
- Dual-source Fishman Presys Blend system
- Custom narrow 48mm neck width
- Handcrafted in Europe
- Deluxe dual-pocketed firmly-padded gig bag with neck support
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.
Parlor’s are usually 12-fret models (the neck of the guitar joins the body at the 12th fret)
Our Top Pick Parlor Guitar
- All solid wood construction
- Solid European Spruce Top
- Solid Indian Rosewood back and sides with Ebony Fingerboard
- Hand inlaid Mother of Pearl "Esteso" Rosette and purfling
- Includes Cordoba Polyfoam Case
Concert Guitar (0)
A concert guitar is part of the 6 string family of acoustic guitars with steel strings. While the nylon strings of classical guitars gives them a soft sound quality, the steel strings in this guitar give a brighter, louder sound.
In Martin 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 are have a thinner body and 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 the 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.
This is Taylor’s second largest shape, in terms of lower bout width, and is slightly larger than the Grand Auditorium.
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)
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 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.
Jumbos are larger 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, some Jumbos 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
What is the size of a full size guitar?
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 40 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.
What are the Different Sizes of Guitars?
Guitar sizes vary wildly. You can choose tiny guitars such as guitarleles which are like ukuleles but slightly bigger or gigantic, jumbo acoustics. It is usually a choice of personal preference, body or hand size, and skill that determines which is best for an individual.
The smallest-sized guitar is a ukulele which is perfect for those who find normal-sized guitars a little too big such as children or those with smaller fingers. Unlike ukuleles, a guitarlele has the usual six strings you get with most guitars. These combine the portability of a uke with the versatility of a typical guitar. Next is the half-sized guitar which is half the size of a standard guitar. Then you have the three-quarter-sized guitar which is a favorite among 8 – 12-year-olds.
Next in size are the larger parlor guitars, the auditorium guitars, the classic shaped dreadnoughts guitars, and finally, the jumbo type. Electric guitars don?t have as many size variants with most being in the half-size, three-quarter-size, and full-size range.
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.
|Age||Height (cm)||Recommended Size|
|5 – 8||80 – 100||1/2 Size|
|8 – 12||100 – 125||3/4 Size|
|Age||Height (cm)||Recommended Size|
|5 – 12||100 – 120||3/4 Size|
|12 – 15||120 – 165||Small Body|
|Age||Height (cm)||Recommended Size|
|2 – 5||75 – 100||1/4 Size|
|5 – 8||100 – 125||1/2 Size|
|8 – 12||125 – 165||3/4 Size|
Is a 38-inch guitar full size?
Yes, 38 inches is the average size of a full-sized guitar.
We say average because each maker and style has slightly different measurements depending on the body style and the headstock.
A better measurement of whether a guitar is full-size is the scale length.
The scale length is the distance between the nut and the saddle or the distance between the nut and the 12th fret double. The latter measurement is generally considered more accurate.
A full-size guitar will have a scale length of 25 inches or higher. This means that if you have a guitar that is shorter or longer than 38 inches from top to bottom, it may still be full-sized if it has the appropriate scale length.
What size is a 3/4 guitar?
You might expect a ? guitar to be ? the size of a full-sized guitar but that?s not the case. The names of the sizes are very misleading, to be honest with you.
A ? guitar in more like 7/8 the size of a full-size guitar.
It typically has a length of about 36 inches and a scale length of 23 inches.
As you can see, the actual difference in size between a ? guitar and a full-sized guitar is only about 2 inches!
What are the 3 types of guitars?
The three major types of guitars are:
? Nylon stringed classical guitars
? Steel stringed acoustic guitars
? Electric guitars with pick-ups
Now, within each category, there is a seemingly endless range of sizes, styles and brands. Then of course you have the guitar ?cousins? like the bass guitar, alto guitar, 12 string guitar, and so on.
For people new to the guitar world, the choice can be really overwhelming so coming back to those three major kinds is a good way to narrow down choices.
In terms of the 3 major sizes of guitar, you have the full-sized which is suitable for adults and older teens, the ? which is ideal for tweens or smaller adults, and the ? which is best for younger kids.
There is also a ? guitar but they?re not common.
Do 3/4 guitars sound different?
They do because acoustic guitars rely on the hollow space for their tone and resonance.
The reduced space in a ? guitar means that they are not as loud as full-sized guitars. This is because there?s just not enough air and space to achieve high volumes.
? guitars can also sound a bit dampened. This is because the strings have less length to vibrate along and the chamber is less resonant.
That being said, a good quality ? guitar will sound better than a poor-quality full-sized guitar.
What size guitar is best for a 7-year-old?
If we?re talking acoustic guitars, you?ll want to go for a ? guitar. The body should be short enough and slim enough to allow them access to the strings. They should also have good command over the fretboard on a guitar that size.
Some people argue that you should start kids on full-sized guitars and let them grow into them. That can work for electrics where the body is much smaller and the neck narrower. However, acoustic guitars are bigger and bulkier. They will get in the way of little hands and arms.
The shape and size of 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. If you want more details on Martin’s and Taylor’s shapes check out the links below.
Finally, the article at the link below will help you to decide what type of guitar is best for you depending on your style, ability and physical size.