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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.