The Different Types of Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Published Categorized as Buying Guides, Guitar selection

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Dreadnought acoustic guitar
By User:Maxo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

The dreadnought acoustic guitar is one of the most popular acoustic guitars you can get, and has been one of the most popular choices since the mid 20th century, a few decades after the iconic shape was introduced by Martin in 1916.

Since it’s introduction into the market and its subsequent popularity, the Dreadnought has been recreated by a large number of guitar companies.

In fact, a large majority of guitar companies have dreadnought model guitars.

But are they all the same?

Table of Contents

Different Types of Dreadnoughts are Not the Same

Not exactly.

Whilst, the basic shape is maintained (otherwise you couldn’t call it a dreadnought), there are certainly some differences between different brands. And even within brands, there are sometimes some different varieties of dreadnoughts.

For example, some companies have both slope shouldered and square shouldered dreadnoughts in their line.

Note: Of course there are a lot of differences in terms of manufacturing, woods used, neck sizes, hardware used and all those things, but what this post is focused on is the differences in shape and sizes between dreadnoughts by different guitar brands.

So, What Exactly are the Differences?

I was curious to find out the differences in dimensions (size and shape) of the various dreadnoughts produced by some of the major guitar brands.

So, I produced the table below, to get a bit of a picture of the differences in shape and size.

 Overall LengthBody LengthLower BoutUpper BoutWaist (where available)Body Depth (Max)
Martin40″ (1029 mm)20″ (508 mm)15 5/8″ (397 mm)4 7/8″ (124 mm)
Taylor20″ (508 mm)16″ (406 mm)4 5/8″ (117 mm)
Gibson40 1/2″ (1029mm)20 1/4″ (514mm)16 1/4″ (412mm)11 5/8″ (295mm)10 7/8″ (276mm)4 3/4″ (121mm)
Seagull19.8″ (503mm)15.87″ (403mm)11.38″ (289mm)10.54″ (268mm)4.9″ (124mm)
Yamaha40 29/32″ (1039mm)19 7/8″ (505mm)16 1/4″ (412mm)11 1/2″ (292mm)10 9/16″ (268mm)4 5/8″ (118mm)

But this is, of course, looking at it in a very simplified matter.

There are some different takes on the dreadnought shape even within brands. And the shapes have evolved over time within brands too. For example, when we spoke about the Martin 16 Series Acoustic Guitars, you could see that dreadnought does have a quite different look to the old elongated,

But even with all these variations they all keep that distinctive “boxy” look and are all relative close in their dimensions.

Final Thoughts

old school Martin Dreadnought shape
By Reinhardbecker (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The other thing that this exercise taught me is that it’s harder than you would think to find the dimensions for guitars than you would think. Especially for some brands. Some have it all there, simple and easy to see, whilst for others it’s a difficult thing to find.

Maybe this is because, they’re always tweaking their shapes and don’t want to publish general dimensions?

it’s pretty hard to say how much difference these slight differences in dimensions makes without being to test this in a controlled way (all else being equal). Every brand and model have different tonewoods, construction methods, bracing etc. But that’s what we leave up to the guitar manufacturers to experiment with and we just buy the guitars that sound the best to us!

Is there any particular brand of dreadnought that you prefer? Do you think it’s down to their particular size/shape or do you think it’s more about other factors?

Would love to hear anyone’s opinions on this in the comments section below.


What is a dreadnought acoustic guitar?

A dreadnought acoustic guitar is a large-bodied, steel-string acoustic guitar known for its distinctive shape and full, robust sound.

Are all dreadnought guitars the same size?

No, not all dreadnought guitars are the same size. While they share a general body shape, there can be variations in size, depth, and scale length among different dreadnought models.

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 :-)

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