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Finding the body style and size that fits you, your child or your student best

In a previous article on helping an individual buy an acoustic guitar, we talked about many of the different tonewoods used in the most popular guitar models today. Additionally we shared some pointers on over-viewing the craftsmanship to analyze the quality of different components of the acoustic guitar, as well as certain aspects to be aware of, while not worrying about other, less important aspects of the appraisal process. When buying a new or even a used acoustic guitar, there are so many options to consider. With all of the manufacturers, styles, tonewoods

  • what kind of woods should I look for
  • what acoustic body size and style should I get
  • how does the finish affect the tone quality
  • what price range can I afford
  • how can I guarantee that I get the best entry level acoustic guitar for my money
  • and much more

In this next issue, we will be sharing specifically on some popular body styles. Though these body styles vary a bit by manufacturer, these are some of the most common body styles, how they affect the sound of the acoustic guitar, and how they might fit players of differing sizes. We will not be focusing on the scale length of the fretboard, but will keep this article focusing on the acoustic body design (the sound box) for simplicity. There are so many articles online that it can be confusing for the buyer when looking to find the right acoustic body size and style. This list will begin with the smallest, and move toward the largest and common models available. Though there is no “best acoustic guitar for a beginner”, there is perhaps a best fitting acoustic guitar to ensure the fewest barriers to the success of the student.

The smallest:

Travelers and mini acoustic guitars: “Traveler” acoustic guitars and “mini” acoustic guitars are not in the same category, though they are both the smallest credible guitars available in the common acoustic guitar market.

The traveler is a small acoustic guitar, often times with a full scale neck and fretboard, but with a significantly reduced body size when compared to the average acoustic guitar body size. The traveler size often has a different shape or design than a typical acoustic guitar as well. In addition, some travel guitars are now being manufactured with necks that fold and the hell or neck joint.

A mini acoustic guitar, on the other hand, is actually a smaller version of a particular common style of acoustic guitar, having the typical figure 8 shape with a top bout, bottom bout, and a waist. Often, the mini acoustic guitar will come with a smaller scale version of the fretboard as well.

The parlor size, acoustic guitar was initially played in small parlors and live venues where there was not a lot of room, and major projection was not needed. Parlor guitars were used in small ensembles where their sound would not be drowned by the other instruments.

The tenor acoustic guitar is a step up from the parlor size and with many manufacturers, begins to resemble a more common Dreadnought shape, though it is much smaller. The tenor size guitar can come with full size fret boards or scaled to size, depending on the manufacturer. If you understand different voicing parts, such as soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, etc. you will understand that the tenor acoustic guitar will project in the middle and upper registers of the Eq spectrum dominantly. If you are looking to get a booming bass sound from your acoustic guitar, a tenor guitar is certainly not the right model. However, a parlor size or tenor size acoustic guitar would be a great starter guitar for someone who is younger and smaller to be able to learn on a comparable fretboard scale, and transition smoothly as he or she became older and his or her hands, arms and fingers became larger and longer.

In part 3, we will discuss the middle and larger sized guitars.

This article was contributed by Aaron Schulman's StrumViews.com, a site devoted to thorough acoustic guitar reviews. Before buying your first or next guitar, know that the more you know, the better your purchase decision will be. Read more at Strum Views to learn how to buy an acoustic guitar before making the commitment.

1/2 Size Guitars for lower grade elementary students:
Amigo Classical
Lauren Nylon String Acoustic

3/4 Size Guitars for upper grade elementary students:
Amigo Nylon String
Dean Playmate Min Acoustic Guitar

Full Size Guitars for middle school and up:
Yamaha Nylon String

Our Favorite Top Quality Guitars
Yamaha FG700S Acoustic Guitar
Yamaha FG730S Acoustic Guitar (Natural)
Yamaha FG730S with Hardshell Case and Onstage Guitar Stand
Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
Recording King Century Studio Acoustic Guitar (Mahogany)

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