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In previous articles on helping a person to know how to buy an acoustic guitar, we covered tonewood, quality assessment for craftsmanship and building materials, as well as some of the smaller and novel size acoustic guitar bodies. In this article, we will continue discovering medium and larger acoustic guitar body sizes and how they affect playability and the overall tone and sound profile.

The mid sized guitars

Though there is no real small, medium and large demarcations for grading the sizes of acoustic guitars, we have provided these lines to make it clear that there are general distinctions for ease of organization and research when looking to buy an acoustic guitar. Additionally, the smaller guitars listed above are far less commonly seen on popular music videos or performances, so it is important to bring these acoustic guitar models to the forefront.

Many manufacturers differ by model “names” but many have followed C.F. Martin's lead with standards. These lists do not follow Martin's standard so as not to favor or promote any singular brand, but by studying the Martin model names and “O” ratings, as well as more common body size and style names, one can easily rank and compare models of different manufacturers to be able to compare apples with apples. Basically, with Martin's scale, the more “O's” the larger the guitar in profile and depth (usually).

The concert and grand concert acoustic guitar models. The concert and grand concert acoustic guitar models are larger than the tenor, mini and traveler, but smaller than the Orchestra, Dreadnought and Jumbo Models, falling near the middle of the road. The concert and grand concert models tend to give a wider Eq range than smaller models. As you will see and learn if you compare sizes, the larger the guitar body size and the difference in the bout sizes creates a wider Eq tonal and overtone spectrum that adds to the overall projection and beauty of the guitar sound. The term “grand” typically means an increase in profile size or depth size, yet it typically carries the same profile shape.

The Orchestra and Grand Orchestra models: These models, as well as the concert series, tend to have a more narrow waist than the next size up, the Dreadnought, and can be considered easier to hold and play by some individuals over the Dreadnought and larger sizes. The Orchestra and Grand Orchestra acoustic model sizes are going to be larger than the concert series, giving even more low, mid, and treble spread in their sound, yet being less than the larger models, and still a bit balanced toward the mid range. Again, “Grand” means larger than “non-Grand”.

The Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar: The Dreadnought acoustic guitar is perhaps the picture that most people get in their mind when someone says “acoustic guitar”. It has perhaps the most balance of all 3 general Eq ranges when it comes to the sound profile of acoustic guitars. Though tonewoods actually have a major part to add to the spectrum, all else being equal, the Dreadnought body style has been the most popular standard for acoustic guitars for decades. Starting in the 1930s, Martin Guitar Company began producing this model, and it has become the most commonly produced and played acoustic guitar model available. Though some smaller-framed individuals as well as children and students may find it a bit unwieldy at first, learning to play on a Dreadnought will perhaps make the acoustic guitar player suited for picking up other guitars and playing on the fly because of it's popularity and availability. Some dreadnought models come with more squared upper bouts or “shoulders” as they might be called, or more rounded upper bouts. The upper bouts that are more squared are the most popularly produced models today.

The Jumbo Acoustic Guitar: The Jumbo is a very large bodied acoustic guitar, and is sometimes the same body style that is used in the acoustic bass production by the same company. The Jumbo guitar features more curvature difference between the upper and lower bouts with more of a waist than the Dreadnought guitars, so they appear to be more resembling a figure 8 than the Dreadnought. The jumbo guitar can project a lot more sound in the bass range, and depending on the tonewood, can even sound a bit lop-sided in the bass end when compared to smaller models, yet it is the size and bouts that gives the jumbo acoustic guitar its booming, “bass filled” resonance.

The Grand Jumbo: If a child are smaller-framed individual though it was challenging to hold and strum a Dreadnought or Jumbo, the Grand Jumbo might feel more like a large suitcase or luggage trunk than a guitar. The Grand jumbo is perhaps one of the largest acoustic guitar body sizes made and by far carries the “boom” of acoustic guitar sounds. The Grand Jumbo model is not nearly as common as the other models listed, but it is worth mentioning as it's body width and depth is unparalleled, as is the deep, resonant sound that tilts heavily toward the bass end of the spectrum (when comparing acoustic guitar sounds) It is by no means a bass guitar, as the octaves reached by a bass guitar are attributed to the much larger string diameters. The Grand Jumbo guitar still falls in the keys and octave range of the previously mentioned models, with the largest bass sound of them all.

Before buying your first or next guitar, be sure to research acoustic guitar reviews in order to find the best entry level acoustic guitar for your preferences, size and budget. This article was written by Aaron Schulman an avid guitar player, teacher and writer for over 20 years, and his acoustic guitar reviews site, StrumViews.com

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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