Delving deeper into the world of music can be hard, but understanding your instrument and making it yours can be harder. But don’t you fret, because we bring you this guide to help you select the right acoustic guitar, which will make the beginning of your musical journey unforgettable.
When we think of guitars, generally, two kinds come to mind: either an acoustic guitar or an electric one. Thus, while buying one, we tend to just think of just either of these. We never expect that one needs to know various kinds of acoustic guitars as well before the act of actually buying the instrument. We just stand cluelessly as the shop owners describe the various kinds and ask us our preference, when, in fact, we don’t really know the difference between any of the guitars described.
And that is why we bring you this easy guide to various acoustic guitars and why each choice could make or break your musical dream.
Sizing up to the Right Moment
Guitars are most distinctly distinguished based on their body shape; and, perhaps, you may also have noticed the most differences based on this very distinction. However, even though it is the easiest to notice and choose a guitar based on the shape, it can still get confusing if you don't know the actual characteristics of each one.
- Range: This shape is the smallest as well as the most common type of guitar and is also sometimes referred to as the mini jumbo, as it is three-quarters the size of a jumbo guitar. The Range typically has a round back to complement its smaller body. The small body, as well as the scale length, make this shape popular amongst people who struggle with bigger-sized guitars.
- Parlor: Parlor guitars are known for their small compact bodies, and their sound is described as “punchy”, with a side of delicate tone. It consists of twelve open frets. Due to its smaller body, Parlor is also a popular option amongst players struggling with larger guitars.
- Grand Concert: This is a mid-sized guitar generally known for not being as deep as other full-body guitars, but it does have a full waist. Due to the comparatively smaller body, the Grand Concert has a much more controlled overtone and thus is used for its sound projection while recording.
- Dreadnought: This body shape is the most common one out there. Designed by Martin Guitars, it was manufactured to produce a sound deeper than the “classic” style guitars, with very resonant bass. Its body is large, although the waist is not as pronounced as can be found in the Grand Concert or the Auditorium guitars. Several Dreadnoughts are being produced, further leading to them being the most common; the most well-known model is Gibson J-45.
- Auditorium: This guitar has similar dimensions to the Dreadnought guitar, but consists of a much more pronounced waist. This body shape is also sometimes referred to as the “Orchestra” style guitar, depending on the manufacturer. The shifting waist dispenses various tones which allow this guitar to stand out. The Auditorium body shape is relatively newer in comparison to shapes like the Dreadnought.
- Jumbo: As suggested by the name, Jumbo is the largest standard guitar you can find under acoustic guitars. Jumbo is bigger than the Auditorium but is similarly proportioned and also designed to give out a sound and tune similar to that of a Dreadnought. It was designed by Gibson to compete with a Dreadnought, but with the maximum resonant space possible allowing for greater volume as well as sustain. The first example that comes to mind is the Gibson J-200. Similar to the Dreadnought, most guitar manufacturers possess at least one Jumbo Model.
Into The Woods (of Guitars)
As you may or may not know, the material with which a guitar is made plays a vital role in the kind of sound it has. And thus, we want to give you a little insight into the different kinds of wood used in manufacturing guitars and how each one affects the volume and other characteristics of the tune produced.
- Sitka Spruce: This is the most common type of wood used for the top of acoustic guitars. Sitka Spruce has a huge dynamic range and a satisfying level of responsiveness. This wood with a bright-sounding tone is generally considered fit for lively strumming or lead playing.
- Engelmann Spruce: Engelmann is more or less similar to Sitka but tends to be a bit more dynamic when played softly. Engelmann normally doesn’t respond as well when played as hard as Sitka. Thus, if you are a finger picker, this choice is the right one for you.
- Adirondack Spruce: If you are into vintage guitars, then Adirondack is your way to go. However, this wood was so overused that a majority of manufacturers have stopped using this material for their guitars. Even though this wood is considered the liveliest out of the three spruces, it does take longer to ‘open up’ when compared to the other two.
- Cedar: This warm tone wood is popularly known for its luscious tone. Cedar is most commonly used for guitars that are used for fingerpicking, as they are required to be not as hard as the Spruces.
- Mahogany: This wood is generally used for the back and the sides of the guitar, offering a pleasing representation of mid-frequencies. This tone wood projects well but can be sometimes be dark as compared to tone woods like Rosewood. This is best preferred for guitars playing rhythmic roles and not lead or fingerpicking roles.
- Maple: This wood is commonly used for Arch tops and Jumbo guitars and is known for its flatness of tone and quick decay. It is generally used in Jumbo guitars to balance out the excessive amount of low-end frequencies.
- Rosewood: Rosewood is a highly sought-out wood due to its extensive representation of high, mid, and treble frequencies. It is much more focused in comparison to Mahogany and thus is ideal for both fingerpicking and flat-picking. One drawback is that it is much more expensive than Mahogany.
Right Choice, Right Guitar
A tip before you go down to buy your chosen guitar: most guitars consist of two distinct tone woods and therefore, the end tone of the guitar would be the combination of your two choices.
So, now that you know about the various kinds of shapes and woods used, we are sure that you’ll make the right choice in line with your needs during your next purchase.
Don’t forget every beginning is the start of a long journey and thus, don’t forget to watch these beginner tips to keep yourself on the right track:
If mentorship is all you need to keep up with your guitar journey, check out our live courses. Happy learning!