Acoustic Guitar Expert Guide

At first glance, it may seem that all acoustic guitars are the same. Some wood, a hole, strings. Right?

Wrong.

Take a closer look and you’ll see that acoustic guitars come in all shapes and sizes. From dreadnoughts through to classical, there is a bewildering array of guitars to choose from. And they not only look different, but they also sound different. Let’s take a look.

Types of Acoustic Guitar

DREADNOUGHT

When someone says “acoustic guitar”, it’s likely that a dreadnought comes to mind first. The dreadnought was first developed and sold in 1916 by the guitar company Martin. They are known for their size, good bass response, excellent projection, and rich tone. These contributing factors make them a great all-rounder.

CONCERT

Concerts are smaller and therefore, much easier to wield than the larger dreadnoughts, as previously mentioned. This difference in size creates a guitar that has a brighter tone, with less bass and more midrange. Concerts are the second oldest on this list as they can be dated as far back as 1854!

AUDITORIUM

These beauties are great for picking styles as they have a more balanced midrange, with less bass. Perfect for picking out those intricate and delicate passages within a song. Again these are smaller than the dreadnought, making them more comfortable to play as the hourglass body shape fits perfectly on the leg. Auditoriums are the relative newbies on the block. As with the one pictured, it was first created by Taylor in 1994.

PARLOR

Another creation from Martin, these guitars were popular during the late 19th century through to the 1950s. Having a smaller body the volume and dynamic range is reduced. That is not a bad thing though as it all depends on context. If your style is less brash and you want your voice to be the focal point and not the guitar, then a parlor would be perfect for you – incidentally, some of the best blues acoustic guitars are this size. Having a smaller frame also has obvious benefits in terms of comfort, and playability.

JUMBO

From the smallest on our list to the largest. Meet the jumbo. The original jumbo acoustic was the Gibson J2000 which was released in 1937. These beasts, as the name suggest, are big. Even more so than the dreadnought. The size may understandably be off-putting for players of smaller stature. Whether or not this is the case for you, all comes down to personal preference. These guitars offer the most volume and bass response than any of the other guitars on this list, making them perfect for fingerstyle guitar.

CLASSICAL

As the names suggest, this is by far the oldest axe on our list – dating as far back as the early 16th century. Two of the primary difference of a classical guitar is the nylon strings and wide necks. This creates a guitar with a mellow tone that is comfortable to play. A classical guitar may also be a great starting guitar for young children as the nylon strings are more forgiving on the fingers. That is not to say that a classical guitar is strictly for beginners. With their subtly in tonal color, a classical guitar is one the most joyous instruments to hear when in the hands of a master.

GYPSY JAZZ

The final guitar on our list is by no means the runner-up. In fact, the gypsy jazz guitar is one of the best-kept secrets in the world of guitars. First produced and made famous by Selmer-Maccaferri in the early 1900s (and famously played by Django Reinhardt), gypsy jazz guitars are a sort of hybrid steel/classical guitar. The strings are steel, yet the body (especially the headstock) pertains to a classical guitar. Lots of fun to play, with massive projection.

12 STRING

By doubling up on strings, 12 string guitars produce a jangle and shimmer that is very particular to this type of guitar. The sound is a bit like playing two in unison, creating a natural chorus effect.

TRAVEL

If you’ve ever done extensive traveling, you’ll know space is a premium. While it’s perfectly feasible to spend months traveling with a jumbo guitar, it’s not ideal, especially when there are so many small and compact travel guitars which sound pretty cool. Some players, regardless of whether they’re on the road or not, prefer the sound and playability of this small acoustics.

Summary

So there you have it, a short introduction. Remember if you’re mainly a player of electric guitars you can get hold of pretty cool acoustic simulator pedals that give you the sound of one via your electric.