In this unit, we’re going to talk about the different body types for steel string acoustic guitars. You may have a variety of reasons for coming here. Most likely you’re planning on buying a new guitar. Or maybe, you want to discover which are the different kinds of guitar.
Whatever the goal you have, you’ll get that knowledge.

So… Let’s get started.

Note: you can choose the format for this lesson: video or text.

1. Cutaways and body size

The guitar below is a jumbo. It has a cutaway. The wood has been designed like this so you can reach the upper frets more easily. This is pretty standard for steel-stringed acoustic guitars.

Takamine EG523SC Sunburst G Series

A Takamine guitar (EG523SC)
Notice the pickguard below the sound hole and the position markers on the fretboard

Another thing you can see a lot for these flat-tops is the body starting at the 14th fret. Having these two characteristics basically means much more freedom on the fingerboard, it becomes simpler to move from a low note to a high note at high speed.

Some guitars don’t have any cutaway and have their body starting at the 12th fret. Less freedom on those, but more sustain, more bass frequencies, and more … volume. Why? Because the body becomes bigger.

You can find cutaway and non-cutaway versions and bodies starting at the 12th or 14th fret for every types of guitars. Maybe not every guitar, but surely, EVERY types.

So… Where am I heading at with this? The first version with the cutaway and the body starting at the 14th fret is the standard version. You can do pretty much everything with this, from strumming to solos. Loads of players have this type of guitar.

The second version will help rhythmic guitar players. The body is longer, you will automatically get more power in your strumming.

2. Different steel string acoustic guitars

Now, there are various body types. If you’re a rhythmic or versatile guitar player, a dreadnought is a good choice. The Jumbo, is also a great pick, its body’s usually a bit longer than the dreadnought, so you will get more resonance and more volume.

These types of guitars are great for country, pop, rock music, where a lot of strumming is involved.

There are smaller bodies than that. Folk and traditional blues players are often seen with smaller guitars such as the grand auditorium (Triple O) or the Grand Concert (Double O). Those are types of guitars that will sound great when playing mid-range or high frequencies.

Martin Guitar Size

Martin Guitar Size

3. Amplification?

Remember that I’m talking just about flat top guitars here. I will tackle archtop guitars later. These flat top guitars often have a piezo pickup integrated. That means that you will be able to have them amplified. In that case, you can control bass, middle and treble frequencies.

Takamine Piezo

On this Takamine, you can control the volume and different frequencies.

Does that mean the body size doesn’t matter if you’re going to always play amplified? No. The natural bass frequencies you’ll get from a jumbo or dreadnought are always better than what the PA system or amplifier will provide. In any case, having your acoustic guitar amplified can help it cut through the mix and be heard clearly.

4. In a word…

Knowing all of these will help you choose the guitar you want. Sure, there are other things that determine how the guitar will sound: the wood, how it was manufactured, if the guitar has been played before, the strings, etc.

So… by now, if you still don’t know which body type you’re gonna choose for steel string acoustic guitar, I would advise you to go for a dreadnought. You can basically do everything with this kind of guitar. But if you’ve determined what you want to play, then the choice becomes easier for you.

Don’t hesitate to go test any guitar on a music shop, if you can. After all, it could be a big investment for you and taking your time before deciding what you wanna choose is perfectly fine.

Now, if nothing suits you in terms of steel-string acoustic guitar, you can try the following articles: