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Acoustic Guitar Sizes: Know what body style and size "fits" before you buy

Why is the acoustic guitar body size so important to you?

What will happen if you buy the wrong size or one that is just a bit off-size for your needs?

Acoustic Guitar Sizes

This 1 question will help you determine the right size of acoustic guitar for your next purchase.  Keep this question firmly in the forefront of your mind while doing your research, as it will help keep you on the right track, without getting distracted with all of the promotional ideas and reviews that you read.

That number 1 question is:

 Why is the acoustic body size important in your specific purchase decision?

A list of potential reasons you are considering acoustic guitar size as most important.

  • You need a travel size to take with you whenever and wherever you
  • You are buying for a child, teen, or smaller framed person
  • You want a guitar more suitable for a larger person
  • You want something that will have the right sound for the kind of music you are playing
  • You want more bass, more treble, or more balance from your acoustic guitar sound
  • You don't have a lot of room to keep one- student away at college or living in small quarters
  • You're a closet guitar player and want to hide it!

Keeping that question in mind, let's continue reviewing different body sizes, models and their benefits / drawbacks

Acoustic guitar body sizes and styles differ between manufacturers. The C.F. Martin Company has been at the forefront of setting trends in body styles and sizes, and many companies have followed suit with their standards as a solid foundation,and altering their designs to creat custom sizes and styles. The following describes some of the common acoustic guitar body sizes and styles, and shares a little bit about the sound and tone profiles.   These profiles do not follow Martins standards to a tee, but do exhibit some of the most commonly used acoustic guitar body sizes and styles used, many having been influenced by the Martin Guitar Company.

This simple guide will help you understand different acoustic guitar body sizes and styles, to help you find the best fit for your personal comfort and playability, as well as the desired sound.  

When it comes to acoustic guitars, one size certainly does not fit all!  Let's review many popular sizes and styles to see which might be the best for you.

While doing your research on the right acoustic guitar size for you or for another (as a potential gift), be sure to answer firmly in your mind the answer to this one question.


The traveler (acoustic or acoustic electric)

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy a travel size acoustic guitar

  • You want a small guitar to travel with
  • You are not concerned about recording quality
  • You want to hack around and play while on vacation
  • You are not concerned with strong sound projection

Some quality, well reviewed traveler guitars include (but are not limited to:

to read more reviews click here

Traveler Ultra Light Acoustic-Electric Travel Guitar with Gig Bag

to read more reviews click here

Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar

The trusty traveler guitar:  There are many makes and models, and of those that we reviewed, some that are cheaply priced (i.e. under $150) are just that- cheap.  Traveler guitars come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and some more complex models offer foldaway design that buckle at the neck joint.  Additionally, there are acoustic electric models if you desire the flexibility of plugging in.  First, it is best to determine "why" you are seriously considering a travel guitar before getting into the research.  Answer that question for yourself first, and it could steer you away from a specific traveler guitar and toward a different size acoustic guitar body.  Also, it might re-affirm your choice.  Consider the following questions:

Are you buying a traveler guitar for any of the following reasons:

  • I want a decent small, traveler guitar to take with me on vacation, road or boat trips
  • I want a guitar small enough for my son, daughter or student
  • I want a traveler because I am a musician and want to keep my skills honed
  • I want to purchase it as a gift for someone 
  • I need a guitar that won't disturb the neighbors

What is the number 1 reason you are considering a travel size guitar?

Some good reasons to buy a traveler guitar:

  • You want a small guitar to travel with
  • You are not concerned about recording quality
  • You want to hack around and play while on vacation
  • You are not concerned with strong sound projection

Some NOT SO GOOD reasons that should require a little more research for your decision

  • You want a small guitar for a kid
  • You want to save money
  • You want something convenient to travel and record with
  • You're a beginner looking for a beginner guitar to grow with
  • A friend of yours has one and you think it's pretty cool

If you are considering it for just playing around, traveling, or you desire a more "quiet guitar" because of the living situation or neighbor issues, this kind of guitar might be the right choice.  

However, if you want a small guitar that will give the quality of sound you might expect from a larger guitar, or if you are considering this style as the first beginner guitar for a child or student, you may want to consider other models that are more typical of a guitar suitable for learning, recording or for growing and developing better skills.

If you are considering a traveler or mini guitar, be sure to read reviews of people who own models that range between $40 - $500, because you will find various reasons to stay away from some of the cheaper models that are under$150.  Some of these guitars that are made that cheaply are not much better than toys in quality, sound and crafstmanship, and at this model and price range, you will get what you pay for.  By investing an extra $100 - $200, you can find some fine travelers and minis that will more than accomplish the job, and in fact, some professionals choose certain travelers and minis over others for playability, quality, performance and recording reasons.


 The Mini Acoustic Guitar

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy a mini size acoustic guitar

  • You want a small guitar to travel with that more resembles an acoustic model
  • You are not concerned too concerned with recording quality
  • You want to hack around and play while on vacation
  • You are not concerned with strong sound projection
  • You do not need a "bassy" sounding guitar
  • You want to buy a scaled down version for a kid or small framed beginner

Some top reviewed quality mini acoustic guitars

to read more reviews click here

Taylor Guitars GS Mini Reduced Scale Grand Symphony Acoustic Guitar

Taylor Guitars Baby Taylor, BT2, Mahogany, Natural

LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar


 The Parlor Acoustic Guitar

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy a Parlor size acoustic guitar

  • You want a small guitar to travel with that more resembles an acoustic model
  • You are concerned with recording and performing quality with a small sound
  • You want a travel guitar but still want quality playability and sound
  • You are not concerned with strong sound projection
  • You do not need a "bassy" sounding guitar - you might play in small groups
  • You want a more standard fret scale but want a smaller body for a smaller person
  • You prefer more treble projection for your style, group or recording

Some top reviewed quality Parlor Size acoustic guitars

to read more reviews click here

Blueridge BR-341 Historic Series O-Style Parlor Guitar

Washburn Vintage Series R314KK Acoustic Guitar

Art & Lutherie Ami Cedar Antique Burst Guitar


 The Tenor Acoustic Guitar ( NOT A 6 STRINGED GUITAR - ONLY HAS 4 STRINGS)

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy a Tenor size acoustic guitar

  • You are part of a guitar group or ensemble and they need a tenor
  • You want a different addition, a 4 stringed guitar and challenge or changeup 
  • You prefer more treble projection for your style, group or recording
  • You want to learn alternate chordings with only 4 strings
to read more reviews click here

Aria AF-Tenor Tenor Folk Acoustic Guitar

Gold Tone TG-10 Tenor Guitar (Four String, Natural) (laminated)

Gold Tone TG-18 Tenor Guitar (Four String, Natural) (solid wood)


  The Auditorium (a mid-sized professional sounding guitar)

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy an Auditorium size acoustic guitar

  • You like to write, record or perform and want quality an balance
  • You need something with more projection than smaller sizes
  • You need a size and feel smaller and less deep than a Dreadnought or larger
  • You want more projection than a tenor, parlor, traveler or mini
  • You need more mid range and a little more bass than a tenor guitar
  • You want a more standard fret scale but want a smaller body for a smaller person, yet the tenor seems a bit too small
  • You want a mid-sized guitar with a more standard look and feel
to read more reviews click here

Fender CA-360SCE Auditorium Acoustic Electric Guitar, Natural

00028 Auditorium Acoustic Guitar (Martin Guitar)


  The Grand Auditorium or Grand Performance Models (big sound, easier to handle than a Dreadnought)

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy the Grand Auditorium (Taylor) or Grand Performance (Martin)

  • You prefer the porjection close to a dreadnought but want less bass dominance and more distinction between mid, low, and treble notes
  • You like to write, record or perform and want quality and balance
  • You prefer more bell tone qualities and more clarity for finger-picking style than the bassy blend of a Dreadnought or Jumbo
  • You need a size and feel smaller and less deep than a Dreadnought or Jumbo
  • You prefer big, clear sound and an "easier to hold" acoustic with a smaller waist
  • You want the most standard fret scale
to read more reviews click here

Taylor Guitars 114ce, Grand Auditorium, Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Sapele Back/Sides, Cutaway, ES-T

Taylor Guitars 114ce, Grand Auditorium, Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Sapele Back/Sides, Cutaway, ES-T, Left (left handed)

Taylor Guitars 314ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Electric Guitar

Taylor Guitars 414ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Electric Guitar

Taylor Guitars 414ce-L Grand Auditorium Acoustic Electric Guitar, Left Handed


 The Orchestra Model ( a mid size - step below "the standard Dreadnought")

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy an Orchestra size acoustic guitar

  • You like to write, record or perform and want quality an balance
  • You need something with more projection and wider range than smaller sizes
  • You need a size and feel smaller and less deep than a Dreadnought or Jumbo
  • You want more projection than an auditorium, tenor, parlor, and smaller
  • You need more mid range and a little more bass than an Auditorium size
  • You want a more standard fret scale but want a smaller body for a smaller person, yet the tenor seems a bit too small
  • You want a mid-sized guitar with a more standard look and feel and less "curvy" than some of the others with deeper waists and rounded bouts
to read more reviews click here

Martin 1-Series OM-1 Orchestra Model Acoustic Guitar Natural

Voyage-Air Transit Series VAOM-02 Folding Orchestra Model Acoustic Guitar

Guild® GAD-30 Orchestra-size Acoustic Guitar - Natural, w/hardshell case


 The Dreadnought Acoustic Body (the Standard of Standards since the 1930's)

Dreadnought standard acoustic guitartravel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy the Dreadnought (standard)

  • You would prefer the most standard and popular acoustic guitar size
  • You like to write, record or perform and want quality an balance
  • You need something with more projection, bass and wider range than smaller sizes
  • You need a size and feel smaller and less deep than a Jumbo
  • You want more projection than an Orchestra, auditorium, tenor, parlor, and smaller
  • You want the most balanced guitar in all 3 ranges, bass, mid, treble
  • You want the most standard fret scale
  • You want to learn on the most universally available guitar in the world
  • You want to be able to easily transition to smaller guitars or to the Jumbo if you travel or play in different groups or settings
  • You want the most choice preferences for price range and manufacturer
to read more reviews click here

Taylor Guitars 310ce Dreadnought Acoustic Electric Guitar

Taylor Guitars 110, Dreadnought, Solid Sitka Spruce, Sapele Back/Sides

Takamine G Series EG340SC Cutaway Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural

Taylor Guitars DN3-LFT Dreadnought Acoustic Electric Guitar, Left Handed

SWDGT Special Edition Sustainable Wood Acoustic Guitar

D28 Acoustic Guitar


  The Jumbo Acoustic Guitar- the Big Fella!

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy the Jumbo Acoustic Guitar

  • You want a booming, bassy acoustic guitar (without playing bass)
  • You like to write, record or perform and want quality and balance
  • You prefer a booming sound, large sized guitar with a distinction between the bass and treble notes
  • You are a big fella lookin for a lotta guitar
  • You are part of a guitar group and need to balance or backup the group with a strong bassy projection
  • You want to play some fingerpicking booming songs but don't want the bell-like mid qualities of the Grand Auditorium or Grand Performance Model
  • You want more bass distinction than a Dreadnought in your playing

  The Grand Jumbo - the Big Fella's Daddy 

travel size acoustic guitar

Some good "fits" - Reasons to buy the Grand Jumbo Acoustic Guitar

  • Jumbo just isn't big enough for you
  • You prefer a booming sound, large sized guitar with a distinction between the bass and treble notes and even more bass and projection than the Jumbo
  • You are "big folk" lookin for a lotta guitar -even more than a Jumbo
  • You want to play some fingerpicking booming songs but don't want the bell-like mid qualities of the Grand Auditorium or Grand Performance Model
  • You want more bass distinction than a Dreadnought in your playing
  • You just gotta have the biggest guitar in the pack!

 












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