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Guitar Body Sizes
When you begin your search for an acoustic guitar, one of the first considerations should be the size and shape of the body. A guitar's body size and shape is a major determining factor in the instrument's final sound, as it relates to both volume and tonal qualities.
It should be fairly obvious that the larger body sizes have a greater potential for volume, which may or may not be fully achieved depending on the materials used and the maker's skill (not all Dreadnoughts are created equal!).
Variations in shape mean that two guitars with bodies of roughly the same size, while producing equivalent volume, can sound very different from one another. Further, as a general rule, large, "thick-waisted" bodies (such as the Dreadnought or the "Round-shouldered" Dreadnought), will produce a big sound with a more open midrange; "tighter-waisted" bodies (such as the Auditorium, Super Jumbo and Grand Concert) tend to produce a more "focused" sound with very solid overtones.
Note: at the suggestion of readers, I have arranged the following body types in order of size, from smallest to largest.
- Boge Quinn, Webmaster
A number of factors should guide you to choosing the perfect body style for your music: What style of music do you play? Do you play in bands that require "cutting" tone and volume? Do you play lead, rhythm, or both? Do you play with a flatpick, fingerstyle, or both? Are you a male of slight build, or a female who might require a smaller body size for playing comfort? All these are considerations that can help you find the perfect guitar for you.
An additional factor that might be overlooked, but should not be understated, is aesthetics. Let's face it: if we didn't care what our instruments looked like, then there wouldn't be such a dizzying array of aesthetic options available both from CB Guitars and from other makers, and all guitars would be unadorned and purely utilitarian. When you narrow your choices down to the body styles that best suit you musically, it is perfectly fine to allow your final choice to be determined by which guitar looks best to you. This is especially true for the stage performer whose "stage presence" is visually enhanced by their instrument.
Finally, you should consider how the tone of the body size you desire is affected by the woods chosen for its construction. Click here for my article on tone woods. The woods chosen should enhance the acoustic properties of the desired body size as it relates to the music you want to play.
This is where the purchase of a custom guitar really comes through: by carefully considering all the factors of body size and tone woods, you can help custom-tailor the perfect instrument whose purpose is to enhance the creation of your music, not a factory-made "one-size-fits-all" guitar. In this way, your guitar becomes more than just a tool; it becomes a musical partner that can help you create a lifetime of your music.
While the array of body sizes and woods available might seem confusing, choosing the right guitar is really not as daunting a task as it may seem. I am here to help you, so feel free to email me with any questions you might have.
Last modified: November 18, 2011
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