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I would like you input on the differences between each body type of acoustic guitars and what genre each type is ideal for.

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up vote 17 down vote accepted

Basically it comes down to whether you strum all the time, whether you finger-pick, or whether you want a guitar that is good for both.

Your body diagram in your question has guitars arranged by body size, but it also represents a continuum of musical styles. On the left, the parlor guitar has the most delicate sound and is the best suited for fingerstyle playing. On the right side are the dreadnought and jumbo, which are very loud guitars designed for heavy, vigorous strumming or flatpicking.

Fingerstyle guitars have smaller bodies and a more delicate sound yet with a wider dynamic range, meaning it sounds good when you play softly. They also usually have a wider fingerboard and string spacing which provides extra room for more intricate fingerings on both hands. The 00 size is the classic fingerstyle design.

Guitars for strumming are larger, have a deeper bass response, are louder, and tend to need to be played harder to get a good sound. They tend to have a narrower fingerboard and string spacing, which works better for strumming chords. The Dreadnought is the classic strumming guitar.

The OM and Grand Auditorium designs sit between the 00 and the Dreadnought and are considered the "all-around" design for players who need to do both fingerstyle and strumming on one guitar.

Guitars where the neck joins the body at the 12th fret are the oldest traditional design, and produce the fullest most resonant sound. The most popular design, however, is for guitars where the neck joins the body at the 14th fret. The 14-fret was originally designed to make it easier to play notes and chords that are higher up the neck.


The Dreadnought is probably the most popular model of guitar around the world, in any genre. It is favored for playing in a country or rock band with electric instruments, because it is loud and powerful. Country singer Johnny Cash is often credited with putting the Dreadnought "on the map" for country and rock music. The Jumbo is sometimes found in this setting also. (Elvis Presley, Pete Townshend).

The "middle" guitars like the Orchestra Model and Grand Auditorium are favored for use in "unplugged" rock and for singer-songwriters who perform unaccompanied or with a small band that isn't very loud. Performers like Eric Clapton and John Mayer use this style of guitar for "unplugged" performance. This style is highly favored by acoustic guitar instrumentalists who perform solo.

Parlor and "00" guitars are not that common, but they are enjoying a renewed interest these days. They are considered to be 19th-century and very-early-20th-century designs. I would note that Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull has long been associated with the Parlor, and Steve Howe of Yes played his classic music with that band on an 00. Folk singer Joan Baez and country singer Marty Robbins were also Parlor players.

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Thx thats the answer I was looking for! I'm leaning towards a nice Dreadnought. I really like the looks of it and it seems like it will fit the music I wanna play better. I'm looking for a coldplay-ish - radiohead-ish acoustic sound. I especially liked the acoustic guitars on "In Rainbows" album by Radiohead. Ofc that album doen't have that much strumming. More like loud flat picking. But I think I get the idea. – Panagiotis Palladinos Nov 12 '12 at 15:03

I think this link would answer your question just fine. It doesn't have EVERY one of those bodies you showed, but it should give you a general idea.


Ok maybe it does have every type, but two of them are in the same category.

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I've seen this Music Radar article before. It's excellent. – user1044 Nov 12 '12 at 13:35

Just FYI, Thom Yorke plays both a Martin 000-18 and a Gibson Hummingbird, which is a square shouldered dreadnaught, in concert.

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