Acoustic guitar shapes and the sound within

I write almost all my songs on an acoustic guitar, even if they turn into rock songs, hard rock songs, metal songs, heavy metal songs, really heavy songs… I love writing on an acoustic because I can hear what every string is doing; the vibrations haven’t been combined in a collision of distortion or effects yet. -Corey Taylor

The modern acoustic guitar is undoubtedly one of the most popular instruments of all time. Since its inception in the 1850s it has constantly found a way to evoke a strong emotional response to its sound. Maybe this should be credited to the rawness, resonance and excellent dynamic response of the instrument? If we ask ourselves where does the sound come from, or how it is produced, we will end up discussing the body of the guitar; as it serves as the amplifier and the space where the vibrations provided by the strings bounce off of. Yes, the strings, tuners, nut, fret board, neck and bridge are all components that shape the overall sound but there is no denying that the body of the acoustic is its most important part.

Acoustic guitars come in a variety of shapes and sizes; let’s get familiar with some of them.

Dreadnought is the guitar shape that most people associate with western music. It was first produced by Martin & Co in 1916. Dreadnoughts are famous for their rich, warm, full and articulate sound.

Parlours are small acoustic guitars usually favored by folk singer-songwriters as they provide a more intimate sound and are easy to carry from one place to another.

Concert guitars sit somewhere in between the Dreadnought and the Parlour shape. It is a pretty even instrument; not boomy on the low end, yet still present. It is an excellent choice if you find the Dreadnought guitars to be too muddy for your taste.

Jumbo guitars, as the name suggests, are guitars that provide a huge sound at a loud volume. They pack a lot of bass and are perfect for strumming away to your favorite tunes.

different acoustics

Auditorium guitars sit somewhere between Concert and Jumbo guitars; similar in shape to a Dreadnought, but also different in a lot of ways. If your preference is fingerpicking over strumming, chances are that you will like the sound of these guitars more than a Dreadnought as the mid frequencies aren’t as pronounced and they have a different bass response.

Classical guitars are the go to guitars for finger picking. They provide a clean, warm and clear sound. They are never harsh on the upper frequencies but if used for fast strumming they tend to get very muddy.

Archtop guitars usually have two f-holes instead of a round sound hole in the middle and are famous for having a very focused sound, which makes them perfect for soloing and playing melodic phrases. They are almost exclusively used for jazz, as strumming is not one of their strong qualities.

This is just a scratch on the surface because the subject of acoustics is a pretty broad and fascinating one; and when combined with different tone woods and craftsmanship quickly mounts to novel size writings. The best way to go about it would be to try all the shapes for yourself, see what resonates most with you, see what your ear likes, and go for it.


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