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Choosing the Right Acoustic Guitar

Which Shape or Size?

We carry a wide range of Guitar sizes and body shapes.   Everything from Three Quarter (3/4) sized to Dreadnoughts and Jumbos.   Let’s begin with the smaller shapes.   3/4 size Guitars are great for seven to nine/ten year old beginners depending on their height and arm length.   Some adults even like 3/4’s because they are easy to transport and very affordable.   Next up are Parlors and Travel Guitars.  These are great for several reasons. They sound excellent finger-picked, and have a classic, bluesy tone, but they are also great if you travel a lot and want a full length neck and a better tone than most 3/4’s can offer.   Grand Auditoriums (also known as Mini Jumbos or NEX depending on the brand) and Folk/OM guitars have the most versatile shapes.  They’re balanced to do everything well.  Many enjoy these sizes because they often provide the most comfortable fit.  But if it’s volume you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the Dreadnought and Jumbo shapes. These guitars are designed to draw as much projection as possible from the body and often offer the fullest range of tone possible.

Which woods?

There are many Tonewoods to choose from each with distinct properties choose for sound, cosmetics and price.  The list below is by no means complete, but are some of the most popular ones available.

Guitar Tops

Sitka Spruce – By far, Sitka Spruce is the most popular top wood in the world. It’s a fantastic all round material, and valued among luthiers for its elasticity, response and its ability to deliver great sound no matter what the playing style. It also looks beautiful and has a very natural and timeless aesthetic.

Red Cedar – One of the softer top woods, Cedar responds with more vibration than Spruce, which is a great benefit to gentler, warmer styles like fingerpicking and jazz.   It’s also the preferred top wood for Classical Guitars.  Cedar will deliver more projection for quiet players, but the trade-off is overall volume. Players that really like to dig in will find other top woods projecting more, but if you’re an intimate player that enjoys warm, soft tones, this is a great wood for you. Cedar has a wonderful, deep and natural look that can vary in color from dark, reddish browns to blonde.

Mahogany – Another popular top wood is Mahogany, which is incredibly strong and dense, translating into a very responsive, tonally bright soundscape. Players will notice a lot of sparkle in the high end, a subtle and fun difference in the flavor that a lot of blues and folk players prefer. Mahogany is another natural beauty with a striking reddish brown or chocolate aesthetic.

Guitar Back and Sides

Mahogany – Again, sometimes used as a top wood, but it’s such a fantastic all round material it’s also one of the most popular woods for Guitar bodies. As a body wood, Mahogany lends itself to great mids and bright tone. It can be recognized by its wonderful, chocolate color.

Rosewood – Another of the most popular body woods, Rosewood has a great tonal range from deep lows to shimmering trebles, and can benefit any player’s style. It has wonderful color and grain, enhanced by its dark, reddish hue.

Maple – It’s a very hard wood with excellent tonal properties, often valued for its sustain. Maple is often found as the body wood on Jumbo body Guitars, so you not only have a guitar with great punch and projection, but tones that really soar and extend.

Acacia – Wonderful color, grain and tone. Like Mahogany, its density gives it a brightness that many fingerstyle players love, with deep low end tones and bright highs.

Ovangkol – Varies in shades of yellowish to reddish brown with darker brown, gray, or black stripes. Ovangkol is similar to Rosewood, offing similar low tones, but also has fuller mid-range tone. Ovangkol is a well-rounded, all-purpose wood which makes it great for players who want a Guitar than can fit just about any style of music.

Tamo Ash – Farly rare, only a few manufacturers currently use this wood for Acoustic Guitars. Lighter in colour than many body woods, offering a unique wildly swirly or waterfall grain. The tone falls roughly between Mahogany and Rosewood, but offers great volume.

Cutaway or Not?

There is often little difference in tone. Some players choose cutaways because they like the look of it. Also many Acoustic-Electric Guitars are only available with cutaway bodies. Really it comes down to if you need the extra space to more easily reach the frets at the base of the neck.

Acoustic or Acoustic-Electric?

Do you perform a lot? Would you like to or do you currently use pedals and effects with your Acoustic? An Acoustic-Electric Guitar would be a great choice for you. But if you want a great Guitar and need to curb your budget a standard Acoustic guitar is a fine option. Pickup systems can greatly add to the price of a Guitar, and of course you will also want to purchase an amplifier, preferably a model designed for use with Acoustic-Electrics if you don’t already own one.