Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide – Part 1: Sizes

When it comes to choosing the guitar that is right for you, there are quite literally thousands of different options. From size, shape, build quality, brand, electronics, and more, it can be overwhelming for anyone – beginner or expert – when trying to find the perfect guitar for you. That’s where we come in! If you find yourself in this situation, we think the best option is to come into one of our local music stores and talk to our expert employees who can pair you up with exactly what you’re looking for. But let’s face it, that’s not always an option. If that’s the case and you are set on buying online, take a look through this guide first for some helpful tricks, tips, and things you need to be on the lookout for when choosing your acoustic guitar.

Size & Shape

The first thing to figure out when choosing a guitar is what size and shape of guitar fits you for your personal situation. Are you going to be sitting or standing when playing? Would you describe yourself as tall or short? Big or small? Answering these questions will get you started in finding your best guitar. There are a myriad of sizes and shapes out there for just acoustic (lets not even get into electric guitar here, we’ll cover that soon)! Let’s go through some of the more common sizes first.


The grand-daddy of all guitars. The Dreadnought size is the biggest common size out there, and we mean big. When you picture an acoustic guitar in your head, there’s a good chance you’re thinking of a Dreadnought. With a full-scale neck and extremely shallow curves giving it an almost box-y shape, a Dreadnought is going to take up most of your lap if you’re sitting down, or most of your torso if you’re standing up. Because it is the biggest, it is also the loudest, or most resonate. The sound that comes out of a Dreadnought is loud and proud, and if you’re looking for a pure acoustic guitar with as much sound as possible, this is your choice! Looking for a Dreadnought? Check out these awesome Eastman Guitars!

Grand Auditorium (0000)

Grand Auditorium Guitars are similar to Dreadnoughts in size, but with a narrower body waist, making it easier for people who struggle to hold a Dreadnought. Because of its size, it still gives off a beautifully loud, resonate sound, but also responds well to finger-picking and a softer touch, where the Dreadnought will struggle. Check out this Eastman Grand Auditorium!

Auditorium (000)

Auditorium guitars are a bit smaller than Grand Auditorium, with a similar size to the Grand Concert. These guitars have a thinner body and a smaller waist than the Grand Auditorium and Dreadnought guitars. Interestingly, if you’re a player with a softer touch, these guitars will be louder than a soft touch with a bigger size. Check out these awesome Auditorium options!

Grand Concert (00)

Just like an Auditorium guitar, these guitars are perfect for those who like finger picking and other soft-touch options. Often you’ll be able to find these guitars with a shorter neck for those who travel often with their guitars and don’t need a full scale length. Here is one of our favorite Grand Concert guitars!

Concert/Orchestra (0)

The smallest of the “full size” guitars, Concert (sometimes called Orchestra) size guitars have the smallest and thinnest body, with a very round shape (versus a bigger guitar’s more boxy shape). Like the Grand Concert, they are perfect for finger-picking styles and soft touch players, with the added benefit of being able to fit more body shapes than a larger guitar. NGW makes a fantastic Orchestra sized guitar, which you can check out here!


Moving into smaller guitars, we have Parlor size. These are an old style of guitar, falling out of popularity some decades ago, but regaining a somewhat cult following in recent years as certain musicians look for a more traditional and folk sound. Most of the time, Parlor guitars are 12 fret (meaning the neck joins the guitar body at the 12th fret), instead of a 15 fret full size guitar, although you can find certain “full fret neck” Parlor guitars. If you’re in the market for a Parlor sized guitar with its signature sound, we recommend Gretsch’s Jim Dandy or Gin Rickey.


For the traveling acoustic musician, you might need something even smaller than a Parlor for more intimate settings. These guitars are much smaller and cheaper than other guitars, and as such won’t get nearly as loud. Perfect for someone traveling who needs something to pick around on while they’re gone, this might be your option! Dean makes one of our favorite travel sized guitars.


So technically, every guitar we’ve been talking about so far has been a steel-string guitar, meaning the strings you put on your guitar have a steel-string core and winding. A Classical guitar, however, has Nylon strings. Sometimes these nylon strings will have a metal winding, but a core of nylon, keeping it as a Classical style guitar. These guitars are soft and warm, and you’ll find them most often in Spanish style music, only go with this kind of guitar if you know it is the style you’re looking for or you like the feel of how they play. Ortega’s Full Classical package is one of our favorites!

Other Sizes

Every manufacturer makes their guitars differently, and there is no set consensus on what size is what. Expanding on what we’ve just been over, there are also Jumbo sizes, as well as smaller 3/4 and 1/2 sizes for kids just learning how to play. There are probably a dozen or more sizes out there that fall somewhere in between these guides, so don’t worry if you head down to a local music store and you’re still confused. Our employees are happy to help with whatever you need! Check back in a few days for the next part to this guide, where we’ll go over build quality, electronics, and more!

%d bloggers like this: