Early Acoustic Guitars
Acoustic guitars come in many sizes and shapes. Some of the earliest known guitars have fanciful rounded backs with to types of wood to create a stripped look. Because the rounded backs were difficult to hold, these evolved into smaller “parlor” style guitars which were comfortable and convenient. The Martin guitar company made the Dreadnought (named after the large war ships) shape famous because of its booming sound that allowed it to stand out in group settings.
Acoustic Guitar Shapes
Each manufacturer has its particular shapes and they all vary slightly but to generalize there are parlor guitars, Jumbo Guitars, Dreadnought Guitars, and Orchestra Guitars. While the dreadnought shape dominated for years and is still preferred by many bluegrass and country bands, The rounder shape of the Taylor guitars seems to be gaining popularity and it seems to be copied now by many of the other companies. For example, the performance series guitars introduced by Martin look very similar in shape to the body style of the Taylor series.
Acoustic Guitar Materials
Many different materials have been used on acoustic instruments, with wood probably being the most common. Probably the most common wood used for guitar tops is Sitka spruce, but other species used are cedar, redwood, mahogany, and koa to name a few. For more on woods used on guitars check out our page on guitar woods. In addition to woods some manufacturer such as Ovation created a composite ‘bowl’ shaped back that was both durable and comfortable still producing a good tone.
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