How thick should a guitar body be?
When shopping for a guitar, you may notice that some guitar shops show the guitar’s dimensions, such as width, length, and thickness. People may also talk about the thickness or complain about their guitars being too thick. Does thickness matter in guitar? How thick should a guitar body be?
There are no rules about how thick a guitar body should be. However, common acoustic guitars are usually around 3.75 to 4.75 inches (9.5 – 12cm). Electric guitars also do not have a set thickness, but common ones are around 1.77 inches (4.5cm). Thickness variation depends on the maker and the sound quality desired.
This article discusses how thick a guitar should be and whether thickness even matters in guitars. We also look at the thickness of common popular guitars and explore factors that may affect guitar sound.
Does Guitar Thickness Matter?
Guitar thickness matters as it affects the sound quality produced by the guitar. Guitars with thicker and deeper designs tend to have a more authoritative, grand sound. At the same time, thin models may display more crispness and attack.
People may not think much about how the guitar’s thickness may affect its sound. Most players tend to think about things such as strings, pickups or the amplifier when it comes to how their guitar sounds.
However, wood type, form, and even the location of the cavity or soundhole can play a role here. Guitar makers can manipulate these features to produce a variety of sound qualities. On top of these factors, guitar thickness is also very important in determining the sound your guitar makes.
Generally, guitars with thicker bodies may sound more authoritative and grand. As a result, thicket guitar bodies are commonly made into larger-sized guitars and have thicker strings. This allows the authoritative sound to be further amplified by the guitar size and strings, creating the boom effect.
Thinner guitars may display more crispiness and attack in their sound. Reaching the top of the volume faster than thicker guitars. Thinner guitars also tend to be smaller and come with a smaller neck, making them more playable to many players. The thin guitars’ crisp and short sounds make it more controllable.
What Other Factors Affect Guitar Sound?
Aside from thickness, many other factors affect guitar sounds, such as wood type, body type, size, strings, and neck. If the guitar has electric features, the pickup, amplifier and pedal effects also may affect the sound it makes.
Wood type: Not all wood types are similar. Some wood has more gaps, and some have more grains. As a result, they affect how a guitar sounds.
When a string is plucked, the air inside the guitar body vibrates, and the wood’s density can affect how the vibrations move around inside it. The denser the wood, The vibration gets bounced around harder and not absorbed. This results in more boom with longer sustain.
Guitar makers understand this and use different types of wood to manipulate how their guitar sounds.
|Wood Type||Sound Profile|
|Mahogany||Warmest & Mellowest|
|Rosewood||Warmer & Mellower|
|Alder||Warm & Mellow|
|Swampash||Cool & Bright|
|Ebony||Cooler & Brighter|
|Maple||Coolest & Brightest|
Body Type: For acoustic guitars, there are several popular types of body, and generally, the larger they are, the more authoritative sounds they make, with bigger boom and longer sustain as well. This is because the vibration has more space to move around inside the guitar.
Common guitar body types (arranged from smallest to largest) include Travel/Small Body, Parlor, Concert, Grand Auditorium, Dreadnought, and Jumbo.
For electric guitars, shapes do not matter too much on the guitar, but hollowness. Electric guitars can be broken down into solid, hollow or semi-hollow bodies. Solid guitars are well appreciated for their long sustain and lack of feedback.
Hollow guitars may sound more acoustic-like, produce cleaner sounds, and are more prone to feedback. As a result, jazz guitarists tend to like it. Semi-hollow guitars balance the qualities of hollow and solid guitars. They are well-liked by players such as Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Noel Gallagher (Oasis).
Strings: When it comes to guitar strings, you have two aspects to look at, the gauge and the material. The bigger the gauge measurements, the thicker the strings, and the heavier and darker the sound. It has a longer sustain as well. Small gauge strings are thin and may produce a brighter and crispier sound.
When it comes to material, strings such as 80/20 (80% copper and 20% zinc) are popular with acoustic guitars and make a bright sparking sound. Phosphor bronze strings tend to offer a warmer, mellower tone. For electric guitars, you can choose between steel or nickel strings. Nickel strings are warmer and mellower, while steel strings are sharp and bright.
Neck: Many people may not notice this, but guitars also have multiple neck construction, which may affect how they sound. Lower-end guitars tend to employ a bolt-on construction, meaning the neck is attached to the guitar body. It usually has less sustain and produces a sharper, twangy sound.
Set necks are a level up from bolt-on, where the body has a slot for the neck, and the neck is glued and set to the body. There is more sustain, and the sound may be more mellow. Neck-through construction is the most premium, where the body and neck share the same piece of wood. It produces the best sustain and warm tones, but it is impossible to replace once broken.
How Thick Should A Guitar Body Be?
Generally, there is no set rule on how thick a guitar body needs to be. The thickness often depends on how the guitar maker plans to manipulate the sound of the final guitar. Common acoustic guitars are 3.75 to 4.75 inches (9.5 – 12cm) thick. Electric guitars commonly have around 1.77 inches (4.5cm) of thickness.
Unlike items such as whisky or Manuka Honey, there are no set rules on guitar. However, conventions exist, and guitars tend to be adjusted and customized within the conventional ranges.
When it comes to body thickness, there have been guitars made with bodies as thin as 3 inches (7.62cm), although thicker guitar bodies do exist. Guitar makers commonly manipulate the guitar body’s thickness to produce the sounds they look for. For booming, more authoritative sound, guitar makers may use a thicker body and include a larger body and thicker strings for maximum effect.
For electric guitars, the common thickness is around 1.77 inches (4.5cm). However, you may see thicker bodies on hollow or semi-hollow guitars. A Gibson Les Paul is about 1.81 inches (4.6cm) thick, while a Fender Stratocaster is about 1.75 inches (4.45cm) thick.
What Are The Thickness Of Guitars Played By Popular Artists?
Artists such as Chris Stapleton, Ed Sheeran, Dave Grohl and Tom Delonge are known to be quite consistent with their guitar choices. Their acoustic guitars are around 3 to 4.5 inches (7.62-11.4 cm) thick, and their electric guitars are around 1.61 to 1.75 inches (4.1- 4.44 cm) thick.
Some guitarists are known to be using a particular model when performing to produce their signature sound. Here are some well-known artists, the guitar they use, and the thickness of the body.
Chris Stapleton: Chris is known to rotate between acoustic and electric guitars when performing. He performs with a Gibson LG2 from the 1950s, with a body thickness of around 4.5 inches (11.4 cm.). For his electric guitar, he switches to a Fender Jazzmaster 1962, with a thickness of around 1.61 inches (4.1cm.)
Ed Sheeran: Ed Sheeran plays a Martin LX1E acoustic guitar. This guitar has a body thickness of 3 inches (7.62cm). Martin LX1E is a travel or baby-sized acoustic guitar, small and easy to bring around. Larger guitars would have a thicker body.
Dave Grohl: Dave Grohl from the band Nirvana and Foo Fighters is known to have performed with many guitars over the years. But he seems to use the Gibson Trini Lopez electric guitar or its variations during recording and performances. This guitar is around 1.73 inches (4.4cm) thick.
Tom Delonge: Tom Delonge from the pop-punk band Blink 182 and Angels and Airwaves has been performing with the Gibson Tom Delonge ES-333 Signature Model since the early 2000s. This guitar is 1.75 inches (4.44cm) thick.