Why Are Acoustic Guitars Shaped The Way They Are?

As stated in the Encyclopedia Britannica, the first guitars were made in Spain in the early 16th century. Compared to modern acoustic guitars, the original version of the guitar had a deeper body shape and a considerably less obvious “waist.” So, how did musicians and manufacturers settle on the exact form of the guitar?

There are three main reasons for the shape of guitars:

1) It was intended to aesthetically resemble a woman’s body structure. 

2) The particular style was attributed to real-world elements like convenience, and ease of playing. 

3) The physics of guitar like audio quality, and control also mattered. 

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Image by Couleur from Pixabay

In this article, we’ll discuss these three arguments that explain the shapes of a conventional acoustic guitar. In addition, we’ve mentioned the different types of guitars’ shapes and what they’re best for. So let’s get into it!

The 3 Major Ideas of Guitar Shapes Explained

From a broad viewpoint, the three explanations for the guitar’s continuous shape:

  • Somewhat romanticized.
  • Pragmatic.
  • Larger scientific reasons.

Let’s take into account each response in turn.

1. Shaped After a Woman

The claim that the guitar’s body form resembles a woman is supported by the terminology used to identify its components, such as the guitar head, neck, and body.

The body is further split into a top, waist, and bottom bout in an equal distribution. However, as the other terms have little connection to human anatomy, this argument doesn’t seem very persuasive.

2. Convenience And Ease of Playing

The modern guitar form is seen as more of the pinnacle of functionality. This indicates that the particular curved form has only persisted because of its simplicity in performance and preference among guitar lovers.

Reaching your arm across the guitar while it is resting on your knee is simply because of the curved sides of the instrument.

Those who have held a guitar close to their body while preparing to perform will note how comfortable it is. Like it was designed specifically for our bodies!

3. Physics of a Guitar’s Shape

The guitar’s physics would be a more logical approach to the form of the guitar body.

According to greek research, a classical guitar chord or string can withstand up to 60 kg of stress regularly if the lines are constructed of steel.

Given this, the guitar body and waist are made as resistant to warping as possible. Warping might result from this stress.

Additionally, the sound quality of a guitar can be impacted by even the slightest change in design.

As a result, producers made an effort to avoid changing the fundamental design of guitar bodies since doing so wasn’t desired or, in some circumstances, even practicable.

Acoustic Guitar Body Shapes

There are a few distinct body designs for acoustic guitars. Acoustic guitar body designs definitely alter the overall tone, as previously said.

So, how does this happen? 

Well, the construction of an acoustic guitar has absolutely no hardware. As a result, the acoustic guitar’s body design significantly influences the sound.

The music emanating from your acoustic guitar is produced by resonance brought about by string vibrations due to the absence of pickups. Resonance affects sound properties.

The strings vibrate the air around an acoustic guitar through the instrument’s body. Therefore, a significant body is required to move a massive volume of air backward and forward. In particular, the body’s broad surface is performing the work.

Braces that are located inside the body help to reinforce the body plate. Additionally, they prevent the body plate from bowing under the stresses of string tension.

Let’s go through the fundamental body forms for acoustic guitars.

1. Dreadnought

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Undoubtedly the most well-known acoustic guitar types are dreadnoughts. The most famous manufacturers of Dreadnought guitar types are the brands Martin and Taylor.

The sound of a Dreadnought guitar features a powerful low range on the frequency spectrum. The mid-range is barely audible, whereas the bass range may be heard well.

Beginner Tip: This guitar shape is ideal if you enjoy singing as you play. Vocals are often in the midrange; therefore, the somewhat quieter mid-range of a Dreadnought guitar will ideally complement your voice!

2. Jumbo

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The most famous Jumbo guitars on the market are made by Gibson. The jumbo guitar is ideal for playing country and vintage rock music. It has a sharp tone and more bass (low range). 

Beginner Tip: The guitar is appropriate for solo performances and is reasonably loud!

3. Grand Auditorium

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Regarding tone, Grand Auditorium and Auditorium guitar models are comparable to Dreadnought guitar types.

Beginner Tip: They have the ideal pitch for singing along!

4. Orchestra And Concert

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The sizes of concert grand guitar models are more petite. They resemble classical guitars in appearance. They appear to be relatively little hence ideal for solo fingerstyle performance.

The midrange loudness of orchestra guitars has increased.

5. Parlor

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The parlor body form is a classic. It first emerged in the 19th century, when certain guitar types were quite well-liked. So those are excellent for folk music.

The tone of parlor guitars is quite boxy. Additionally, particularly at low-range frequency levels, they are pretty loud.

FAQs

Q. How Do Different Acoustic Body Shapes Provide Different Sounds?

This is due to the sound’s frequency range. Although some acoustic guitars have higher mid-range or high-range loudness, others have more low-range volume. Every sound has a distinct frequency spectrum of its own. It can be considerably impacted by body form.

Q. Do Black Plates Help With The Guitar’s Shape And Functionality?

As its primary purpose is to be held against a guitarist’s body, the back plate is necessary for stability. Naturally, a side plate is required to merge the front and rear plates. They don’t add nearly as much to the tonal qualities as the front plate does.

Final Thoughts 

Multiple reasons and arguments exist on how and why a guitar is shaped the way it is. This is a thought that occurs in almost every music enthusiast’s consciousness. However, because there are various electric guitar shapes, the most convincing reason for the conventional guitar shape seems to be for comfort and optimum sound quality. We hope this article clarified your curiosity!

Sources

https://guitarunit.com/does-guitar-shape-matter/
https://neaera.com/why-are-guitars-shaped-the-way-they-are/
https://www.ferangeliguitar.com/blog/guitars-shape/#:~:text=A%20good%20reason%20is%20that,traditional%E2%80%9D%20shape%20of%20the%20instrument.
https://homestudioexpert.com/why-are-electric-guitars-shaped-the-way-they-are/

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