You may have heard the terms dreadnought acoustic and concert acoustic, but without a lot of explanation about what those two terms mean. While the difference is subtle, there are several implications to take into consideration, especially if you're thinking about buying a new acoustic guitar.
There should be a clear understanding of the difference between the two types of acoustics.
That's exactly what we'll provide in this article.
In the upcoming first paragraph, we'll look at the difference between dreadnought and concert acoustic guitars, then go into some of the more nuanced issues and details concerning each one.
Dreadnought VS Concert Guitar: What's the Difference?
The primary difference between dreadnought and concert acoustic guitars is the body shape. Dreadnoughts are larger, with a thicker waist, putting less emphasis on the curve of the upper and lower bout.
Concert acoustic guitars, on the other hand, have a much thinner waist, putting greater emphasis on the curvature of the upper and lower bout.
This difference in body shape also has some impact on how the guitar sounds and how it plays.
Read on for more info on these differences.
Are concert guitars easier to play?
One of the first questions people ask about concert guitars is: Are they easier to play? And in some respects, they are easier to play. With a thinner body profile, it's easier to reach the strings and the body just feels smaller, making it easier to play, especially for smaller guitar players.
Concert acoustic guitars are also far more likely to have a cutaway, giving you easier access to the upper register of the fretboard.
This cutaway is especially common in Taylor acoustic guitars.
Concerts and cutaways
While dreadnought guitars can include a cutaway, it's more common in concert-shaped acoustic guitar bodies. Often you'll have a venetian-style cutaway that is a bit more steep but not quite as pronounced as an electric guitar's cutaway.
Combined with the slimmer body design of a concert acoustic guitar, the cutaway gives you a brighter tone profile, making these guitars more ideal for lead acoustic styles that focus on melody and upper-register patterns.
Concert VS Grand Auditorium: Is there a difference?
You might have heard the term "grand auditorium" used to describe concert acoustic guitars, which begs the question: What's the difference between a concert and grand auditorium acoustic?
The term "grand auditorium" is primarily used by Taylor to describe their full size concert-shaped acoustic guitars.
- Body length: 20"
- Body width: 16"
- Body depth: 4 5/8"
For example, the Taylor 114ce is a grand auditorium acoustic.
Though in terms of differences from a typical concert acoustic guitar, the grand auditorium is mostly just Taylor's unique descriptor, that doesn't suggest any physical differences.
What are dreadnoughts good for?
Now that we've covered concert acoustic guitars, what's the situation with dreadnought acoustics? What are they most ideal for?
While I would argue they're a bit harder to play, I should point out that they're by far the most common guitar shape in existence. When you think of an acoustic guitar, it's typical to default to a dreadnought acoustic guitar that has been sitting in someone's bedroom or in the attic collecting dust.
These are a more original guitar design, that people have used for years for a variety of musical styles and playing disciplines.
Though, I would argue, the biggest strength of a dreadnought acoustic guitar is strumming and rhythm playing styles.
Are dreadnoughts good for beginners?
And that's what makes them a popular choice for beginners. Dreadnoughts are simple and reliable, and they sound good with basic chords and strumming, which makes them a good choice for those who are just starting to learn.
It's also a matter of beginners not really needing anything else.
Take the cutaway feature, for example.
Beginners don't need that.
They just need a garden-variety acoustic guitar that's going to make it easy for them to learn some chords. Most dreadnought acoustics fit that profile.
Are dreadnought acoustic guitars harder to play?
However, they are - in some cases - physically harder to play.
They tend to be larger and less forgiving when it comes to lead and melody work. However, I should re-iterate that dreadnought acoustics are not typically sought out for these playing styles.
So yes, they're harder to play in certain contexts and bigger, in most cases. But if you're using them for their intended purpose, the increase in difficulty is fairly minimal.
Dreadnoughts and cutaways
What about the cutaways we mentioned earlier?
Can/do dreadnoughts have cutaways as well as the wealth of cutaways we see among concert-shaped acoustics?
While they aren't nearly as common, you can find dreadnought acoustic guitars with a cutaway. This gives you more of a balance between the warmth and rhythm-focused tone of a dreadnought, and the bright, lead-focused sound of the cutaway.
Dreadnought VS Jumbo
What about dreadnought and Jumbo acoustic guitars? What's the difference there?
First, it's important to note that dreadnought acoustics are not Jumbo acoustics. They can be, if they're larger than a regular-sized dreadnought, but being dreadnought - in and of itself - is not sufficient to also be considered a jumbo acoustic.
Jumbo acoustics are larger than full dreadnought and concert acoustics. They're rarely used in modern music, though are still popular in flamenco and other Spanish guitar playing styles.
Summary and Your Questions
To conclude, the differences between dreadnought and concert acoustics are fairly basic.
- Concert acoustics: Smaller, slimmer body design with more high-end tone
- Dreadnought acoustics: Thicker body design with more low-end tone
You can think of concert acoustic guitars as lead instruments or performing acoustics, particularly for classical guitar players. Dreadnoughts are the accompanying musician's better option, especially if they're focused more on chords and rhythm.
Both types of acoustic guitars are helpful for varying situations, so be sure to take note of what types of music you play and the kind of player you are before deciding which one is a better option.
If you have questions about dreadnought vs concert acoustic guitars, feel free to leave me a note in the comments section below and I'll help out as much as possible.