Recently, I was in the market to buy a new acoustic but was unsure what direction to go in. Did I want a dreadnought or a concert sized? I never knew the difference until I researched these types of guitar bodies. I decided that I would share my acoustic guitar style findings here.
The main difference between a dreadnought and a concert acoustic instrument is the size of the guitar’s body. A concert sized guitar is slightly smaller and more compact. The tone, projection, and resonance are also different due to the different body sizes.
What Is A Dreadnought?
A dreadnought guitar is a standard acoustic guitar shape that is more popular as an intermediate or advanced level quality instrument. Due to the deep body, it generally produces a thicker low end and higher mid-tones. They are often used in fingerstyle, jazz, bluegrass, and folk music settings. They have a similar construction to the classical guitar but have slightly different tuning and sound focusing characteristics. I consider it more iconic, and you will see many band members using these.
What Is A Concert Size Guitar?
A concert guitar is similar in value and construction to the dreadnought guitar types, but it has a more compact size more petite body. It generally produces a softer, more percussive sound. They are often used in fingerstyle, jazz, bluegrass, and folk music settings. Many greats like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan have been known to play concert sized on stage.
How Do They Differ In Size?
The dreadnought acoustic guitar style is more prominent and has a more balanced tone. The body is deeper and larger. The sound of the dreadnought is crisper. Famous dreadnoughts include the Gibson J-200, Taylor 914ce, Martin D-18, Fender D-42, D28, D45, etc.
The sound is more balanced and can be comparable to the size of a classical. The body is smaller than a dreadnought, and the sound is less boomy. Famous concerts include the Martin DC series, Taylor CG series, and Fender C series.
What Are They Used For? Tone And Sounds
- Dreadnoughts: They can be used for just about any style of music that uses an acoustic guitar, such as folk, country, blues, and rock-n-roll. They are suitable for fingerstyle and orchestral playing styles.
- Concerts: The advantages here are that they are easier to play and ideal for a beginner acoustic guitar player because they are smaller. They have a softer tone and work well for recording in studio or band settings.
Pros Of A Dreadnought Body Shape
They have a broader tone. It produces a louder, bigger sound that is great for orchestras or live performances that need loud projection because of the larger acoustic guitar body. Guitarists can use them for fingerstyle and regular strumming. They are easier to play, and they have a nicer aesthetic appeal.
- The bass is always present and robust in-depth with excellent projection. You can focus on the mid-range and highs through the dynamic range. This allows the musician to hone their skills and not be distracted by the low end.
- The sound is balanced and sharp. For a beginner, this helps everyone know where specific notes are to focus on hearing them correctly and not tuning out.
- They tend to have a richer timbre, making it easier for players to get inside the instrument’s tone.
- The tone is more focused, and the sound is clear for many styles of music. This helps you hear what it’s supposed to sound like and not get distracted by other unwanted sounds.
Cons Of A Dreadnought
- The dreadnought is known for its body size, which can be cumbersome for people who are smaller in stature. This causes some problems playing because not everyone can hold it or play it. They are also heavier than concert instruments.
- Even with a case, the larger dreadnoughts make them harder to carry around easily. Even with a shoulder strap, the weight is difficult to support when standing in one place for an extended time. Some models have a smaller neck which is easier to play with for people with smaller hands. This allows you to play the high part and not get distracted by the low end.
- The powerful sound of a dreadnought guitar is very focused and clear. This can help you hear the notes, but it may also make it harder for a beginner to listen to the notes because they are so prominent with a fuller sound.
Pros Of A Concert Body Style
- The concert-style acoustic guitar sound focuses on the instrument’s center part. This makes it easier for beginners to hear where notes are and keep them steady so they don’t drift off course.
- They can produce an excellent, balanced sound and mellow tone that is easy to get used to. Many guitarists prefer the nuanced sounds these produce.
- The smaller body size makes it easier for people of all sizes to play, allowing the guitarist to focus more on their skills and playing technique. If you have bigger hands, smaller necks are an asset and don’t make it harder to play.
Cons Of A Concert
- They produce a thinner tone compared to dreadnoughts. This is easier for a beginner, but it also harms the sound when the player wants to focus on their playing technique and not on the instrument.
- They are softer and weaker in-depth bass sound and lower range frequencies than dreadnoughts. This cannot be good for folk and acoustic guitar playing techniques on the neck. This is why they are not ideal for fingerstyle. It is also harder to hear and identify notes because of their thin tone.
- The sound has less contrast which can make it easier to get caught up in the music and not tune out the low end so you can focus on the center part of the timbre that you are hearing.
What Is The Difference In Price?
This can vary by brand, size, acoustic guitar body shape, and style. A lot of the time, it depends on the type of wood and other materials used in the instrument body and neck. The fretboard and bridge use different types of wood, which can add up to a more significant price range. It also depends on the type of material used in the soundboard. Hardwood or solid wood is more expensive, and laminate wood is more affordable price range.
Which Should You Choose?
If your personal preference and style of music involve fingerpicking, the dreadnought will be more ideal for your playing style. If you don’t use fingerpicking techniques often or at all, the concert guitar will be a better choice for you. This is because of the instrument’s size and how it produces its sound quality.
Finger picking techniques require a bigger sound and body size to produce the tone and notes needed for music playing.
It may be hard to play if you have a smaller body style or are not used to having such a small, versatile instrument. You will need to train your hands and muscles to play this guitar. This is why some people prefer the dreadnought guitar model because it can allow you to focus on your technique and technique alone.
If you are an acoustic guitar player who is new to guitar playing or if you have small hands, it may be better to start with a smaller-sized guitar like the parlor guitar or the concert. This way, you can get used to playing and training your fingers. Once you have prepared your techniques, you can move on to the dreadnought and master that one. Most acoustic guitar player pros get their techniques ready for their concerts and performances.
Similar comparison – Grand Auditorium vs Dreadnought
In conclusion, there are many things you need to consider when buying a new guitar. The most crucial factor is knowing your abilities and the requirements and needs you have for your guitar.
You need to think about what type of music style you play and what fingerpicking techniques you are required to master for your style of music. Also, how trained are you in playing the guitar? If you have trained for many years, you should go with the dreadnought size body style.