Soliciting Opinions - Small(er) Acoustic

It has recently been brought to my attention that my acoustic guitar is too big for me. I’ve felt that for a while, but figured it was just my bad habits and skills to blame. (I’m a beginner consolidating Grade 2.) So I’m on the hunt for a smaller-bodied acoustic, and would value your opinions!

  1. I’ve played and am considering OO, Parlor, or Grand Theater/Grand Concert (Taylor) or other Concert body styles. (I have tried “mini” guitars, and they don’t feel right to me.) I’m leaning toward the OO size. One fear I have of the OO or Parlor is that I’ll be disappointed over time with the lack of bass/low-end. But, if I play the guitar with more facility and comfort, it seems that might be an reasonable tradeoff. Thoughts?

  2. I’m used to playing 14-fret guitars, and on most of the Parlors and OOs (and some of the others as well) the neck meets the body at fret 12. This “feels” cramped to me (especially with no cutout), but I’m wondering if I’m making too big a deal about it. I’ve read that smaller-bodied guitars often have 12-fret necks because that coaxes more bass from the decreased body volume - the bridge on Parlors and OOs is located farther from the sound hole, at the widest part of the lower bout. Does anyone have any experience playing a 12-fret guitar? Any issues alternating between a 12- and 14-fret instrument?

  3. Due to where I live, it’s difficult to try a lot of guitars and to effectively compare them. (My husband and I literally spent two entire days last week visiting guitar stores within 100 miles of us! Kinda exhausting.) That said, I really, really want to play before I buy. Suppose I decide on a body size, and see a guitar from a brand that I can test out, in a model I’m interested in, but only in a too-big (OM) body size. Do you think I could feel safe ordering that guitar in a smaller body size without playing it? The guitars are the same scale length; I haven’t confirmed that the neck shape is the same but will do so.

Thanks in advance!


I Judi, same problem with my acoustic guitar: it’s too big for me and I’m trying to find out solutions with my posture in order to make it feel as much comfortable as possible…a smaller guitar would make things easier for me. I can’t give advice as my experience with guitars is limited, personally I wouldn’t buy without trying it out but I’m sure someone can give us better suggestions.

I’ve only owned a handful of guitars, but played a bunch in shops. For me, feel, sound and look are important, but I rate feel the most important.

I also have reasonably short fingers (for a guy) but strong hands.

  1. While there are some “standard” guitar sizes, there are all sorts of alternatives that don’t quite fit the mold.

I mainly play my very-thin Maton Performer over my Maton Dreadnought. It’s just way comfier. In fact I’m considering selling my dreadnought as I hardly use it.

The performer is a mid-sized body guitar that is also extra thin. It has less bass than a dreadnought but I still prefer it because it’s easier to play.

  1. I haven’t played 12 fret guitars (aside from trying out terrible kid guitars), I like upper fret access.

  2. A different body size guitar DEFINITELY sounds different, I’ve tried different size guitars from the same series. But neck profiles and feel can be very similar. Not always, check the specs.

If i was you I’d look at the Matons - but they’re probably not near you - and the Martin LX1E and Taylor GS mini.

Given your situation with where you are you might need to just order online and risk it.

If you haven’t check out the Taylor Grand Auditorium size guitars. The neck meets the body at the 14th fret.

I Love my Taylor 312c concert guitar. It feels the perfect size. It doesn’t have a cutaway, but seems to fit me. I’m 5’7" and highly recommend it.

I had the same problem learning for a year on a Fender dreadnought. Felt like I was wrapping my arms around a Great Dane and just hard to play comfortably. I tried a bunch of concert-size and other smaller guitars, and three months ago I bought an Alvarez AF60CESB, a folk size at 24 13/16 scale and over an inch less depth with a slim neck. Twenty-one frets. It is so much easier to hold and to fret, so I’m no longer frustrated and making much better musical progress. I am not worried about less sound volume from a smaller guitar (which I did notice on a few models I tried) since I’m only performing for myself yet. And it is acoustic-electric for when I am ready for that. Plus it is a very pretty wooden box.

Very interesting thread as I am currently surveying what is available in the smaller guitar mainly from Maton, Taylor or Cole Clark.

I will be trying out one of the Slimline range when the time comes.

I’m another who is very interested in the responses you get. My dreadnought feels like I’m playing a refrigerator.

Does anyone know what acoustic Justin is playing in the strumming class videos? It looks perfect to me, size wise.

What size is your current guitar that you find to be too large?

As for your second question, I think if the brand is reputable and you know the necks are similar, I’d guess it’s a pretty safe bet (with the giant caveat that the sound will definitely be very different). When I was deciding between a Dreadnaught and OM Martin they both felt nice to play but I ended up liking the OM sound better so I got that. So if sound is super important being able to actually play it first is very helpful.

Thanks Robert! I did try a GA…found a lovely used one that I loved, but at 16” diameter on the lower bout it’s just a bit too big for me. :cry:

Thanks Debra! The Grand Concert is definitely on my list - it’s the biggest guitar I’m considering. FWIW, I’m 5’3” and have to buy clothes in petite sizes so I don’t have to roll up the sleeves. :roll_eyes:

That’s a lovely guitar Michael! I’ll see if I can find anyone selling Alvarez guitars near me.

Thanks Craig. Maton makes instruments that look like good candidates. Sadly the nearest dealer is 1,200 miles from me!

It’s a Breedlove Concert Discovery. The lower bout is about 15.4 inches, and the depth is about 4.25 inches. It’s just enough that I find myself constantly raising my right shoulder trying to hold the guitar. I’ve played a Martin OOO and it’s still a bit big, that’s why I’m looking at the smaller bodies.

Thanks for the info! And different question that may not be helpful, but it occurs to me:

Sheryl Crow is (according to the internet) also 5’3 and…

Mayhaps standing while playing would help? I mean it could also have more to do with her being an absolute pro, but you never know :rofl:

Hi Sylvia, Frustrating, isn’t it? I think you’re right about trying before buying. I guess I was engaging in some magical thinking!

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I bought it from Sweetwater - great customer service and the same price as in stores.

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Thank you! As you say, no Matons near me. I played the GS Mini and it felt, well, mini. Martins are on my list… :slight_smile: I’m not advanced enough to know if I “like” upper-fret access, but I hope to be soon enough and knowing myself, I suspect I’ll want it (my current guitar has a cutout). We do have an on-line retailer that will accept returns “for any reason”, but of course on must literally return every piece of original packing material and inserts. That’s certainly reasonable, but I can’t imagine being able to keep that organized for the week or so that I might need to figure out if the instrument would work for me!

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You’re definitely on to something with the standing! That does help. But I do play sitting most often at this point!

Judi, I totally understand you might have problems being a small person with a big guitar. I am really tall and one of my guitars, a Fender dreadnought feels quite bulky, even for me.
I bought a second guitar last summer, a grand auditorium size, which is only slightly smaller than the dread, but considerably less deep, but it feels a lot more comfortable to play. Maybe consider depth as an important factor too.
Soundwise it’s quite different to the dread, less bass for sure, much more oriented towards the mids, but the sound towards the mids is much more dense or full (? don’t know how to say in English). Totally different audio curves. I like bass, so won’t sell the dread, but I also like the fuller sound in the mids too and would prefer the smaller size for daily use for sure.

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