Steel-string acoustic guitar

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A steel-string acoustic guitar is a modern form of guitar descended from the classical guitar, but strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound. It is often referred to simply as an acoustic guitar, although strictly speaking the nylon-strung classical guitar is acoustic as well.

The most common type can be called a flat-top guitar to distinguish it from the more specialized archtop guitar and other variations.

The standard tuning for an acoustic guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E (low to high), although many players, particularly fingerpickers, use alternate tunings (scordatura), such as "open G" (D-G-D-G-B-D), "open D" (D-A-D-F-A-D), or "drop D" (D-A-D-G-B-E).



There are many different variations on the construction of, and materials used in, steel-string guitars. The various combinations of the different woods and their quality, along with design and construction elements (for example, how the top is braced), are among the factors affecting the timbre or "tone" of the guitar. Many players and luthiers feel a well-made guitar's tone improves over time.


Acoustic guitars are commonly constructed in several different body shapes. In general, the guitar's soundbox can be thought of as being composed of two connected chambers: the "upper bout" and "lower bout", which meet at the "waist", or the narrowest part of the body face near the soundhole. The proportion and overall size of these two parts helps determine the overall tonal balance and "native sound" of a particular body style – the larger the body, the louder the volume.

  • A "00", "Double-Oh" or "Grand Concert" body style is the major body style most directly derived from the classical guitar. It has the thinnest soundbox and the smallest overall size of the major styles, making it very comfortable to play but also one of the quietest. Its smaller size makes it suitable for younger or smaller-framed players. These guitars are commonly called "parlor steels" as they are well-suited to smaller rooms. Martin's 00-xxx series and Taylor's GC series are common examples.
  • A "Grand Auditorium" (GA) guitar, sometimes called a "000" or "Triple-Oh", is very similar in design to the Grand Concert, but slightly wider and deeper. Many GA-style guitars also have a convex back panel to increase the volume of space in the soundbox without making the soundbox deeper at the edges, which would affect comfort and playability. The result is a very balanced tone, comparable to the 00 but with greater volume and dynamic range and slightly more low-end response, without sacrificing the ergonomics of the classical style, making these body styles very popular. Eric Clapton's signature Martin guitar, for example, is of this style. Taylor's GA and x14 series and Martin's 000-xxx series are well-known examples of the Grand Auditorium style.
  • A "Dreadnought", arguably the most common body style, incorporates a deeper soundbox, but a smaller and less-pronounced upper bout (the area of the soundbox between the waist and neck) than most styles, giving a somewhat wedge-shaped appearance – hence its name, relating to a class of warship. The dreadnought style was designed by Martin Guitars[1] to produce a deeper sound than "classic"-style guitars, with very present bass fundamentals. This body style's combination of a small profile with a deep sound has made it immensely popular, and it has since been copied by virtually every major steel-string luthier. Martin's "D" series such as the D-28 are classic examples of the dreadnought.
  • A "Jumbo" body style is bigger again than a Grand Auditorium but similarly proportioned, and is generally designed to provide a deeper tone, similar to a dreadnought (the body style was designed by Gibson to compete with the dreadnought[1]) but with maximum resonant space for greater volume and sustain. This comes at the expense of being oversized, with a very deep sounding box, and thus somewhat more difficult to play. The foremost example of this style is the Gibson J-200, but like the dreadnought, most guitar manufacturers have at least one jumbo model.

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