Acoustic guitar shapes explained: how they've changed and how they affect the sound

Martin D-18 (L) and OM-21 (R) acoustic guitars
(Image credit: Future)

There is arguably more enthusiasm for innovation and experimentation in the acoustic guitar world than for electric guitars. Even so, most acoustics conform to a handful of shapes and sizes that have been around for a century or more. 

Many of these body styles were introduced by Martin Guitars, and its model designations are still widely used – irrespective of the manufacturer. As with solidbody electrics, when one or two brands dominate the market, smaller companies tend to copy their successful designs.

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Huw Price

Huw started out in recording studios, working as a sound engineer and producer for David Bowie, Primal Scream, Ian Dury, Fad Gadget, My Bloody Valentine, Cardinal Black and many others. His book, Recording Guitar & Bass, was published in 2002 and a freelance career in journalism soon followed. He has written reviews, interviews, workshop and technical articles for Guitarist, Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer and Music Tech. He has also contributed to several books, including The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pittman. Huw builds and maintains guitars and amplifiers for clients, and specializes in vintage restoration. He provides consultancy services for equipment manufacturers and can, occasionally, be lured back into the studio.