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After the discussion about flat tops vs arch tops on the livestream this afternoon, I thought it might be useful if we had a single source listing and describing the different types of guitars so that we’re all talking about the same thing (when we’re all talking about the same thing). So here’s a first pass.

Acoustic Guitars

Classical guitar

Small bodied, waisted flat top guitar with sound hole, 50mm (2in) wide fretboard and slotted headstock. Normally strung with nylon strings to replicate the tone of traditional animal gut strings. Variants: Flamenco, Spanish?

Flat top guitar / Folk guitar

What most people mean when they say ‘acoustic’. Steel strung guitar with narrower neck than classical, solid headstock and normally, X braced, waisted body. Variants include parlour, dreadnought, jumbo.

Arch top guitar

Guitar constructed with carved plates front and back, like a cello or violin complete with ƒ holes. Originally designed to project a bright percussive sound for rhythm in big dance bands before electric guitars were invented. Favoured by jazz guitarists when a floating electric pickup is added.

Electro-acoustics

Any acoustic guitar with an electric pickup to simplify miking up or recording, but normally refers to the modern flat top guitar because they’ve all got pickups nowadays!

Electric Guitars

Solid body guitar

The archetypal modern electric guitar. The body is solid wood. Variants: Strat, Tele, Les Paul, SG, etc etc etc...

Chambered body guitar

Solid bodied guitars are heavy. Chambered bodies have spaces routed out of upper and/or lower bouts to reduce the weight. Variants: Thinline - chambered with added ƒ hole.

Hollow body guitar

Guitar with electro-magnetic pickups fitted to a body constructed with carved or laminated plates like an arch top. And looks like an arch top with added hardware. (Tony Bacon prefers the term ‘Electric Acoustic’ but I think that could lead to confusion on here).

Semi-hollow body guitar

Hollow body style guitar with an added solid block down the centre on which the neck, bridge and pickups are mounted. This is the 335 construction. Commonly referred to as semi-acoustic or even just semi, but that’s so vague as to be useless.

Is that any use? Any changes or amends? Have I just hung a big fat target on my arse?

Jack of all trades and master of my own destiny. It’s only a small destiny.

Looks good to me James. I think it all sounds correct. Now, will everyone read and abide by the correct terms? Hmmm...

All reads good to me James!

Like the idea of you having a big fat target on your arse though. Can we have that anyway???

Well, it was a either a big, fat target on my arse or a target on my big , fat arse.

At least a big, fat target is removable. Now where are those crisps!

3 Answers
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@jamesbisset

Thanks for posting this info it will save a lot of confusion

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I think there are plans for examples of all of those on this site (plus other stringed instruments like ukeleles and madolins)

You have to pay if you want the actual plans, but you can get quite a good idea of the significant features and differences from the reduced views on the listings.

https://genone-luthier-supply.com/

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by Jonathan Hodgson

Yup, that’s useful. Thanks, Jonathan.

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Topic starter

Updated.

Now, if only there was an edit button...

Acoustic Guitars

Classical guitar

Small bodied, waisted flat top guitar with sound hole, 50mm (2in) wide fretboard and slotted headstock. Normally strung with nylon strings to replicate the tone of traditional animal gut strings. Variants: Spanish, Flamenco.

Flat top guitar / Folk guitar

What most people mean when they say ‘acoustic’. Steel strung guitar with narrower neck than classical, solid headstock and normally, X braced, waisted body. Variants include parlour, dreadnought, jumbo, auditorium. Can we say Martin?

Arch top guitar

Guitar constructed with carved plates like a cello or violin complete with ƒ holes, floating bridge and tailpiece. Originally designed to project a bright percussive sound for rhythm in big dance bands before electric guitars were invented. Hand-buit arch tops are often seen as the pinnacle of the guitar builder’s art.

Gypsy jazz guitar

Discernible by their extra heightened soundboards, either with or without a pliage (crease), and floating bridge and tailpiece. Often known by the original designer’s name Maccaferri.

Electro-acoustic guitar

Any acoustic guitar with an electric pickup to simplify miking up or recording. Originally the term for an Ovation until everyone else got in on the act.


Electric Guitars

Solid body guitar

The archetypal modern electric guitar. The body is solid wood. Variants: Strat, Tele, Les Paul, SG, etc etc etc...

Chambered body guitar

Solid bodied guitars are heavy. Chambered bodies have spaces routed out of upper and/or lower bouts to reduce the weight. Variants: Thinline - chambered with added ƒ hole. Let’s just ignore thinline when used to describe skinny electro-acoustics.

Hollow body guitar

Guitar with electro-magnetic pickups fitted to a body normally constructed with laminated, arched front and back. Looks like an electrified arch top. (Tony Bacon prefers the term ‘Electric Acoustic’ but I think that could lead to confusion on here).

Semi-hollow body guitar

Hollow body style guitar with an added solid block down the centre on which the neck, bridge and pickups are mounted. This is the 335 construction. Commonly referred to as semi-acoustic or even just semi, but that’s so vague as to be useless.

Jack of all trades and master of my own destiny. It’s only a small destiny.