Welcome to Jim Miller’s Guitar Q&A! Jim Miller also authors Tech Notes Online, a weekly Sweetwater column covering all aspects of today’s music, from stage to studio.
Q: “How does the size of an acoustic guitar’s sound chamber change its sonic qualities?”
A: There are many factors that affect any acoustic guitar’s sonics. Among these would naturally be the size of the sound chamber (that is, the inside of the instrument where the sound is “amplified”). Generally, smaller sound chambers on a smaller bodied acoustic would typically produce a brighter, more articulated sound, while a large bodied instrument would produce a fuller, richer sound, as well as more volume (as there is more room inside the body for the sound to “bounce around” in before being projected out through the soundhole.
However, guitar builders count on many other design options when crafting an acoustic. For instance, the wood used (high quality spruce on many models, along with either rosewood or mahogany backs, sides and necks) will contribute significantly to a guitars overall tone, as will the various types of inner bracing (which can be quite sophisticated) and even the types of glues used and how the neck is attached to the body. Many guitarists also feel that the age of an instrument contributes significantly to the overall sound, with vintage guitars producing a warmer, smoother frequency response.