Dreadnought vs. Grand Auditorium Guitar: Explore the differences 

When it comes to the world of acoustic guitars, two names stand out: the Dreadnought and the Grand Auditorium.

Each brings its own distinct personality to the stage, creating a choice that goes beyond just aesthetics.

Let’s delve into the differences between these two guitar types, exploring their shapes, sounds, and playability.

What is a Dreadnought Guitar?

The dreadnought guitar is the most popular type of acoustic guitar. It was created by C.F. Martin & Company in 1916 and got its name from big British battleships called dreadnoughts.

The dreadnought guitar stands out with its large body, producing stronger and louder tones than other acoustic guitars. The wide upper and lower sections, along with a slim waist, contribute to its unique shape.

What is a Grand Auditorium Guitar?

Grand Auditorium Guitars gained popularity in the 1990s.

They have a length of about 25.5 inches (647mm), a depth of roughly 4.6 inches (116mm), and a shape that’s more snug and rounded compared to the dreadnought. This small change in design makes a big difference in how easy these guitars are to play and how you can use them.

The sound is also balanced, with clear middle and high notes, although not as deep as a dreadnought.

Differences Between Dreadnought and Grand Auditorium Guitars

Differences in Body Shape

Here are the ways the body shapes of these guitars are different:

Dreadnought Shape:

  • Balanced shape with even sides.
  • Medium-large size.
  • Not known for having a cutaway.

Grand Auditorium Shape:

  • Curvier and slimmer around the middle.
  • Slightly smaller and mid-sized.
  • Some models have a cutaway near the neck for easier access to higher frets.

Differences in Sound

Now that we’ve got a grasp on the basic shapes and sizes of these guitars, let’s listen in on how they sound.

Dreadnought Sound:

  • Deeper and louder tone with more bass.
  • Great for strumming and making a strong sound.
  • Often preferred by singers because its shape lets their voice shine alongside the guitar.

Grand Auditorium Sound:

  • More delicate and bright tone.
  • Perfect for fingerstyle playing and picking.
  • The curved shape and shallower waist give it a brighter sound.

Differences in Playability

When you’re choosing a guitar shape, it’s not just about how it sounds. You also want to feel comfy while playing. These two guitars have different sizes, so they’re better for different players.

Grand Auditorium Comfort:

  • Smaller body than the dreadnought.
  • Good for smaller people and young players.
  • The curved waist makes it comfy to play while sitting.

Dreadnought Feel:

  • Bigger body than the Grand Auditorium.
  • It might not be as comfy for some smaller players.
  • Has a more boxy shape, which can feel different.

grand auditorium vs dreadnought

Pros and Cons of Dreadnought Guitars


  • Strong Sound: Thanks to its size and shape, the dreadnought produces a big, powerful sound that’s great for both performing on stage and recording in a studio. It’s especially awesome for genres like bluegrass, acoustic jazz, and blues, where you often play both the bass and melody.
  • Roomy Frets: The space between the frets on a Dreadnought gives your fingers plenty of room. This means you can comfortably play complex chords that need a bit more finger-stretching.
  • Deep Bass: The low strings on a Dreadnought really shine. They make awesome bass sounds and bass accompaniments for your melodies. Because Dreadnought guitars are perfect for thicker strings, each bass note sounds really deep and full.


  • Limited Variety in Sound: The Dreadnought has a strong and bold sound, but it might not be the best fit for every musical style. If you’re after something delicate or gentle, the dreadnought’s sound might not be ideal.
  • Size Consideration: The big size of the dreadnought might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some people find dealing with such a large instrument a bit uncomfortable, especially if you’re on the smaller side.

Pros and Cons of Grand Auditorium Guitars


  • Perfect for Strong Picking: Whether you’re using your fingers or a pick, the Grand Auditorium acoustic guitar is up for the challenge. Its lower string tension lets you strum or pick with ease, making it a comfy fit for styles like blues and folk. Plus, its tuning and resonance work well for all sorts of picking techniques.
  • Well-Balanced Sound: While it might not be as vibrant as the Dreadnought, the Grand Auditorium offers a good mix of sounds. This makes it great for a variety of music styles, especially those that involve playing different chords together (also known as “comping”).
  • Comfortable Design: The shape of the Grand Auditorium is comfy to handle. The waist makes it easy to hold, which is especially handy for longer playing sessions. Musicians who spend time recording in studios or going on tour will appreciate this.


  • Less Resonance: Because the Grand Auditorium isn’t as big as the Dreadnought, it might not resonate quite as strongly. This means the sound of the bass strings won’t last as long, and the notes won’t sustain for as much time. This is something to keep in mind if you’re looking for that rich, resonating sound.


In the world of guitars, the choice between a Dreadnought and a Grand Auditorium offers a unique crossroads.

The dreadnought’s powerful and deep sound is perfect for those seeking resonance and impact. On the other hand, the Grand Auditorium’s versatile and balanced tones cater to various musical styles. 

Ultimately, your choice depends on what resonates with your musical preferences and how comfortably the guitar rests in your hands. Whether you opt for the boldness of the dreadnought or the adaptability of the Grand Auditorium, your guitar journey holds exciting potential.

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