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Old 01-29-2008, 08:31 PM
Erethon Erethon is offline
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Default Dreadnought vs. Grand Auditorium?

Hello ladies and gents! Another newbie with another question here. I was hoping I could be informed as to what the differences are between dreadnoughts and grand auditoriums. More specifically, how do they typically differ tone wise, playability, etc.? Is one usually meant for one type of playing and the other another? Thank you!
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Old 01-29-2008, 08:37 PM
jimklein jimklein is offline
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Seperate your thoughts...

Are you more comfortable one way or the other? (Large body or hands?)

Are you wanting more volume?

Dreads "typically" need medium strings to make them resonate well where GA's "generally" use light strings.

Do you play fingerstyle? (GA would be more suited)

Hard Strummer? A Dread might suit you better.

Looks?

Get a guitar that suits you best.
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Old 01-29-2008, 09:09 PM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erethon View Post
Hello ladies and gents! Another newbie with another question here. I was hoping I could be informed as to what the differences are between dreadnoughts and grand auditoriums. More specifically, how do they typically differ tone wise, playability, etc.? Is one usually meant for one type of playing and the other another? Thank you!
Both body styles are interchangeable for pretty much any kind of music you want to play-although the Bluegrass fraternity would seldom want to be seen with anything other than a dread!

As for playability either guitar can be set up to play as comfortably as you want by a competent technician.
Tonally the dread favours the bass and low-mids; the GA tends to have a better overall balance with no tonal centre overpowering any other. These are generalisations and individual instruments may well exhibit traits of the other.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:00 AM
Herb Hunter Herb Hunter is offline
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A grand auditorium guitar, at least the way Taylor makes them, is as large as a dreadnought but with a tighter waist. Playability is the same but, as Jimklein already mentioned, dreadnoughts are designed to be used with medium gauge strings and grand auditorium guitars are designed for light gauge strings. Some people find dreadnoughts less comfortable to hold while seated. Since the dreadnought has more soundboard area, it should be slightly louder. A grand auditorium should reproduce the higher frequencies better than a dreadnought. Dreadnoughts can be expected to emphasize lower frequencies.

People have preconceived notions as to which body type is best suited for one style of playing over another but there are fingerstylists that use dreadnoughts and strummers that use grand auditoriums. What determines which guitar is best suited for your playing style depends on which body type appeals to you the most, not what other people say.

From Taylor's web site:

Grand Auditorium
Body Width...........16 Inches
Body Depth............4 5/8 Inches
Body Length.........20 Inches
Overall Length......41 Inches

Dreadnought
Body Width...........16 Inches
Body Depth............4 5/8 Inches
Body Length.........20 Inches
Overall Length......41 Inches
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:06 AM
Tony Burns Tony Burns is offline
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One make or model compared to another make and model is like comparing apples to oranges. You really need to get your hands on each and play them to see if they fit your style and are comfortable . Another style of guitar to look at might be an OM , thou a tad smaller are great fingerstyle guitars - they are a fun guitar size ( and easier to handle for some folks than Dreads )
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:12 AM
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Tim McKnight Tim McKnight is offline
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Dreds are "generally" more bass heavy (boomy) in tone due to the squarish body shape. More curvacious body shapes like SJs, GAs, MJs will "generally" be more balanced from bass to treble because of the shape of the body. Of course there are exceptions to every rule which is largely influenced by the hands building the guitar.

Folks who play seated or kicked back on the couch "generally" find narrower waisted guitars more comfy.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:53 AM
Erethon Erethon is offline
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Thanks for all the info guys, I appreciate it! I personally play sitting down, but the larger dread body on my guitar never seems to bother me too much. Perhaps that's because I am a bigger guy and thus have longer arms. Plus, I'm a pretty aggressive strummer, and I would probably worry about busting light gauge strings. Then again, I've never tried them, so they could be just fine for me. I guess I'll just have to wait until I get some more free time and go try some out!
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erethon View Post
Hello ladies and gents! Another newbie with another question here. I was hoping I could be informed as to what the differences are between dreadnoughts and grand auditoriums. More specifically, how do they typically differ tone wise, playability, etc.? Is one usually meant for one type of playing and the other another? Thank you!
Hi Ere...
You will discover as you play more instruments built by different builders and companies that there are general statements made about certain sizes of instruments, and many guitars which don't fit those stereotypes. Guitars of the same size can be as unique and different as people of the same size are.

Dreadnaughts do tend to produce more bass and more volume, and some of them make wonderful fingerstyle instruments and don't need .013 (medium) strings to achieve that goal at all.

Many Grand Concert, SJ (small jumbo), mini-Jumbo guitars have great bass which nearly matches that of a Dreadnaught and hold up well to aggressive strumming.

There are many other factors which affect tone. Wood combinations, age of the guitar, who built it, the pitch you tune to, and style you play, and amount of control you impose on your playing, alternate tunings and weight of strings all affect the tone.

I own an Olson Dreadnaught Rosewood/Cedar that is 14 years old, and it is an amazing guitar with great balance, awesome bass and it sounds optimum with Custom Light strings (.011-.052) with an .013 substituted as the 1st string. A semi-local friend owns a 20+ year old Olson SJ cutaway Rosewood/Cedar that when strung with .013 (medium) and tuned down a half step sounds and plays nearly identically to my Olson Dreadnaught. In fact when he's down a 1/2 step his matches mine for power, volume and tone.

When he tunes his to concert pitch, mine has more bass and his more treble. When I tune mine down half step to match his, mine gains more bass. Mine needs a heavier bottom string for extreme dropped tunings (CGCGCD), but his with .013 will handle it without beefing up the bottom string. By the way - solo he plays his 1/2 step low.

When I string my Dreadnaught with a full set of .013s, it just gets really muddy in the bass. And when he strings his SJ with a set of .012, he cannot tune down half step and still play agressively (rattle city).

And my OM with light gauge strings has the biggest tone and deepest sounding bass in extreme dropped tunings. Less overall volume than my Dreadnaught, but better tone on the low dropped tunings.

These are just examples of how tone shifts with just string weight and tuning.

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Old 01-30-2008, 09:49 AM
woodruff woodruff is offline
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Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post


Dreadnaughts do tend to produce more bass and more volume, and some of them make wonderful fingerstyle instruments and don't need .013 (medium) strings to achieve that goal at all.

+1 to this. the notion that one need string their dread with mediums is a myth. .12-.53 guage(lights) are way enough to drive the top of a dreadnought. i do find the GA more comfy too, but a dreadnought can be just as versatile....imho....got to play them both and see how they feel in your lap.
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:57 AM
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I agree with the others. I had a Taylor 810 for years, but wasn't comfortable playing it sitting on the couch. I had a chance to buy my 714ce which is a GA body style and love it. It's comfortable, has more bottom end than my 810 had, but it's doesn't handle the heavy strumming as well.

My favorite all around guitar is the OM's that I have. The sound even toned, they are easy to handle and pretty loud for their size.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:07 AM
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+1 to this. the notion that one need string their dread with mediums is a myth. .12-.53 guage(lights) are way enough to drive the top of a dreadnought.
Hi Woody...
I don't think of it as a myth, just a niche application. Heavy strummers who don't want to temper their technique or throttle back their style love mediums and high action.

My bluegrasser friends live and die by .013s, heavy picks, and high action on Dreadnaughts. They work acoustically often working with a single mic for the whole band onstage live, so they want to squeeze every ounce of volume out of the guitar possible. They wouldn't dream of using pickups or amps.

But you are correct, .012s will drive the top of a typical Dread just fine. You may lose a bit of volume but may actually make gains in action and balance that are highly desireable.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:27 AM
woodruff woodruff is offline
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Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post

But you are correct, .012s will drive the top of a typical Dread just fine. You may lose a bit of volume but may actually make gains in action and balance that are highly desireable.
this is what i have found too, playing dreads most of my guitar playing life, that 12s are just as good in most circumstances. but i can see how some folks need the meds to really kick it out on stage. or they just like the extra rattle.... for me to effectively adopt mediums, i'd have to down tune at least a 1/2 step....
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Old 03-08-2021, 12:31 PM
GuitarDrummer GuitarDrummer is offline
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This is one I've been watching. As a novice guitarist, here's what I'm getting. Lemme know if I'm way off on something

The Dreadnought usually delivers a bigger, fuller sound, projects more...broad tune including plenty of low end. Seem to be good for full strumming and bigger sound stuff. (Johnny Cash if you will)

OOs are a little easier to handle due the the shape and have a little more "balanced" sound...but generally not as "big" sounding as the dread.

Grand Performance Cutaways...at least in the Martin line...are kind of the in between. THE GP body is deeper like a dread and still throws nice sound with not as much low end and the cut away makes it a little easier to handle. One demo vid called it a nice mid point between the two.

Understanding that woods, strings, finishes can alter all that...is that a pretty fair way for a novice to grasp it?
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Old 03-08-2021, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post
Hi Woody...
I don't think of it as a myth, just a niche application. Heavy strummers who don't want to temper their technique or throttle back their style love mediums and high action.

My bluegrasser friends live and die by .013s, heavy picks, and high action on Dreadnaughts. They work acoustically often working with a single mic for the whole band onstage live, so they want to squeeze every ounce of volume out of the guitar possible. They wouldn't dream of using pickups or amps.

But you are correct, .012s will drive the top of a typical Dread just fine. You may lose a bit of volume but may actually make gains in action and balance that are highly desireable.
Good points about application, it really matters a lot. The other big factor is that some dreads are braced less heavily than others, and simply don't need 13's to get the top moving.

Action can be set appropriately for either string set, so I don't quite understand the comment about 12's giving you "gains in action". Possibly, sure, but it totally depends on the current setup of the guitar. Optimally one really should have the action set to the string type being used. Personally I run 12's on my Martin dread, and for that guitar, where the action is currently set, it's optimal. If I put on 13's I get slightly higher action. But I don't run 13's anymore, I'm not playing in bluegrass bands with any frequency and this guitar is plenty loud and deep with 12's...
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Old 03-08-2021, 03:33 PM
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A well made GA is every bit as loud as any dred, and with the volume you get better balance across the strings and usually an abundance of wonderful overtones.

The Goodall GA I owned never lacked when playing with dreadnaught guitars. They accomplish this with light gauge strings and can take a heavy hand and a thick pick.

There are no absolutes in guitar world despite the widely held, and oft repeated claims.
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