Jumbo Acoustic Guitars vs Dreadnought (How To Choose)


If you are looking for a guitar that gives a deep resonant tone, then it’s hard to look past a Jumbo acoustic. These large guitars give great volume and are popular for many styles of music.

Great, you say …but should I play a Dreadnought or Jumbo?

Jumbo acoustic guitars are the largest of the guitar family with a deeper body than the popular Dreadnought, featuring a curvy body with a tight waist. Jumbo’s are well suited to rhythm guitarists in country and folk rock, and produce a deep rich sound favored by heavy strummers.

There’s no doubt dreadnoughts are extremely popular too, so let’s have a deeper look at Jumbo acoustics and you can begin to discover what guitar type is best for you.

jumbo guitars

How Big Are Jumbo Guitars vs Dreadnoughts?

Jumbo guitars are big, but exactly how big are they, and which parts of them are bigger than the next size guitar down the line – the Dreadnought?

The Body

The Body of a Jumbo is deeper than a Dreadnought (body thickness), and doesn’t change depth as much as a Dreadnought across the length of the body.

The Neck

The neck on a Jumbo is generally the same width as a Dreadnought, being around around 1 ¾ inches (44 mm).

Did You Know?
Guitar neck size is measured at the nut near the tuning pegs.

The Length

The neck length of a Jumbo will normally be the same as other acoustic guitars and is based on the scale-length (the distance between the nut and bridge). This generally around 25.3 – 25.5 inches (642-648mm), and varies depending on the guitar maker, and is the same as Dreadnoughts.

A Jumbo is roughly 1 inch longer than a Dreadnought from the base of the body to the top of the neck.

What Styles Are Jumbo Guitars Good For?

Really you can play anything with a Jumbo guitar, and the sound volume when strummed strongly will allow the instrument to be heard alongside other instruments in a band.

Jumbo acoustic guitars lend themselves well to being a 12 string, and can give a powerful and satisfying playing experience. Jumbo acoustic is a fantastic guitar for big sounding open chords, and have been used regularly in genres like American pop and Folk Rock.

They also project sound well with finger-picking style music and are a favorite in Country and Folk music for this reason.

Jumbo’s are great for big sound, but this also requires plenty of energy from the guitarist to strum those big chords.

What Styles Are Dreadnought Guitars Good For?

Dreadnought guitars are extremely versatile, and you can use them to play most styles of music from rock and blues, to folk and country.

They were designed to project a big sound, and are great for getting clear notes when flat-picking, and give a solid full tone when strumming.

Dreadnought’s are popular for singer-songwriters as their more even tone matches voices well, have a smaller body that is easier to perform with, and suit both picking and fingerstyle playing.

For professional musicians, a dreadnought will take less energy to play for an entire gig than a Jumbo.

Jumbo vs Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Prices

Let’s compare a few rough prices on these two types of guitar, and what to expect for the money.

Jumbo Acoustic Guitar Prices

Jumbo acoustic guitars generally start at higher prices than dreadnoughts, and are more aimed at intermediate and advanced players.

Jumbo’s can be cheaply made and sold for as little as $300 and can range up into the 10’s of thousands if you’re after a top end model like the Gibson SJ-250 Monarch.

Some Jumbo’s worth looking at in the lower price brackets are: Yamaha CPX600 medium Jumbo ($380), Washburn Festival Acoustic-Electric ($390), and the Guild F-240E ($430).

If you’re looking around the $500 dollar mark upward you will start to find Jumbo models that not only play better but project a much richer sound too.

Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Prices

Dreadnoughts present a larger range of options than Jumbo’s, and range from as little as $70 up to many thousands of dollars.

If you’re just getting started, dreadnoughts in the $150-250 range give a good sounding guitar that you will enjoy playing. Any cheaper and they don’t really produce a tone that you will be happy with once you progress with your playing skill.

Some good choices and rough prices would be: Yamaha F335 ($170), Epiphone Songmaker ($170), Mitchell T331 ($200), or Yamaha FG800 ($220).

Stepping into the midrange expect to pay around $350-900, and you will find plenty of popular brands offering nice sounding guitars in this range.

For both Jumbo’s and Dreadnought’s, moving into the low-midrange models you will get a solid wood top, and a guitar that will last you longer than a cheaper model.

How Big Do You Need To Be To Play A Jumbo Guitar?

People of most sizes can still play a Jumbo, although for a small child they will have problems getting their arm around the body and would be more comfortable with a smaller guitar.

Sometimes very large people still enjoy small playing small guitars, and so it’s the same with Jumbo acoustics that smaller people can play them because they just love the sound and feel of a Jumbo.

If you love the shape of Jumbo’s but feel they are hard to get your arms around, there are many mini and medium-sized Jumbo’s available that are a bit easier to handle.

The best way to find what is comfortable for you is to try every guitar you can find. Just head into a music shop with a range of guitars and they will be happy to let you try a few.

A Jumbo may feel big to play at first, but it can be just a matter of learning to adjust your sitting or playing position, and becoming accustomed to the size.

Which Guitarists Play Jumbo Guitars?

There is an endless list of famous artists who have played Jumbo guitars in their music to achieve a powerful rich sound.

Some of these artists include:

  • Elvis Presley
  • Pete Townshend
  • Goo Goo Dolls
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Emmylou Harris

Like Loud Guitars?
If you’re looking for a loud acoustic guitar, take a look at our article about the loudest acoustic guitars where we compare types and list specific models.

What Is An Advanced Jumbo Guitar?

The original Advanced Jumbo guitar was made by Gibson back in the 1930’s, and had a 25 1/2 scale length where the original Jumbo had a shorter 24 3/4″ scale length.

This flat top guitar was the successor to the original Gibson ‘J’ (Jumbo) model guitars, and a few years later they made a slightly larger flat top guitar again, and named it the SJ-200 (Super Jumbo).

Gibson only made 300 of the original Advanced Jumbo series, and they are a highly prized guitar to this day.

There is some discussion online whether the term Advanced Jumbo refers to the construction of the bracing under the soundboard (top) of the guitar, however it seems likely that Gibson named this guitar an Advanced Jumbo due to its size.

In more modern times Epiphone started making their own version of an Advanced Jumbo inspired by the Gibson design.

Some models currently available are the AJ-10, AJ-500M, and the AJ-500RE, and are shaped more like a Dreadnought than the original Jumbo design.

Final Wrap on Jumbo vs Dreadnought Guitars

Jumbo acoustic guitars are large bold sounding instruments that give a full rich sound used extensively in Country, Folk Rock, and pop music by popular artists. They are best suited to guitarists who love strumming big chords, and project a deep powerful sound.

If you are just starting to learn guitar, then a Jumbo might not be the best choice unless you are reasonably tall.

Generally, it is easier to start with something smaller as it will be easier to get your arms and hands around the instrument, and here’s where Dreadnought’s are an extremely popular choice.

Dreadnought’s still give a bold powerful sound and are a great choice for playing with a pick for great clarity, and clear bright tones.

As you start to feel more comfortable playing guitar it’s well worth trying a Jumbo if you are interested in music with strong rhythm patterns that lend themselves to big open chord strumming.