It occurred to me that besides my overview of guitar body sizes I should touch on a few other aspects that could affect your purchase of a guitar.
If you're unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the "cut out" section of the upper bout that you see on some guitars. Looks like somebody took a big bite! The purpose of a cutaway is to give the player access to the upper frets, those that are on the fingerboard where it sits on top of the guitar. This is much more important on electric guitars, in my opinion. Not that acoustic players never use those way up high notes, but as a practical matter and in reality, few players do with any regularity. The downside of a cutaway is that it undeniably affects the sound of an acoustic guitar. Less surface area, and a lack of uniformity means the top will not vibrate as well or as long. Less vibration = less resonance. But hey, no denying cutaways look cool and I have to admit buying a guitar or two in my younger days for just that reason. It's your call but I can tell you this: model to model, a guitar from almost any manufacturer that has a cutaway will bring less at resale time than the same model without one. Taylor guitars may be an exception but with all the other companies this holds true. Food for thought.
This is all about how far the strings are from each other, that is, how wide the fingerboard will be. The two standard nut widths are 1 11/16ths inch, and 1 3/4 inch. For many, many years the former was standard on just about all guitars and still is on many, including most of the Martin D size and the Gibson J size. But in the last few years many guitars, including custom or limited editions from those two companies, almost all Taylors and almost all boutique guitars are made with 1 3/4" nuts. Both sizes have advantages and disadvantages. The reason the wider nuts have become popular in the last few years is that many people get into finger-style (finger-picking) and even that 1/16th" does make it easier to locate the string you're trying to play. People with wider fingers, including most men, find it easier to place fingers into chords and get a clear sound as compared to the 1 11/16ths. However, you also have to reach farther around the neck, which some find difficult. I've owned both and I keep coming back to the 1 11/16ths because I have relatively short and not too wide fingers and I just find that width easier, particularly when playing bar chords. You should try both because some necks are thicker than others and that too can affect how well you like the two primary widths.
Nut and saddle material:
If a guitar I buy doesn't have them already, I always take my guitars right over to Fran LeDoux of Bay Fretted Instruments in Marstons Mills ( a FABULOUS luthier and certified repairman) for him to install a bone nut and saddle. I absolutely believe that this makes an immediate improvement in the sound of any guitar because bone is such a harder and denser material than plastic. Costs a little but well worth it. As a sidebar, I also use bone bridge pins or on a few guitars, the outrageously expensive fossilized walrus tusk. There is debate about the merits of different pins materials but these are what I like. Some prefer ebony pins, which they feel lends a darker, deeper sound. But hey, many fine guitars come through with plastic nuts, saddles and pins and they sound fine so you may want to wait on this upgrade.
You know what? That is a subject for an entire blog! (lucky you! ;~) So we'll wait on that. It is a hugely important subject but my fingers are getting tired.
Thanks for reading along